Nanotechnologies are enabling technologies which rely on the manipulation of matter on the scale of billionths of a metre. It has been argued that scientific uncertainties surrounding nanotechnologies and the inability of regulatory agencies to keep up with industry developments mean that voluntary regulation will play a part in the development of nanotechnologies. The development of technological applications based on nanoscale science is now increasingly seen as a potential test case for new models of regulation based on future-oriented responsibility, lifecycle (...) risk management, and upstream public engagement. This article outlines findings from a project undertaken in 2008–2009 for the UK Government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) by BRASS at Cardiff University, involving an in-depth survey both of current corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting in the UK nanotechnologies industry, and of attitudes to particular stakeholder issues within the industry. The article analyses the results to give an account of the nature of corporate social performance (CSP) within the industry, together with the particular model of CSR operating therein (‘do no harm’ versus ‘positive social force’). It is argued that the nature of emerging technologies requires businesses to adopt particular visions of CSR in order to address stakeholder issues, and that the nanotechnologies industry presents specific obstacles and opportunities in this regard. (shrink)
During the refereeing procedure of Anthropomorphic Quantum Darwinism by Thomas Durt, it became apparent in the dialogue between him and me that the definition of information in Physics is something about which not all authors agreed. This text aims at describing the concepts associated to information that are accepted as the standard in the Physics world community.
Gödel’s incompleteness applies to any system with recursively enumerable axioms and rules of inference. Chaitin’s approach to Gödel’s incompleteness relates the incompleteness to the amount of information contained in the axioms. Zurek’s quantum Darwinism attempts the physical description of the universe using information as one of its major components. The capacity of quantum Darwinism to describe quantum measurement in great detail without requiring ad-hoc non-unitary evolution makes it a good candidate for describing the transition from quantum to classical. A baby-universe (...) diffusion model of cosmic inflation is analyzed using quantum Darwinism. In this model cosmic inflation can be approximated as Brownian motion of a quantum field, and quantum Darwinism implies that molecular interaction during Brownian motion will make the quantum field decohere. The quantum Darwinism approach to decoherence in the baby-universe cosmic-inflation model yields the decoherence times of the baby-universes. The result is the equation relating the baby-universe’s decoherence time with the Hubble parameter, and that the decoherence time is considerably shorter than the cosmic inflation period. (shrink)
In the hard determinism of Newtonian physics all aspects of the universe are deterministic and therefore all future behavior in the universe is determined by its present state. Hard determinism is incompatible with the existence of free will, but not with the belief in the existence of free will. It is analyzed what is required from physics for free will to exist. It is detailed which conditions must be fulfilled for randomness to be suficient for the existence of free will, (...) and it is argued that these conditions are valid in our physical universe. The approach to physics that is used is Zurek's information-based interpretation of measurement in quantum mechanics, called quantum existentialism. Zurek's approach is capable of describing the boundary between quantum physics and Newtonian physics in great detail. Belief in hard determinism increases the chances of feeling hopeless, and thus a direct consequence of the belief in hard determinism is a reduction of emotional well-being. The results obtained imply that the belief in the existence of free will is compatible with observed reality. (shrink)
Justin D'Arms says that moral disapproval is more closely tied to anger than to the “empathic chill” effect I emphasized in Moral Sentimentalism, but I argue that anger is in several ways inappropriate or unsatisfactory as a basis for understanding disapproval. I go on to explain briefly why I think we need not share D'Arms's worries about the possibility of nonveridical empathy but then focus on what he says about the reference-fixing theory of moral terminology defended in Moral Sentimentalism. I (...) explain why I think his interpretations of my view—both at the Spindel Conference and subsequently—misunderstand the (Kripkean) character of that view. My reply to Lori Watson questions whether her criticisms of Moral Sentimentalism's account of morality are sufficiently sensitive to the self−other asymmetry that typifies so much of ordinary moral thinking. (shrink)
Is moral theory alienating? This question, and the worries that lie behind it, motivate much of Lori Gruen's distinctive approach to animal ethics in Entangled Empathy. According to Gruen, the “traditional” methods of moral theory rely on abstractions that strip away the details that give our lives meaning. Although I am deeply sympathetic to these worries, as well as to the alternative ethics Gruen proposes in response to them, in this article I express a few reservations about the argument (...) Gruen uses to motivate her worries and to establish her solution. First, I raise some questions about her conception of “traditional” moral theory and the possible historical figures she means to indict. I then suggest that the principal gear of her argument—her conception of “entangled empathy”—suffers from some inconsistency in application, which risks leading her to posit a thicker notion of empathy than she should want. In particular, her argument risks setting a standard of correctness for “successful” empathy that is implausible on its own terms, but that is also a standard of correctness with morally and politically questionable implications in the human context. (shrink)
While political and ethical philosophers today are familiar with critiques of confinement in both critical prison studies and critical animal studies, The Ethics of Captivity is unusual in that it brings these critiques of incarceration together, bridging human and nonhuman animal liberation movements. While Lisa Guenther’s recent book, Solitary Confinement: Social Death and Its Afterlives, also critiques the mass incarceration of both human and nonhuman animals, it is far more common to see human and animal liberation movements opposed on this (...) issue, as when the incarceration of humans is deplored for treating those individuals like animals. As Guenther argues, however, this humanistic language is... (shrink)
This essay explores four aspects of Gruen's theory. The first section considers her analysis of the concepts of sympathy, pity, and emotional contagion. The second section outlines the main features of her conception of empathy and highlights some worries about empathy that her theory addresses. The third section examines empathy's contributions to moral epistemology. The fourth section queries Gruen's contention that empathy is morally motivating.
I have been teaching an undergraduate course called “Ethics and Animals” for almost a decade now. It counts as a core course for the ethics certificate at my university, and is housed in my home department, Women’s Studies, so there is some presumption of feminist or progressive content. I have the syllabi from all these years laid out in front of me on my desk. What strikes me immediately is that the turnover of the reading list is at least 75 (...) percent, and sometimes even 100 percent, from year to year. Early on, I see Singer (1975) and Regan (1983), Adams (1990), DeGrazi (2002), Francione (1996), Singer and Regan again, Linzey (1987), Haraway (1989), Francione again, Wolfe (2003), Derrida (2008), Waldau (2006) .. (shrink)
In this comprehensive introduction to animal ethics, Lori Gruen weaves together poignant and provocative case studies with discussions of ethical theory, urging readers to engage critically and empathetically reflect on our treatment of other animals. In clear and accessible language, Gruen provides a survey of the issues central to human-animal relations and a reasoned new perspective on current key debates in the field. She analyses and explains a range of theoretical positions and poses challenging questions that directly encourage readers (...) to hone their ethical reasoning skills and to develop a defensible position about their own practices. Her book will be an invaluable resource for students in a wide range of disciplines including ethics, environmental studies, veterinary science, women's studies, and the emerging field of animal studies and is an engaging account of the subject for general readers with no prior background in philosophy. (shrink)