The best-interests standard is a widely used ethical, legal, and social basis for policy and decision-making involving children and other incompetent persons. It is under attack, however, as self-defeating, individualistic, unknowable, vague, dangerous, and open to abuse. The author defends this standard by identifying its employment, first, as a threshold for intervention and judgment (as in child abuse and neglect rulings), second, as an ideal to establish policies or prima facie duties, and, third, as a standard of reasonableness. Criticisms of (...) the best-interests standard are reconsidered after clarifying these different meanings. (shrink)
There is a popular hypothesis that performance on implicit and explicit memory tasks reflects 2 distinct memory systems. Explicit memory is said to store those experiences that can be consciously recollected, and implicit memory is said to store experiences and affect subsequent behavior but to be unavailable to conscious awareness. Although this division based on awareness is a useful taxonomy for memory tasks, the authors review the evidence that the unconscious character of implicit memory does not necessitate that it be (...) treated as a separate system of human memory. They also argue that some implicit and explicit memory tasks share the same memory representations and that the important distinction is whether the task (implicit or explicit) requires the formation of a new association. The authors review and critique dissociations from the behavioral, amnesia, and neuroimaging literatures that have been advanced in support of separate explicit and implicit memory systems by highlighting contradictory evidence and by illustrating how the data can be accounted for using a simple computational memory model that assumes the same memory representation for those disparate tasks. (shrink)
Recalcitrant disputes among health care providers and patients or their families may signal deep cultural differences about what interventions are needed or about clinicians’s professional duties. These issues arose in relation to a mother’s request for hymenoplasty or revirgination for her minor daughter to enable an overseas, forced marriage and protect her from an honor killing. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology committee recommends against members performing a hymenoplasty or other female genital cosmetic surgeries due to a lack of (...) data concerning their safety and efficacy. A key issue in such cases is how to determine what is in the minor’s best interest and the scope of health care moral or professional’s duties. The Best Interests Standard can serve as a powerful moral tool for resolving cross-cultural disputes and identifying needed policy. (shrink)
Background: The search for genetic variants between racial/ethnic groups to explain differential disease susceptibility and drug response has provoked sharp criticisms, challenging the appropriateness of using race/ethnicity as a variable in genetics research, because such categories are social constructs and not biological classifications.Objectives: To gain insight into how a group of genetic scientists conceptualise and use racial/ethnic variables in their work and their strategies for managing the ethical issues and consequences of this practice.Methods: In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with a (...) purposive sample of 30 genetic researchers who use racial/ethnic variables in their research. Standard qualitative methods of content analysis were used.Results: Most of the genetic researchers viewed racial/ethnic variables as arbitrary and very poorly defined, and in turn as scientifically inadequate. However, most defended their use, describing them as useful proxy variables on a road to “imminent medical progress”. None had developed overt strategies for addressing these inadequacies, with many instead asserting that science will inevitably correct itself and saying that meanwhile researchers should “be careful” in the language chosen for reporting findings.Conclusions: While the legitimacy and consequences of using racial/ethnic variables in genetics research has been widely criticised, ethical oversight is left to genetic researchers themselves. Given the general vagueness and imprecision we found amongst these researchers regarding their use of these variables, they do not seem well equipped for such an undertaking. It would seem imperative that research ethicist move forward to develop specific policies and practices to assure the scientific integrity of genetic research on biological differences between population groups. (shrink)
Building on the recent scholarship of Bonnie Kent, Christian Trottmann, and especially L.M. de Rijk, this volume gathers together studies by other specialists on Odonis, covering his ideas in economics, logic, metaphysics, ethics, natural ...
Bioethics is best viewed as both a second-order discipline and also part of public discourse. Since their goals differ, some bioethical activities are more usefully viewed as advancing public discourse than academic disciplines. For example, the “Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights” sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization seeks to promote ethical guidance on bioethical issues. From the vantage of philosophical ethics, it fails to rank or specify its stated principles, justify controversial principles, clarify key (...) terms, or say what is meant by calling potentially conflicting norms “foundational.” From the vantage of improving the public discourse about bioethical problems and seeking ethical solutions in the public arena, however, this document may have an important role. The goals and relations between bioethics as a second-order discipline and public discourse are explored. (shrink)
Objective To explore attitudes towards conscientious objections among medical students in the UK. Methods Medical students at St George's University of London, Cardiff University, King's College London and Leeds University were emailed a link to an anonymous online questionnaire, hosted by an online survey company. The questionnaire contained nine questions. A total of 733 medical students responded. Results Nearly half of the students in this survey stated that they believed in the right of doctors to conscientiously object to any procedure. (...) Demand for the right to conscientiously object is greater in Muslim medical students when compared with other groups of religious medical students. Discussion Abortion continues to be a contentious issue among medical students and this may contribute to the looming crisis in abortion services over the coming years. This project sheds some light on how future doctors view some of their ethical rights and obligations. Using empirical evidence, it reveals that conscientious objection is an issue in the UK medical student body today. These data could help anticipate problems that may arise when these medical students qualify and practise medicine in the community. Conclusion Clearer guidance is needed for medical students about the issue of conscientious objection at medical school. (shrink)
In this paper we focus on the modularity of visual functions in the human visual cortex, that is, the specific problems that the visual system must solve in order to achieve recognition of objects and visual space. The computational theory of early visual functions is briefly reviewed and is then used as a basis for suggesting computational constraints on the higher-level visual computations. The remainder of the paper presents neurological evidence for the existence of two visual systems in man, one (...) specialized for spatial vision and the other for object vision. We show further clinical evidence for the computational hypothesis that these two systems consist of several visual modules, some of which can be isolated on the basis of specific visual deficts which occur after lesions to selected areas in the visually responsive brain. We will provide examples of visual modules which solve information processing tasks that are mediated by specific anatomic areas. We will show that the clinical data from behavioral studies of monkeys (Ungerleider and Mishkin 1984) supports the distinction between two visual systems in monkeys, the 'what' system, involved in object vision, and the 'where' system, involved in spatial vision. (shrink)
A severe critique of contemporary society as one in which there remains no significant class or group capable of radically opposing things as they are. Marcuse works on the assumption that advanced industrial society is indeed sick, much as some recent sociologists have depicted it to be. He sees evidence of alienation in political and cultural life, in the technical jargon of the bureaucracy, in the technological cult of "operationalism," and especially in contemporary analytic philosophy, which he sees as the (...) triumph of "one-dimensional thought." His conclusion is not optimistic: at this juncture in history, he believes, the only possible task for "critical philosophy" is to be negative.--W. L. M. (shrink)
Admitting to some departure from the Aristotelian classification, Jolivet divides human activities into three sorts: labor, play, and contemplation. He warns against the naturalizing effect of the Marxist notion of labor, defends play as the essentially superfluous, and argues for including art in his third category. A proper conception of human wisdom involves all three activities, although the speculative remains the highest, and the love of God is wisdom's fullest perfection. Based on a lecture series, the book is a clear, (...) rather non-technical, and contemporary re-working of some venerable ideas.--W. L. M. (shrink)
For Brun, the separation of men from existence, which expresses itself in various forms of anxiety, is the central concern of philosophy. While the separation of men from one another can be partly overcome by language and by modern technology's "conquests," the ontological separation cannot, the philosophic attitude of wonder can never be entirely replaced by nihil mirari. He takes issue with the philosophies of praxis which regard human action as the potential remedy for all separation. The thesis is defended (...) capably and passionately.--W. L. M. (shrink)
Pucelle tries to show how the idea of personal liberty is central to Green's ethics. Green's criticisms of other philosophers and the historical context of his philosophy are especially well handled. --W. L. M.
May discovered Diderot's copiously annotated copy of this anti-materialist tract by Hemsterhuis, known to many contemporaries as "the Dutch Plato"; this edition contains May's interesting introduction, a facsimile of the original text, and a transcription of all of Diderot's comments. The comments bear on infelicities of style as well as of thought, though the latter preponderate: the Lettre is not, alas, the product of a first-rate philosophical intellect. Diderot's strong objections to Hemsterhuis' crude theory of a moral organ can be (...) taken as complementing his Refutation of Helvetius, which dates from the same period.—W. L. M. (shrink)
This article critically evaluates the central claims of the various feminist responses to new reproductive arrangements and technologies. Proponents of a “progressivism” object to naive technological optimism and raise questions about the control of such technology. Others, such as the FINRRAGE group, raise concerns about the potentially damaging consequences of the new technologies for women. While a central concern is whether these technologies reinforce harmful biologically determinist stereotypes of women, it may be that these critiques function with a devastating gender (...) blindness that puts women at risk in other, heretofore unnoticed, ways. (shrink)
This edition of Giraldus Odonis' Logica for the first time gives access to an important and original treatise, which has unduly been neglected since the author's death. It is also important in that it gives evidence of interesting achievements in the field of logic outside the anti-metaphysical circle surrounding Ockham.
Two things become one thing, something having parts, and something becoming something else, are cases of many things being identical with one thing. This apparent contradiction introduces others concerning transitivity of identity, discernibility of identicals, existence, and vague existence. I resolve the contradictions with a theory that identity, number, and existence are relative to standards for counting. What are many on some standard are one and the same on another. The theory gives an account of the discernibility of identicals using (...) phrases like “insofar as”. And it holds that standards for counting remain or shift depending on our purposes. (shrink)
A gravitational model is proposed that relates the terrestrially measured value of the gravitational constantG directly to the density and angular velocity of the galaxy. The model indicates a constant scalar value forG within most regions of our galaxy, but predicts thatG will be different in other galaxies and zero in intergalactic space. The model offers explanations for galactic cluster stability, discrepancies in terrestrial measurements ofG, and atomic particle stability. The model also provides a causal relationship between strong, electromagnetic, weak, (...) and gravitational interactions. The two postulates required for the proposed model reduce to two assumptions made in GRT in regions whereG is constant; these postulates are consistent with the existence of a 2.7 K blackbody background radiation. (shrink)
This essay interprets Butler’s distinction between identity in the loose and popular sense and in the strict and philosophical sense. Suppose there are different standards for counting the same things. Then what are two distinct things counting strictly may be one and the same thing counting loosely. Within a given standard identity is one-one. But across standards it is many-one. An alternative interpretation using the parts-whole relation fails, because that relation should be understood as many-one identity. Another alternative making identity (...) relative to sort fails, because whole and parts can be of the same sort. (shrink)
The status of the advanced potential solution in electromagnetic theory is analyzed and assessed. It is shown that the advanced potential solution does not violate a causality argument and that its existence in electromagnetic theory is on an exactly equal footing with the retarded potential solution. The general potential solution is thus completely symmetric. It is further shown that there is no “one-sidedness” in nature; oscillating electrons and orbiting electrons are just as good at absorbing energy as they are at (...) radiating it. These conclusions are sufficient to invalidate a number of theoretical models. (shrink)
A program for person-centered intervention—Pathways to Empowerment —is indebted to the social quality approach, which has been developed as its scientific foundation. It provides comprehensive insight into all sorts of factors that have an impact on the quality of the daily lives of persons who have lost control in their lives. In this article, we describe what puzzles were encountered in this developmental process, specifically with regard to the constitutional factors of social quality, which are strongly linked to biographical development (...) and personal agency and thus are the focal points of person-centered care. This part of the SQA seems less developed and researched. We describe how we have further developed the conceptualization of the constitutional factors and their dialectical relationships with the conditional factors into a practical structure for PTE. We make a case for the further development of the constitutional factors of the theory, specifically the concept of personal agency. A plea is made for reviewing the definition of social quality. (shrink)