An oft-quoted Hadith purports that it is incumbent upon every Muslim to seek knowledge, even if it is to be found as far away as China.1 However, the plethora of knowledge that was discovered there generally has yet to be unraveled by Western academics. If the intellectual tradition of Chinese Muslims may appear to be of minor consequence to the larger field of Islamic studies, this is in part because of our failure to assess their influence. The abundant resources for (...) understanding the Islamic sciences in China have barely been grazed and are awaiting our thorough analytical peregrination. This essay attempts to evaluate (1) the most recent work that explores this intellectual tradition, The Sage Learning of Liu .. (shrink)
In Search of Immortality: The Political Economy of Anti-aging Medicine Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 267-279 DOI 10.1007/s12376-009-0020-x Authors Alan Petersen, Monash University Sociology Program, School of Political and Social Inquiry Clayton VIC 3800 Australia Kate Seear, Monash University Sociology Program, School of Political and Social Inquiry Clayton VIC 3800 Australia Journal Medicine Studies Online ISSN 1876-4541 Print ISSN 1876-4533 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 3.
The aim of this critical commentary is to distinguish and analytically discuss some important variations in which legal moralism is defined in the literature. As such, the aim is not to evaluate the most plausible version of legal moralism, but to find the most plausible definition of legal moralism. As a theory of criminalization, i.e. a theory that aims to justify the criminal law we should retain, legal moralism can be, and has been, defined as follows: the immorality of an (...) act of type A is a sufficient reason for the criminalization of A, even if A does not cause someone to be harmed. In what follows, I critically examine some of the key definitions and proposals that have, unfortunately, not always been carefully distinguished. Finally, I propose a definition that seems to capture the essence of what many philosophers refer to when they talk about legal moralism, while also providing more clarity. (shrink)
Nick Bostrom's book *Superintelligence* outlines a frightening but realistic scenario for human extinction: true artificial intelligence is likely to bootstrap itself into superintelligence, and thereby become ideally effective at achieving its goals. Human-friendly goals seem too abstract to be pre-programmed with any confidence, and if those goals are *not* explicitly favorable toward humans, the superintelligence will extinguish us---not through any malice, but simply because it will want our resources for its own purposes. In response I argue that things might not (...) be as bad as Bostrom suggests. If the superintelligence must *learn* complex final goals, then this means such a superintelligence must in effect *reason* about its own goals. And because it will be especially clear to a superintelligence that there are no sharp lines between one agent's goals and another's, that reasoning could therefore automatically be ethical in nature. (shrink)
I argue for patternism, a new answer to the question of when some objects compose a whole. None of the standard principles of composition comfortably capture our natural judgments, such as that my cat exists and my table exists, but there is nothing wholly composed of them. Patternism holds, very roughly, that some things compose a whole whenever together they form a “real pattern”. Plausibly we are inclined to acknowledge the existence of my cat and my table but not of (...) their fusion, because the first two have a kind of internal organizational coherence that their putative fusion lacks. Kolmogorov complexity theory supplies the needed rigorous sense of “internal organizational coherence”. (shrink)
The purpose of the present chapter is to survey the work on epistemic norms of action, practical deliberation and assertion and to consider how these norms are interrelated. On a more constructive note, we will argue that if there are important similarities between the epistemic norms of action and assertion, it has important ramifications for the debates over speech acts and harm. Thus, we hope that the chapter will indicate how thinking about assertions as a speech act can benefit from (...) a broader action theoretic setting. We will proceed as follows. In Section 2, we provide a survey of epistemic norms of action and practical deliberation. In Section 3, we turn to the epistemic norms of assertion. In Section 4, we consider arguments for and against commonality of the epistemic norms of actions, practical deliberation and assertion. In Section 5, we discuss some of the ramifications of the debates over epistemic norms of assertion such as whether they may be extended to other linguistic phenomena such as Gricean implicature. In Section 6, we consider the consequences of the debate about the epistemic norms of action and practical deliberation for debates about speech and harm. (shrink)
Standard epistemology takes it for granted that there is a special kind of value: epistemic value. This claim does not seem to sit well with act utilitarianism, however, since it holds that only welfare is of real value. I first develop a particularly utilitarian sense of “epistemic value”, according to which it is closely analogous to the nature of financial value. I then demonstrate the promise this approach has for two current puzzles in the intersection of epistemology and value theory: (...) first, the problem of why knowledge is better than mere true belief, and second, the relation between epistemic justification and responsibility. (shrink)
In this chapter I'd like to focus on a small corner of sexbot ethics that is rarely considered elsewhere: the question of whether and when being a sexbot might be good---or bad---*for the sexbot*. You might think this means you are in for a dry sermon about the evils of robot slavery. If so, you'd be wrong; the ethics of robot servitude are far more complicated than that. In fact, if the arguments here are right, designing a robot to serve (...) humans sexually may be very good for the robots themselves. (shrink)
Five arguments are presented in favour of the proposal that people who opt in as organ donors should receive a tax break. These arguments appeal to welfare, autonomy, fairness, distributive justice and self-ownership, respectively. Eight worries about the proposal are considered in this paper. These objections focus upon no-effect and counter-productiveness, the Titmuss concern about social meaning, exploitation of the poor, commodification, inequality and unequal status, the notion that there are better alternatives, unacceptable expense, and concerns about the veto of (...) relatives. The paper argues that none of the objections to the proposal is very telling. (shrink)
Whether it is morally acceptable to offer rehabilitation by CNS-intervention to criminals as a condition for early release constitutes an important neuroethical question. Bomann-Larsen has recently suggested that such interventions are unacceptable if the offered treatment is not narrowly targeted at the behaviour for which the criminal is convicted. In this article it is argued that Bomann-Larsen’s analysis of the morality of offers does not provide a solid base for this conclusion and that, even if the analysis is assumed to (...) be correct, it still does not follow that voluntary rehabilitation schemes targeting behaviour beyond the act for which a criminal is convicted are inappropriate. (shrink)
Through the criminal justice system so-called dangerous offenders are, besides the offence that they are being convicted of and sentenced to, also punished for acts that they have not done but that they are believe to be likely to commit in the future. The aim of this paper is to critically discuss whether some adherents of retributivism give a plausible rationale for punishing offenders more harshly if they, all else being equal, by means of predictions are believed to be more (...) dangerous than other offenders. While consequentialism has no problem, at least in principle, with this use of predictions most retributivists have been opponents of punishing offenders on the basis of predictions. How can an offender deserve to be punished for something that he has not done? But some retributivists like Anthony Duff and Stephen Morse have argued in favor of punishing offenders who are considered to be dangerous in the future more harshly than non-dangerous offenders. After having reconstructed their arguments in detail, it will be argued that both Duff’s and Morse’s attempts to give a retributivistic justification have several shortcomings. (shrink)
About 80 % of all convicted have had a prior record of conviction. But how should the state punish repeat offenders (with a prior conviction) as compared with first-time offenders who are convicted? The law in all jurisdictions, a large swathe of public opinion, and the general trend within criminal justice ethics all seem to accept what we may call: -/- Asymmetry A The punishment of repeat offenders should be harsher than the punishment of first-time offenders. -/- This asymmetry is (...) obviously just a rough structure. It leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Several retributivists have argued for progressive loss of mitigation (PLM). On this view, a first-time offender receives a discount on punishment that is gradually lost if he re-offends. When the discount is lost the offender receives the full punishment, and re-offending from that point on will be punished equally. However, recently some retributivists have argued in favour of a cumulative principle (CP) according to which an offender will progressively be punished more severely the more convictions he has accumulated. In sum, in the theoretical literature on the subject, Asymmetry A has been the mantra for several prominent retributivists. The aim of this paper is to point to an all but overlooked logical point in the discussion of punishment and recidivism. This is the point that it follows, from retributivism, that there is a reason - at least in some situations, as we shall see - to support what we may call: -/- Asymmetry B The punishment of repeat offenders should be more lenient than the punishment of first-time offenders. (shrink)
There are writers in both metaphysics and algorithmic information theory (AIT) who seem to think that the latter could provide a formal theory of the former. This paper is intended as a step in that direction. It demonstrates how AIT might be used to define basic metaphysical notions such as *object* and *property* for a simple, idealized world. The extent to which these definitions capture intuitions about the metaphysics of the simple world, times the extent to which we think the (...) simple world is analogous to our own, will determine a lower bound for basing a metaphysics for *our* world on AIT. (shrink)
This article picks up from William James's pragmatism and metaphysics of experience, as expressed in his “radical empiricism,” and further develops this Jamesian pragmatist approach to uncertainty and ignorance by connecting it to phenomenological thought. The Jamesian pragmatist approach avoids both a “crude naturalism” and an “absolutist rationalism,” and allows for identification of intimations of the sacred in both scientific and religious practices—which all, in their respective ways, try to make sense of a complex world. Analogous to religious practices, emotion (...) and the metaphysics of experience play a central role in science, especially the emotion of wonder. Engaging in scientific or religious practices may create opportunities for individuals to realize that they are co-creators of the world in partnership with God, in full awareness of uncertainty and ignorance and filled with the emotion of wonder. (shrink)
While an ethical obligation to report findings of clinical research to trial participants is increasingly recognised, the academic debate is often vague about what kinds of data should be fed back and how such a process should be organised. In this article, we present a classification of different actors, processes and data involved in the feedback of research results pertaining to an individual. In a second step, we reflect on circumstances requiring further ethical consideration. In regard to a concrete research (...) setting—the one of clinico-genomic research—we discuss what kinds of difficulties have to be faced when returning individual research results to trial participants. In a last step, we elaborate on a stepwise model to trigger the individual feedback process. Hence, this paper gives guidance on how to feedback individual research results in a specific research setting and responds at the same time to new challenges in the debate on the duty to return individual research findings. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to discuss the plausibility of a certain position in the philosophical literature within which the Repugnant Conclusion is treated, not as repugnant, but as an acceptable implication of the total welfare principle. I will confine myself to focus primarily on Törbjörn Tännsjö’s presentation. First, I reconstruct Tännsjö’s view concerning the repugnance of the RC in two arguments. The first argument is criticized for (a) addressing the wrong comparison, (b) relying on the controversial claim that (...) the privileged people in our actual world only have lives barely worth living and (c) that Tännsjö’s identification between Z-lives and privileged lives is restricted to certain versions of the notion ‘barely worth living’ – a restriction that weakens the force of the argument. The second argument is criticized because some of it premises entailed (b) and (d) for its implausible claim that non-imaginable outcomes cannot be compared. (shrink)
On the one hand, the absence of contraction is a safeguard against the logical (property theoretic) paradoxes; but on the other hand, it also disables inductive and recursive definitions, in its most basic form the definition of the series of natural numbers, for instance. The reason for this is simply that the effectiveness of a recursion clause depends on its being available after application, something that is usually assured by contraction. This paper presents a way of overcoming this problem within (...) the framework of a logic based on inclusion and unrestricted abstraction, without any form of extensionality. (shrink)
Research suggests that the mind contains a set of adaptations for detecting alliances: an alliance detection system, which monitors for, encodes, and stores alliance information and then modifies the activation of stored alliance categories according to how likely they will predict behavior within a particular social interaction. Previous studies have established the activation of this system when exposed to explicit competition or cooperation between individuals. In the current studies we examine if shared political opinions produce these same effects. In particular, (...) if participants will spontaneously categorize individuals according to the parties they support, even when explicit cooperation and antagonism are absent, and if party support is sufficiently powerful to decrease participants’ categorization by an orthogonal but typically-diagnostic alliance cue . Evidence was found for both: Participants spontaneously and implicitly kept track of who supported which party, and when party cross-cut race—such that the race of targets was not predictive of party support—categorization by race was dramatically reduced. To verify that these results reflected the operation of a cognitive system for modifying the activation of alliance categories, and not just socially-relevant categories in general, an identical set of studies was also conducted with in which party was either crossed with sex or age . As predicted, categorization by party occurred to the same degree, and there was no reduction in either categorization by sex or by age. All effects were replicated across two sets of between-subjects conditions. These studies provide the first direct empirical evidence that party politics engages the mind’s systems for detecting alliances and establish two important social categorization phenomena: that categorization by age is, like sex, not affected by alliance information and that political contexts can reduce the degree to which individuals are represented in terms of their race. (shrink)
Bioethics as politics -- Bioethics and the politics of expectations -- Engendering consent : bioethics and biobanks -- Missing the big picture : bioethics and stem cell research -- Testing times : bioethics and "do-it-yourself" genetics -- Governing uncertainty : the politics of nanoethics -- Beyond bioethics.
Assume we could someday create artificial creatures with intelligence comparable to our own. Could it be ethical use them as unpaid labor? There is very little philosophical literature on this topic, but the consensus so far has been that such robot servitude would merely be a new form of slavery. Against this consensus I defend the permissibility of robot servitude, and in particular the controversial case of designing robots so that they want to serve human ends. A typical objection to (...) this case draws an analogy to the genetic engineering of humans: if designing eager robot servants is permissible, it should also be permissible to design eager human servants. Few ethical views can easily explain even the wrongness of such human engineering, however, and those few explanations that are available break the analogy with engineering robots. The case turns out to be illustrative of profound problems in the field of population ethics. (shrink)
The gradual crowding out of singleton and small team science by large team endeavors is challenging key features of research culture. It is therefore important for the future of scientific practice to reflect upon the individual scientist’s ethical responsibilities within teams. To facilitate this reflection we show labor force trends in the US revealing a skewed growth in academic ranks and increased levels of competition for promotion within the system; we analyze teaming trends across disciplines and national borders demonstrating why (...) it is becoming difficult to distribute credit and to avoid conflicts of interest; and we use more than a century of Nobel prize data to show how science is outgrowing its old institutions of singleton awards. Of particular concern within the large team environment is the weakening of the mentor–mentee relation, which undermines the cultivation of virtue ethics across scientific generations. These trends and emerging organizational complexities call for a universal set of behavioral norms that transcend team heterogeneity and hierarchy. To this end, our expository analysis provides a survey of ethical issues in team settings to inform science ethics education and science policy. (shrink)
This article presents the results of a study that analysed whether social responsibility had any bearing on the decision making of institutional investors. Being that institutional investors prefer socially aligned organizations, this study explored to what extent the corporate actions and/or social/environmental investments influenced their decisions. Our results suggest that there are specific variables that affect the perceived value of the organization, leading to decisions to not only invest, but whether to hold or sell the shares, and therefore having a (...) consequential impact on the capital market’s valuation. (shrink)
This study examined the influence of two organizational context variables, codes of conduct and supervisor advice, on personnel decisions in an experimental simulation. Specifically, we studied personnel evaluations and decisions in a situation where codes of conduct conflict with supervisor advice. Past studies showed that supervisors’ advice to prefer ingroup over outgroup candidates leads to discriminatory personnel selection decisions. We extended this line of research by studying how codes of conduct and code enforcement may reduce this form of discrimination. Eighty (...) German managers evaluated and selected candidates from an applicant pool including Germans (ingroup members) and foreigners (outgroup members). Supervisor advice to prefer ingroup members lowered suitability ratings of outgroup members as well as their chances to be selected for an interview. Ethical codes of conduct referring to equal opportunities limited this form of discrimination, but only when codes were enforced by sanctions and integrated into organizational every-day practice. The implications of these findings for research and practice are discussed. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to critically discuss the plausibility of legal moralism with an emphasis on some central and recent versions. First, this paper puts forward and defends the thesis that recently developed varieties of legal moralism promoted by Robert P. George, John Kekes and Michael Moore are more plausible than Lord Devlin's traditional account. The main argument for this thesis is that in its more modern versions legal moralism is immune to some of the forceful challenges made (...) to Devlin by Hart, Dworkin and Feinberg among others. Second, however, the paper challenges the new generation of legal moralists and suggests some areas for further development. Although Devlin's position has been scrutinized thoroughly in the literature on the philosophy of law, there has, to my knowledge, been no comparable, systematic critique of these different proponents of legal moralism. (shrink)
This volume contains work by the very best young scholars working in Applied Ethics, gathering a range of new perspectives and thoughts on highly relevant topics, such as the environment, animals, computers, freedom of speech, human enhancement, war and poverty. For researchers and students working in or around this fascinating area of the discipline, the volume will provide a unique snapshot of where the cutting-edge work in the field is currently engaged and where it's headed.
Research indicates the essentiality of dignity as a vital component for quality of life, reconfirming the emphasis on dignity preservation in the international code of nursing ethics. Applying Noblit and Hare’s meta-ethnography, the aim of the study was to develop a theory model by synthesizing 10 qualitative articles from various cultural contexts, exploring nurse and allied healthcare professional perception/practice concerning dignity-preserving dementia care. “Advocating the person’s autonomy and integrity,” which involves “having compassion for the person,” “confirming the person’s worthiness and (...) sense of self,” and “creating a humane and purposeful environment,” was identified as a primary foundation for dignity-preserving dementia care. “Balancing individual choices among persons no longer able to make sound decisions, against the duty of making choices on behalf of the person,” which involves “persuasion” and/or “mild restraint,” was considered a crucial aspect in certain situations. “Sheltering human worth—remembering those who forget” was identified as a comprehensive motive and core value within dignity-preserving dementia care. (shrink)
Most philosophers discuss the Repugnant Conclusion as an objection to total utilitarianism. But this focus on total utilitarianism seems to be one-sided. It conceals the important fact that other competing moral theories are also subject to the Repugnant Conclusion. The primary aim of this paper is to demonstrate that versions of egalitarianism are subject to the Repugnant Conclusion and other repugnant conclusions.
Naturalism is normally taken to be an ideology, censuring non-naturalistic alternatives. But as many critics have pointed out, this ideological stance looks internally incoherent, since it is not obviously endorsed by naturalistic methods. Naturalists who have addressed this problem universally foreswear the normative component of naturalism by, in effect, giving up science’s exclusive claim to legitimacy. This option makes naturalism into an empty expression of personal preference that can carry no weight in the philosophical or political spheres. In response to (...) this dilemma, I argue that on a popular construal of naturalism as a commitment to inference to the best explanation, methodological naturalism can be both normative and internally coherent. (shrink)
The domain of “folk-economics” consists in explicit beliefs about the economy held by laypeople, untrained in economics, about such topics as, for example, the causes of the wealth of nations, the benefits or drawbacks of markets and international trade, the effects of regulation, the origins of inequality, the connection between work and wages, the economic consequences of immigration, or the possible causes of unemployment. These beliefs are crucial in forming people's political beliefs and in shaping their reception of different policies. (...) Yet, they often conflict with elementary principles of economic theory and are often described as the consequences of ignorance, irrationality, or specific biases. As we will argue, these past perspectives fail to predict the particular contents of popular folk-economic beliefs and, as a result, there is no systematic study of the cognitive factors involved in their emergence and cultural success. Here we propose that the cultural success of particular beliefs about the economy is predictable if we consider the influence of specialized, largely automatic inference systems that evolved as adaptations to ancestral human small-scale sociality. These systems, for which there is independent evidence, include free-rider detection, fairness-based partner choice, ownership intuitions, coalitional psychology, and more. Information about modern mass-market conditions activates these specific inference systems, resulting in particular intuitions, for example, that impersonal transactions are dangerous or that international trade is a zero-sum game. These intuitions in turn make specific policy proposals more likely than others to become intuitively compelling, and, as a consequence, exert a crucial influence on political choices. (shrink)
In recent years, in the UK and elsewhere, scientists and science policymakers have grappled with the question of how to reap the benefits of nanotechnologies while minimising the risks. Having recognised the importance of public support for future innovations, they have placed increasing emphasis on ‘engaging’ ‘the public’ during the early phase of technology development. Meaningful engagement suggests some common ground between experts and lay publics in relation to the definition of nanotechnologies and of their benefits and risks. However, views (...) on nanotechnologies are likely to vary according to where actors stand in the technology production/consumption/assessment cycle. Drawing on data from a recent UK-based study, this article examines how scientists (‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’) and policymakers portray the benefits and risks of nanotechnologies, particularly as they relate to two major areas of predicted application, namely medicine/public health and environmental sustainability. The findings reveal that, in the main, scientists and science policymakers held a positive conception of nanotechnologies and see imminent applications, although they acknowledged particular risks, including adverse public reaction. While definitions of ‘benefit’ and ‘risk’ varied, most saw the benefits as outweighing the risks and believed that the risks could be adequately regulated once they were assessed. The difficulties of assessing risk, however, were acknowledged. The study raises a number of questions that will need to be addressed if regulations are to be developed that not only protect people’s heath and wellbeing and the environment but also engender public trust in nanotechnologies. (shrink)
The paper critically discusses the moral view that neurotechnological behavioural treatment for criminal offenders should only be offered if it is in their best interests. First, I show that it is difficult to apply and assess the notion of the offender's best interests unless one has a clear idea of what ‘best interests’ means. Second, I argue that if one accepts that harmful punishment of offenders has a place in the criminal justice system, it seems inconsistent not to accept the (...) practice of offering offenders treatment even when the state will harm them in applying the treatment. Finally, leading penal theories like consequentialists and retributivists would not accept that the offender's best interests, at least in certain situations, impose a necessary condition for the treatment of an offender. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to criticise the well-discussed Principle of Procreative Beneficence (PB) lately refined by Julian Savulescu and Guy Kahane. First, it is argued that advocates of PB leave us with an implausible justification for the moral partiality towards the child (or children) reproducers decide to bring into existence as compared with all other individuals. This is implausible because the reasons given in favour of the partiality of PB, which are based on practical reason and common-sense morality, (...) can just as well be used to guide reproducers to make choices that do not support partiality towards one’s possible children. This seems to be true as least in some situations. Secondly, it is argued that Jakob Elster’s recent critique of PB is problematic, and specifically that a counterexample designed by Elster to criticise PB because of its partiality towards one’s own children misses the target. Finally, a genuine counterexample to PB is developed in order to show that the partiality of PB means it gives the wrong answer in a specific case. (shrink)
The medical humanities have been presented as a panacea for medical reductionism; a means for ‘humanizing’ medicine. However, there is a lack of consensus about the appropriate contributing disciplines and how curricula should be taught and assessed. This special issue critically examines the role of the medical humanities in medical education and their potential to serve, inadvertently or otherwise, as a tool of governance. The contributors, who include medical educators and medical practitioners, employ a range of perspectives for analysing the (...) pertinent issues. (shrink)