My purpose in what follows is not so much to defend the basic principle of utilitarianism as to indicate the form of it which seems most promising as a basic moral and political position. I shall take the principle of utility as offering a criterion for two different sorts of evaluation: first, the merits of acts of government, social policies, and social institutions, and secondly, the ultimate moral evaluation of the actions of individuals. I do not take it as implying (...) that the individual should live his life on the basis of constant evaluations of this sort. For there are different levels of decision making each with its appropriate criteria. For example, we each inevitably make many of our decisions from the point of view of our own personal self-fulfilment and this cannot regularly take a directly utilitarian form, nor should the utilitarian want it to do so. His claim is at most that we should sometimes review our life from the point of view of a kind of impersonal moral truth of a universalistic utilitarian character. (shrink)
In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the number of bots online, varying from Web crawlers for search engines, to chatbots for online customer service, spambots on social media, and content-editing bots in online collaboration communities. The online world has turned into an ecosystem of bots. However, our knowledge of how these automated agents are interacting with each other is rather poor. Bots are predictable automatons that do not have the capacity for emotions, meaning-making, creativity, and sociality (...) and it is hence natural to expect interactions between bots to be relatively predictable and uneventful. In this article, we analyze the interactions between bots that edit articles on Wikipedia. We track the extent to which bots undid each other’s edits over the period 2001–2010, model how pairs of bots interact over time, and identify different types of interaction trajectories. We find that, although Wikipedia bots are intended to support the encyclopedia, they often undo each other’s edits and these sterile “fights” may sometimes continue for years. Unlike humans on Wikipedia, bots’ interactions tend to occur over longer periods of time and to be more reciprocated. Yet, just like humans, bots in different cultural environments may behave differently. Our research suggests that even relatively “dumb” bots may give rise to complex interactions, and this carries important implications for Artificial Intelligence research. Understanding what affects bot-bot interactions is crucial for managing social media well, providing adequate cyber-security, and designing well functioning autonomous vehicles. (shrink)
Utilitarian ethics and metaphysical idealism, especially of a Bradleyan sort, are not usually thought of as natural allies. Yet when one considers that it is a crucial part of utilitarian doctrine that the only genuine value is experienced value and almost the definition of idealism that for it the only genuine reality is experienced reality one should surely suspect that the two views have a certain affinity. The essential impulse behind utilitarianism is the sense that the only criterion of something (...) really being intrinsically good is that it feels good. To the ordinary man to say that something feels good is much the same as saying that it is a pleasure, so that for him it is a small step from identifying good with what feels good to identifying it with pleasure. It suggests itself, then, that the utilitarian is essentially one who thinks that, so far as the good goes, esse ispercipi. In that case the utilitarian is an idealist about value. It does not follow that he should be an idealist about things in general, but it does suggest the converse, that the idealist about things in general might be expected to be a utilitarian in his ethics. (shrink)
In this paper I shall speak sympathetically of a hedonistic theory of intrinsic value which, ignoring any other such theories, I shall simply call the hedonistic theory of value. How far I am finally committed to it will partly appear at the end.
It would be pleasant to start with a paradox. Santayana was an American philosopher, but he was not an American, and he was not a philosopher. The first of these two qualifying propositions is legally true, the second is a glaring, but sometimes asserted, falsehood.
The relationship between Bentham's ‘enunciative principle’ and his ‘censorial principle’ is famously problematic. The problem's solution is that each person has an overwhelming interest in living in a community in which they, like others, are liable to punishment for behaviour condemned by the censorial principle either by the institutions of the state or by the tribunal of public opinion. The senses in which Bentham did and did not think everyone selfish are examined, and a less problematic form of psychological hedonism (...) than Bentham's is proposed. (shrink)
As the editor noted in the last number Freddie Ayer, or Professor Sir Alfred Ayer, played a considerable part in launching the vast enterprise of the Bentham edition. It is fitting, therefore, that something be said in Utilitas about his achievement as a philosopher and the extent to which he falls within the same broad empiricist and utilitarian tradition to which Bentham and J. S. Mill belonged.
In the postscript to The Varieties of Religious Experience William James distinguishes two types of belief in the supernatural, conceived as an essential component in religion, crass or piecemeal supernaturalism, on the one hand, and refined supernaturalism on the other.
The period of the mid-1920s to the mid-1980s was a portentous period for Soviet psychology. As this period recedes into the past, the figure of L. S. Vygotskii rises more and more before us. Vygotskii died of tuberculosis when not quite 37 years old. He was a psychologist for only 10 years, and it was only in the last 6 of these that he did the work we now associate with his name. During those brief years Vygotskii wrote over 120 (...) works, including more than 10 large books. His was a short life — filled with inspired, indefatigable, and heroic work. A significant part of his written work has remained unpublished and indeed much of it remained unfinished. A seven-volume collection of Vygotskii's work is currently underway, and even this will not contain everything he wrote. The final volume of this collection will include his articles "The Sense of the Psychological Crisis" and "Spinoza's Theory of the Passions.". (shrink)
. This paper examines the association between long-term compensation and corporate social responsibility for 90 publicly traded Canadian firms. Social responsibility is considered to include concerns for social factors and the environment, 564-578; Kane, E. J., 341-359). Long-term compensation attempts to focus executives efforts on optimizing the longer term, which should direct their attention to factors traditionally associated with socially responsible executives. As hypothesized, we found a significant relationship between the long-term compensation and total CSR weakness as well as the (...) product/environmental weakness dimension of CSR. In addition, we found a marginally significant relationship between long-term compensation and total corporate responsibility. Our findings are that executives long-term compensation is associated with a firms environmental actions, and that firms that utilize long-term compensation are more likely to mitigate product/environment weaknesses than those that do not. Implications for practice and research are discussed. (shrink)
The increasing demand for horticultural products for nutritional and economic purposes by lesser developed countries (LDC's) is well-documented. Technological demands of the LDC's producing horticultural products is also increasing. Pesticide use is an integral component of most agricultural production, yet chemicals are often supplied without supplemental information vital for their safe and efficient implementation. Illiteracy rates in developing countries are high, making pesticide education even more challenging. For women, who perform a significant share of agricultural tasks, illiteracy rates are even (...) higher than for men. The dilemma exists of how a developing country can improve its nutritional and economic situation without giving consideration to social and environmental consequences. (shrink)
The emergence of macroscopic variables can be effected through coarse graining. Despite practical and fundamental benefits conveyed by this partitioning of state space, the apparently subjective nature of the selection of coarse grains has been considered problematic. We provide objective selection methods, deriving from the existence of relatively slow dynamical time scales. Using a framework for nonequilibrium statistical mechanics developed by us, we show the emergence of both spatial variables and order parameters. Although significant objective criteria are introduced in the (...) coarse graining, we do not provide a unique prescription. Most significantly, the grains, and by implication entropy, are only defined modulo a characteristic time scale of observation. (shrink)
The “special state” understanding of the measurement process is presented, namely there is no “measurement process,” only unitary time evolution. However, in contrast to the many worlds interpretation, there is only one world. How this can be accomplished and how statistical mechanics is changed as a result are also discussed. The focus though is on experimental tests of this theory and the in-principle realization that this can give rise to feasible experimental tests. Those tests rely on the particular feature of (...) having only one world, so that any change in the wave function must have a proximate cause, and it is the detection of that cause that constitutes the test. In a companion article there is further exploration concerning the details of the test. In addition, in the present article, the special state theory is extended theoretically through evidence of the uniqueness of the Cauchy distribution as well as explicit recognition of the role of entanglement. (shrink)
Of the two main interpretations of Spinoza's theory of the identity of the attributes, in particular those of Thought and Extension, the objective interpretation is now almost universally preferred to the subjective. Rejection of the subjective interpretation, according to which the attributes are merely our ways of cognizing a reality whose real essence remains unknown, is certainly justified, but the objective theory comes too near to replacing the identity by a mere correlation of diff rents to be quite satisfactory. Is (...) it not better to say that Thought and Extension represent two complementary conceptions of reality which are both correct? Yes, but in saying so some commentators ascribe to mind, as Spinoza conceives it, an unplausibly abstract status. An alternative proposal is made as to a way in which Spinoza might be right in essentials, though it requires that a certain tension in Spinozism as to the nature of body be resolved in a particular direction. (shrink)
Part I: Consciousness and the metaphysics of experience. Orientations. What I believe. The privacy of experience. Final causes. The importance of subjectivity : an inaugural lecture. Is consciousness mysterious? Consciousness. The distinctiveness of American philosophy. The world of description and the world of acquaintance -- Part II: The metaphysics of time and the absolute. The unreality of time. Ideal immortality. Russell and Bradley on relations. The self and its world in Bradley and Husserl. Absolute idealism. Pantheism -- Part III: Ethics, (...) animal rights, and the environment. The greatest happiness principle. Is the esse of intrinsic value percipi? Pleasure, pain and value. Metaphysics, physicalism, and animal rights. Vivisection, morals, medicine : commentary from an antivivisectionist philosopher. Non-human rights : an idealist perspective. Are there intrinsic values in nature? An idealist's prayer for the world. (shrink)
Junior researchers can be abused and bullied by unscrupulous senior collaborators. This article describes the profile of a type of serial abuser, the White Bull, who uses his academic seniority to distort authorship credit and who disguises his parasitism with carefully premeditated deception. Further research into the personality traits of such perpetrators is warranted.
A theory of punishment should tell us not only when punishment is permissible but also when it is a duty. It is not clear whether McCloskey's retributivism is supposed to do this. His arguments against utilitarianism consist largely in examples of punishments unacceptable to the common moral consciousness but supposedly approved of by the consistent utilitarian. We remain unpersuaded to abandon our utilitarianism. The examples are often fanciful in character, a point which (pace McCloskey) does rob them of much of (...) their force. If there was no tension between utilitarian precepts and those which come naturally to plain men, utilitarianism could have no claim to provide a critique of moralities. The utilitarian's attitude to such tensions is somewhat complicated, but what is certain is that there is more room in his system for the sentiments to which McCloskey appeals against him than McCloskey realizes. We agree with McCloskey, however, on the absurdity of substituting rule?utilitarianism for act?utilitarianism as an answer to his attacks. The distinction itself may represent a conceptual confusion. In our view, indeed, unmodified act?utilitarianism provides the best moral basis for thought about punishment. (shrink)
Can philosophy offer reasonable grounds for the existence of a God possessing genuine religious significance and not proposed simply as the solution to a purely intellectual philosophical problem? Timothy Sprigge offers a fascinating exploration of the metaphysical systems of a diverse range of philosophers, from Spinoza and Hegel to T. H. Green and Josiah Royce, testing objections to what might be called 'metaphysical religion' against the systems of these distinguished thinkers. In the process, Sprigge offers a compelling new defence of (...) a highly unfashionable Idealist worldview. (shrink)
Lawrence Johnson advocates a major change in our attitude toward the nonhuman world. He argues that nonhuman animals, and ecosystems themselves, are morally significant beings with interests and rights. The author considers recent work in environmental ethics in the introduction and then presents his case with the utmost precision and clarity. Written in an attractive, nontechnical style, the book will be of particular interest to philosophers, environmentalists and ecologists.
A new formulation involving fulfillment of all the Kolmogorov axioms is suggested for acomplete probability theory. This proves to be not a purely mathematical discipline. Probability theory deals with abstract objects—images of various classes of concrete objects—whereas experimental statistics deals with concrete objects alone. Both have to be taken into account. Quantum physics and classical statistical physics prove to be different aspects ofone probabilistic physics. The connection of quantum mechanics with classical statistical mechanics is examined and the origin of the (...) Schrödinger equation is elucidated. Attention is given to the true meaning of the wave-corpuscle duality, and the incompleteness of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics is explained. (shrink)