Justice, equality, and righteousnessthese are some of our greatest moral convictions. Yet in times of social conflict, morals can become rigid, making religious war, ethnic cleansing, and political purges possible. Morality, therefore, can be viewed as pathology-a rhetorical, psychological, and social tool that is used and abused as a weapon. An expert on Eastern philosophies and social systems theory, Hans-Georg Moeller questions the perceived goodness of morality and those who claim morality is inherently positive. Critiquing the ethical "fanaticism" of Western (...) moralists, such as Immanuel Kant, Lawrence Kohlberg, John Rawls, and the utilitarians, Moeller points to the absurd fundamentalisms and impracticable prescriptions arising from definitions of good. Instead he advances a theory of "moral foolishness," or moral asceticism, extracted from the "amoral" philosophers of East Asia and such thinkers as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Niklas Luhmann. The moral fool doesn't understand why ethics are necessarily good, and he isn't convinced that the moral perspective is always positive. In this way he is like most people, and Moeller defends this foolishness against ethical pathologies that support the death penalty, just wars, and even Jerry Springer's crude moral theater. Comparing and contrasting the religious philosophies of Christianity, Daoism, and Zen Buddhism, Moeller presents a persuasive argument in favor of amorality. (shrink)
This paper discusses the meaning of the concept of ‘second-order observation’ used by Niklas Luhmann. Luhmann identifies second-order observation as a defining characteristic of modern world society. According to Luhmann, all social systems construct a social reality on the basis of the observation of observations. Rating agencies in the economy or the peer-review process in the academic system are examples of social mechanisms manifesting second-order observation. Social media also represent organized second-order observation. The paper suggests that in a society (...) based on second-order observation, ‘genuine pretending’ is an adequate mode of existence. This notion is derived from the Daoist text Zhuangzi. It indicates a disassociation from social roles which allows their performers to exercise these roles with ease and, at the same time, maintain a state of sanity. (shrink)
This article discusses New Confucian views on individuality and related philosophical problems. Special emphasis is given to the position of Tu Wei-Ming, a foremost living New Confucian thinker. It is pointed out that many New Confucian philosophers share a vision of a Confucian 'ideal' individuality or selfhood based on social integration - as opposed to a Western type of individuality sometimes portrayed as an individuality by isolation. These patterns of individuality are further examined on the basis of Niklas Luhmann's (...) historical analysis of the semantics of individuality and his categories of 'individuality by inclusion' and 'individuality by exclusion'. Finally, some parallels and differences between Confucian and the Luhmannian viewpoints are pointed out, and a suggestion on how a Luhmannian perspective might contribute to reformulations of New Confucian thought is attempted. (shrink)
This essay attempts to provide a preliminary outline of a theory of identity. The first section addresses what the sociologist Niklas Luhmann has called ‘the problem of identity’, or, in other words, the mind–society problem: In how far can the internal self and the external persona be integrated into a unit? The second section of the essay briefly defines a basic vocabulary of a theory of identity. ‘Identity’ is understood as the existentially necessary formation of a coherence between the (...) ‘self’, its body and its social ‘persona’. Three different major paradigms of identity formation are distinguished from one another: a sincere identity is constructed through a firm commitment of the self to its social roles; an authentic identity is constructed through the creation of a social persona on the basis of one’s unique and original self; a ‘profilic’ identity, as we call it, is shaped by successfully presenting a personal profile under conditions of second-order observation as they prevail, for instance, in the social media, but also in other contemporary social systems. In the third section of the essay, we present a sketch of the historical sequence of these three paradigms of identity. Although these paradigms are not mutually exclusive and can coexist, it seems that sincerity flourished in pre-modern society, while authenticity came to prominence along with the functional differentiation of modern society and is now, along with the increased significance of second-order observation, gradually overshadowed by the influence of profilicity. (shrink)
Abstract Context: Established in 1997, Summa Health System’s Medical Ethics Committee (EC) serves as an educational, supportive, and consultative resource to patients/families and providers, and serves to analyze, clarify, and ameliorate dilemmas in clinical care. In 2009 the EC conducted its 100th consult. In 2002 a Palliative Care Consult Service (PCCS) was established to provide supportive services for patients/families facing advanced illness; enhance clinical decision-making during crisis; and improve pain/symptom management. How these services affect one another has thus far been (...) unclear. Objectives: This study describes EC consults: types, reasons, recommendations and utilization, and investigates the impact the PCCS may have on EC consult requests or recommendations. Methods: Retrospective reviews of 100 EC records explored trends and changes in types of consults, reasons for consults, and EC recommendations and utilization. Results: There were 50 EC consults each in the 6 years pre- and post-PCCS. Differences found include: (1) a decrease in number of reasons for consult requests (133–62); (2) changes in top two reasons for EC consult requests from ‘Family opposed to withdrawing life-sustaining treatment (LST)’ and ‘Patient capacity in question’ to ‘Futility’ and ‘Physician opposed to providing LST’; (3) changes in top two recommendations given by the EC from ‘Emotional Support for Patient/Family’ and ‘Initiate DNR Order’ to ‘Comfort Care’ and ‘Withdraw Treatment.’ Overall, 88% of recommendations were followed. Conclusion: PCCS availability and growth throughout the hospital may have influenced EC consult requests. EC consults regarding family opposition to withdrawing LST and EC recommendations for patient/family support declined. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-16 DOI 10.1007/s10730-011-9170-9 Authors Jessica Richmond Moeller, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Akron General Medical Center, 400 Wabash Ave, Akron, OH 44307, USA Teresa H. Albanese, Health Services Research and Education Institute, Summa Health System and Northeast Ohio Medical University, 55 Arch St., Suite 1A, Akron, OH 44304, USA Kimberly Garchar, Kent State University, 6000 Frank Ave., N.W, North Canton, OH 44720, USA Julie M. Aultman, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University, P.O. Box 95, Rootstown, OH 44272, USA Steven Radwany, Palliative Care and Hospice Services, Summa Health System and Northeast Ohio Medical University, 55 Arch St., Suite 1A, Akron, OH 44304, USA Dean Frate, Internal Medicine, Palliative Care and Hospice Services, Summa Health System and Northeast Ohio Medical University, 55 Arch St., Suite 1A, Akron, OH 44304, USA Journal HEC Forum Online ISSN 1572-8498 Print ISSN 0956-2737. (shrink)
Niklas Luhmann is widely recognized as one of the most original thinkers in the social sciences today. This major new work further develops the theories of the author by offering a challenging analysis of the relationship between society and the environment. Luhmann extends the concept of "ecology" to refer to any analysis that looks at connections between social systems and the surrounding environment. He traces the development of the notion of "environment" from the medieval idea--which encompasses both human and (...) natural systems--to our modern definition, which separates social systems from the external environment. In Luhmann's thought, human beings form part of the environment, while social systems consist only of communications. Utilizing this distinctive theoretical perspective, Luhmann presents a comprehensive catalog of society's reactions to environmental problems. He investigates the spheres of the economy, law, science, politics, religion, and education to show how these areas relate to environmental issues. Ecological Communication is an important work that critically examines claims central to our society--claims to modernity and rationality. It will be of great importance to scholars and students in sociology, political science, philosophy, anthropology, and law. (shrink)
This work represents Niklas Luhmann's definitive application of systems theory to the understanding of law. In it Luhmann reviews past attempts to create a theory of law and argues they all fail to capture how law operates in modern society. He presents an alternative, critical theory through analysing law as a system of communication.
The narrative of the Death of Emperor Hundun 混沌, who finally perishes from the seventh hole that his two fellow Emperors have drilled into his formless body to do him the favor of supplying him with a face, famously concludes the seven Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi 莊子.1 Perhaps the sudden demise of the story’s protagonist is meant to signal paradoxically to the reader that he or she, too, has, unwittingly, now come to an end and reached a stage of (...) no return. With the completion of the seventh chapter, seven deep holes have been drilled into one’s head and have transformed one irredeemably. Zhuangzi, too, may have repaid the kindness of those who took him home with equal kindness and deprived them of their... (shrink)
Williamson and others have argued that contextualist theories of the semantics of ‘know’ have a special problem of accounting for our practices of ‘consuming’ knowledge attributions and denials made in other contexts. In what follows, I shall understand the objection as the idea that contextualism has a special problem of accounting for how we are able to acquire epistemically useful information from knowledge claims made in other contexts. I respond to the objection by arguing that the defeasibility of knowledge makes (...) it difficult for everyone to acquire epistemically useful information from knowledge claims made in other contexts, and that there is no special problem for contextualism when it comes to acquiring epistemically useful information from knowledge claims made in other contexts. (shrink)
What challenges must a principle of need for prioritisations in health care meet in order to be plausible and practically useful? Some progress in answering this question has recently been made by Hope, Østerdal and Hasman. This article continue their work by suggesting that the characteristic feature of principles of needs is that they are sufficientarian, saying that we have a right to a minimally acceptable or good life or health, but nothing more. Accordingly, principles of needs must answer two (...) distributive questions: when do we have sufficient and how should we prioritise among those who do not yet have a sufficiency? Furthermore, it is argued that Roger Crisp’s theory of need, which combines sufficientarianism with prioritarianism below the threshold of need, is better equipped than alternatives to answer these questions as well as meeting the challenges formulated by Hope, Østerdal and Hasman. However, Crisp’s theory faces two major challenges. First, it has to say something about the currency of distribution: a principle of need must be complemented either with a theory on the human good or a theory about the proper goals of health care. Second, it has to say something about where the threshold should be set. However, any attempt to set a threshold seems morally arbitrary in the light of the sufficientarian idea that those just above the threshold never should be given priority over those just below the threshold. (shrink)
Various passages in the Laozi and the Zhuangzi, the two most important texts of “philosophical Daoism,” critically mock Confucian sacrificial rites. Perhaps the best known of these criticisms refers to a practice involving straw dogs. This article will attempt to expose the philosophical dimensions of these passages that show, in my reading, how Daoist philosophy looks at such sacrificial rituals as a sort of evidence of the Confucian misconceptions of time, of death and life, and of cosmic and social order.
Wang Bo’s Zhuangzi: Thinking Through the Inner Chapters is the first title of a new book series on “Contemporary Chinese Scholarship in Daoist Studies” by Three Pines Press, an independent U.S. publisher of academic literature on Daoism and scholarly translations of Daoist texts. It is also part of a larger current wave of translations of contemporary philosophical works by Chinese authors into English. In this new development, as in the case of Wang’s book, a publication is often sponsored by private (...) donations and/or public institutions and organizations from China, and I believe it should be welcomed wholeheartedly. Books like Wang’s provide much-needed insights into current Chinese... (shrink)
This article is about the justifiability of accepting worse cost effectiveness for orphan drugs, that is, treatments for rare diseases, in a publicly financed health care system. Recently, three arguments have been presented that may be used in favour of exceptionally advantageous economic terms for orphan drugs. These arguments share the common feature of all referring to considerations of justice or fairness: the argument of the irrelevance of group size, the argument from the principle of need, and the argument of (...) identifiability. It is argued that all of these arguments fail to support the conclusion that orphan drugs should be subsidized to a larger extent than treatments for common diseases. The argument of the irrelevance fails to distinguish between directly and indirectly relevant considerations of fairness or justice. The recent attempt to revive the moral relevance of identifiability has provided no novel reasons to think that identifiability is morally relevant in itself or due to considerations of fairness and justice. The argument from the principle of need does not fail due to any inherent flaw in the principle as such. Rather, this principle can be interpreted in different ways, and none of these interpretations support exceptionally advantageous terms economically for treating rare diseases specifically. It is concluded that we are awaiting justice based reasons for the preferential treatment of orphan drugs. (shrink)
Recently, an associative learning account of cognitive control has been suggested (Verguts & Notebaert, 2009). In this so-called adaptation by binding theory, Hebbian learning of stimulus–stimulus and stimulus–response associations is assumed to drive the adaptation of human behavior. In this study, we evaluated the validity of the adaptation-by-binding account for the case of implicit learning of regularities within a stimulus set (i.e., the frequency of specific unit digit combinations in a two-digit number magnitude comparison task) and their association with a (...) particular response. Our data indicated that participants indeed learned these regularities and adapted their behavior accordingly. In particular, influences of cognitive control were even able to override the numerical distance effect—one of the most robust effects in numerical cognition research. Thus, the general cognitive processes involved in two-digit number magnitude comparison seem much more complex than previously assumed. Multi-digit number magnitude comparison may not be automatic and inflexible but influenced by processes of cognitive control being highly adaptive to stimulus set properties and task demands on multiple levels. (shrink)
Niklas Luhmann elaborated his account of the political system in a complex, though often implicit, debate with Carl Schmitt. Underlying his systems-theoretical model of politics, and of the legitimacy of politics, is the anti-Schmittian view that modern society's communications about itself are neither coordinated by, nor embodied in, a political centre, and that politics is always an unemphatic aspect of these communications. However, this article proposes an immanent critique of Luhmann's analysis of the political system, and it argues that (...) his theory uses highly selective and puristic techniques to support its limitation of society's politics. If interpreted critically, in fact, Luhmann's political sociology illuminates the specific politicality and political emphasis of certain communications, it underlines the distinction of politics from other systems of social communication, and it calls for a re-insistence on the political as a primary category of social analysis. (shrink)
Trotz Luhmanns und Bourdieus Grundlagenwerke hat die Soziologie die empirische Erforschung und theoretische Analyse der Kunst weitgehend vernachlässigt. Ein soziologisch fundierter aktueller Aufriss des Kunstsystems liegt nicht vor. Einen Versuch dazu unternimmt Müller-Jentsch mit dieser Publikation, die fokussiert auf die soziologischen Begriffe von Organisation, Profession und Strategie Beiträge zu einer empirisch gerichteten Soziologie des Kunstsystems versammelt.
Recent findings indicate that the constituting digits of multi-digit numbers are processed, decomposed into units, tens, and so on, rather than integrated into one entity. This is suggested by interfering effects of unit digit processing on two-digit number comparison. In the present study, we extended the computational model for two-digit number magnitude comparison of Moeller, Huber, Nuerk, and Willmes (2011a) to the case of three-digit number comparison (e.g., 371_826). In a second step, we evaluated how hundred-decade and hundred-unit compatibility effects (...) were moderated by varying the percentage of within-hundred (e.g., 539_582) and within-hundred-and-decade filler items (e.g., 483_489). From the results we predict that numerical distance as well as compatibility effects should indeed be modulated by the relevance of tens and units in three-digit number magnitude comparison: While in particular the hundred distance effect should decrease, we predict hundred-decade and hundred-unit compatibility effects to increase with the relevance of tens and units. (shrink)
Genetic determinism can be described as the attribution of the formation of traits to genes, where genes are ascribed more causal power than what scientific consensus suggests. Belief in genetic determinism is an educational problem because it contradicts scientific knowledge, and is a societal problem because it has the potential to foster intolerant attitudes such as racism and prejudice against sexual orientation. In this article, we begin by investigating the very nature of belief in genetic determinism. Then, we investigate whether (...) knowledge of genetics and genomics is associated with beliefs in genetic determinism. Finally, we explore the extent to which social factors such as gender, education, and religiosity are associated with genetic determinism. Methodologically, we gathered and analyzed data on beliefs in genetic determinism, knowledge of genetics and genomics, and social variables using the “Public Understanding and Attitudes towards Genetics and Genomics” instrument. Our analyses of PUGGS responses from a sample of Brazilian university freshmen undergraduates indicated that belief in genetic determinism was best characterized as a construct built up by two dimensions or belief systems: beliefs concerning social traits and beliefs concerning biological traits; levels of belief in genetic determination of social traits were low, which contradicts prior work; associations between knowledge of genetics and genomics and levels of belief in genetic determinism were low; and social factors such as age and religiosity had stronger associations with beliefs in genetic determinism than knowledge. Although our study design precludes causal inferences, our results raise questions about whether enhancing genetic literacy will decrease or prevent beliefs in genetic determinism. (shrink)