Obstetric ultrasound has become a significant tool in obstetric practice, however, it has been argued that its increasing use may have adverse implications for women’s reproductive freedom. This study aimed to explore Australian obstetricians’ experiences and views of the use of obstetric ultrasound both in relation to clinical management of complicated pregnancy, and in situations where maternal and fetal health interests conflict.
Many philosophers think that if you're morally responsible for a state of affairs, you must be a cause of it. Ingmar Persson argues that this strand of common sense morality is asymmetrical, in that it features the act-omission doctrine, according to which there are stronger reasons against performing some harmful actions than in favour of performing any beneficial actions. He analyses the act-omission doctrine as consisting in a theory of negative rights, according to which there are rights not to (...) have one's life, body, and property interfered with, and a conception of responsibility as being based on causality. This conception of responsibility is also found to be involved in the doctrine of double effect. The outcome of Persson's critical examination of these ideas is that reasons of rights are replaced by reasons of beneficence, and we are made responsible for what is under the influence of our practical reasons. The argument gives rise to a symmetrical, consequentialist morality which is more demanding but less authoritative than common sense morality, because reasons of beneficence are weaker than reasons of rights. It is also argued that there are no non-naturalist external practical reasons, and all practical reasons are desire-dependent: so practical reasons cannot be universally binding. The question is whether such a morality possesses enough authority to command our compliance. This seems necessary in order for us to cope with the greatest moral problems of our time, such as aid to developing countries and anthropogenic climate change. (shrink)
The Retreat of Reason brings back to philosophy the ambition of offering a broad vision of the human condition. One of the main original aims of philosophy was to give people guidance about how to live their lives. Ingmar Persson resumes this practical project, which has been largely neglected in contemporary philosophy, but his conclusions are very different from those of the ancient Greeks. They typically argued that a life led in accordance with reason, a rational life, would also (...) be the happiest or most fulfilling. By exploring the irrationality of our attitudes to time, identity, and responsibility, Persson shows that the aim of living rationally conflicts not only with the aim of leading the most fulfilling life, but also with the moral aim of promoting the maximization and just distribution of fulfilment for all. The Retreat of Reason challenges some of our most fundamental ideas about ourselves. (shrink)
When working with garden archaeology and garden archaeobotany, the plant material is of great importance. It is important to be able to identify which plants have grown in a particular garden and which have not, which of the plants you find in the garden today that are newly introduced or have established themselves on their own, and which plants that may be remnants of earlier cultivation. During the past two years, my colleagues and I have been involved in a project (...) that deals with the latter kind of plants, that is, plants that were once actively cultivated and that have survived in their original place of cultivation until the present time(Persson, Ansebo & Solberg, this volume). When we started the project we simply called the plants we worked with ‘relict plants’. This is also the term that has been used unofficially in this field of research for some time. It was in no way an official term, however, and as it turned out, the term already had a different meaning in botany that was both older and better established. We were therefore in need of a better name for the plants we worked with. To single out the plants we were working with, we used the following working definition: “Plants that were once, but are no longer cultivated in a certain area, and where a part of the population still exists even though it is no longer actively maintained”. Although we still think this is a decent approximation, we have realized that there are several complicating factors we have had to think more about. We thus needed both a better name and a better definition. Both these tasks became important parts of the project. (shrink)
in Undetermined Table d’Hôte Ingar Brinck: Investigating the development of creativity: The Sahlin hypothesis 7 Linus Broström: Known unknowns and proto-second-personal address in photographic art 25 Johan Brännmark: Critical moral thinking without moral theory 33 Martin Edman: Vad är ett missförhållande? 43 Pascal Engel: Rambling on the value of truth 51 Peter Gärdenfors: Ambiguity in decision making and the fear of being fooled 75 Göran Hermerén: NIPT: Ethical aspects 89 Mats Johansson: Roboethics: What problems should be addressed and why? 103 (...) Johan Laserna: Ambivalenta bilder 113 Anna-Sofia Maurin: Metaphysical explanation 161 Kevin Mulligan: Is preference primitive? 169 John D. Norton: How does your garden grow? 181 Johannes Persson & Annika Wallin: The distinction between internal and external validity 187 Johanna Seibt: Becoming our selves 197 Paul Slovic, Robin Gregory, David Frank, and Daniel Vastfjall: Confronting the collapse of humanitarian values in foreignpolicy decision making 209 Peter Sylwan: Det eviga livet 215 Claudine Tiercelin: Chance, love and logic: Ramsey and Peirce on norms, rationality and the conduct of life 221 Epilog 257 Frank Ramsey. (shrink)
THERE WAS A TIME when many philosophers agreed that metaphysics was dead. Anyone aquatinted with the works of D.H. Mellor knows that the subject is alive and well. Two young philosophers who are familiar with his work, Anna-Sofia Maurin and Johannes Persson, met him in Cambrige for an interview.
Inclusive Ethics brings together two ideas which are part of our everyday morality, namely that we have a moral reason to benefit or do good to other beings, and that justice requires these benefits to be distributed equally. Ingmar Persson explores the difficulties of accepting a morality which combines both of these principles.
The fundamental problem of philosophy is whether doing it has any point, since if it does not have any point, there is no reason to do it. It is suggested that the intrinsic point of doing philosophy is to establish a rational consensus about what the answers to its main questions are. But it seems that this cannot be accomplished because philosophical arguments are bound to be inconclusive. Still, philosophical research generates an increasing number of finer grained distinctions in terms (...) of which we try to conceptualize reality, and this is a sort of progress. But if, as is likely, our arguments do not suffice to decide between these alternatives, our personalities might slip in to do so. Our philosophy will then express our personality. This could provide philosophy with a point for us. If some of our conclusions have practical import, philosophy could have the further point of giving us something by which we can live. (shrink)
abstract As history shows, some human beings are capable of acting very immorally. 1 Technological advance and consequent exponential growth in cognitive power means that even rare evil individuals can act with catastrophic effect. The advance of science makes biological, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction easier and easier to fabricate and, thus, increases the probability that they will come into the hands of small terrorist groups and deranged individuals. Cognitive enhancement by means of drugs, implants and biological (including (...) genetic) interventions could thus accelerate the advance of science, or its application, and so increase the risk of the development or misuse of weapons of mass destruction. We argue that this is a reason which speaks against the desirability of cognitive enhancement, and the consequent speedier growth of knowledge, if it is not accompanied by an extensive moral enhancement of humankind. We review the possibilities for moral enhancement by biomedical and genetic means and conclude that, though it should be possible in principle, it is in practice probably distant. There is thus a reason not to support cognitive enhancement in the foreseeable future. However, we grant that there are also reasons in its favour, but we do not attempt to settle the balance between these reasons for and against. Rather, we conclude that if research into cognitive enhancement continues, as it is likely to, it must be accompanied by research into moral enhancement. (shrink)
Unfit for the Future argues that the future of our species depends on radical enhancement of the moral aspects of our nature. Population growth and technological advances are threatening to undermine the conditions of worthwhile life on earth forever. We need to modify the biological bases of human motivation to deal with this challenge.
We respond to a number of objections raised by John Harris in this journal to our argument that we should pursue genetic and other biological means of morally enhancing human beings (moral bioenhancement). We claim that human beings now have at their disposal means of wiping out life on Earth and that traditional methods of moral education are probably insufficient to achieve the moral enhancement required to ensure that this will not happen. Hence, we argue, moral bioenhancement should be sought (...) and applied. We argue that cognitive enhancement and technological progress raise acute problems because it is easier to harm than to benefit. We address objections to this argument. We also respond to objections that moral bioenhancement: (1) interferes with freedom; (2) cannot be made to target immoral dispositions precisely; (3) is redundant, since cognitive enhancement by itself suffices. (shrink)
In his challenging paper,1 Vojin Rakic argues against our claim that ‘there are strong reasons to believe’ that moral bioenhancement should be obligatory or compulsory if it can be made safe and effective.2 Rakic starts by criticising an argument that we employed against John Harris.3 ,4 In this argument we maintain, among other things, that moral bioenhancement cannot be wholly effective if our will is free in what is called an ‘indeterministic’ or ‘contra-causal sense’; that is, if our choices are (...) not fully determined by our biology and environmental circumstances. Rakic contends that we ‘do not take into account the possibility that we can have an entirely free will that does not limit the effectiveness of moral bio-enhancement’. We can use ‘our freedom to decide to be morally bio-enhanced’.In reply, we would like to insist that if our freedom is freedom in this indeterministic sense, we cannot use this freedom to decide to subject ourselves to effective moral bioenhancement, since this effectiveness presupposes that our will is fully determined by biological causes that this enhancement influences. If certain sub-atomic processes are indeterministic, probabilistic, we cannot make them deterministic. We cannot change the laws …. (shrink)
In its basic sense, the term "human" is a term of biological classification: an individual is human just in case it is a member of the species Homo sapiens . Its opposite is "nonhuman": nonhuman animals being animals that belong to other species than H. sapiens . In another sense of human, its opposite is "inhuman," that is cruel and heartless (cf. "humane" and "inhumane"); being human in this sense is having morally good qualities. This paper argues that biomedical research (...) and therapy should make humans in the biological sense more human in the moral sense, even if they cease to be human in the biological sense. This serves valuable biomedical ends like the promotion of health and well-being, for if humans do not become more moral, civilization is threatened. It is unimportant that humans remain biologically human, since they do not have moral value in virtue of belonging to H. sapiens. (shrink)
In this paper, we do three things. First, we put forth a novel hypothesis about judgments of moral responsibility according to which such judgments are a species of explanatory judgments. Second, we argue that this hypothesis explains both some general features of everyday thinking about responsibility and the appeal of skeptical arguments against moral responsibility. Finally, we argue that, if correct, the hypothesis provides a defense against these skeptical arguments.
Derek Parfit has argued that, in contrast to prioritarianism, egalitarianism is exposed to the levelling down objection, i.e., the objection that it is absurd that a change which consists merely in the betteroff losing some of their well-being should be in one way for the better. In reply, this paper contends that there is a plausible form of egalitarianism which is equivalent to another form of prioritarianism than the Parfitian one, a relational rather than an absolute form of prioritarianism, and (...) that, although this relational or egalitarian form of prioritarianism is hit by the levelling down objection, the Parfitian form is also hit by it, or worse objections, if it is fully worked out. (shrink)
Skeptical worries about moral responsibility seem to be widely appreciated and deeply felt. To address these worries—if nothing else to show that they are mistaken—theories of moral responsibility need to relate to whatever concept of responsibility underlies the worries. Unfortunately, the nature of that concept has proved hard to pin down. Not only do philosophers have conflicting intuitions; numerous recent empirical studies have suggested that both prosaic responsibility judgments and incompatibilist intuitions among the folk are influenced by a number of (...) surprising factors, sometimes prompting apparently contradictory judgments. In this paper, we show how an independently motivated hypothesis about responsibility judgments provides a unified explanation of the more important results from these studies. According to this ‘Explanation Hypothesis’, to take an agent to be morally responsible for an event is to take a relevant motivational structure of the agent to be part of a significant explanation of the event. We argue that because of how explanatory interests and perspectives affect what we take as significant explanations, this analysis accounts for the puzzling variety of empirical results. If this is correct, the Explanation Hypothesis also provides a new way of understanding debates about moral responsibility. (shrink)
In this paper we reply to the most important objections to our advocacy of moral enhancement by biomedical means – moral bioenhancement – that John Harris advances in his new book How to be Good. These objections are to effect that such moral enhancement undercuts both moral reasoning and freedom. The latter objection is directed more specifically at what we have called the God Machine, a super-duper computer which predicts our decisions and prevents decisions to perpertrate morally atrocious acts. In (...) reply, we argue first that effective moral bioenhancement presupposes moral reasoning rather than undermines it. Secondly, that the God Machine would leave us with extensive freedom and that the restrictions it imposes on it are morally justified by the prevention of harm to victims. (shrink)
New technologies and practices, such as drug testing, genetic testing, and electronic surveillance infringe upon the privacy of workers on workplaces. We argue that employees have a prima facie right to privacy, but this right can be overridden by competing moral principles that follow, explicitly or implicitly, from the contract of employment. We propose a set of criteria for when intrusions into an employee''s privacy are justified. Three types of justification are specified, namely those that refer to the employer''s interests, (...) to the interests of the employee her- or himself, and to the interests of third parties such as customers and fellow workers. For each of these three types, sub-criteria are proposed that can be used to determine whether a particular infringement into an employee''s privacy is morally justified or not. (shrink)
We examine the philosophical and ethical issues associated with conjoined twins and their surgical separation. In cases in which there is an extensive sharing of organs, but nevertheless two distinguishable functioning brains, there are a number of philosophical and ethical challenges. This is because such conjoined twins: 1. give rise to puzzles concerning our identity, about whether we are identical to something psychological or biological;2. force us to decide whether what matters from an ethical point of view is the biological (...) life of our organisms or the existence of our consciousness or mind; 3. raise questions concerning when, if ever, it is morally acceptable to sacrifice one of us to save another;4. force us to reflect on the conditions for ownership of organs and the justification of removal of organs for transplantation which causes the death of the donor; 5. raise questions about who should take decisions about life-risking treatments when this cannot be decided by patients themselves.We examine and suggest answers to these questions. (shrink)
Elizabeth Fenton has criticised an earlier article by the authors in which the claim was made that, by providing humankind with means of causing its destruction, the advance of science and technology has put it in a perilous condition that might take the development of genetic or biomedical techniques of moral enhancement to get out of. The development of these techniques would, however, require further scientific advances, thus forcing humanity deeper into the danger zone created by modern science. Fenton argues (...) that the benefits of scientific advances are undervalued. The authors believe that the argument rather relies upon attaching a special weight to even very slight risks of major catastrophes, and attempt to vindicate this weighting. (shrink)
The hypothesis that human reasoning and decision-making can be roughly modeled by Expected Utility Theory has been at the core of decision science. Accumulating evidence has led researchers to modify the hypothesis. One of the latest additions to the field is Dual Process theory, which attempts to explain variance between participants and tasks when it comes to deviations from Expected Utility Theory. It is argued that Dual Process theories at this point cannot replace previous theories, since they, among other things, (...) lack a firm conceptual framework, and have no means of producing independent evidence for their case. (shrink)
Derek Parfit has argued that (Teleological) Egalitarianism is objectionable by breaking a person-affecting claim to the effect that an outcome cannot be better in any respect - such as that of equality - if it is better for nobody. So, he presents the Priorty View, i.e., the policy of giving priority to benefiting the worse-off, which avoids this objection. But it is here argued, first, that there is another person-affecting claim that this view violates. Secondly, Egalitarianism can be construed as (...) person-affecting in a weaker sense. Thirdly, it is possible to construct a Relational version of the Priority View which incorporates the Egalitarian value of just equality in this sense. Two reasons are given for why this Relational View and Egalitarianism are superior to the Parfitian Absolute Priority View. However, no attempt is made to abjudicate between the first two views, the main point being that they both accept the value of just equality in the same sense. (shrink)
Interdisciplinary research in the fields of forestry and sustainability studies often encounters seemingly incompatible ontological assumptions deriving from natural and social sciences. The perceived incompatibilities might emerge from the epistemological and ontological claims of the theories or models directly employed in the interdisciplinary collaboration, or they might be created by other epistemological and ontological assumptions that these interdisciplinary researchers find no reason to question. In this paper we discuss the benefits and risks of two possible approaches, Popperian optimism and Kuhnian (...) pessimism, to interdisciplinary knowledge integration where epistemological and ontological differences between the sciences involved can be expected. (shrink)
Accounts of ontic explanation have often been devised so as to provide an understanding of mechanism and of causation. Ontic accounts differ quite radically in their ontologies, and one of the latest additions to this tradition proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver reintroduces the concept of activity. In this paper I ask whether this influential and activity-based account of mechanisms is viable as an ontic account. I focus on polygenic scenarios—scenarios in which the causal truths depend on (...) more than one cause. The importance of polygenic causation was noticed early on by Mill (1893). It has since been shown to be a problem for both causal-law approaches to causation (Cartwright 1983) and accounts of causation cast in terms of capacities (Dupré 1993; Glennan 1997, pp. 605-626). However, whereas mechanistic accounts seem to be attractive precisely because they promise to handle complicated causal scenarios, polygenic causation needs to be examined more thoroughly in the emerging literature on activity-based mechanisms. The activity-based account proposed in Machamer et al. (2000, pp. 1-25) is problematic as an ontic account, I will argue. It seems necessary to ask, of any ontic account, how well it performs in causal situations where—at the explanandum level of mechanism—no activity occurs. In addition, it should be asked how well the activity-based account performs in situations where there are too few activities around to match the polygenic causal origin of the explanandum. The first situation presents an explanandum-problem and the second situation presents an explanans-problem—I will argue—both of which threaten activity-based frameworks. (shrink)
Recent work in experimental philosophy shows that folk intuitions about moral responsibility are sensitive to a surprising variety of factors. Whether people take agents to be responsible for their actions in deterministic scenarios depends on whether the deterministic laws are couched in neurological or psychological terms (Nahmias et. al. 2007), on whether actions are described abstractly or concretely, and on how serious moral transgression they seem to represent (Nichols & Knobe 2007). Finally, people are more inclined to hold an agent (...) responsible for bringing about bad than for bringing about good side effects that the agent is indifferent about (Knobe 2003). Elsewhere, we have presented an analysis of the everyday concept of moral responsibility that provides a unified explanation of paradigmatic cases of moral responsibility, and accounts for the force of both typical excuses and the most influential skeptical arguments against moral responsibility or for incompatibilism. In this article, we suggest that it also explains the divergent and apparently incoherent set of intuitions revealed by these new studies. If our hypothesis is correct, the surprising variety of judgments stems from a unified concept of moral responsibility. -Knobe, J. (2003) Intentional Action and Side Effects in Ordinary Language. Analysis 63, pp.190–93. -Nahmias, E.; Coates, J.; Kvaran. T. (2007) Free will, moral responsibility, and mechanism: experiments on folk intuitions. Midwest studies in Philosophy XXXI -Nichols, S.; Knobe, J. (2007) Moral responsibility and determinism: the cognitive science of folk intuitions, Noûs 41:4, 663-685. (shrink)
Wind damage to forests can be divided into (1) the direct damage done to the forest and(2) indirect effects. Indirect effects may be of different kinds and may affect the environ- ment as well as society. For example, falling trees can lead to power and telecommunica- tion failures or blocking of roads. The salvage harvest of fallen trees is another example and one that involves extremely dangerous work. In this overview we provide examples of different entities, services, and activities that (...) may be affected by wind damage to for- ests. We illustrate how valuation of the damage depends on the perspective applied and how the affected entities, services, and activities may represent different types of values. Finally we suggest means for how to actively manage the risk in an ethically sustainable way. Many of our examples will be drawn from the experiences of the wind damage Gudrun in southern Sweden on 8–9 January 2005. The direct as well as indirect effects, which are described, are by no means unique to the Gudrun wind damage event and similar or even worse effects have been described after the wind damage events Martin and Lothar in 1999, and Klaus in 2009. (shrink)
Traditionally, interdisciplinarity has been taken to require conceptual or theoretical integration. However, in the emerging field of sustainability science this kind of integration is often lacking. Indeed sometimes it is regarded as an obstacle to interdisciplinarity. Drawing on examples from sustainability science, we show that problem-feeding, i.e. the transfer of problems, is a common and fruitful-looking way of connecting disparate disciplines and establishing interdisciplinarity. We identify two species of problem-feeding: unilateral and bilateral. Which of these is at issue depends on (...) whether solutions to the problem are fed back to the discipline in which the problem originated. We suggest that there is an interesting difference between the problem-feeding approach to interdisciplinarity and the traditional integrative perspective suggested by among others Erich Jantsch and his colleagues. The interdisciplinarity resulting from problem-feeding between researchers can be local and temporary and does not require collaboration between proximate disciplines. By contrast, to make good sense of traditional integrative interdisciplinarity we must arguably associate it with a longer-term, global form of close, interdisciplinary collaboration. (shrink)
We have a duty to try to develop and apply safe and cost-effective means to increase the probability that we shall do what we morally ought to do. It is here argued that this includes biomedical means of moral enhancement, that is, pharmaceutical, neurological or genetic means of strengthening the central moral drives of altruism and a sense of justice. Such a strengthening of moral motivation is likely to be necessary today because common-sense morality having its evolutionary origin in small-scale (...) societies with primitive technology will become much more demanding if it is revised to serve the needs of contemporary globalized societies with an advanced technology capable of affecting conditions of life world-wide for centuries to come. (shrink)
In his reply to our response to his book How to be Good, John Harris accuses us of saying ‘two mutually contradictory things’ when in fact we talk about two different things. In this short response, we distinguish between moral enhancement and interventions which promote moral behaviour but undermine freedom. We argue that moral enhancement does not necessarily undermine freedom. Interventions, such as the God Machine, which do undermine freedom are not moral enhancements as we conceive of them. But they (...) might nonetheless be justified because freedom must be balanced against other values, such as well-being. (shrink)
The possibility of apparently negative causation has been discussed in a number of recent works on causation, but the discussion has suffered from being scattered. In this paper, the problem of apparently negative causation and its attempted solutions are examined in more detail. I discuss and discard three attempts that have been suggested in the literature. My conclusion is negative: Negative causation shows that the traditional cause & effect view is inadequate. A more unified causal perspective is needed.
This paper is an attempt to further our understanding of mechanisms conceived of as ontologically separable from laws. What opportunities are there for a mechanistic perspective to be independent of, or even more fundamental than, a law perspective? Advocates of the mechanistic view often play with the possibility of internal and external reliability, or with the paralleling possibilities of enforcing, counteracting, redirecting, etc., the mechanisms’ power to produce To further this discussion I adopt a trope ontology. It is independent of (...) the notion of law, and can easily be adapted to account for such characteristics of mechanisms. The idea of tropes as mechanisms is worked out in some detail. According to the resulting picture, there is still an opportunity to link mechanisms and laws. But while the predominant law view conceives of mechanistic approaches as special kinds of law accounts, this study indicates that the converse may be true. Law accounts are special cases of mechanistic accounts, and they work only in those worlds where the mechanisms are of the right kind. (shrink)
Uncertainty, insufficient information or information of poor quality, limited cognitive capacity and time, along with value conflicts and ethical considerations, are all aspects thatmake risk managementand riskcommunication difficult. This paper provides a review of different risk concepts and describes how these influence risk management, communication and planning in relation to forest ecosystem services. Based on the review and results of empirical studies, we suggest that personal assessment of risk is decisive in the management of forest ecosystem services. The results are (...) used together with a reviewof different principles of the distribution of risk to propose an approach to risk communication that is effective aswell as ethically sound. Knowledge of heuristics and mutual information on both beliefs and desires are important in the proposed risk communication approach. Such knowledge provides an opportunity for relevant information exchange, so that gaps in personal knowledge maps can be filled in and effective risk communication can be promoted. (shrink)
If we find life on another world, it will be an extremely important discovery and we will have to take great care not to do anything that might endanger that life. If the life we find is sentient we will have moral obligations to that life. Whether it is sentient or not, we have a duty to ourselves to preserve it as a study object, and also because it would be commonly seen as valuable in its own right. In addition (...) to this we would also have a duty to our fellow humans and other earthly life forms not to expose them to danger by advertently or inadvertently exposing them to potentially harmful space organisms. When space exploration turns into exploitation it will therefore be important to be able to show that a world that is up for exploitation is uninhabited before the exploitation starts. Showing that a world is uninhabited is, however, a different kind of task than showing that it is inhabited. The latter task can be accomplished through one positive finding but it is not clear how to go about the former task. In this paper I suggest that it is a gradual process asymptotically approaching certainty rather than a discovery in the traditional sense of the word. It has to be handled in two steps. The first is to connect degree of certainty with research setup. The second is to decide how certain we need to be. The first step is about the number, diversity and quality of observations. The second step is a decision we have to make based on the purpose of the investigation. The purpose and therefore the degree of certainty needed to establish that a world is uninhabited will be different for a world that is up for exploitation than for a world that is not. In the latter case it is only a matter of epistemic values. In the former case also ethical values have to be considered. (shrink)
This paper discusses Nicholas Agar's argument in Humanity's End, that it can be morally permissible for human beings to prevent the coming into existence of morally enhanced people because this can harm the interests of the unenhanced humans. It contends that Agar's argument fails because it overlooks the distinction between morally permissible and morally impermissible harm. It is only if the harm to them would be of the morally impermissible kind that humans are provided with a reason to prevent the (...) coming into existence of enhanced people. But if their enhancement includes moral enhancement, it is unlikely that the enhanced people will cause morally impermissible harm. (shrink)
Derek Parfit has argued that egalitarianism is exposed to a levelling down objection because it implies, implausibly, that a change, which consists only in the better-off sinking to the level of the worse-off, is in one respect better, though it is better for nobody. He claims that, in contrast, the prioritarian view that benefits to the worse-off have greater moral weight escapes this objection. This article contends, first, that prioritarianism is equally affected by the levelling down objection as is egalitarianism, (...) but that this objection lacks force. Secondly, prioritarianism is less plausible than egalitarianism because it implies that lowering the level of equality by diffusing a quantity of welfare equally over as many recipients as possible is for the better all things considered, and that the outcome of such welfare diffusion would still be better in one respect, even if the quantity of welfare was radically reduced. (shrink)
Roboethics is a recently developed field of applied ethics which deals with the ethical aspects of technologies such as robots, ambient intelligence, direct neural interfaces and invasive nano-devices and intelligent soft bots. In this article we look specifically at the issue of (moral) responsibility in artificial intelligent systems. We argue for a pragmatic approach, where responsibility is seen as a social regulatory mechanism. We claim that having a system which takes care of certain tasks intelligently, learning from experience and making (...) autonomous decisions gives us reasons to talk about a system (an artifact) as being “responsible” for a task. No doubt, technology is morally significant for humans, so the “responsibility for a task” with moral consequences could be seen as moral responsibility. Intelligent systems can be seen as parts of socio-technological systems with distributed responsibilities, where responsible (moral) agency is a matter of degree. Knowing that all possible abnormal conditions of a system operation can never be predicted, and no system can ever be tested for all possible situations of its use, the responsibility of a producer is to assure proper functioning of a system under reasonably foreseeable circumstances. Additional safety measures must however be in place in order to mitigate the consequences of an accident. The socio-technological system aimed at assuring a beneficial deployment of intelligent systems has several functional responsibility feedback loops which must function properly: the awareness and procedures for handling of risks and responsibilities on the side of designers, producers, implementers and maintenance personnel as well as the understanding of society at large of the values and dangers of intelligent technology. The basic precondition for developing of this socio-technological control system is education of engineers in ethics and keeping alive the democratic debate on the preferences about future society. (shrink)