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)
In the last few years, geographers have begun to develop a research interest in children's and young people's attitudes to and relationship with place and locality. While a range of different types of work has been undertaken, most studies are united by their concern for the ethical and practical issues that are raised when children and young people are the subjects of research. In a thought-provoking paper in this journal, Valentine suggested that five main areas of ethical concern might be (...) distinguished: consent; access and structures of compliance; privacy and confidentiality; methodologies and issues of power; and dissemination and advocacy. As she noted, many of these issues are not unique to research with children but are refracted in particular ways because of the particular legal position of children and the inequalities of power between children and adult research workers. In my own work with working class young men aged 15-17, who were no longer children but not yet adults, I found similarities to but also differences from the concerns identified by Valentine, especially as the research I undertook involved repeat interviews. Issues of access, power and dissemination took a different form. In Valentine's paper, the significance of the class, gender, ethnic, age and other social characteristics of both the interviewer(s) and the interviewees and the impact on their interaction were not considered, whereas I found that they were a significant part of the relationships that took place during the course of the research. I also discuss questions of access and of the location of interviewing, ethical issues that arise in representing the views of young people and in returning the research material to them and the problems of trying to undertake critical social research. (shrink)
Based on the ongoing work of the agenda-setting Future of Minority Studies national research project, Identity Politics Reconsidered reconceptualizes the scholarly and political significance of social identity. It focuses on the deployment of “identity” within ethnic-, women’s-, disability-, and gay and lesbian studies in order to stimulate discussion about issues that are simultaneously theoretical and practical, ranging from ethics and epistemology to political theory and pedagogical practice. This collection of powerful essays by both well-known and emerging scholars offers original answers (...) to questions concerning the analytical legitimacy of “identity” and “experience,” and the relationships among cultural autonomy, moral universalism, and progressive politics. (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)
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)
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)
When doubts were first raised about the veracity of the dramatic advances in stem cell research announced by Professor Hwang Woo-Suk, a significant minority response was to question the qualifications of journalists to investigate the matter. In this paper I examine the contemporary relationships between science, scientists, the public, and the media. In the modern context the progress of science often relies on the media to mobilise public support for research and also for the purpose of communication within the scientific (...) community. As a result, attempts to counterpose "science" and "the media" should be treated with some caution. I argue that because of the essential role played by ethics in good science, journalists may in fact sometimes be well placed to investigate scientists. At the conclusion of my paper I draw out some of the implications of my analysis for the ethics of investigative journalism directed towards scientific research. (shrink)
Principles of procreative beneficence (PPBs) hold that parents have good reasons to select the child with the best life prospects. Sparrow (2010) claims that PPBs imply that we should select only female children, unlesswe attach normative significance to “normal” human capacities. We argue that this claim fails on both empirical and logical grounds. Empirically, Sparrow’s argument for greater female wellbeing rests on a selective reading of the evidence and the incorrect assumption that an advantage for females would persist (...) even when a serious gender imbalance is obtained. Logically, PPBs cite only pro tanto reasons and allow that the good of an individual child could be outweighed by other morally relevant considerations, such as those which take collectively suboptimal outcomes into account. There is thus no need to attach value to the “normal.”. (shrink)
Anthropologists have provided rich field descriptions of the norms and conventions governing behavior and interactions in small-scale societies. Here, we add a further dimension to this work by presenting hypothetical moral dilemmas involving harm, to a small-scale, agrarian Mayan population, with the specific goal of exploring the hypothesis that certain moral principles apply universally. We presented Mayan participants with moral dilemmas translated into their native language, Tseltal. Paralleling several studies carried out with educated subjects living in large-scale, developed nations, the (...) Mayan participants judged harms caused as the means to a greater good as more forbidden than harms caused as a side-effect (i.e., side-effect bias). However, unlike these other populations living in large-scale societies, as well as a more educated and less rural Mayan comparison group, the target rural Mayan participants did not judge actions causing harm as worse than omissions (i.e., omission bias). A series of probes targeting the action-omission distinction suggest that the absence of an omission bias among the rural Mayan participants was not due to difficulties comprehending the dilemmas, using the judgment scale, or in attributing a greater causal role for actions over omissions. Thus, while the moral distinction between means and side-effect may be more universal, the moral distinction between actions and omission appears to be open to greater cross-cultural variation. We discuss these results in light of issues concerning the role of biological constraints and cultural variation in moral decision-making, as well as the limitations of such experimental, cross-cultural research. (shrink)
In a number of papers, including the one published in this journal, Robert Sparrow has mounted attacks on consequentialism using principally what he takes to be an important fact, which he believes constitutes a reductio ad absurdum of consequentialism in its many forms and of this author's approach to enhancement and disability in particular (see page 276). This fact is the current longer life expectancy of women when compared with men. Here the author argues that Sparrow's arguments and (...) entire approach utterly fail. In doing so the author hopes to shed further light on the role of normalcy, normal species functioning and species-typical functioning in debates about enhancement and disability. (shrink)
Feminist approaches within the social sciences have expanded enormously since the 1960s. In addition, in recent years, geographic perspectives have become increasingly significant as feminist recognition of the differences between women, their diverse experiences in different parts of the world and the importance of location in the social construction of knowledge has placed varied geographies at the centre of contemporary feminist and postmodern debates. Gender, Identity and Place is an accessible and clearly written introduction to the wide field of issues (...) that have been addressed by geographers and feminist scholars. It combines the careful definition and discussion of key concepts and theoretical approaches with a wealth of empirical detail from a wide-ranging selection of case studies and other empirical research. It is organized on the basis of spatial scale, examining the relationships between gender and place from the body to the nation, although the links between different spatial scales are also emphasized. The conceptual division and spatial separation between the public and private spheres and their association with men and women respectively has been a crucial part of the social construction of gendered differences and its establishment, maintenance and reshaping from industrial urbanization to the end of the millennium is a central linking theme in the eight substantive chapters. The book concludes with an assessment of the possibilities of doing feminist research. It will be essential reading for students in geography, feminist theory, women's studies, anthropology and sociology. (shrink)
During the latter-half of the nineteenth century, the utility of the house sparrow to humankind was a contentious topic. In Britain, numerous actors from various backgrounds including natural history, acclimatisation, agriculture and economic ornithology converged on the bird, as contemporaries sought to calculate its economic cost and benefit to growers. Periodicals and newspapers provided an accessible and anonymous means of expression, through which the debate raged for over 50 years. By the end of the century, sparrows had been cast (...) as detrimental to agriculture. Yet consensus was not achieved through new scientific methods, instruments, or changes in practice. This study instead argues that the rise and fall of scientific disciplines and movements paved the way for consensus on “the sparrow question.” The decline of natural history and acclimatisation stifled a raging debate, while the rising science of economic ornithology sought to align itself with agricultural interests: the latter overwhelmingly hostile to sparrows. (shrink)
This argument map represents the argumentation of Sparrow, R. . "Just say No" to Drones. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, M 1932-4529/12, 56-63. doi: 10.1109/MTS.2012.2185275. The argument map is open for debate in AGORA-net, search for map ID 9712.
Linda I. Meyers was twenty-eight and the mother of three little boys when her mother, after a lifetime of threats, killed herself. Staggered by conflicting feelings of relief and remorse, Linda believed that the best way to give meaning to her mother's death was to make changes to her own life. Bolstered by the women's movement of the seventies, she left her marriage, went to college, started a successful family acting business, and established a fulfilling career. Written with (...) irony and humour and sprinkled with Yiddish, The Tell is one woman's inspirational story of before and after, and ultimately of emancipation and purpose." -- Provided by publisher. (shrink)
Citizenship presents two faces. Within a political community it stands for inclusion and universalism, but to outsiders, citizenship means exclusion. Because these aspects of citizenship appear spatially and jurisdictionally separate, they are usually regarded as complementary. In fact, the inclusionary and exclusionary dimensions of citizenship dramatically collide within the territory of the nation-state, creating multiple contradictions when it comes to the class of people the law calls aliens--transnational migrants with a status short of full citizenship. Examining alienage and alienage law (...) in all of its complexities, The Citizen and the Alien explores the dilemmas of inclusion and exclusion inherent in the practices and institutions of citizenship in liberal democratic societies, especially the United States. In doing so, it offers an important new perspective on the changing meaning of citizenship in a world of highly porous borders and increasing transmigration. As a particular form of noncitizenship, alienage represents a powerful lens through which to examine the meaning of citizenship itself, argues Linda Bosniak. She uses alienage to examine the promises and limits of the "equal citizenship" ideal that animates many constitutional democracies. In the process, she shows how core features of globalization serve to shape the structure of legal and social relationships at the very heart of national societies. (shrink)
In Exemplarist Moral Theory of Linda Zagzebski presents an original moral theory based on direct reference to exemplars of goodness, whom we identify through the emotion of admiration. Using examples of heroes, saints, and sages, she shows how narratives of exemplars and empirical work on the most admirable persons can be incorporated into the theory to serve both theoretical and practical purposes.
‘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)
Now available from Rowman & Littlefield, the third edition of this introductory critical thinking text features streamlined chapters, Think for Yourself activities, and a complete glossary of critical thinking terms.
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.
Linda Morrison brings the voices and issues of a little-known, complex social movement to the attention of sociologists, mental health professionals, and the general public. The members of this social movement work to gain voice for their own experience, to raise consciousness of injustice and inequality, to expose the darker side of psychiatry, and to promote alternatives for people in emotional distress. Talking Back to Psychiatry explores the movement's history, its complex membership, its strategies and goals, and the varied (...) response it has received from psychiatry, policy makers, and the public at large. (shrink)
Almost all theories of knowledge and justified belief employ moral concepts and forms of argument borrowed from moral theories, but none of them pay attention to the current renaissance in virtue ethics. This remarkable book is the first attempt to establish a theory of knowledge based on the model of virtue theory in ethics. The book develops the concept of an intellectual virtue, and then shows how the concept can be used to give an account of the major concepts in (...) epistemology, including the concept of knowledge. This highly original work of philosophy for professionals will also provide students with an excellent introduction to epistemology, virtue theory, and the relationship between ethics and epistemology. (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 ‘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.
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)
This book explores how the trans phenomenon can challenge the existing concept of the Self and its nature. The catalyst is Moore’s Paradox: can a trans person coherently state ‘I am a girl but I don’t believe that’? More deeply, three fundamental philosophical questions arise, of ontological, epistemological, and conceptual significance: what Self understands that the natal-gender is ‘wrong’? How does the trans person know that the natal-gender is ‘wrong’ and what counts as evidence? And finally, how does this effect (...) the concept of Self itself? Seeking answers, Brakel considers various theories of the Self, including classical accounts, modern views, and models developed by selected gender theorists. The book then takes a biological turn, first developing an evolutionary proper-function analysis of gender and trans-gender and subsequently proposing the possibility of a new ontological phenotype. With a review of cutting-edge neuroscientific research conducted over the last twenty-five years, Brakel propels this timely and important investigation toward the future, using experimental philosophy empirical studies adapted from classic thought experiments on the nature of the Self. (shrink)
Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and the A-Rational Mind provides a powerful re-appraisal of psychoanalysis and the role it can play in helping us understand human nature. It explores basic psychological phenomena- beliefs, desires, phantasies, wishes - examining a range of fascinating case histories, and explaining their significance.
In this book Zagzebski gives an extended argument that the self-reflective person is committed to belief on authority. Epistemic authority is compatible with autonomy, but epistemic self-reliance is incoherent. She argues that epistemic and emotional self-trust are rational and inescapable, that consistent self-trust commits us to trust in others, and that among those we are committed to trusting are some whom we ought to treat as epistemic authorities, modeled on the well-known principles of authority of Joseph Raz. These principles apply (...) to authority in the moral and religious domains. (shrink)
Widely regarded as one of the foremost figures in contemporary philosophy of religion, this book by Linda Zagzebski is a major contribution to ethical theory and theological ethics. At the core of the book lies a form of virtue theory based on the emotions. Quite distinct from deontological, consequentialist and teleological virtue theories, this one has a particular theological, indeed Christian, foundation. The theory helps to resolve philosophical problems and puzzles of various kinds: the dispute between cognitivism and non-cognitivism (...) in moral psychology, the claims and counterclaims of realism and anti-realism in the metaphysics of value, and paradoxes of perfect goodness in natural theology, including the problem of evil. As with Zagzebski's previous Cambridge book Virtues of the Mind, this book will be sought out eagerly by a broad swathe of professionals and graduate students in philosophy and religious studies. (shrink)
The distinction between a type and its tokens is a useful metaphysical distinction. In §1 it is explained what it is, and what it is not. Its importance and wide applicability in linguistics, philosophy, science and everyday life are briefly surveyed in §2. Whether types are universals is discussed in §3. §4 discusses some other suggestions for what types are, both generally and specifically. Is a type the sets of its tokens? What exactly is a word, a symphony, a species? (...) §5 asks what a token is. §6 considers the relation between types and their tokens. Do the type and all its tokens share the same properties? Must all the tokens be alike in some or all respects? §7 explains some problems for the view that types exist, and some problems for the view that they don't. §8 elucidates a distinction often confused with the type-token distinction, that between a type (or token) and an occurrence of it. It also discusses some problems that occurrences might be thought to give rise to, and one way to resolve them. (shrink)
Wrong beliefs, known by some as ‘alternative facts’, have proliferated lately in important areas of human life, including social, political, and public health domains. This can be and has been damaging. This brief article proposes an epistemological category classification of these wrong beliefs, with the following mappings: a) ‘No-Information’ marked by willful blindness produces ‘Empty Beliefs’; b) ‘Mis-Information’ yields ‘Mis(taken) Beliefs’; and c) ‘Dis-Information’ predicated on blatant distortions produces ‘Dis(torted) Beliefs’. This simple classification system, is perhaps epistemologically satisfying, and moreover (...) could have positive policy implications. (shrink)
Linda LeMoncheck introduces a new way of thinking and talking about women's sexual pleasures, preferences, and desires. Using the tools of contemporary analytic philosophy, she discusses methods for mediating the tensions among apparently irreconcilable feminist perspectives on women's sexuality and shows how a feminist epistemology and ethic can advance the dialogue in women's sexuality across a broad political spectrum. She argues that in order to capture the diversity and complexity of women's sexual experience, women's sexuality must be examined from (...) two equally compelling perspectives: that of women's sexual oppression under conditions of individual and institutional male dominance; and that of women's sexual liberation, both in terms of each woman's pursuit of sexual agency and self-definition, and in terms of women's sexual liberation as a class. Loose Women, Lecherous Men sheds crucial new light on such much-debated topics as promiscuity, adultery, sexual deviance, prostitution, pornography, sexual harassment, and sexual violence against women. Her book supports a dialogue that encourages both women and men to take up a feminist perspective in exploring the meaning and value of sexuality in their lives. (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)
The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) requires as a condition of accreditation that every health care institution -- hospital, nursing home, or home care agency -- have a standing mechanism to address ethical issues. Most organizations have chosen to fulfill this requirement with an interdisciplinary ethics committee. The best of these committees are knowledgeable, creative, and effective resources in their institutions. Many are wellmeaning but lack the information, experience, and skills to negotiate adequately the complex ethical (...) issues that arise in clinical and organizational settings. Handbook for Health Care Ethics Committees is the first resource designed to address the range of work performed by ethics committees as part of their multiple responsibilities, including education, case consultation, and policy development. It features an eight-chapter curriculum reviewing the content of contemporary health care bioethics and discussing the ethical foundations of clinical practice, with each subsequent section focusing on a set of ethical issues that commonly arise in the clinical setting. Through case studies, the authors explore issues such as informed consent and refusal, decision making and decisional capacity, truth telling, decision-making concerns of minors, end-of-life issues, palliation, justice in and access to health care services, and organizational ethics. They offer sample policies and procedures, draft guidelines and protocols, and key legal cases. Providing both a strong theoretical foundation and practical applications, this handbook will be essential reading for every member of a health care ethics committee. (shrink)