This piece comprises short presentations given by contributors to a symposium organized by the journal Ethics & Social Welfare on the theme of global ethics for social work. The contributors offer their reflections on the extent to which universally accepted international statements of ethical principles in social work are possible or useful, engaging with debates about cultural diversity, relativism and the relevance of human rights in non-Western countries.
Imagination and reason: rival perspectives on science Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11016-012-9655-4 Authors Stephen Healy, School of History and Philosophy, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2052 Australia Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Putting the mangle to the test Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9516-y Authors Stephen Healy, School of History and Philosophy, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Setting goals in the workplace can motivate improved performance but it might also compromise ethical behavior. In this paper, we propose that individual differences in the dispositional tendency to morally justify behavior moderate the effects of specific performance goals on unethical behavior. We conducted an experimental study in which working participants, who were randomly assigned to a specific goal condition or to a condition with a vague goal that lacked a specific target, completed two tasks in which they had the (...) opportunity to act unethically. In an ethical dilemma task, participants in the specific goal condition were more likely to advocate using unethical methods. However, in an anagram task, only those with high moral justification overstated their performance to a greater degree in the specific goal condition. As such, individuals may not be equally susceptible to the ‘dark side’ of goal-setting. (shrink)
Upon what kind of moral order does capitalism rest? Conversely, does the market give rise to a distinctive set of beliefs, habits, and social bonds? These questions are certainly as old as social science itself. In this review, we evaluate how today's scholarship approaches the relationship between markets and the moral order. We begin with Hirschman's characterization of the three rival views of the market as civilizing, destructive, or feeble in its effects on society. We review recent work at the (...) intersection of sociology, economics, and political economy and show that these views persist both as theories of market society and moral arguments about it. We then argue that a fourth view, which we call moralized markets, has become increasingly prominent in economic sociology. This line of research sees markets as cultural phenomena and moral projects in their own right, and seeks to study the mechanisms and techniques by which such projects are realized in practice. (shrink)
Information and communications technology (ICT) is now used more by non-IT professional end-users than by IT professionals. A survey of 125 London-based organisations found that the majority had instituted codes of conduct designed to govern the use of ICT by their employees. However, the primary purpose of adopting such codes was to ensure the security and efficient operation of the organisation's information systems rather than for wider ethical considerations. Hence, few of the codes of conduct addressed issues relating to the (...) collection, storage and dissemination of data about individuals (personal data); this was especially the case with codes emanating from IT departments rather than senior management. In general, codes of conduct were found to be ineffective in influencing end-user behaviour in the organisations surveyed. Codes of conduct are a means by which organisations seek to exercise power, control and ownership, but their effectiveness is compromised by the nature of ICT itself as well as the attitudes of employees. The failure of well-publicised ethical policies to influence use of ICT by business studies students – the managers of tomorrow – suggests that these tensions are likely to remain unresolved. (shrink)
Humanitarian organisations often work alongside those responsible for serious wrongdoing. In these circumstances, accusations of moral complicity are sometimes levelled at decision makers. These accusations can carry a strong if unfocused moral charge and are frequently the source of significant moral unease. In this paper, we explore the meaning and usefulness of complicity and its relation to moral accountability. We also examine the impact of concerns about complicity on the motivation of humanitarian staff and the risk that complicity may lead (...) to a retreat into moral narcissism. Moral narcissism is the possibility that where humanitarian actors inadvertently become implicated in wrongdoing, they may focus more on their image as self-consciously good actors than on the interests of potential beneficiaries. Moral narcissism can be triggered where accusations of complicity are made and can slew decision making. We look at three interventions by Médecins Sans Frontières that gave rise to questions of complicity. We question its decision-guiding usefulness. Drawing on recent thought, we suggest that complicity can helpfully draw attention to the presence of moral conflict and to the way International Non-Governmental Organisations can be drawn into unintentional wrongdoing. We acknowledge the moral challenge that complicity presents to humanitarian staff but argue that complicity does not help INGOs make tough decisions in morally compromising situations as to whether they should continue with an intervention or pull out. (shrink)
Although typically implicit, clinicians face an inherent conflict between their roles as medical healers and as providers of technical biomedicine (Scott et al. in Philos Ethics Humanit Med 4:11, 2009). This conflict arises from the tension between the physicalist model which still predominates in medical training and practice and the extra-physicalist dimensions of medical practice as epitomised in the concept of patient-centred care. More specifically, the problem is that, as grounded in a "borrowed" physicalist philosophy, the dominant "applied scientist" model (...) exhibits a number of limitations which severely restrict its ability to underwrite the effective practice of care. Moreover, being structural in character, these problems cannot be resolved by piecemeal modifications of the existing model, nor by an appeal to evidence-based medicine (Miles in J Eval Clin Pract 15(6):887-890, 2009; Miles in Folia Med 55(1):5-24, 2013; Miles et al. in J Eval Clin Pract 14(5):621-649, 2008). Hence, the need for medical theorists to "partner with experts in the humanities to build a sui generis philosophy of medicine" (Whatley in J Eval Clin Pract 20(6):961-964, 2014, p. 961). In response, the present paper seeks to vindicate the merits of hermeneutically-informed template in providing the requisite grounding. While capable of correcting for the limitations of the applied scientist model, a hermeneutically-informed template is a "both/and" approach, which seeks to complement rather than exclude the physicalist dimension, and thereby aspires to reconcile technical mastery with patient-centred care, rather than eschew one in favour of the other. As such, it can provide a cogent philosophical template for current best practice, which does justice to the art as well as the science of medical care. (shrink)
The article interprets Kierkegaard’s thesis that “truth is subjectivity,” unfolding four possible meanings:1. the deepest kinds of knowledge can only come from lived experience;2. self-knowledge is essential for metanoia or change;3. if the “how” is right, then the “what” or the truth will also be given; and4. the deepest importance of truth lies in living it.These reflections are then related to personalist themes: the incarnate person as responsible, as inviolable, and as averse to coercion; the incarnate person as having a (...) mysterious interiority, an infinite abyss of existence, and as never reducible to a mere part of a whole nor simply determined from within or without; this interiority is not isolating but opens up toward others; and freedom is not arbitrary but implies universal moral and particular religious calls.Finally, I ask whether Kierkegaard’s personalism is too individualistic and does not do full justice to some of the themes here. (shrink)
Given its contribution to enhancing the inclusiveness, responsiveness, transparency and accountability of socio-political decision-making, the deliberative model has achieved considerable prominence in recent times as a basis for revitalizing democracy. But notwithstanding its strengths, it has also become clear that the deliberative proposal exhibits certain weaknesses that stand in need of correction if it is to realize its potential for revitalizing democracy in our contemporary pluralistic and multicultural world. Not surprisingly, then, there have been calls for significant modifications to the (...) core proposal. Of particular interest for present purposes is Iris Marion Young’s call for a ‘communicative’ reappropriation of the standard model with a view to rendering it more inclusive of and responsive to difference. While Young’s call for reconfiguring the deliberative template in a manner conducive to treating difference as a resource rather than as a barrier to unity is judicious and timely, the present article contends that her communicative proposal does not go far enough to achieve the envisaged outcomes. Instead, to enhance inclusiveness and responsiveness to difference in a manner conducive to promoting mutual understanding and potentially transformative learning, a thoroughgoing dialogical reappropriation is called for, along the lines defended here. Only in this way can the deliberative proposal live up to its pluralistic as well as inclusive intent. Moreover, far from being an external imposition, a dialogical reconfiguration of the requisite sort is rather a means of liberating potentials inherent in the deliberative proposal from the outset but typically suppressed by an undue emphasis on homogeneity, uniformity and consensus. (shrink)
Contemporary social-scientific research seeks to identify specific causal mechanisms for outcomes of theoretical interest. Experiments that randomize populations to treatment and control conditions are the “gold standard” for causal inference. We identify, describe, and analyze the problem posed by transformative treatments. Such treatments radically change treated individuals in a way that creates a mismatch in populations, but this mismatch is not empirically detectable at the level of counterfactual dependence. In such cases, the identification of causal pathways is underdetermined in a (...) previously unrecognized way. Moreover, if the treatment is indeed transformative it breaks the inferential structure of the experimental design. Transformative treatments are not curiosities or “corner cases,” but are plausible mechanisms in a large class of events of theoretical interest, particularly ones where deliberate randomization is impractical and quasi-experimental designs are sought instead. They cast long-running debates about treatment and selection effects in a new light, and raise new methodological challenges. (shrink)
The consideration of how societies hold together and function as one with the coexistence of potentially conflicting ideas and commitments remains a topic of crucial importance. This paper advocates a renewed interest in the subject of loyalty as one of the bonds tying us together in society. It acknowledges that the nature of loyalty has often been seen as problematic, particularly where ties to some affect our abilities to make moral judgements. It purports that the area of conflicting loyalties needs (...) greater philosophical attention within our understanding of the moral life. Using two literary exemplars, Antigone and Lord of the Flies, the paper explores how loyalties play a fundamental part in our psyche and our social lives. With this in mind, it suggests that greater consideration should be paid to how schools should support children in coping with competing loyalties and with making judgements required by loyalty claims. (shrink)
We propose category theory, the mathematical theory of structure, as a vehicle for defining ontologies in an unambiguous language with analytical and constructive features. Specifically, we apply categorical logic and model theory, based upon viewing an ontology as a sub-category of a category of theories expressed in a formal logic. In addition to providing mathematical rigor, this approach has several advantages. It allows the incremental analysis of ontologies by basing them in an interconnected hierarchy of theories, with an operation on (...) the hierarchy that expresses the formation of complex theories from simple theories that express first principles. Another operation forms abstractions expressing the shared concepts in an array of theories. The use of categorical model theory makes possible the incremental analysis of possible worlds, or instances, for the theories, and the mapping of instances of a theory to instances of its more abstract parts. We describe the theoretical approach by applying it to the semantics of neural networks. (shrink)
An important theme in the philosophy of education community in recent years has been the way in which philosophy can be brought to illuminate and evaluate research findings from the landscape of policy and practice. Undoubtedly, some of these practices can be based on spurious evidence, yet have mostly been left unchallenged in both philosophical and educational circles. One of the newer practices creeping into schools is that of ‘No best friend’ policies. In some schools, this is interpreted as suggesting (...) that children should not have just one best friend but a group of good friends. In others, it is interpreted as suggesting that children should forgo having best friends altogether and be friends with everyone. What is common to both is that friendship is seen as somehow ‘dangerous’. This article offers a preliminary examination of what has been referred to as this ‘dark side’ of friendship. Whilst philosophers such as Patricia White have previously alluded to its existence, there has been little philosophical scrutiny in any broad terms elsewhere. I examine three common arguments commonly used to justify ‘No best friends’ practices: that children can be friends with everyone; that young children are developmentally incapable of ‘real’ friendship hence best friendship should be avoided until later age; that only good people can be good friends. I indicate why this unreflective adoption of practices matters so much and why we should be prepared to challenge these cases. I identify practices that we have good evidence to support as making a positive difference in this area. (shrink)
When the University of Toronto withdrew a contract it held with me in December 2000, it initiated a sequence of events that led to a public letter to the University from senior figures in the world psychopharmacology community protesting against the infringement of academic freedom involved and a first ever legal action, undertaked by this author, seeking redress for a violation of academic freedom. The issues of academic freedom surrounding this case have been intertwined with a debate about the possibility (...) that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) group of antidepressants have the potential to trigger suicidality in a subgroup of patients. Whether the SSRIs do trigger suicidality or not, exploration of this issue has given rise to a number of worrying sets of observations. First, in my view, there is evidence that pharmaceutical companies have miscoded raw data on suicidal acts and suicidal ideation. Second, this author also maintains that there is a growing body of examples of ghostwriting of articles in the therapeutics domain. Many of the tensions evident in this case, therefore, can be linked to company abilities to keep clinical trial data out of the public domain — this is the point at which the pharmaceutical python gets a grip on academia. (shrink)
Against blanshard's classic argument for coherence, i maintain that coherence is neither the sole criterion nor nature of truth. in the face of blanshard's insistence that, since truth cannot be a matter of correspondence it must necessarily be a matter of coherence, i propose and defend a third option which combines the two polar positions. i develop this option through analysis of kant's writings on truth.
The concept of friendship has had a great deal of attention within recent years from philosophers. However, this attention restricts itself to friendship between adults and rarely considers the issue of friendship between children. The issue of friendship and how we socialise with others ought to be an important concept for education, yet schools rarely take the forming, nurturing and nourishing of friendship beyond helping to deal with disputes between friends when they disrupt school life. I wish to argue that (...) whilst friendship is critical to the development of character and can properly be seen as part of ?an invitation to the moral life?, it also has value in and of itself as part of the flourishing life. (shrink)
This paper seeks to examine the plausibility of the concept of ‘Civic Friendship’ as a philosophical model for a conceptualisation of ‘belonging’. Such a concept, would hold enormous interest for educators in enabling the identification of particular virtues, attitudes and values that would need to be taught and nurtured to enable the civic relationship to be passed on from generation to generation. I consider both of the standard arguments for civic friendship: that it can be understood within the Aristotelian typology (...) as either a form of utility friendship or as a form of virtue friendship. I argue that civic friendship may not be the most appropriate model and that attempts to resolve the problems through looking on it as a political metaphor leave it unable to fulfil the function for which it was originally designed in Ancient Greece. Finally, I emphasize the need to carefully consider which particular metaphors we choose for civic relationships and how we subsequently use them. (shrink)
As attested by Taylor, Calhoun and others, recognition is central to (cultural) identity and to a related sense of self-worth. In contrast, by denying the comparable worth of other cultures, non-recognition represents a potentially damaging mode of intercultural relations. Although not widely acknowledged, a related consideration has been at issue in the rationality debate, initiated by Peter Winch, throughout its several phases. Briefly stated, the problem is that the polarized alternatives of ethnocentric universalism and self-sealing relativism that have characterized this (...) debate serve either to preclude mutual recognition altogether or to promote 'invidious comparison' (Dascal). As will be apparent, these alternatives pose significant barriers to intercultural research and relations on terms of mutual recognition and respect. The present paper seeks to come to terms with this problem by developing an account of cultural rationality, and a concomitant account of the logic of cross-cultural inquiry, which can promote growth of understanding through intercultural learning, and so help to foster more productive modes of intercultural relations. Specifically, the intent is to identify the conditions that need to be fulfilled if this more productive mode of cross-cultural inquiry is to be possible. Throughout, appeal is made to core hermeneutic tenets to ground the viability of a conception of cross-cultural inquiry that can transcend the terms of reference of the original Winchian debate. Following elucidation of the requisite conditions, the paper concludes with a reflection on possible barriers to their acceptance and implementation. Key Words: culture dialogue intersubjectivity learning rationality understanding. (shrink)
Heisenberg’s explanation of how two coupled oscillators exchange energy represented a dramatic success for his new matrix mechanics. As matrix mechanics transmuted into wave mechanics, resulting in what Heisenberg himself described as …an extraordinary broadening and enrichment of the formalism of the quantum theory , the term resonance also experienced a corresponding evolution. Heitler and London’s seminal application of wave mechanics to explain the quantum origins of the covalent bond, combined with Pauling’s characterization of the effect, introduced resonance into the (...) chemical lexicon. As the Valence Bond approach gave way to a soon-to-be dominant Molecular Orbital method, our understanding of the term resonance, as it might apply to our understanding the chemical bond, has also changed. (shrink)