In spite of vast global improvements in living standards, health, and well-being, the persistence of absolute poverty and its attendant maladies remains an unsettling fact of life for billions around the world and constitutes the primary cause for the failure of developing states to improve the health of their peoples. While economic development in developing countries is necessary to provide for underlying determinants of health – most prominently, poverty reduction and the building of comprehensive primary health systems – inequalities in (...) power within the international economic order and the spread of neoliberal development policy limit the ability of developing states to develop economically and realize public goods for health. With neoliberal development policies impacting entire societies, the collective right to development, as compared with an individual rights-based approach to development, offers a framework by which to restructure this system to realize social determinants of health. The right to development, working through a vector of rights, can address social determinants of health, obligating states and the international community to support public health systems while reducing inequities in health through poverty-reducing economic growth. At an international level, where the ability of states to develop economically and to realize public goods through public health systems is constrained by international financial institutions, the implementation of the right to development enables a restructuring of international institutions and foreign-aid programs, allowing states to enter development debates with a right to cooperation from other states, not simply a cry for charity. (shrink)
Philosophers writing on moral responsibility inherit from P.F. Strawson a particular problem space. On one side, it is shaped by consequentialist accounts of moral criticism on which blame is justified, if at all, by its efficacy in influencing future behavior in socially desirable ways. It is by now a common criticism of such views that they suffer a "wrong kind of reason" problem. When blame is warranted in the proper way, it is natural to suppose this is because the target (...) deserves blame – thus opposing to consequentialist views of blame desert-based views. The latter, however, raise worries that blame is a form of retributive sanction whose justificatory burdens cannot be met. I evaluate T.M. Scanlon's recent attempt to maneuver this space. In doing so, I argue that although Scanlon’s relationship-impairment model of blame has clear advantages over consequentialist and desert-based alternatives, it fails: (1) to adequately appreciate the significance of person-focused emotional attitudes in constituting persons as agents subject to a nexus of normative expectations and demands, and (2) to recognize that a victim may owe nearly nothing *to* a blameworthy agent while nonetheless retaining unconditional moral obligations to act in certain ways (and forego acting in other ways) toward him. (shrink)
Theaetetus, asked what knowledge is, replies that geometry and the other mathematical disciplines are knowledge, and so are crafts like cobbling. Socrates points out that it does not help him to be told how many kinds of knowledge there are when his problem is to know what knowledge itself is, what it means to call geometry or a craft knowledge in the first place—he insists on the generality of his question in the way he often does when his interlocutor, asked (...) for a definition, cites instead cases of the concept to be defined. (shrink)
It is a standing temptation for philosophers to find anticipations of their own views in the great thinkers of the past, but few have been so bold in the search for precursors, and so utterly mistaken, as Berkeley when he claimed Plato and Aristotle as allies to his immaterialist idealism. In Siris: A Chain of Philosophical Reflexions and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tar-Water , which Berkeley published in his old age in 1744, he reviews the leading philosophies of antiquity (...) and finds them on the whole a good deal more sympathetic to his own ideas than the ‘modern atheism’, as he calls it, of Hobbes and Spinoza or the objectionable principles of ‘the mechanic and geometrical philosophers’ such as Newton . But his strongest and, I think, his most interesting claim is that neither Plato nor Aristotle admitted ‘an absolute actual existence of sensible or corporeal things’. (shrink)
This article is detective work, not philosophy. J. S. Mill's Autobiography records that at the age of seven he read, in Greek, ‘the first six dialogues of Plato, from the Euthyphron to the Theaetetus inclusive’. Which were the other dialogues? On the arrangement common today, it would be Crito, Apology, Phaedo, Cratylus. On the arrangement common then, Theages and Erastai replace Cratylus, which makes seven dialogues. I show that this must be the answer by the evidence of James Mill's commonplace (...) books and his writings on Plato. These reveal which collected edition of Plato he owned and which he would want to own. Conditions for studying Plato in the original were much harder than we are used to. The inquiry highlights both the ideological purity of the education James Mill designed for his son, and the difficulties he faced in realizing his plan. (shrink)
M. F. Burnyeat taught for 14 years in the Philosophy Department of University College London, then for 18 years in the Classics Faculty at Cambridge, 12 of them as the Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy, before migrating to Oxford in 1996 to become a Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at All Souls College. The studies, articles and reviews collected in these two volumes of Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy were all written, and all but two published, before that decisive (...) change. Whether designed for a scholarly audience or for a wider public, they range from the Presocratics to Augustine, from Descartes and Bishop Berkeley to Wittgenstein and G. E. Moore. Their subject-matter falls under four main headings: 'Logic and Dialectic' and 'Scepticism Ancient and Modern', which are contained in this first volume; 'Knowledge' and 'Philosophy and the Good Life' make up the second volume. The title 'Explorations' well expresses Burnyeat's ability to discover new aspects of familiar texts, new ways of solving old problems. In his hands the history of philosophy becomes itself a philosophical activity. (shrink)
Context: The dominant approach to the study of perception is representational/computational, with an emphasis on the achievements of the brain and the nervous system, which are taken to construct internal models of the world. Alternatives include ecological, embedded, embodied, and enactivist approaches, all of which emphasize the centrality of action in understanding perception. Problem: Despite sharing many theoretical commitments that lead to a rejection of the classical approach, the alternatives are characterized by important contrasts and points of divergence. Here we (...) focus on the enactive and ecological approaches, in particular, on how they construe the status of the environment and the content of perception. Method: We begin with a review of James Gibson’s ecological psychology, highlighting it as a psychology for all organisms not just humans. Against this backdrop, we consider enactivist arguments against direct perception - a central assertion of the ecological approach - and in favor of interpreting the activity of perceptual agents as a kind of construction of a perceptually meaningful world. Results: We assess the merits of this interpretation and we conclude that it cannot be grounded on fundamental principles such as thermodynamics and organism-environment mutuality. Implications: As a consequence, enactivism remains close to representationalism and entails a form of dualism. Constructivist content: We advance a criticism of the constructivist foundations of the enactive approach to perception. Perception-action mutuality at the heart of enactivism does not require mental construction; indeed, perception-action mutuality obviates construction. (shrink)
This is a close scrutiny of "De Anima II 5", led by two questions. First, what can be learned from so long and intricate a discussion about the neglected problem of how to read an Aristotelian chapter? Second, what can the chapter, properly read, teach us about some widely debated issues in Aristotle's theory of perception? I argue that it refutes two claims defended by Martha Nussbaum, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Sorabji: (i) that when Aristotle speaks of the perceiver becoming (...) like the object perceived, the assimilation he has in mind is ordinary alteration of the type exemplified when fire heats the surrounding air, (ii) that this alteration stands to perceptual awareness as matter to form. Claim (i) is wrong because the assimilation that perceiving is is not ordinary alteration. Claim (ii) is wrong because the special type of alteration that perceiving is is not its underlying material realisation. Indeed, there is no mention in the text of any underlying material realisation for perceiving. The positive aim of II 5 is to introduce the distinction between first and second potentiality, each with their own type of actuality. In both cases the actuality is an alteration different from ordinary alteration. Perception exemplifies one of these new types of alteration, another is found in the acquisition of knowledge and in an embryo's first acquisition of the power of perception. The introduction of suitably refined meanings of 'alteration' allows Aristotle to explain perception and learning within the framework of his physics, which by definition is the study of things that change. He adapts his standard notion of alteration, familiar from "Physics" III 1-3 and "De Generatione et Corruptione" I, to the task of accounting for the cognitive accuracy of (proper object) perception and second potentiality knowledge: both are achievements of a natural, inborn receptivity to objective truth. Throughout the paper I pay special attention to issues of text and translation, and to Aristotle's cross-referencing, and I emphasise what the chapter does not say as well as what it does. In particular, the last section argues that the textual absence of any underlying material realisation for perceiving supports a view I have defended elsewhere, that Aristotelian perception involves no material processes, only standing material conditions. This absence is as telling as others noted earlier. Our reading must respect the spirit of the text as Aristotle wrote it. (shrink)
The question contrasts two ways of expressing the role of the sense organ in perception. In one the expression referring to the sense organ is put into the dative case ; the other is a construction with the preposition δiá governing the genitive case of the word for the sense organ.
There is general acknowledgement that both the anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortex are implicated in reinforcement-guided decision making, and emotion and social behaviour. Despite the interest that these areas generate in both the cognitive neuroscience laboratory and the psychiatric clinic, ideas about the distinctive contributions made by each have only recently begun to emerge. This reflects an increasing understanding of the component processes that underlie reinforcement- guided decision making, such as the representation of reinforcement expectations, the exploration, updating and representation (...) of action values, and the appreciation that choices are guided not just by the prospect of reward but also by the costs that action entails. Evidence is emerging to suggest that the anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortex make distinct contributions to each of these aspects of decision making. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore a seldom-recognized connection between the ontology of abstract objects and a current issue in the philosophy of chemistry. Specifically, I argue that realism with regard to universals implies a view of chemical elements similar to F.A. Paneth’s thesis about the dual nature of the concept of element.
Background: Informed consent is regarded as a contract between autonomous and equal parties and requires the elements of information disclosure, understanding, voluntariness and consent. The validity of informed consent for critically ill patients has been questioned. Little is known about how these patients experience the process of consent.Objective: The aim of this study was to explore critically ill patients’ experience with the principle of informed consent in a clinical trial and their ability to give valid informed consent.Design: 11 stroke patients (...) who had been informed about thrombolytic treatment and had been through the process of deciding whether or not to participate in a thrombolysis trial went through repeated qualitative semistructured interviews.Results: None of the patients had any clear understanding of the purpose of the trial. Neither did they understand the principles of randomisation and voluntariness. Reasons for giving or not giving consent were trust, conceptions of benefits and risks and altruism. Several patients found it immoral to involve patients in the consent procedure and argued that this was the doctors’ responsibility. Others argued that it is a duty to question patients and perceived it as a sign of being treated with respect and dignity. A majority of the patients found the consent process vague and ambiguous.Conclusions: The results indicate that the principle of informed consent from critically ill patients cannot be seen as a contract between equal and autonomous parties. Further studies are needed to explore critically ill patients’ experiences with the process of informed consent. (shrink)