Oregon is the only state in the United States where a physician may legally prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturate for a patient intending suicide. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act was passed by voters in 1994 and came into effect after much legal wrangling in October of 1997. At the same time, a cabinetmaker named Pat Matheny was struggling with progressive weakness from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. I met with Pat and his family for a lengthy interview in (...) October 1998 in Coos Bay, Oregon, for a television news report on his decision to get a lethal prescription. Below is an extract from that interview. On the day this introduction was written, 10 March 1999, Pat took the prescribed lethal overdose of barbiturates and died at home. His illness was taking his voice, he could not move his hands or legs, and breathing was becoming very difficult. His mother told me he knew that was for him. (shrink)
Down Girl is a broad, original, and far ranging analysis of what misogyny really is, how it works, its purpose, and how to fight it. The philosopher Kate Manne argues that modern society's failure to recognize women's full humanity and autonomy is not actually the problem. She argues instead that it is women's manifestations of human capacities -- autonomy, agency, political engagement -- is what engenders misogynist hostility.
Kuyumcuoglu argues that defenders of sweatshop regulations should reject consequentialism and accept an ex ante interpretation of contractualism instead. In this Commentary I show that Kuyumcuoglu’s argument doesn’t succeed. Defenders of sweatshops shouldn’t become ex ante contractualists because its advantages on this issue are more apparent than real.
Does the morality of abortion depend on the moral status of the human fetus? Must the law of abortion presume an answer to the question of when personhood begins? Can a law which permits late abortion but not infanticide be morally justified? These are just some of the questions this book sets out to address. With an extended analysis of the moral and legal status of abortion, Kate Greasley offers an alternative account to the reputable arguments of Ronald Dworkin (...) and Judith Jarvis Thomson and instead brings the philosophical notion of 'personhood' to the foreground of this debate. Structured in three parts, the book will consider the relevance of prenatal personhood for the moral and legal evaluation of abortion; trace the key features of the conventional debate about when personhood begins and explore the most prominent issues in abortion ethics literature: the human equality problem and the difference between abortion and infanticide; and examine abortion law and regulation as well as the differing attitudes to selective abortion. The book concludes with a snapshot into the current controversy surrounding the scope of the right to conscientiously object to participation in abortion provision. (shrink)
By looking at the politics of classification within machine learning systems, this article demonstrates why the automated interpretation of images is an inherently social and political project. We begin by asking what work images do in computer vision systems, and what is meant by the claim that computers can “recognize” an image? Next, we look at the method for introducing images into computer systems and look at how taxonomies order the foundational concepts that will determine how a system interprets the (...) world. Then we turn to the question of labeling: how humans tell computers which words will relate to a given image. What is at stake in the way AI systems use these labels to classify humans, including by race, gender, emotions, ability, sexuality, and personality? Finally, we turn to the purposes that computer vision is meant to serve in our society—the judgments, choices, and consequences of providing computers with these capacities. Methodologically, we call this an archeology of datasets: studying the material layers of training images and labels, cataloguing the principles and values by which taxonomies are constructed, and analyzing how these taxonomies create the parameters of intelligibility for an AI system. By doing this, we can critically engage with the underlying politics and values of a system, and analyze which normative patterns of life are assumed, supported, and reproduced. (shrink)
Internalists about reasons following Bernard Williams claim that an agent’s normative reasons for action are constrained in some interesting way by her desires or motivations. In this paper, I offer a new argument for such a position—although one that resonates, I believe, with certain key elements of Williams’ original view. I initially draw on P.F. Strawson’s famous distinction between the interpersonal and the objective stances that we can take to other people, from the second-person point of view. I suggest that (...) we should accept Strawson’s contention that the activity of reasoning with someone about what she ought to do naturally belongs to the interpersonal mode of interaction. I also suggest that reasons for an agent to perform some action are considerations which would be apt to be cited in favor of that action, within an idealized version of this advisory social practice. I then go on to argue that one would take leave of the interpersonal stance towards someone—thus crossing the line, so to speak—in suggesting that she do something one knows she wouldn’t want to do, even following an exhaustive attempt to hash it out with her. An internalist necessity constraint on reasons is defended on this basis. (shrink)
One variety of love is familiar in everyday life and qualifies in every reasonable sense as a reactive attitude. ‘Reactive love’ is paradigmatically (a) an affectionate attachment to another person, (b) appropriately felt as a non-self-interested response to particular kinds of morally laudable features of character expressed by the loved one in interaction with the lover, and (c) paradigmatically manifested in certain kinds of acts of goodwill and characteristic affective, desiderative and other motivational responses (including other-regarding concern and a desire (...) to be with the beloved). ‘Virtues of intimacy’ as expressed in interaction with the lover are agent-relative reasons for reactive love, and like other reactive attitudes, reactive love generates reasons in its own right. Within a broad conception of the virtues, reactive love sheds light on the reactive attitudes more generally. (shrink)
This paper examines how progress on gender equality in the field of corporate social responsibility might contribute to broader EU gender and sustainability objectives. It focuses on corporations and citizenship, and on company stakeholder relations in particular. While the literature on SR has previously engaged with scholarship on feminist ethics, and in particular the ‘ethics of care’, this paper draws upon the feminist citizenship and feminist ethics literature, and upon gender mainstreaming strategy to suggest a more comprehensive approach to gender (...) equality within SR. The aim is to extend our understanding of CSR as a potential policy instrument to advance gender equality. (shrink)
Human microbiome research makes causal connections between entire microbial communities and a wide array of traits that range from physiological diseases to psychological states. To evaluate these causal claims, we first examine a well-known single-microbe causal explanation: of Helicobacter pylori causing ulcers. This apparently straightforward causal explanation is not so simple, however. It does not achieve a key explanatory standard in microbiology, of Koch’s postulates, which rely on manipulations of single-microorganism cultures to infer causal relationships to disease. When Koch’s postulates (...) are framed by an interventionist causal framework, it is clearer what the H. pylori explanation achieves and where its explanatory strengths lie. After assessing this ‘simple’, single-microbe case, we apply the interventionist framework to two key areas of microbiome research, in which obesity and mental health states are purportedly explained by microbiomes. Despite the experimental data available, interventionist criteria for explanation show that many of the causal claims generated by microbiome research are weak or misleading. We focus on the stability, specificity and proportionality of proposed microbiome causal explanations, and evaluate how effectively these dimensions of causal explanation are achieved in some promising avenues of research. We suggest some conceptual and explanatory strategies to improve how causal claims about microbiomes are made. (shrink)
There are growing discontinuities between the research practices of data science and established tools of research ethics regulation. Some of the core commitments of existing research ethics regulations, such as the distinction between research and practice, cannot be cleanly exported from biomedical research to data science research. Such discontinuities have led some data science practitioners and researchers to move toward rejecting ethics regulations outright. These shifts occur at the same time as a proposal for major revisions to the Common Rule—the (...) primary regulation governing human-subjects research in the USA—is under consideration for the first time in decades. We contextualize these revisions in long-running complaints about regulation of social science research and argue data science should be understood as continuous with social sciences in this regard. The proposed regulations are more flexible and scalable to the methods of non-biomedical research, yet problematically largely exclude data science methods from human-subjects regulation, particularly uses of public datasets. The ethical frameworks for Big Data research are highly contested and in flux, and the potential harms of data science research are unpredictable. We examine several contentious cases of research harms in data science, including the 2014 Facebook emotional contagion study and the 2016 use of geographical data techniques to identify the pseudonymous artist Banksy. To address disputes about application of human-subjects research ethics in data science, critical data studies should offer a historically nuanced theory of “data subjectivity” responsive to the epistemic methods, harms and benefits of data science and commerce. (shrink)
Art theory has consistently emphasised the importance of situational, cultural, institutional and historical factors in viewers’ experience of fine art. However, the link between this heavily context-dependent interpretation and the workings of the mind is often left unexamined. Drawing on relevance theory—a prominent, cogent and productive body of work in cognitive pragmatics—we here argue that fine art achieves its effects by prompting the use of cognitive processes that are more commonly employed in the interpretation of words and other stimuli presented (...) in a communicative context. We describe in particular how institutional factors effectively co-opt these processes for new ends, allowing viewers to achieve cognitive effects that they otherwise would not, and so provide cognitivist backing for an Institutional Theory of Art, such as that put forward by Arthur Danto. More generally, we situate and describe the Western fine art tradition as a phenomenon that is a consequence of both the cognitive processes involved in communication, and of cultural norms, practices and institutions. (shrink)
In this book, Kate Distin proposes a theory of cultural evolution and shows how it can help us to understand the origin and development of human culture. Distin introduces the concept that humans share information not only in natural languages, which are spoken or signed, but also in artefactual languages like writing and musical notation, which use media that are made by humans. Languages enable humans to receive and transmit variations in cultural information and resources. In this way, they (...) provide the mechanism for cultural evolution. The human capacity for metarepresentation - thinking about how we think - accelerates cultural evolution, because it frees cultural information from the conceptual limitations of each individual language. Distin shows how the concept of cultural evolution outlined in this book can help us to understand the complexity and diversity of human culture, relating her theory to a range of subjects including economics, linguistics, and developmental biology. (shrink)
According to the normativist, it is built into the nature of belief itself that beliefs are subject to a certain set of norms. I argue here that only a normativist account can explain certain non-normative facts about what it takes to have the capacity for belief. But this way of defending normativism places an explanatory burden on any normativist account that an account on which a truth norm is explanatorily fundamental simply cannot discharge. I develop an alternative account that can (...) achieve explanatory adequacy where this sort of truth privileging account falls short. (shrink)
'This is an excellent book. It addresses what, in both conceptual and political terms, is arguably the most important source of tension and confusion in current arguments about the environment, namely the concept of nature; and it does so in a way that is both sensitive to, and critical of, the two antithetical ways of understanding this that dominate existing discussions.' Russell Keat, University of Edinburgh.
A high heritability estimate usually corresponds to a situation in which trait variation is largely caused by genetic variation. However, in some cases of gene-environment covariance, causal intuitions about the sources of trait difference can vary, leading experts to disagree as to how the heritability estimate should be interpreted. We argue that the source of contention for these cases is an inconsistency in the interpretation of the concepts ‘genotype’, ‘phenotype’, and ‘environment’. We propose an interpretation of these terms under which (...) trait variance initially caused by genetic variance is subsumed into a heritability for all cases of gene-environment covariance. (shrink)
This book features opening arguments followed by two rounds of reply between two moral philosophers on opposing sides of the abortion debate. In the opening essays, Kate Greasley and Christopher Kaczor lay out what they take to be the best case for and against abortion rights. In the ensuing dialogue, they engage with each other's arguments and each responds to criticisms fielded by the other. Their conversational argument explores such fundamental questions as: what gives a person the right to (...) life? Is abortion bad for women? What is the difference between abortion and infanticide? Underpinned by philosophical reasoning and methodology, this book provides opposing and clearly structured perspectives on a highly emotive and controversial issue. The result gives readers a window into how moral philosophers argue about the contentious issue of abortion rights, and an in-depth analysis of the compelling arguments on both sides. (shrink)
This paper explores a neglected normative dimension of algorithmic opacity in the workplace and the labor market. It argues that explanations of algorithms and algorithmic decisions are of noninstrumental value. That is because explanations of the structure and function of parts of the social world form the basis for reflective clarification of our practical orientation toward the institutions that play a central role in our life. Using this account of the noninstrumental value of explanations, the paper diagnoses distinctive normative defects (...) in the workplace and economic institutions which a reliance on AI can encourage, and which lead to alienation. (shrink)
This paper explores how political theory may help us map algorithmic logics against different visions of the political. Drawing on Chantal Mouffe’s theories of agonistic pluralism, this paper depicts algorithms in public life in ten distinct scenes, in order to ask the question, what kinds of politics do they instantiate? Algorithms are working within highly contested online spaces of public discourse, such as YouTube and Facebook, where incompatible perspectives coexist. Yet algorithms are designed to produce clear “winners” from information contests, (...) often with little visibility or accountability for how those contests are designed. In isolation, many of these algorithms seem the opposite of agonistic: much of the complexity of search, ranking, and recommendation algorithms is nonnegotiable and kept far from view, inside an algorithmic “black box.” But what if we widen our perspective? This paper suggests agonistic pluralism as both a design ideal for engineers and a provocation to understand algorithms in a broader social context: rather than focusing on the calculations in isolation, we need to account for the spaces of contestation where they operate. (shrink)
Although corporate social responsibility practice increasingly addresses gender issues, and gender and CSR scholarship is expanding, feminist theory is rarely explicitly referenced or discussed in the CSR literature. We contend that this omission is a key limitation of the field. We argue that CSR theorization and research on gender can be improved through more explicit and systematic reference to feminist theories, and particularly those from feminist organization studies. Addressing this gap, we review developments in feminist organization theory, mapping their relevance (...) to CSR. With reference to six major theoretical perspectives in CSR scholarship, we note feminist research relating to each. Drawing upon FOS theory and CSR theory, we then develop an integrated theoretical framework for the analysis of gender issues in CSR. Our framework enables us to identify research strengths in the gender and CSR literature, as well as gaps therein, to open new conversations and to posit future research directions for this emerging area of scholarship. Our paper illustrates how a better grounding of CSR in feminist theory can contribute to CSR research more broadly. (shrink)
This paper considers the moral psychology of interpersonal conduct that is cruel, brutal, humiliating, or degrading. On the view I call “humanism,” such behavior often stems from the perpetrators’ dehumanizing view of their targets. The former may instead see the latter as subhuman creatures, nonhuman animals, supernatural beings, or even mindless objects. If people recognized their common humanity, they would have a hard time mistreating other human beings. This paper criticizes humanism so understood, arguing that its explanatory power is often (...) overstated, and that there are alternative, “socially situated” explanations that are better in many cases. (shrink)
This article argues that analytic philosophy has a “convincingness deficit”; that proponents of the analytic method’s application to questions of theology must consider whether it is the best tool for the purpose at hand; and that phenomenology – in particular, Sartrean phenomenology – provides a useful methodological complement to the scholarly analysis of faith. After defining the convincingness deficit and what I take analytic theology to be, I defend phenomenology against the charge of “subjectivity” in order to argue that the (...) varied ends of theological discourse require varied means – means which include phenomenology. (shrink)
?Vulnerability? is now a popular term in the lexicon of every-day life and a notion frequently drawn upon by policy-makers, academics, journalists, welfare workers and local authorities. This essay explores some of the ethical and practical implications of ?vulnerability? as a concept in social welfare. It highlights how ideas about vulnerability shape the ways in which we manage and classify people, justify state intervention in citizens? lives, allocate resources in society and define our social obligations. The lack of clarity and (...) limited analysis of the concept of ?vulnerability? in welfare arenas is highlighted as concerning, particularly given that those seen as most in need of support seem to be implicated in commonly held views about ?the vulnerable?. I argue that far from being innocuous, ?vulnerability? is so loaded with political, moral and practical implications that it is potentially damaging to the pursuit of social justice. Two opposing presentations of the notion are set out in order to illustrate that ?vulnerability? is a concept that should be handled with more care. (shrink)
We all know that speech can be harmful. But how? Mary Kate McGowan argues that speech constitutes harm when it enacts a norm that prescribes that harm. She investigates such harms as oppression, subordination, and discrimination in such forms of speech as sexist remarks, racist hate speech, pornography, verbal triggers, and micro-aggressions.
Calls for increasing integration of ethical considerations into business education are well documented. Business graduates are perceived to be ethically naive at best, and at worst, constrained in their moral development by the lack of ethical content in their courses. The pedagogic concern is to find effective methods of incorporating ethics into the fabric of business education. The purpose of this paper is to suggest and illustrate role play as an appropriate method for integrating ethical concerns.
The Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings aims to stop the export of unethical research practices from higher to lower income settings. Launched in 2018, the GCC was immediately adopted by European Commission funding streams for application in research that is situated in lower and lower-middle income countries. Other institutions soon followed suit. This article reports on the application of the GCC in two of the first UK-funded projects to implement this new code, one situated in India (...) and one in Pakistan. Through systematic ethics evaluation of both projects, the practical application of the GCC in real-world environments was tested. The findings of this ethics evaluation suggest that while there are challenges for implementation, application of the GCC can promote equity in international research collaborations. (shrink)
This paper investigates the potential and actual contribution of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to gender equality in a framework of gender mainstreaming (GM). It introduces GM as combining technical systems (monitoring, reporting, evaluating) with political processes (women’s participation in decision-making) and considers the ways in which this is compatible with CSR agendas. It examines the inclusion of gender equality criteria within three related CSR tools: human capital management (HCM) reporting, CSR reporting guidelines, and socially responsible investment (SRI) criteria on employee (...) and diversity issues. Although evidence is found of gender equality information being requested within several CSR related reporting frameworks, these requirements are mostly limited in scope, or remain optional elements. The nature and extent of relevant stakeholder opportunities are investigated to explain this unfulfilled potential. (shrink)
What makes certain mental states subject to evaluation with respect to norms of rationality and justification, and others arational? In this paper, I develop and defend an account that explains why belief is governed by, and so appropriately subject to, evaluation with respect to norms of rationality and justification, one that does justice to the complexity of our evaluative practice in this domain. Then, I sketch out a way of extending the account to explain when and why other kinds of (...) mental states are rationally evaluable. I argue that the cognitive or psychological mechanisms that give rise to and sustain our mental states help to render our mental states appropriate targets for evaluation with respect to norms of rationality and justification when the operation of these mechanisms is responsive, in a specific way, to our judgments about which kinds of considerations constitute rationalizing and justifying reasons for being in states of the relevant sort. (shrink)
Epistemic evaluation is often appropriately prescriptive in character because believers are often capable of exercising some kind of control—call it doxastic control—over the way in which they regulate their beliefs. An intuitively appealing and widely endorsed account of doxastic control—the immediate causal impact account—maintains that a believer exercises doxastic control when her judgments about how she ought to regulate her beliefs in a particular set of circumstances can cause the believer actually to regulate her beliefs in those circumstances as she (...) judges she ought to. I show here that the immediate causal impact account is ultimately untenable. Nevertheless, the immediate causal impact account gets something important about the nature of doxastic control right: exercising doxastic control involves being such that one’s conception of ideal belief regulation somehow shapes the way in which one actually regulates one’s beliefs. Thus, I develop here an alternative account according to which, insofar as she exercises doxastic control, a believer’s conception of ideal belief regulation shapes the way in which she actually believes by exerting causal power directly on her dispositions to regulate her beliefs in certain ways. I defend this alternative against other competitors by showing that it can be extended to supply a unified account of rational control that explains why evaluation with respect to the various different norms of rationality that govern the way in which we form, revise and sustain not only our beliefs, but also our intention, hopes, fears, etc. is often appropriately prescriptive. (shrink)
The corporate social responsibility literature has increasingly explored relationships between civil society and social movements, including non-governmental organizations, and corporations, as well as the role of NGOs in multi-stakeholder governance processes. This paper addresses the challenge of including a plurality of civil society voices and perspectives in business–NGO relations, and in CSR as a process of governance. The paper contributes to CSR scholarship by bringing insights from feminist literature to bear on CSR as a process of governance, and engaging with (...) leaders of women’s NGOs, a group of actors rarely included in CSR research. The issues raised inform contributions to the CSR literature relating to the role of women’s NGOs with regard to the gender equality practices and impacts of corporations, and with respect to defining the meaning and practice of CSR. The paper frames marginalized NGOs as important actors which can contribute to pluralism, inclusion and legitimacy in CSR as a process of governance. It identifies several key barriers to the participation of women’s NGOs in CSR, and concludes by making suggestions for future research, as well as practice. (shrink)
Precarious employment is commonplace within the University-as-business model. Neoliberal and New Public Management agendas have influenced widespread insecurity, and limited career progression pathways within academic work. Qualitative multi-case data inform this investigation of how young academic workers cope with, and justify, their precarious situations in a large Australian university. This article introduces the notion of cruel optimism to analyse the unethical exploitation of desires of precariously employed academics. This analytical engagement extends empathetic engagement with the lived experiences and rationalisations of (...) precariously employed academic workers, paying homage to their desires and negotiations. Findings demonstrate that participants were heavily invested in working towards achieving their good life fantasy which encompassed secure employment and the recognition this provided. Cruel optimism operated as participants developed coping mechanisms to deal with the ongoingness of their troubling situation as precarious workers uncertain how to change their precarious circumstances. Participants experienced cruel optimism as they navigated through issues of identity, control, and desire, related to their present and future lives as academic workers experiencing an impasse of crisis ordinariness. Optimism directed towards the academic scene of desire motivated participants’ daily actions and informed their understandings. Ethical elements of the impasse of precarious employment are presented in relation to the neoliberal and New Public Management-oriented University context. This article provides a novel conceptualisation of how precarious employment contributes to a relation of cruel optimism among workers by highlighting how organisations exploit the desires of insecure employees for extended periods of time, contributing to an impasse of crisis ordinariness. (shrink)
This article examines the “Choice Argument” for sweatshops, i.e., the claim that it is morally wrong or impermissible for third parties to interfere with the choice of sweatshop workers to work in sweatshops. The Choice Argument seeks, in other words, to shift the burden of proof onto those who wish to regulate sweatshop labor. It does so by forcing critics of sweatshops to specify the conditions under which it is morally permissible to interfere with sweatshop workers’ choice. My aim in (...) this article is to meet that burden. Unlike other critics of sweatshop labor, however, my argument does not proceed from contested economic or moral assumptions. To the contrary, my strategy will be to demonstrate that even if we grant the truth of the economic and moral assumptions made by defenders of the Choice Argument, it never- theless does not follow that it is morally wrong to interfere with the choice of sweatshop workers to work in sweatshops. The Choice Argument thus fails on its own terms. (shrink)
More than two hundred years after its publication, David Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals is still widely regarded as either a footnote to the more philosophically interesting third book of the Treatise, or an abbreviated, more stylish, version of that earlier work. These standard interpretations are rather difficult to square with Hume's own assessment of the second Enquiry. Are we to think that Hume called the EPM “incomparably the best” of all his writings only because he preferred that (...) later style of exposition? Or worse, should we take his preference for the second Enquiry as a sign of aging literary vanity? Does Hume's stated preference for the EPM in no way speak to its philosophical content? (shrink)