In two experiments, we demonstrate that intentional action intuitions vary as a function of whether one brings about or observes an event. In experiment 1a (N?=?38), participants were less likely to judge that they intended (M?=?2.53, 7 point scale) or intentionally (M?=?2.67) brought about a harmful event compared to intention (M?=?4.16) and intentionality (M?=?4.11) judgments made about somebody else. Experiments 1b and 1c confirmed and extended this pattern of actor-observer differences. Experiment 2 suggested that these actor-observer differences are not likely (...) to occur when participants are asked to ?imagine? being an actor. We argue that these results challenge the substantial philosophical and empirical reliance on hypothetical thought examples about intentional action. Our data offer new and necessary methodological avenues for understanding folk intentional action intuitions. (shrink)
This slim volume provides a bird’s eye view, in admirably clear Italian, of the philosophy, scientific and humane, of Errol Harris. It seems probable that Rinaldi’s attention was drawn to Harris when he found that the criticism of Husserl in his own Critica della gnoseologia fenomenologica had been largely anticipated in Harris’s articles of 1976 and 1977 in the Review of Metaphysics and Idealistic Studies. He has certainly studied the Harris corpus carefully and thoroughly—from the article (...) on “The Philosophy of Nature in Hegel’s System” down to the Idealistic Studies article. He speaks of the Interpretation of the Logic of Hegel as “presently in course of completion.” My own acquaintance with Harris’s works is less encyclopaedic, but I was sorry not to find any reference to Revelation Through Reason which is one of my own favorites. That, however, is the only missed bet that I can find. (shrink)
In 1975 the Clarendon Press at Oxford published Peter Nidditch's edition of John Locke's An Essay concerning Human Understanding. In his Introduction Nidditch says that his edition “offers a text that is directly derived, without modernization, from the early published versions; it notes the provenance of all its adopted readings ; and it aims at recording all relevant differences between these versions”. As Nidditch goes on to acknowledge, the “relevant differences” were many, “requiring several thousand registrations both in the case (...) of material variants and in the case of formal variants ”. The textual history of Locke's Essay is extremely complicated. While there is no manuscript of the first edition of the book, there were four editions in Locke's lifetime, each new one containing extensive and significant revisions, as well as a posthumous edition published shortly after the author's death. There was a translation into French made with Locke's cooperation and published in 1700, and a Latin translation came out a year later. Nevertheless, Nidditch managed to record all the material variants in footnotes to the text, in a way that makes it fairly easy to track the changes that Locke made to successive editions of the book, and to locate points at which judgements had to be made as a critical text was established on the basis of the chosen copy text. Sometimes a critical edition succeeds in completely changing the way that a text is read. Peter Laslett's 1960 edition of Locke's Two Treatises of Government is a good example. Nidditch's edition of the Essay did not have that kind of very dramatic effect on Locke scholarship. Rather, it made it possible for those without direct access to all the early editions to engage in careful, historically sensitive studies of Locke's account of human understanding. The result was a slow revolution in Locke studies that continues to shed new light on even the most familiar aspects of the Lockean philosophy. (shrink)
The principle that people's lives and fundamental interests are of equal value and that they must therefore be given equal weight has immense intellectual appeal and intuitive force. It is often enough to discredit a theory or proposal simply to show that it violates this principle. When measures are said to be discriminatory or unfair it is this principle which is in play. Recent philosophers of widely differing schools and outlooks give versions of this principle a central role in their (...) theories. (shrink)
This symposium examines insurrectionist ethics, the brainchild of Leonard Harris. The position does not stem from one key source; it was born out of Harris’s philosophical interaction with various philosophers over an extended period, including thinkers as diverse as David Walker, Karl Marx, Edward Wilmot Blyden, Alain Locke, and Angela Davis. The driving questions are: What counts as justified protest? Do slaves have a moral duty to insurrect? What character traits and modes to resistance are most conducive to (...) liberation and the amelioration of oppressive material conditions? Insurrectionist ethics is meant to address such questions. This symposium attempts to locate insurrectionist ethics in the work of representative practitioners. To this end, each of the contributors focuses on some historical figure in the American intellectual tradition with hopes of tracing, substantiating, questioning, clarifying, or extending Harris’s claims. (shrink)
In Enhancing Evolution, leading bioethicist John Harris dismantles objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer babies, and cloning and makes an ethical case for biotechnology that is both forthright and rigorous. Human enhancement, Harris argues, is a good thing--good morally, good for individuals, good as social policy, and good for a genetic heritage that needs serious improvement. Enhancing Evolution defends biotechnological interventions that could allow us to live longer, healthier, and even happier lives by, for example, providing us (...) with immunity from cancer and HIV/AIDS. Further, Harris champions the possibility of influencing the very course of evolution to give us increased mental and physical powers--from reasoning, concentration, and memory to strength, stamina, and reaction speed. Indeed, he says, it's not only morally defensible to enhance ourselves; in some cases, it's morally obligatory. In a new preface, Harris offers a glimpse at the new science and technology to come, equipping readers with the knowledge to assess the ethics and policy dimensions of future forms of human enhancement. (shrink)
A BELIEF IN FREE WILL touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion. In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality (...) or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life. (shrink)
Knowing how to be good, or knowing how to go about trying to be good, is of immense theoretical and practical importance. And what goes for trying to be good oneself, goes also for trying to provide others with ways of being good, and for trying to make them good whether they like it or not. This is what is meant by 'moral enhancement'. John Harris explores the many proposed methodologies or technologies for moral enhancement: traditional ones like good (...) parenting and education; newer ones like chemical or biological intervention; modifying the environment to make bad outcomes of all sorts less likely; experimentation with political and social systems. The issue of whether and to what extent moral enhancement is possible is the subject of this book. (shrink)
In this issue of CQ we introduce a new feature, in which noted bioethicists are invited to reflect on vital current issues. Our first invitee, John Harris, will subsequently assume editorship of this section.
Cloning - few words have as much potential to grip our imagination or grab the headlines. No longer the stuff of science fiction or Star Wars - it is happening now. Yet human cloning is currently banned throughout the world, and therapeutic cloning banned in many countries. In this highly controversial book, John Harris does a lot more than ask why we are so afraid of cloning. He presents a deft and informed defence of human cloning, carefully exposing the (...) rhetorical and highly dubious arguments against it. He begins with an introduction to what a human clone is, before tackling some of the most common and frequently bizarre criticisms of cloning: Is it really wicked? Can we regulate it? What about the welfare of cloned children? Does it turn human beings into commodities? Dismissing one by one some of the myths about human cloning, in particular that it is degrading and unsafe, he astutely argues that some of our most cherished values, such as the freedom to start a family and the freedom from state control, actually support the case for human cloning. Offering a brave and lucid insight into this ethical minefield, John Harris at last shows that far from ending the diversity of human life or creating a race of super-clones, cloning has the power to improve and heal human life. (shrink)
Since the birth of the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, in 1977, we have seen truly remarkable advances in biotechnology. We can now screen the fetus for Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and a wide range of genetic disorders. We can rearrange genes in DNA chains and redirect the evolution of species. We can record an individual's genetic fingerprint. And we can potentially insert genes into human DNA that will produce physical warning signs of cancer, allowing early detection. In fact, biotechnology (...) has progressed to such a point that virtually any kind of genetic manipulation, if not already possible, is just around the corner. But these breakthroughs also raise serious ethical and moral dilemmas that we are only now beginning to confront. In Wonderwoman and Superman, noted medical ethicist John Harris offers the first thorough analysis of the moral dilemmas created by the revolution in molecular biology. Covering a wide array of recent innovations, Harris discusses, for example, the moral decisions involved and the consequences of creating egg and embryo banks. Who should be allowed to use such resources? Should recipients be screened? Should such banks be open for public or private use? And does it cheapen life to make embryos available for sale? In another chapter, Harris examines the question of conceiving children chiefly for organ donation, focusing on the recent case of a woman who wanted to have a second child to provide a bone marrow donor for her first child sick with leukemia (she intended to abort the fetus if its bone marrow did not genetically match that of her living child). In this case, the medical staff had to decide whether they should perform in-vitro fertilization, knowing that the mother did not satisfy the clinic's criteria (there was no father), and also knowing the potential for abortion. Discussing the ethics of the mother's choice and the clinic's choice, Harris asks whether it is morally correct to create a child as an organ donor, whether the future child would suffer, whether it is worth any suffering to be born, and who has the right to weigh the various factors (both moral and physiological) involved in making these decisions. Delving into a multitude of issues such as when life begins, when suffering is needless, and whether we should play God, Wonderwoman and Superman provides not only a thought-provoking inquiry into the potential and actual ethical dilemmas created by the many advances in biotechnology, but challenges us to learn to choose responsibly and to face the moral implications of the choices that confront us. (shrink)
In his ‘Moral Enhancement, Freedom, and What We Value in Moral Behaviour’,1 David DeGrazia sets out to defend moral bioenhancement from a number of critics, me prominently among them. Here he sets out his stall: "Many scholars doubt what I assert: that there is nothing inherently wrong with MB. Some doubt this on the basis of a conviction that there is something inherently wrong with biomedical enhancement technologies in general. Chief among their objections are the charges that biomedical enhancement is (...) unnatural, use of biomedical enhancements evinces an insufficient appreciation for human “giftedness”, and biomedical enhancements pose a threat to personal identity. Elsewhere I have attempted to neutralize these objections. Here I will address a set of concerns that are directed at MB in particular and appeal to the nature and value of human freedom."Let me make clear at once that I do not believe there is anything inherently wrong with MB. I have been an advocate for human enhancement for over 30 years writing four books defending such enhancements.2–⇓4 The most recent of these published in 2007 covers much the same ground as Allen Buchanan's 2011 book cited by DeGrazia,5 but, unlike Buchanan, I do not define enhancements in terms of the intention or the motivation of those who produce them but rather in terms of their effect. I must also make clear that, like DeGrazia, I have also, for a very long time, attempted to neutralise objections 1–3 listed in the above passage.2–⇓4DeGrazia introduces his critique of my approach like this: "I will construe Harris’ argument and similar arguments as directed entirely at motivation-based MB—though I will hereafter omit the qualifier, “motivation-based.” (Certainly, these arguments do not apply to embryo selection, which … ". (shrink)
The eighteenth century was a time of brilliant philosophical innovation in Britain. In Of Liberty and Necessity James A. Harris presents the first comprehensive account of the period's discussion of what remains a central problem of philosophy, the question of the freedom of the will. He offers new interpretations of contributions to the free will debate made by canonical figures such as Locke, Hume, Edwards, and Reid, and also discusses in detail the arguments of some less familiar writers. (...) class='Hi'>Harris puts the eighteenth-century debate about the will and its freedom in the context of the period's concern with applying what Hume calls the "experimental method of reasoning" to the human mind. His book will be of substantial interest to historians of philosophy and anyone concerned with the free will problem. (shrink)
John Harris has previously proposed that there is a moral duty to participate in scientific research. This concept has recently been challenged by Iain Brassington, who asserts that the principles cited by Harris in support of the duty to research fail to establish its existence. In this paper we address these criticisms and provide new arguments for the existence of a moral obligation to research participation. This obligation, we argue, arises from two separate but related principles. The principle (...) of fairness obliges us to support the social institutions which sustain us, of which research is one; while the principle of beneficence, or the duty of rescue, imposes upon us a duty to prevent harm to others, including by supporting potentially beneficial, even life-saving research. We argue that both these lines of argument support the duty to research, and explore further aspects of this duty, such as to whom it is owed and how it might be discharged. (shrink)
There is a popular and widely accepted version of the precautionary principle which may be expressed thus: “If you are in a hole—stop digging!”. Tom Baldwin, as Deputy Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority , may be excused for rushing to the defence of the indefensible,1 the HFEA’s sex selection report,2 but not surely for recklessly abandoning so prudent a principle. Baldwin has many complaints about my misrepresenting the HFEA and about my supposed elitist contempt for public opinion; (...) readers of this exchange will decide for themselves.REDRAFTING THE REPORTBaldwin begins with a piece of wishful thinking:"Harris objects that in this recommendation “an absurdly high standard of caution is employed”, since a theoretical risk is associated with almost all medical procedures. This objection is misplaced: as paragraph 142 of the report indicates, the phrase “theoretical risk” is to be understood here in the light of the earlier discussion of the risks arising from the fact that flow cytometry exposes sperm to laser energy, a procedure which is known to be liable to damage DNA."Paragraph 142 does not make that clear. It does indeed refer back to a set of earlier paragraphs but these give, if anything, an upbeat assessment of the safety of flow cytometry. Paragraph 121 states: “However whilst potentially less intrusive, and with potentially lower risk to the health of patients, flow cytometry …” .2 But even if the overall burden of the report does indicate unresolved fears, the standard is still absurdly high. However, so far from endorsing the report’s judgement that flow cytometry has “potentially lower risk to the health of patients”, Baldwin now regards the risk of flow cytometry as “serious”1:"Since the application of flow cytometry to humans is a new procedure, the risk of … ". (shrink)
To respond to Jay Bernstein and Terry Pinkard is both easy and difficult. It is easy because of the fundamental agreement between us about the general interpretation of Hegel as a post-Kantian philosopher; and it is difficult because there are no misunderstandings to complain of and to be clarified. I must begin by thanking them both for giving all my potential readers such careful, accurate, and insightful bird's-eye views of my "literal commentary." As Terry says, "it sometimes becomes difficult to (...) discern the overall argument Harris is making," but these two readers have certainly not "lost their way.". (shrink)
When philosophers put forward claims for or against 'property', it is often unclear whether they are talking about the same thing that lawyers mean by 'property'. Likewise, when lawyers appeal to 'justice' in interpreting or criticizing legal rules we do not know if they have in mind something that philosophers would recognize as 'justice'. J. W. Harris here examines the legal and philosophical underpinnings of the concept of property and offers a new analytical framework for understanding property and justice.
The Shenzi Fragments is the first complete translation in any Western language of the extant work of Shen Dao (350–275 B.C.E.). Though his writings have been recounted and interpreted in many texts, particularly in the work of Xunzi and Han Fei, very few Western scholars have encountered the political philosopher's original, influential formulations. This volume contains both a translation and an analysis of the Shenzi Fragments. It explains their distillation of the potent political theories circulating in China during the Warring (...) States period, along with their seminal relationship to the Taoist and Legalist traditions and the philosophies of the Lüshi Chunqiu and the Huainanzi. These fragments outline a rudimentary theory of political order modeled on the natural world that recognizes the role of human self-interest in maintaining stable rule. Casting the natural world as an independent, amoral system, Shen Dao situates the source of moral judgment firmly within the human sphere, prompting political philosophy to develop in realistic directions. Harris's sophisticated translation is paired with commentary that clarifies difficult passages and obscure references. For sections open to multiple interpretations, he offers resources for further research and encourages readers to follow their own path to meaning, much as Shen Dao intended. The Shenzi Fragments offers English-language readers a chance to grasp the full significance of Shen Dao's work among the pantheon of Chinese intellectuals. (shrink)
Opponents of destructive embryo research, such as embryo rightists, as well as proponents accept that natural reproduction is permissible. There is an alternative to natural reproduction—to remain childless. John Harris began this series of articles by asking, what does a commitment to the permissibility of natural reproduction entail? Harris has argued that a commitment to the permissibility of natural reproduction entails a commitment to the permissibility of destructive embryo research. Julian Savulescu has denied this. However, there are significant (...) areas in which our views have converged. (shrink)
Reason's Grief takes W. B. Yeats's comment that we begin to live only when we have conceived life as tragedy as a call for a tragic ethics, something the modern West has yet to produce. Harris argues that we must turn away from religious understandings of tragedy and the human condition and realize that our species will occupy a very brief period of history, at some point to disappear without a trace. We must accept an ethical perspective that avoids (...) pernicious fantasies about ultimate redemption but that sees tragic loss as a permanent and pervasive aspect of our daily lives, yet finds a way to think, feel and act with both passion and hope. Reason's Grief takes us back through the history of our thinking about value to find our way. The call is for nothing less than a paradigm shift for understanding both tragedy and ethics. (shrink)
Michael Rawlins and Andrew Dillon start their defence of Nice in fine polemical style, unfortunately polemics is all they have to offer. They totally fail to justify the Nice proposals on dementia treatments nor do they make any more plausible than formerly their use of the notorious QALY. They say:"Harris’s recent editorial, It’s not NICE to discriminate, is long on both polemic and invective – but short on scholarship. He offers nothing to illuminate the debate about allocating healthcare in (...) circumstances of finite resources; he has no understanding of the quality adjusted life year and its use in health economic evaluation; and he makes ill-researched, unsubstantiated and offensive charges against the Institute and its advisory bodies."Accusations are easy to make, difficult to substantiate. There are a number of claims here, only one of which is true. It is true that my editorial was robust, polemical if you like, but editorials are not the same as research papers and these are important issues which deeply affect real lives. Although Rawlins and Dillon affect to take the high ground their own article contains even more vigorous and much more personal invective than my editorial, I make no complaints. But as to the rest of what they say, well, let’s just see!They claim I offer nothing to illuminate resource allocation and that I have no understanding of the QALY. Both of these claims may well be true, but nothing they say goes any way to support these claims or even towards making them plausible. I have studied and written about the QALY for almost 20 years1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15 and Rawlins and Dillon show no evidence of any awareness or indeed any understanding of the issues, whether …. (shrink)
Ted Shotter's founding of the London Medical Group 50 years ago in 1963 had several far reaching implications for medical ethics, as other papers in this issue indicate. Most significant for the joint authors of this short paper was his founding of the quarterly Journal of Medical Ethics in 1975, with Alastair Campbell as its first editor-in-chief. In 1980 Raanan Gillon began his 20-year editorship . Gillon was succeeded in 2001 by Julian Savulescu, followed by John Harris and Soren (...) Holm in 2004, with Julian Savulescu starting his second and current term in 2011. In 2000 an additional special edition of the JME, Medical Humanities , was published, under the founding joint editorship of Martyn Evans and David Greaves. In 2003 Jane Macnaughton succeeded David Greaves as joint editor. Deborah Kirklin, under whose auspices MH became an independent journal, took over in 2008, and she was succeeded in 2013 by Sue Eckstein. This short paper offers reminiscences and reflections from the two journals’ various editors.From the start the JME was committed to clearly expressed reasoned discussion of ethical issues arising from or related to medical practice and research. In particular, both Edward Shotter and Alastair Campbell, each a cleric , were at pains to make clear that the JME was not a religious journal and that it had no sort of partisan axe to grind.Campbell's appointment as founding editor was something of a surprise, as the original intention had been to appoint a medical doctor, who could be expected to know medical practice from the inside. However, in 1972 Campbell, a Joint Secretary of the Edinburgh Medical Group, had published Moral dilemmas in medicine. …. (shrink)
Is racism an act of the will? A disease? A bad habit? A result of lost virtues or of historical economic forces? Can we reliably claim that racism is an affront to justice? How does our scientific understanding of "race" affect our ethical considerations ? How can we ever know if we are acting from racist assumptions? With Leonard Harris, Naomi Zack, and Hugh Taft-Morales.
Correspondence to: John Harris The Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, Institute of Medicine Law and Bioethics, School of Law, University of Manchester, Williamson Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 0JH, UK; firstname.lastname@example.orgClaxton and Culyer1 have written an interesting and considered response, as people intimately connected to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence , to the two editorials that I wrote on recent NICE decisions. Before commenting on their response, I would like to consider a point they (...) made, which echoes a point already made by Rawlins and Dillon,2 about the tone of my editorials. Claxton and Culyer accuse me of making “personally abusive charges”. In my original editorial, I criticised an institution, NICE, in robust terms, but in doing so I was continuing a long and respected tradition in English philosophy. Consider the following extract from Jeremy Bentham:" In English law, fiction is a syphilis, which runs in every vein, and carries into every part of the system the principle of rottenness...Fiction of use to justice? Exactly as swindling is to trade...It affords presumptive and conclusive evidence of moral turpitude in those by whom it was invented and first employed.3"My remarks were not an ad hominem criticism of anyone but directed at the published, but anonymous statements of an institution—a body corporate. In robustly criticising NICE, I no more attacked any individual associated with NICE than I attacked Tony Blair or the various ministers of state who are ultimately responsible for NICE. And, contra Claxton and Culyer’s claims, I have not denigrated the views of people who beg to differ from me.i If the apologists for NICE, whether they are Tony Culyer or Tony Blair, choose to identify themselves with criticism of NICE, that is entirely a matter for them. The only ad hominem remarks in this entire exchange have been made by Rawlins and Dillon, and Claxton and Culyer. The idea that criticism of the anonymously authored publications of …. (shrink)
In this, his magnum opus, distinguished linguist Zellig Harris presents a formal theory of language structure, in which syntax is characterized as an orderly system of departures from random combinations of sounds, words, and indeed of all elements of language.
Harris offers his unique interpretation of Spinoza as a dialectical thinker and addresses other commentators' misunderstandings of some of Spinoza's primary principles. The opening chapters discuss Spinoza's metaphysics and epistemology, the problem of relating finite to infinite in his system, the infinity of the attributes of substance, human nature and the body-mind relation, politics, and religion. The latter part of the book addresses Spinoza's influence on later philosophers and their interpretations of his doctrine. In the course of his discussion, (...)Harris stresses Spinoza's holism and its implication both within and beyond Spinoza's own writings. (shrink)
This collection of essays by American philosopher Alain Locke makes readily available for the first time his important writings on cultural pluralism, value relativism, and critical relativism. As a black philosopher early in this century, Locke was a pioneer: having earned both undergraduate and doctoral degrees at Harvard, he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, studied at the University of Berlin, and chaired the Philosophy Department at Howard University for almost four decades. He was perhaps best known as a leading (...) figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Locke’s works in philosophy—many previously unpublished—conceptually frame the Harlem Renaissance and New Negro movement and provide an Afro-American critique of pragmatism and value absolutism, and also offer a view of identity, communicative competency, and contextualism. In addition, his major works on the nature of race, race relations, and the role of race-conscious literature are presented to demonstrate the application of his philosophy. Locke’s commentaries on the major philosophers of his day, including James, Royce, Santayana, Perry, and Ehrenfels help tell the story of his relationship to his former teachers and his theoretical affinities. In his substantial Introduction and interpretive concluding chapter, Leonard Harris describes Locke’s life, evaluates his role as an American philosopher and theoretician of the Harlem Renaissance, situates him in the pragmatist tradition, and outlines his affinities with modern deconstructionist ideas. A chronology of the philosopher’s life and bibliography of his works are also provided. Although much has been written about Alain Locke, this is the first book to focus on his philosophical contributions. (shrink)
George Harris argues that human frailty, indeed vulnerability to utter and complete psychological breakdown in the form “a loss of the will to live, deep clinical depression, insanity, hysteria, debilitating shame, [and] pervasive self-deception,” is a source of our special dignity as persons. This type of fragility is a sign of a higher quality of character, he argues; a quality that is lacking in anyone who has the inner strength to survive the worst of life’s hardships without suffering “a (...) form of personal disintegration that renders the person dysfunctional as an agent”. This is a striking and extreme thesis. It is not the less controversial and more plausible thesis that virtue involves a capacity to experience, in the right way and at the right time, a broad range of feelings and emotions. An investigation of the psychological traits and vulnerabilities that are connected to virtue is a very interesting topic worthy of extensive discussion. Although this book contributes to this worthwhile discussion, the argument for the book’s controversial thesis is not convincing. (shrink)
Editor-in-Chief John Harris discusses the four events that remind us of the concerns about what happens before birth and after death.Four recent events have reminded us that many people are concerned about what happens before birth and after death, even if what happens before birth happens to those who will never be born and even if the near death happenings occur after death and to those who cannot care about them. The recent events involve a decision of the European (...) Court of Human Rights, a decision of the UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority , a proposal before the UK Parliament and a book by the most famous living German philosopher.On 8th July 2004 The European Court of Human Rights in Vo v France1 confirmed the view that the scope of legal principles protecting human individuals does not normally extend to the unborn and that in the words of the court “the unborn child is not regarded as a “person” …. (shrink)