We present Backward Clock, an original counterexample to Robert Nozick’s truth-tracking analysis of propositional knowledge, which works differently from other putative counterexamples and avoids objections to which they are vulnerable. We then argue that four ways of analysing knowledge in terms of safety, including Duncan Pritchard’s, cannot withstand Backward Clock either.
G. E. Moore observed that to assert, 'I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don't believe that I did' would be 'absurd'. Over half a century later, such sayings continue to perplex philosophers. In the definitive treatment of the famous paradox, Green and Williams explain its history and relevance and present new essays by leading thinkers in the area.
I supply an argument for Evans's principle that whatever justifies me in believing that p also justifies me in believing that I believe that p. I show how this principle helps explain how I come to know my own beliefs in a way that normally makes me the best authority on them. Then I show how the principle helps to solve Moore's paradoxes.
This paper is roughly in two parts. The first deals with whether know-how is constituted by propositional knowledge, as discussed primarily by Gilbert Ryle (1949) The concept of mind. London: Hutchinson, Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson (2001). Knowing how. Journal of Philosophy, 98, pp. 411–444 as well as Stephen Hetherington (2006). How to know that knowledge-that is knowledge-how. In S. Hetherington (Ed.) Epistemology futures. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The conclusion of this first part is that know-how sometimes does and sometimes (...) does not consist in propositional knowledge. The second part defends an analysis of know-how inspired by Katherine Hawley’ (2003). Success and knowledge-how. American Philosophical Quarterly, 40, pp. 19–31, insightful proposal that know-how requires counterfactual success. I conclude by showing how this analysis helps to explain why know-how sometimes does and sometimes does not consist of propositional knowledge. (shrink)
G. E. Moore famously observed that to assert ‘I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I do not believe that I did’ would be ‘absurd’. Moore calls it a ‘paradox’ that this absurdity persists despite the fact that what I say about myself might be true. Krista Lawlor and John Perry have proposed an explanation of the absurdity that confines itself to semantic notions while eschewing pragmatic ones. We argue that this explanation faces four objections. We give a better (...) explanation of the absurdity both in assertion and in belief that avoids our four objections. (shrink)
G. E. Moore famously observed that to say, “ I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don’t believe that I did” would be “absurd”. Why should it be absurd of me to say something about myself that might be true of me? Moore suggested an answer to this, but as I will show, one that fails. Wittgenstein was greatly impressed by Moore’s discovery of a class of absurd but possibly true assertions because he saw that it illuminates “the (...) logic of assertion”. Wittgenstein suggests a promising relation of assertion to belief in terms of the idea that one “expresses belief” that is consistent with the spirit of Moore’s failed attempt to explain the absurdity. Wittgenstein also observes that “under unusual circumstances”, the sentence, “It’s raining but I don’t believe it” could be given “a clear sense”. Why does the absurdity disappear from speech in such cases? Wittgenstein further suggests that analogous absurdity may be found in terms of desire, rather than belief. In what follows I develop an account of Moorean absurdity that, with the exception of Wittgenstein’s last suggestion, is broadly consistent with both Moore’s approach and Wittgenstein’s. (shrink)
Moore’s paradox is the fact that assertions or beliefs such asBangkok is the capital of Thailand but I do not believe that Bangkok is the capital of Thailand or Bangkok is the capital of Thailand but I believe that Bangkok is not the capital of Thailand are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. The current orthodoxy is that an explanation of the absurdity should first start with belief, on the assumption that once the absurdity in belief has been explained then this will (...) translate into an explanation of the absurdity in assertion. This assumption gives explanatory priority to belief over assertion. I show that the translation involved is much trickier than might at first appear. It is simplistic to think that Moorean absurdity in assertion is always a subsidiary product of the absurdity in belief, even when the absurdity is conceived as irrationality. Instead we should aim for explanations of Moorean absurdity in assertion and in belief that are independent even if related, while bearing in mind that some forms of irrationality may be forms of absurdity even if not conversely. (shrink)
(A) I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don’t believe that I did (1942, p. 543) or (B) I believe that he has gone out. But he has not (1944, p. 204) would be “absurd” (1942, p. 543; 1944, p. 204). Wittgenstein’s letters to Moore show that he was intensely interested in this discovery of a class of possibly true yet absurd assertions. Wittgenstein thought that the absurdity is important because it is “something similar to a contradiction, thought (...) it isn’t one” (1974, p. 177). What is the explanation of the absurdity of saying or believing something about myself that might be true? Wittgenstein thought that although the explanation will say “something about the logic of assertion” it will also show that “logic isn’t as simple as logicians think it is”. So although the explanation should.. (shrink)
In this journal, Hamid Vahid argues against three families of explanation of Moore-paradoxicality. The first is the Wittgensteinian approach; I assert that p just in case I assert that I believe that p. So making a Moore-paradoxical assertion involves contradictory assertions. The second is the epistemic approach, one committed to: if I am justified in believing that p then I am justified in believing that I believe that p. So it is impossible to have a justified omissive Moore-paradoxical belief. The (...) third is the conscious belief approach, being committed to: if I consciously believe that p then I believe that I believe that p. So if I have a conscious omissive Moore-paradoxical belief, then I have contradictory second-order beliefs. In their place, Vahid argues for the defective-interpretation approach, broadly that charity requires us to discount the utterer of a Moore-paradoxical sentence as a speaker. I agree that the Wittgensteinian approach is unsatisfactory. But so is the defective-interpretation approach. However, there is a satisfactory version of each of the epistemic and conscious-belief approaches. (shrink)
Is there a Moore ’s paradox in desire? I give a normative explanation of the epistemic irrationality, and hence absurdity, of Moorean belief that builds on Green and Williams’ normative account of absurdity. This explains why Moorean beliefs are normally irrational and thus absurd, while some Moorean beliefs are absurd without being irrational. Then I defend constructing a Moorean desire as the syntactic counterpart of a Moorean belief and distinguish it from a ‘Frankfurt’ conjunction of desires. Next I discuss putative (...) examples of rational and irrational desires, suggesting that there are norms of rational desire. Then I examine David Wall’s groundbreaking argument that Moorean desires are always unreasonable. Next I show against this that there are rational as well as irrational Moorean desires. Those that are irrational are also absurd, although there seem to be absurd desires that are not irrational. I conclude that certain norms of rational desire should be rejected. (shrink)
It is raining but you don’t believe that it is raining. Imagine silently accepting this claim. Then you believe both that it is raining and that you don’t believe that it is raining. This would be an ‘absurd’ thing to believe,yet what you believe might be true. Itmight be raining, while at the same time, you are completely ignorant of the state of the weather. But how can it be absurd of you to believe something about yourself that might be (...) true of you? This is Moore’s paradox as it occurs in thought. Solving the paradox consists in explaining why such beliefs are absurd. I give a survey of some of the main explanations. I largely deal with explanations of the absurdity of ‘omissive’ beliefs with contents of the form p & I don’t believe that p and of ‘commissive beliefs’ with contents of the form p & I believe that not-p as well as beliefs with contents of the form p & I don’t know that p. (shrink)
Chalmers and Hájek argue that on an epistemic reading of Ramsey’s test for the rational acceptability of conditionals, it is faulty. They claim that applying the test to each of a certain pair of conditionals requires one to think that one is omniscient or infallible, unless one forms irrational Moore-paradoxical beliefs. I show that this claim is false. The epistemic Ramsey test is indeed faulty. Applying it requires that one think of anyone as all-believing and if one is rational, to (...) think of anyone as infallible-if-rational. But this is not because of Moore-paradoxical beliefs. Rather it is because applying the test requires a certain supposition about conscious belief. It is important to understand the nature of this supposition. (shrink)
Moore’s paradox in belief is the fact that beliefs of the form ‘ p and I do not believe that p ’ are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. Writers on the paradox have nearly all taken the absurdity to be a form of irrationality. These include those who give what Timothy Chan calls the ‘pragmatic solution’ to the paradox. This solution turns on the fact that having the Moorean belief falsifies its content. Chan, who also takes the absurdity to be a (...) form of irrationality, objects to this solution by arguing that it is circular and thus incomplete. This is because it must explain why Moorean beliefs are irrational yet, according to Chan, their grammatical third-person transpositions are not, even though the same proposition is believed. But the solution can only explain this asymmetry by relying on a formulation of the ground of the irrationality of Moorean beliefs that presupposes precisely such asymmetry. I reply that it is neither necessary nor sufficient for the irrationality that the contents of Moorean beliefs be restricted to the grammatical first-person. What has to be explained is rather that such grammatical non-first-person transpositions sometimes, but not always, result in the disappearance of irrationality. Describing this phenomenon requires the grammatical first-person/non-first person distinction. The pragmatic solution explains the phenomenon once it is formulated in de se terms. But the grammatical first-person/non-first-person distinction is independent of, and a fortiori, different from, the de se /non- de se distinction presupposed by pragmatic solution, although both involve the first person broadly construed. Therefore the pragmatic solution is not circular. Building on the work of Green and Williams I also distinguish between the irrationality of Moorean beliefs and their absurdity. I argue that while all irrational Moorean beliefs are absurd, some Moorean beliefs are absurd but not irrational. I explain this absurdity in a way that is not circular either. (shrink)
Background: As actors with the key responsibility for the protection of human research participants, Research Ethics Committees (RECs) need to be competent and well-resourced in order to fulfil their roles. Despite recent programs designed to strengthen RECs in Africa, much more needs to be accomplished before these committees can function optimally.Objective: To assess training needs for biomedical research ethics evaluation among targeted countries.Methods: Members of RECs operating in three targeted African countries were surveyed between August and November 2007. Before implementing (...) the survey, ethical approvals were obtained from RECs in Switzerland, Cameroon, Mali and Tanzania. Data were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire in English and in French.Results: A total of 74 respondents participated in the study. The participation rate was 68%. Seventy one percent of respondents reported having received some training in research ethics evaluation. This training was given by national institutions (31%) and international institutions (69%). Researchers and REC members were ranked as the top target audiences to be trained. Of 32 topics, the top five training priorities were: basic ethical principles, coverage of applicable laws and regulations, how to conduct ethics review, evaluating informed consent processes and the role of the REC.Conclusion: Although the majority of REC members in the targeted African countries had received training in ethics, they expressed a need for additional training. The results of this survey have been used to design a training program in research ethics evaluation that meets this need. (shrink)
Quine (1960, Word and object. Cambridge, Mass.:MIT Press, ch. 2) claims that there are a variety of equally good schemes for translating or interpreting ordinary talk. ‘Rabbit’ might be taken to divide its reference over rabbits, over temporal slices of rabbits, or undetached parts of rabbits, without significantly affecting which sentences get classified as true and which as false. This is the basis of his famous ‘argument from below’ to the conclusion that there can be no fact of the matter (...) as to how reference is to be divided. Putative counterexamples to Quine’s claim have been put forward in the past (see especially Evans 1975; 1975, Journal of Philosophy, LXXII(13), 343–362. Reprinted in McDowell (Ed.), Gareth Evans: Collected papers. Oxford: Clarendon Press.), and various patches have been suggested (e.g. Wright (1997, The indeterminacy of translation. In C. Wright & B. Hale (Eds.), A companion to the philosophy of language (pp. 397–426). Oxford: Blackwell)). One lacuna in this literature is that one does not find any detailed presentation of what exactly these interpretations are supposed to be. Drawing on contemporary literature on persistence, the present paper sets out detailed semantic treatments for fragments of English, whereby predicates such as ‘rabbit’ divide their reference over four-dimensional continuants (Quine’s rabbits), instantaneous temporal slices of those continuants (Quine’s rabbit-slices) and the simple elements which compose those slices (undetached rabbit parts) respectively. Once we have the systematic interpretations on the table, we can get to work evaluating them. (shrink)
I argue that Moore's propositions, for example, 'I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don't believe that I did' cannot be rationally believed. Their assertors either cannot be rationally believed or cannot be believed to be rational. This analysis is extended to Moorean propositions such as God knows that I am an atheist and I believe that this proposition is false. I then defend the following definition of assertion: anyone asserts that p iff that person expresses a belief (...) that p with the intention of causing relevant epistemic change in the cognition of an actual or potential audience. (shrink)
In this essay, Brook Ziporyn’s reading of Zhuangzi 莊子 is explicated and broken down into what I take to be its two primary parts: first, Zhuangzi’s epistemological agnosticism and perspectivism, and second, Zhuangzi’s Wild Card. The former presents a unique set of philosophical problems through the specialized terminology of the classical Chinese lexicon, while the latter tries to remedy these problems. I take the first part of Zhuangzi’s position to be compelling and pertinent, while the second part is problematic. Carrying (...) out the project, I focus primarily on Ziporyn’s recent publication, Ironies of Oneness and Difference, as well as his translation of the Zhuangzi chapters that (allegedly —... (shrink)
In (2004) I gave an argument for Evans’s principle -/- Whatever justifies me in believing that p also justifies me in believing that I believe that p -/- Hamid Vahid (2005) raises two objections against this argument. I show that the first is harmless and that the second is a non sequitur.
In 2004, I explained the absurdity of Moore-paradoxical belief via the syllogism (Williams 2004): (1) All circumstances that justify me in believing that p are circumstances that tend to make me believe that p. (2) All circumstances that tend to make me believe that p are circumstances that justify me in believing that I believe that p. (3) All circumstances that justify me in believing that p are circumstances that justify me in believing that I believe that p. I then (...) took (3) to mean (EP) Whatever justifies me in believing that p justifies me in believing that I believe that p.1 Now suppose that I am justified in believing anything of the omissive Mooreparadoxical form: (Om) p and I do not believe that p. Then I am justified in believing the first conjunct. So by (EP) I am justified in believing that I believe that p. But since I am also justified in believing the second conjunct, I am justified in believing that I do not believe that p. I claimed that this is impossible, because anything that justifies me in believing that something is the case renders me unjustified in believing that it is not the case. This syllogism is plausible from an externalist view of justification, according to which circumstances such as seeming to see rain under normal perceptual conditions, justify me in believing that it is raining. In support of (1), if my apparent perceptions of rain are reliably connected with rain, so as to justify me in thinking that it is raining, they also tend to make me believe that it is raining. In support of (2), my apparent perceptions of rain are also reliably connected with my coming to believe that it is raining. However, Anthony Brueckner (2006) argues that (1) and (EP) are both false once justification is thought of evidentially. Against (EP), he claims that my evidence that p is not evidence that I believe that p unless I possess the evidence, in the sense that I believe it and were I to believe that p on its basis. (shrink)
I offer a novel account of the absurdity of Moore-paradoxical assertion in terms of an interlocutor’s fully conscious beliefs. This account starts with an original argument for the principle that fully conscious belief collects over conjunction. The argument is premised on the synchronic unity of consciousness and the transparency of belief.
I objected that the defeasibility theory of knowledge prohibits you from knowing that you know that p if your knowledge that p is a posteriori. Rodrigo Borges claims that Peter Klein has already satisfactorily answered a version of my objection. He attempts to defend Klein’s reply and argues that my objection fails because a principle on which it is based is false.I will show that my objection is not a version of the old one that Klein attempts (unsuccessfully) to address, (...) that Borges’ defence of Klein’s reply fails and that his argument against my new objection leaves it untouched. (shrink)
John Turri gives an example that he thinks refutes what he takes to be “G. E. Moore's view” that omissive assertions such as “It is raining but I do not believe that it is raining” are “inherently ‘absurd'”. This is that of Ellie, an eliminativist who makes such assertions. Turri thinks that these are perfectly reasonable and not even absurd. Nor does she seem irrational if the sincerity of her assertion requires her to believe its content. A commissive counterpart of (...) Ellie is Di, a dialetheist who asserts or believes that The Russell set includes itself but I believe that it is not the case that the Russell set includes itself. Since any adequate explanation of Moore's paradox must handle commissive assertions and beliefs as well as omissive ones, it must deal with Di as well as engage Ellie. I give such an explanation. I argue that neither Ellie's assertion nor her belief is irrational yet both are absurd. Likewise neither Di's assertion nor her belief is irrational yet in contrast neither is absurd. I conclude that not all Moore-paradoxical assertions or beliefs are irrational and that the syntax of Moore's examples is not sufficient for the absurdity found in them. (shrink)
I give an account of the absurdity of Moorean beliefs of the omissive form(om) p and I don’t believe that p,and the commissive form(com) p and I believe that not-p,from which I extract a definition of Moorean absurdity. I then argue for an account of the absurdity of Moorean assertion. After neutralizing two objections to my whole account, I show that Roy Sorensen’s own account of the absurdity of his ‘iterated cases’(om1) p and I don’t believe that I believe that (...) p,and(com1) p and I believe that I believe that not-p,is unsatisfactory. I explain why it is less absurd to believe or assert (om1) or (com1) than to believe or assert (om) or (com) and show that despite appearances, subsequent iterations of (om1) or (com1) do not decrease the absurdity of believing or asserting them. (shrink)
Foley and Turri have recently given objections to the defeasibility theory of propositional knowledge. Here, I give an objection of a quite different stripe by looking at what the theory must say about knowing that you know. I end with some remarks on how this objection relates to rival theories and how this might be a worry for some of these.
It is raining but you don’t believe that it is raining. Imagine accepting this claim. Then you are committed to saying ‘It is raining but I don’t believe that it is raining’. This would be an ‘absurd’ thing to claim or assert, yet what you say might be true. It might be raining, while at the same time, you are completely ignorant of the state of the weather. But how can it be absurd of you to assert something about yourself (...) that might be true of you? This is Moore’s paradox as it occurs in speech. What is the source of the absurdity? And why does it strike us that a contradiction is somehow at work when there is no contradiction in the content of what is asserted? In Section 2, I describe Moore’s formulation of the paradox and evaluate his own solutions. In Section 3, I discuss Wittgenstein’s inf luence in solving the paradox. In Section 4, I discuss Shoemaker’s priority thesis that once the absurdity in belief has been explained, then this will translate into an explanation of the absurdity in assertion. In Section 5, I discuss work on omissive and commissive Moore-paradoxical assertions, i.e. those of the forms p & I don’t believe that p and p & I believe that not-p. In Section 6, I discuss work on assertions of the form p & I don’t know that p. (shrink)
One tradition of solving the surprise exam paradox, started by Robert Binkley and continued by Doris Olin, Roy Sorensen and Jelle Gerbrandy, construes surpriseepistemically and relies upon the oddity of propositions akin to G. E. Moore’s paradoxical ‘p and I don’t believe that p.’ Here I argue for an analysis that evolves from Olin’s. My analysis is different from hers or indeed any of those in the tradition because it explicitly recognizes that there are two distinct reductios at work in (...) the student’s paradoxical argument against the teacher. The weak reductio is easy to fault. Its invalidity determines the structure of the strong reductio, so-calledbecause it is more difficult to refute, but ultimately unsound because of reasons associated with Moore-paradoxicality. Previous commentators have not always appreciated this difference, with the result that the strong reductio is not addressed, or the response to the weak reductio is superfl uous. This is one reason why other analyses in the tradition are vulnerable to objections to which mine is not. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThe latest draft of UNESCO's proposed Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights is a major disappointment. The committee of government ‘experts’ that produced it made sure that it would not introduce any new obligations for States, and so the document simply restates existing agreements and lists desirable goals without specifying how they can be achieved. This article focuses on the shortcomings of the document as it would apply to health care. These shortcomings are evident in the document's scope, aims (...) and principles. The conclusion is that if UNESCO still thinks that such a declaration is needed, it should produce either an ethical document addressed to individuals and groups, which would be primarily educational in nature, or a legal document addressed to States, which should not have the word ‘ethics’ in its title. (shrink)
Abela and Murphy (J Acad Mark Sci 36(1):39–53, 2007 ) examined Service-Dominant (S-D) logic (Vargo and Lusch, J Mark 68(1):1–17, 2004 ) from the viewpoint of Marketing Ethics and concluded that whilst S-D logic does not have explicit ethical content, the Foundational Premises (FPs) of S-D logic do have implicit ethical content. They also conclude that what may be needed to make the implicit more explicit is the addition of another FP. The aim of this article is to explore whether (...) S-D logic needs to be modified, if one wishes to construct a theoretical framework for analysis of Marketing that has ethical considerations fully integrated. We critically evaluate the claim that the FPs are inherently ethical and conclude that S-D logic should be modified. We offer an additional FP for consideration that relates to the role of personal and societal values in the co-creation of value. This FP is necessary because of the role that the ethical positions of actors play in exchange behaviour. However, it should be pointed out that whilst the article explores the ethical potential of S-D logic it does not privilege any particular ethical position or code. These concerns will be addressed in subsequent articles: the aim here is to establish the underlying rationale for including an explicit commitment to ethics in S-D logic. (shrink)
What is social entrepreneurship? In, particular, what’s so social about it? Understanding what social entrepreneurship is enables researchers to study the phenomenon and policy-makers to design measures to encourage it. However, such an understanding is lacking partly because there is no universally accepted definition of entrepreneurship as yet. In this paper, we suggest a definition of social entrepreneurship that intuitively accords with what is generally accepted as entrepreneurship and that captures the way in which entrepreneurship may be altruistic. Based on (...) this we provide a taxonomy of social entrepreneurship and identify a number of real cases from Asia illustrating the different forms it could take. (shrink)
Hannah Arendt's approach to politics focuses on action and conduct, rather than institutions, constitutions, and states. In light of Arendtian conceptions of politics, essays in this book challenge conventional IR theories. The contributions on agency explore concepts and categories of political action that enable individuals to act politically and to re-make the world in new, unpredictable ways. The contributions on structure explore how Arendt provides new critical purchase upon often reified structures and categories.
Neil Sinhababu and I presented Backward Clock, an original counterexample to Robert Nozick’s truth-tracking analysis of propositional knowledge. Fred Adams, John Barker and Murray Clarke argue that Backward Clock is no such counterexample. Their argument fails to nullify Backward Clock which also shows that other tracking analyses, such as Dretske’s and one that Adams et al. may well have in mind, are inadequate.
In “Generalizing Generalizability in Information Systems Research,” Lee and Baskerville try to clarify generalization and classify it into four types. Unfortunately, their account is problematic. We propose repairs. Central among these is our balance-of-evidence argument that we should adopt the view that Hume’s problem of induction has a solution, even if we do not know what it is. We build upon this by proposing an alternative classification of induction. There are five types of generalization: theoretical, within-population, cross-population, contextual, and temporal, (...) with theoretical generalization being across the empirical and theoretical levels and the rest within the empirical level. Our classification also includes two kinds of inductive reasoning that do not belong to the domain of generalization. We then discuss the implications of our classification for information systems research. (shrink)
The background to this paper is the question of how rational belief is possible in the light of the commonly presented infinite regress in reasons. The paper investigates the neglected question of whether this regress is vicious. I argue that given the genuine requirements of rational belief, The regress would require the rational believer to hold an infinity of beliefs, Which is impossible. The regress would not entail the rational believer holding an infinitely complex belief, Which, Admittedly, Would be logically (...) impossible. (shrink)
The absurdity of (i) and (ii) arises because asserting 'p' normally expresses a belief that p. Normally, when (i) is asserted, what is conjointly expressed and asserted, i.e. a belief that p and a lack of belief that p, is logically impossible, whereas normally, when (ii) is asserted, it is differently absurd, since what is conjointly expressed and asserted, i.e. a belief that p and a belief that -p, is logically possible, but inconsistent. A possible source of confusion between 'impossible' (...) and 'inconsistent' is the fact that a proposition which is inconsistent tout court is always self-contradictory and hence necessarily false, unlike one which is inconsistent with other propositions. Whereas the proposition Ibp&-Ibp is inconsistent, the proposition IBp &IB-p is not. I cannot hold a belief which I lack, but I can.. (shrink)
Discussions of what is sometimes called 'Moore's paradox' are often vitiated by a failure to notice that there are two paradoxes; not merely one in two sets of linguistic clothing. The two paradoxes are absurd, but in different ways, and accordingly require different explanations.
ABSTRACT Timothy Williamson offers the ordinary practice, the lottery and the Moorean argument for the ‘knowledge account’ that assertion is the only speech-act that is governed by the single rule that one must know its content. I show that these fail to support it and that the emptiness of the knowledge account renders mysterious why breaking the knowledge rule should be a source of criticism. I argue that focussing exclusively on the sincerity of the speech-act of letting one know engenders (...) a category mistake about the nature of constraints on assertion. After giving an analysis of assertion I propose that the norm of a type of assertion is the epistemic state one needs for one’s speech-act to succeed in being an assertion of that type and that the epistemic state in question is determined by the point of the type of assertion. One is practically irrational in violating the norm. (shrink)
I argue that ‘Moore’s paradox for God’. I do not believe this proposition shows that nobody can be both omniscient and rational in all her beliefs. I then anticipate and rebut three objections to my argument.
Placebo-trials on HIV-infected pregnant women in developing countries like Thailand and Uganda have provoked recent controversy. Such experiments aim to find a treatment that will cut the rate of vertical transmission more efficiently than existing treatments like zidovudine. This scenario is first stated as generally as possible, before three ethical principles found in the Belmont Report, itself a sharpening of the Helsinki Declaration, are stated. These three principles are the Principle of Utility, the Principle of Autonomy and the Principle of (...) Justice. These are taken as voices of moral imperative. But although each has intuitive appeal, it can be shown that there are possible scenarios in which they give conflicting prescriptions. To achieve consistency, one must be subordinate to the others. The voice of utility is taken as subordinate to those of justice and autonomy and it is shown that given plausible assumptions about the level of poverty and education in the developing country targeted, the experiment is ruled morally wrong in the name of both justice and autonomy. Moreover, it is argued that no justification can be found for the inclusion of a placebo group, when strictly defined. By contrast, a ‘no- treatment’ control arm might be justified, but only when the demands of autonomy are satisfied, demands that are more stringent than they might appear. A utilitarian defence of the experiment is examined, namely that the would-be participants are in a no-loss situation, and it is shown that this defence is seriously flawed. Finally, it is concluded that there is no justification for amending the Declaration of Helsinki. (shrink)