It is remarkable how much robotics research is promoted by appealing to the idea that the only way to deal with a looming demographic crisis is to develop robots to look after older persons. This paper surveys and assesses the claims made on behalf of robots in relation to their capacity to meet the needs of older persons. We consider each of the roles that has been suggested for robots in aged care and attempt to evaluate how successful robots might (...) be in these roles. We do so from the perspective of writers concerned primarily with the quality of aged care, paying particular attention to the social and ethical implications of the introduction of robots, rather than from the perspective of robotics, engineering, or computer science. We emphasis the importance of the social and emotional needs of older persons—which, we argue, robots are incapable of meeting—in almost any task involved in their care. Even if robots were to become capable of filling some service roles in the aged-care sector, economic pressures on the sector would most likely ensure that the result was a decrease in the amount of human contact experienced by older persons being cared for, which itself would be detrimental to their well-being. This means that the prospects for the ethical use of robots in the aged-care sector are far fewer than first appears. More controversially, we believe that it is not only misguided, but actually unethical, to attempt to substitute robot simulacra for genuine social interaction. A subsidiary goal of this paper is to draw attention to the discourse about aged care and robotics and locate it in the context of broader social attitudes towards older persons. We conclude by proposing a deliberative process involving older persons as a test for the ethics of the use of robots in aged care. (shrink)
Tom Sparrow shows how, in the 21st century, speculative realism aims to do what phenomenology could not: provide a philosophical method that disengages the human-centred approach to metaphysics in order to chronicle the complex realm of nonhuman reality. -/- Through a focused reading of the methodological statements and metaphysical commitments of key phenomenologists and speculative realists, Sparrow shows how speculative realism is replacing phenomenology as the beacon of realism in contemporary Continental philosophy.
Sensation is a concept with a conflicted philosophical history. It has found as many allies as enemies in nearly every camp from empiricism to poststructuralism. Polyvalent, with an uncertain referent, and often overshadowed by intuition, perception, or cognition, sensation invites as much metaphysical speculation as it does dismissive criticism. -/- The promise of sensation has certainly not been lost on the phenomenologists who have sought to ‘rehabilitate’ the concept. In Plastic Bodies, Tom Sparrow argues that the phenomenologists have not (...) gone far enough, however. Alongside close readings of Merleau-Ponty and Levinas, he digs into an array of ancient, modern, and contemporary texts in search of the resources needed to rebuild the concept of sensation after phenomenology. He begins to assemble a speculative aesthetics that is at once a realist theory of sensation and a philosophy of embodiment that breaks the form of the ‘lived’ body. Maintaining that the body is fundamentally plastic and that corporeal identity is constituted by a conspiracy of sensations, he pursues the question of how the body fits into/fails to fit into its aesthetic environment and what must be done to increase the body’s power to act and exist. (shrink)
Through six heterodox essays this book extracts a materialist account of subjectivity and aesthetics from the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. More than a work of academic commentary that would leave many of Levinas’s pious commentators aghast, Sparrow exhibits an aspect of Levinas which is darker, yet no less fundamental, than his ethical and theological guises. This darkened Levinas provides answers to problems in aesthetics, speculative philosophy, ecology, ethics, and philosophy of race, problems which not only trouble scholars, but which (...) haunt anyone who insists that the material of existence is the beginning and end of existence itself. (shrink)
The following text is based on a public debate between Professor Julian Savulescu and Associate Professor Robert Sparrow on the topic of 'Making Better Babies,’ which took place in Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday, October 2, 2012. The debate was introduced by Professor Michael Selgelid, the Director of the Centre for Human Bioethics, at Monash University, and facilitated by Associate Professor Justin Oakley. The text has been edited from the original transcript for clarity and brevity.
Proper words in proper places, remarked Dean Swift, make the true definition of style. According to this definition, John Sparrow fully qualifies as a stylist. His skillful compound of wit, pungency, and accurate observation, his irreverence, his ear for language and hatred of cant are unsurpassed. This book brings together pieces broadcast by the BBC, a series of lectures at the University of Chicago, and, even, a university sermon. It proves that John Sparrow is one of those rare (...) people whose spoken words lose none of their power when translated to the printed page. (shrink)
Participants watched themselves in a mirror while another person behind them, hidden from view, extended hands forward on each side where participants’ hands would normally appear. The hands performed a series of movements. When participants could hear instructions previewing each movement, they reported an enhanced feeling of controlling the hands. Hearing instructions for the movements also enhanced skin conductance responses when a rubber band was snapped on the other’s wrist after the movements. Such vicarious agency was not felt when the (...) instructions followed the movements, and participants’ own covert movement mimicry was not essential to the influence of previews on reported control. (shrink)
The United States Army’s Future Combat Systems Project, which aims to manufacture a “robot army” to be ready for deployment by 2012, is only the latest and most dramatic example of military interest in the use of artificially intelligent systems in modern warfare. This paper considers the ethics of a decision to send artificially intelligent robots into war, by asking who we should hold responsible when an autonomous weapon system is involved in an atrocity of the sort that would normally (...) be described as a war crime. A number of possible loci of responsibility for robot war crimes are canvassed; the persons who designed or programmed the system, the commanding officer who ordered its use, the machine itself. I argue that in fact none of these are ultimately satisfactory. Yet it is a necessary condition for fighting a just war, under the principle of jus in bellum, that someone can be justly held responsible for deaths that occur in the course of the war. As this condition cannot be met in relation to deaths caused by an autonomous weapon system it would therefore be unethical to deploy such systems in warfare. (shrink)
Since the first sex reassignment operations were performed, individual sex has come to be, to some extent at least, a technological artifact. The existence of sperm sorting technology, and of prenatal determination of fetal sex via ultrasound along with the option of termination, means that we now have the power to choose the sex of our children. An influential contemporary line of thought about medical ethics suggests that we should use technology to serve the welfare of individuals and to remove (...) limitations on the opportunities available to them. I argue that, if these are our goals, we may do well to move towards a “post sex” humanity. Until we have the technology to produce genuine hermaphrodites, the most efficient way to do this is to use sex selection technology to ensure that only girl children are born. There are significant restrictions on the opportunities available to men, around gestation, childbirth, and breast-feeding, which will be extremely difficult to overcome via social or technological mechanisms for the foreseeable future. Women also have longer life expectancies than men. Girl babies therefore have a significantly more “open” future than boy babies. Resisting the conclusion that we should ensure that all children are born the same sex will require insisting that sexual difference is natural to human beings and that we should not use technology to reshape humanity beyond certain natural limits. The real concern of my paper, then, is the moral significance of the idea of a normal human body in modern medicine. (shrink)
The normative significance of the distinction between therapy and enhancement has come under sustained philosophical attack in recent discussions of the ethics of shaping future persons by means of preimplantation genetic diagnosis and other advanced genetic technologies. In this paper, I argue that giving up the idea that the answer to the question as to whether a condition is “normal” should play a crucial role in assessing the ethics of genetic interventions has unrecognized and strongly counterintuitive implications when it comes (...) to selecting what sort of children should be brought into the world. According to standard philosophical accounts of the factors one should take into account when making such .. (shrink)
The argument of Julian Savulescu’s 2001 paper, “Procreative Beneficence: Why We Should Select the Best Children” is flawed in a number of respects. Savulescu confuses reasons with obligations and equivocates between the claim that parents have some reason to want the best for their children and the more radical claim that they are morally obligated to attempt to produce the best child possible. Savulescu offers a prima facie implausible account of parental obligation, as even the best parents typically fail to (...) do everything they think would be best for their children let alone everything that is in fact best for their children. The profound philosophical difficulties which beset the attempt to formulate a plausible account of the best human life constitute a further independent reason to resile from Savulescu’s conclusion. Savulescu’s argument also requires parents to become complicit with racist and homophobic oppression, which is yet another reason to reject it. Removing the equivocation from Savulescu’s argument allows us to see that the assertion of an obligation to choose the “best child” has much more in common with the “old” eugenics than Savulescu acknowledges. (shrink)
Following the success of Sony Corporation’s “AIBO”, robot cats and dogs are multiplying rapidly. “Robot pets” employing sophisticated artificial intelligence and animatronic technologies are now being marketed as toys and companions by a number of large consumer electronics corporations. -/- It is often suggested in popular writing about these devices that they could play a worthwhile role in serving the needs of an increasingly aging and socially isolated population. Robot companions, shaped like familiar household pets, could comfort and entertain lonely (...) older persons. This goal is misguided and unethical. While there are a number of apparent benefits that might be thought to accrue from ownership of a robot pet, the majority and the most important of these are predicated on mistaking, at a conscious or unconscious level, the robot for a real animal. For an individual to benefit significantly from ownership of a robot pet they must systematically delude themselves regarding the real nature of their relation with the animal. It requires sentimentality of a morally deplorable sort. Indulging in such sentimentality violates a (weak) duty that we have to ourselves to apprehend the world accurately. The design and manufacture of these robots is unethical in so far as it presupposes or encourages this delusion. -/- The invention of robot pets heralds the arrival of what might be called “ersatz companions” more generally. That is, of devices that are designed to engage in and replicate significant social and emotional relationships. The advent of robot dogs offers a valuable opportunity to think about the worth of such companions, the proper place of robots in society and the value we should place on our relationships with them. (shrink)
Unmanned systems in military applications will often play a role in determining the success or failure of combat missions and thus in determining who lives and dies in times of war. Designers of UMS must therefore consider ethical, as well as operational, requirements and limits when developing UMS. I group the ethical issues involved in UMS design under two broad headings, Building Safe Systems and Designing for the Law of Armed Conflict, and identify and discuss a number of issues under (...) each of these headings. As well as identifying issues, I offer some analysis of their implications and how they might be addressed. (shrink)
If, as a number of writers have predicted, the computers of the future will possess intelligence and capacities that exceed our own then it seems as though they will be worthy of a moral respect at least equal to, and perhaps greater than, human beings. In this paper I propose a test to determine when we have reached that point. Inspired by Alan Turing’s (1950) original “Turing test”, which argued that we would be justified in conceding that machines could think (...) if they could fill the role of a person in a conversation, I propose a test for when computers have achieved moral standing by asking when a computer might take the place of a human being in a moral dilemma, such as a “triage” situation in which a choice must be made as to which of two human lives to save. We will know that machines have achieved moral standing comparable to a human when the replacement of one of these people with an artificial intelligence leaves the character of the dilemma intact. That is, when we might sometimes judge that it is reasonable to preserve the continuing existence of a machine over the life of a human being. This is the “Turing Triage Test”. I argue that if personhood is understood as a matter of possessing a set of important cognitive capacities then it seems likely that future AIs will be able to pass this test. However this conclusion serves as a reductio of this account of the nature of persons. I set out an alternative account of the nature of persons, which places the concept of a person at the centre of an interdependent network of moral and affective responses, such as remorse, grief and sympathy. I argue that according to this second, superior, account of the nature of persons, machines will be unable to pass the Turing Triage Test until they possess bodies and faces with expressive capacities akin to those of the human form. (shrink)
A number of advances in assisted reproduction have been greeted by the accusation that they would produce children ‘without parents’. In this paper I will argue that while to date these accusations have been false, there is a limited but important sense in which they would be true of children born of a reproductive technology that is now on the horizon. If our genetic parents are those individuals from whom we have inherited 50% of our genes, then, unlike in any (...) other reproductive scenario, children who were conceived from gametes derived from stem cell lines derived from discarded IVF embryos would have no genetic parents! This paper defends this claim and investigates its ethical implications. I argue that there are reasons to think that the creation of such embryos might be morally superior to the existing alternatives in an important set of circumstances. (shrink)
In this paper, I respond to criticisms by John Harris, contained in a commentary on my article “Harris, harmed states, and sexed bodies”, which appeared in the Journal of Medical Ethics, volume 37, number 5. I argue that Harris's response to my criticisms exposes the strong eugenic tendencies in his own thought, when he suggests that the reproductive obligations of parents should be determined with reference to a claim about what would enhance ‘society’ or ‘the species’.
Since the 1980s, a number of medical researchers have suggested that in the future it might be possible for men to become pregnant. Given the role played by the right to reproductive liberty in other debates about reproductive technologies, it will be extremely difficult to deny that this right extends to include male pregnancy. However, this constitutes a reductio ad absurdum of the idea of reproductive liberty. One therefore would be well advised to look again at the extent of this (...) purported right in other contexts in which it is deployed. (shrink)
The emergence of controlled, Maastricht Category III, non-heart-beating organ donation programs has the potential to greatly increase the supply of donor solid organs by increasing the number of potential donors. Category III donation involves unconscious and dying intensive care patients whose organs become available for transplant after life-sustaining treatments are withdrawn, usually on grounds of futility. The shortfall in organs from heart-beating organ donation following brain death has prompted a surge of interest in NHBD. In a recent editorial, the British (...) Medical Journal described NHBD as representing “a challenge which the medical profession has to take up.”. (shrink)
This paper uses the fictional case of the ‘Babel fish’ to explore and illustrate the issues involved in the controversy about the use of cochlear implants in prelinguistically deaf children. Analysis of this controversy suggests that the development of genetic tests for deafness poses a serious threat to the continued flourishing of Deaf culture. I argue that the relationships between Deaf and hearing cultures that are revealed and constructed in debates about genetic testing are themselves deserving of ethical evaluation. Making (...) good policy about genetic testing for deafness will require addressing questions in political philosophy and anthropology about the value of culture and also thinking hard about what sorts of experiences and achievements make a human life worthwhile. (shrink)
‘Liberal eugenics’ has emerged as the most popular position amongst philosophers writing in the contemporary debate about the ethics of human enhancement. This position has been most clearly articulated by Nicholas Agar, who argues that the ‘new’ liberal eugenics can avoid the repugnant consequences associated with eugenics in the past. Agar suggests that parents should be free to make only those interventions into the genetics of their children that will benefit them no matter what way of life they grow up (...) to endorse. I argue that Agar's attempt to distinguish the new from the old eugenics fails. Once we start to consciously determine the genetics of future persons, we will not be able to avoid controversial assumptions about the relative worth of different life plans. Liberal eugenicists therefore confront the horns of a dilemma. Whichever way they try to resolve it, the consequences of widespread use of technologies of genetic selection are likely to look more like the old eugenics than defenders of the new eugenics have acknowledged. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue that contemporary non-Aboriginal Australians can collectively be held responsible for past injustices committed against the Aboriginal peoples of this land. An examination of the role played by history in determining the nature of the present reveals both the temporal extension of the Australian community that confronts the question of responsibility for historical injustice and the ways in which we continue to participate in those same injustices. Because existing injustices suffered by indigenous Australians are essentially (...) continuous with the racist history of the invasion of the Australian continent and dispossession of the Australian Aboriginal peoples, we may be held responsible for the wrongs committed in the course of that history. (shrink)
The willingness of some scientists, futurists … and now philosophers to contemplate—or even actively pursue—their own obsolescence is a source of genuine wonder. Writers such as Hans Moravec,1 Ray Kurzweil2 and Nick Bostrom3 blithely maintain that we will soon be outclassed by our own cybernetic creations as though this were a prospect that could only be celebrated and not feared. In this context, one can only applaud Agar's clearheaded investigation4 of the prospects for creating ‘post-persons’ and his eminently sensible conclusion (...) that there might be good reasons to avoid doing so. His discussion of the significance of the difference between ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ thresholds in moral status and his inductive argument to the existence of higher levels of moral status than humans currently possess constitute significant advances in the philosophical literature on this topic. In these largely sympathetic remarks I will, however, argue both that post-persons are more easily conceived of than Agar suggests and that the threat posed by post-persons, should they eventuate, is greater than Agar allows.Agar's paper needs to be read in the context of Buchanan's discussion5 of the implications of post-personhood to which it is a response. Buchanan's discussion proceeds, for the most part, with reference to an essentially Kantian account of moral status as founded in the ability to engage in practical reasoning or practices of mutual accountability. Talk of ‘animals’, ‘persons’ …. (shrink)
I argue that the existence of sexual dimorphism poses a profound challenge to those philosophers who wish to deny the moral significance of the idea of ‘normal human capacities’ in debates about the ethics of human enhancement. The biological sex of a child will make a much greater difference to their life prospects than many of the genetic variations that the philosophical and bioethical literature has previously been concerned with. It seems, then, that bioethicists should have something to say about (...) the choice between a male and a female embryo. Either, 1) parents have reason to choose boys over girls; (2) parents have reason to choose girls over boys; or, (3) parents have neither reason to choose girls over boys nor reason to choose boys over girls. Embracing either of the first two alternatives has strongly counterintuitive – and arguably morally repugnant – consequences. To motivate the third option we must either make reference to the idea of ‘normal human capacities’ or argue that parents should consider the interests of society when thinking about what sort of children they should bring into the world – an implication that should be extremely controversial in debates about the ‘new eugenics’. I conclude, then, that the idea of ‘normal human capacities’ is properly crucial to reasoning about the ethics of shaping future persons. (shrink)
I apply an agent-based virtue ethics to issues in environmental philosophy regarding our treatment of complex inorganic systems. I consider the ethics of terraforming: hypothetical planetary engineering on a vast scale which is aimed at producing habitable environments on otherwise “hostile” planets. I argue that the undertaking of such a project demonstrates at least two serious defects of moral character: an aesthetic insensitivity and the sin of hubris. Trying to change whole planets to suit our ends is arrogant vandalism. I (...) maintain that these descriptions of character are coherent and important ethical concepts. Finally, I demonstrate how the arguments developed in opposition to terraforming, a somewhat farfetched example, can be used in cases closer to home to provide arguments against our use of recombinantDNA technologies and against the construction of tourist developments in wilderness areas. (shrink)
This paper analyses rhetorics of scientific and corporate enthusiasm surrounding nanotechnology. I argue that enthusiasts for nanotechnologies often try to have it both ways on questions concerning the nature and possible impact of these technologies, and the inevitability of their development and use. In arguments about their nature and impact we are simultaneously informed that these are revolutionary technologies with the potential to profoundly change the world and that they merely represent the extension of existing technologies. They are revolutionary and (...) familiar. In debates surrounding possible regulation of these technologies it is claimed both that their development is inevitable, so that regulation would be fruitless, and that increased research funding and legislative changes are necessary in order that we can enjoy their benefits. That is, they are inevitable and precarious. An increased awareness of these rhetorical contradictions may allow us better to assess the likely impact and future of nanotechnology. (shrink)
In this paper I examine what I take to be the best case for reproductive human cloning, as a medical procedure designed to overcome infertility, and argue that it founders on an irresolvable tension in the attitude towards the importance of being ‘genetically related’ to our children implied in the desire to clone. Except in the case where couples are cloning a child they have previously conceived naturally, cloning is unable to establish the right sort of genetic relation to make (...) couples the parents of their cloned child. If anybody is the genetic parent of a cloned child it is the natural parent(s) of the DNA donor. Paradoxically, in order to resist the claims of the parents of the donor to the cloned child, the argument for human reproductive cloning must place more weight on the intention to parent a child, than we do in cases of ordinary reproduction. It must insist that the parental relation is established by the intentions of the couple who bring a clone into the world and not by their genetic relation to the child. The emphasis placed on intention as establishing the parental relationship works to undermine the justification for cloning in the first place. For cloning to play a useful role as a reproductive technology, it must allow couples to become parents who could do so no other way. However, to the extent that intention is sufficient to establish parenthood, adoption or surrogacy, which are existing alternatives to cloning, will serve equally well to allow couples to become parents. (shrink)
Ravelingien et al have suggested that early human xenotransplantation trials should be carried out on patients who are in a permanent vegetative state (PVS) and who have previously granted their consent to the use of their bodies in such research in the event of their cortical death. Unfortunately, their philosophical defence of this suggestion is unsatisfactory in its current formulation, as it equivocates on the key question of the status of patients who are in a PVS. The solution proposed by (...) them rests on the idea that it should be up to people themselves to determine when they should be treated as dead. Yet the authors clearly believe (and state) that patients who are in a PVS are in fact dead. Finally, given the public good that their proposal is intended to achieve, the moral importance they place on the consent of a person to the use of his or her body in research is ultimately only defensible in so far as this consent represents the wishes of a living person. It is thus only a gentle caricature of their position to suggest that according to their account, consent to participation in xenotransplantation research is a “right of the living dead”. The equivocation by Ravelingien et al on the question of whether these people are living or dead means that they avoid confronting the implications of their argument. The solution proposed by Ravelingien et al to the problem of how we should proceed with xenotransplantation research is therefore not as neat as it first seems to be. (shrink)
Alphonso Lingis is the author of many books and renowned for his translations of Levinas, Merleau-Ponty, and Klossowski. By combining a rich philosophical training with an extensive travel itinerary, Lingis has developed a distinctive brand of phenomenology that is only now beginning to gain critical attention. Lingis inhabits a ready-made language and conceptuality, but cultivates a style of thinking which disrupts and transforms the work of his predecessors, setting him apart from the rest of his field. This essay sketches Lingis’ (...) phenomenology of sensation in order to give expression to some dimensions of Lingisian travel. As we see, Lingis deploys a theory of the subject which features the plasticity of the body, the materiality of affect, and the alimentary nature of sensation. (shrink)
This paper attempts some predictions about the social consequences of nanotechnology and the ethical issues they raise. I set out four features of nanotechnology that are likely to be important in determining its impact and argue that nanotechnology will have significant social impacts in—at least—the areas of health and medicine, the balance of power between citizens and governments, and the balance of power between citizens and corporations. More importantly, responding to the challenge of nanotechnology will require confronting “philosophical” questions about (...) the sort of society we wish to create and the role that technology might play in creating it. This in turn will require developing institutions and processes that allow the public to wield real power in relation to technological trajectories. My ultimate contention is that the immediate task established by the likely social impacts of nanotechnology is not so much to develop an ethics of nanotechnology as to facilitate an ethical conversation about nanotechnology. (shrink)
It is often claimed that the development of nanotechnology will constitute a “technological revolution” with profound social, economic, and political consequences. The full implications of this claim can best be understood by imagining a scenario in which a political revolutionary made all the same claims that are commonly made by enthusiasts for nanotechnology. I argue that most people would be outraged to learn that the members of an unelected group were planning to radically reshape society in this fashion. I survey (...) a number of arguments that might be used to block this analogy and argue that none of them justify drawing a sharp distinction between social change due to technology and change due to other political causes. Two things follow for discussions of the social impacts of nanotechnology. First, we need to reconsider the appropriateness of the language of technological revolution when talking about nanotechnology. The likely impacts of nanotechnology may be less dramatic than is often claimed. Second, if we do decide that the language of revolution is the appropriate one to use when talking about nanotechnology then we should acknowledge that any such revolution should be delayed until the public has had a chance to make a democratic decision about whether they wish their lives to be transformed in this way. (shrink)
Unpriming is a decrease in the influence of primed knowledge following a behavior expressing that knowledge. The authors investigated strategies for unpriming the knowledge of an answer that is activated when people are asked to consider a simple question. Experiment 1 found that prior correct answering eliminated the bias people normally show toward correct responding when asked to answer yes–no questions randomly. Experiment 2 revealed that prior answering intended to be random did not unprime knowledge on subsequent attempts to answer (...) randomly. Experiment 3 found that exposure to the correct answer did not influence the knowledge bias but that exposure to the incorrect answer increased bias. Experiment 4 revealed that merely expressing the answer for oneself was sufficient to unprime knowledge. Experiment 5 found that each item of activated knowledge needs to be unprimed specifically, in that correctly answering 1 question does not reduce the knowledge bias in randomly answering another. (shrink)
Concern for “reproductive liberty” suggests that decisions about embryos should normally be made by the persons who would be the genetic parents of the child that would be brought into existence if the embryo were brought to term. Therapeutic cloning would involve creating and destroying an embryo, which, if brought to term, would be the offspring of the genetic parents of the person undergoing therapy. I argue that central arguments in debates about parenthood and genetics therefore suggest that therapeutic cloning (...) would be prima facie unethical unless it occurred with the consent of the parents of the person being cloned. Alternatively, if therapeutic cloning is thought to be legitimate, this undermines the case for some uses of reproductive cloning by implying that the genetic relation it establishes between clones and DNA donors does not carry the same moral weight as it does in cases of normal reproduction. (shrink)
The ‘marketplace of ideas’ is an influential metaphor with widespread currency in debates about freedom of speech. We explore a number of ways competition between ideas might be described as occurring in a marketplace and find that none support the use of the metaphor. We suggest that an alternative metaphor, that of the ‘garden of ideas’, may offer more productive insights into issues surrounding the regulation of speech.
Traditional theories locate color in primary qualities of objects, in dispositional properties of objects, in visual fields, or nowhere. In contrast, we argue that color is located in properties of light. More specifically, light is red iff there is a property P of the light that typically interacts with normal human perceivers to give the sensation of red. This is an error theory, because objects and visual fields that appear red are not really red, since they lack the properties that (...) make light red. We show how this light theory solves or avoids problems that afflict its competitors. (shrink)
This essay defends the view that, as embodied, our identities are necessarily dependent on the aesthetic environment. Toward this end, it examines the renewal of the concept of sensation (aisthesis) in phenomenology, but then concludes that the methodology and metaphysics of phenomenology must be abandoned in favor of an ontology that sees corporeal identity as generated by the materiality of aesthetic relations. It is suggested that such an ontology is available in the work of Spinoza, which helps break down the (...) natural/ artificial and human/nonhuman distinctions, and can thereby engender an environmental ethics grounded in aesthetic relations. An explication of body/ world dependence is provided via the concept of plasticity and a properly Spinozist aesthetics is invoked, but remains to be worked out. (shrink)
The body is central to the philosophies of Spinoza and Nietzsche. Both thinkers are concerned with the composition of the body, its potential relations with other bodies, and the modifications which a body can undergo. Gilles Deleuze has contributed significantly to the relatively sparse literature which draws out the affinities between Spinoza and Nietzsche. Deleuze’s reconceptualization of the field of ethology enables us to bring Spinoza and Nietzsche together as ethologists of the body and to elaborate their common, physiological perspective (...) on ethico-political composition. This is accomplished by reading the concepts of force, power, and affect as they are mobilized in their discussions of corporeity and intercorporeity. What emerges is a metaphysics of bodies that can simultaneously be regarded as a physiology of encounters, one which renders the friend/enemy distinction indiscernible and opens the door for a rethinking of the nature of political alliances. Both Spinoza and Nietzsche are shown to be invaluable resources for helping us imagine the potential of the individual’s body and the body politic. (shrink)
The risk posed to the community by possible xenozoonosis after xenotransplantation suggests that some form of 'community consent' is required before whole organ animal-to-human xenotransplantation should take place. I argue that this requirement places greater obstacles in the path of ethical xenotransplantation than has previously been recognised. The relevant community is global and there are no existing institutions with democratic credentials sufficient to establish this consent. The distribution of the risks and benefits from xenotransplantation also means that consent is unlikely (...) to be forthcoming. Proceeding on the basis of hypothetical consent to a package of global health measures that includes xenotransplantation, as Rothblatt has recently advocated, is more problematic than she acknowledges. Given that it may place the lives of citizens of poor nations at risk to benefit the citizens of wealthy nations, xenotransplantation raises significant questions of international justice. (shrink)
We question the usefulness of Pylyshyn's dichotomy between cognitively penetrable and cognitively impenetrable mechanisms as the basis for his distinction between cognition and early vision. This dichotomy is comparable to others that have been proposed in psychology prompting disputes that by their very nature could not be resolved. This fate is inevitable for Pylyshyn's thesis because of its reliance on internal representations and their interpretation. What is more fruitful in relation to this issue is not a difficult dichotomy, but a (...) different look at perception such as proposed by Gibson (1979). (shrink)
We tested whether the E-Z Reader model can be generalised to the French language. The simulation showed that the model can account for the frequency effect. The predictability effect is moreover accurate for word skipping, but not for fixation times. We think that this model is psychologically plausible for certain aspects of reading and we have used it to evaluate the performance of dyslexic readers.