Earthcare: Readings and Cases in Environmental Ethics presents a diverse collection of writings from a variety of authors on environmental ethics, environmental science, and the environmental movement overall. Exploring a broad range of world views, religions and philosophies, David W. Clowney and Patricia Mosto bring together insightful thoughts on the ethical issues arising in various areas of environmental concern.
One of the fundamental components of the concept of economic rationality is that preference orderings are “complete,” i.e., that all alternative actions an economic agent can take are comparable. The idea that all actions can be ranked may be called the single utility assumption. The attractiveness of this assumption is considerable. It would be hard to fathom what choice among alternatives means if the available alternatives cannot be ranked by the chooser in some way. In addition, the efficiency criterion makes (...) sense only if one can infer that an individual's choice reflects the best, in expected welfare terms, among all choices that individual could have made. The possibility that a rearrangement of resources could make someone “better off” without making others “worse off” can be understood only if the post-rearrangement world is comparable with the pre-rearrange-ment world. (shrink)
When economists pay homage to the wisdom of the distant past it is more likely that a work two decades old is being admired than one two centuries old. Economics is a science, and the sciences are noteworthy for their digestion and assimilation of the work of previous generations. Contributions remain only as accretions to the accepted body of knowledge; the writings and the writers disappear almost without trace. A conspicuous exception to this rule of professional cannibalization is Adam Smith. (...) Since 1776 he has not lacked for honors that have escaped even his most illustrious peers. Who, after all, wears a David Ricardo necktie? So to the author of The Wealth of Nations, all praise! (shrink)
The usefulness of machine learning algorithms has led to their widespread adoption prior to the development of a conceptual framework for making sense of them. One common response to this situation is to say that machine learning suffers from a “black box problem.” That is, machine learning algorithms are “opaque” to human users, failing to be “interpretable” or “explicable” in terms that would render categorization procedures “understandable.” The purpose of this paper is to challenge the widespread agreement about the existence (...) and importance of a black box problem. The first section argues that “interpretability” and cognates lack precise meanings when applied to algorithms. This makes the concepts difficult to use when trying to solve the problems that have motivated the call for interpretability. Furthermore, since there is no adequate account of the concepts themselves, it is not possible to assess whether particular technical features supply formal definitions of those concepts. The second section argues that there are ways of being a responsible user of these algorithms that do not require interpretability. In many cases in which a black box problem is cited, interpretability is a means to a further end such as justification or non-discrimination. Since addressing these problems need not involve something that looks like an “interpretation” of an algorithm, the focus on interpretability artificially constrains the solution space by characterizing one possible solution as the problem itself. Where possible, discussion should be reformulated in terms of the ends of interpretability. (shrink)
The standard counterexamples to David Lewis’s account of intrinsicality involve two sorts of properties: identity properties and necessary properties. Proponents of the account have attempted to deflect these counterexamples in a number of ways. This paper argues that none of these moves are legitimate. Furthermore, this paper argues that no account along the lines of Lewis’s can succeed, for an adequate account of intrinsicality must be sensitive to hyperintensional distinctions among properties.
Resemblances obtain not only between objects but between properties. Resemblances of the latter sort - in particular resemblances between quantitative properties - prove to be the downfall of a well-known theory of universals, namely the one presented by David Armstrong. This paper examines Armstrong's efforts to account for such resemblances within the framework of his theory and also explores several extensions of that theory. All of them fail.
This article surveys recent feminist contributions to moral philosophy with an emphasis on those works which engage with debates within mainstream ethics. The article begins by examining a tension said to arise from the two criteria a theory must meet if it is to count as feminist moral theory: the women's experience requirement and the feminist conclusion requirement. Subsequent sections deal with feminist relational theories of rights, feminist work on responsibility and feminist contractarian approaches to ethics. A final section looks (...) at the application of some feminist moral theories to the problem of abortion. (shrink)
The evidence-based medicine (EBM) movement is touted as a new paradigm in medical education and practice, a description that carries with it an enthusiasm for science that has not been seen since logical positivism ﬂourished (circa 1920–1950). At the same time, the term ‘‘evidence-based medicine’’ has a ring of obviousness to it, as few physicians, one suspects, would claim that they do not attempt to base their clinical decision-making on available evidence. However, the apparent obviousness of EBM can and should (...) be challenged on the grounds of how ‘evidence’ has been problematised in the philosophy of science. EBM enthusiasm, it follows, ought to be tempered. The post-positivist, feminist, and phenomenological philosophies of science that are examined in this paper contest the seemingly unproblematic nature of evidence that underlies EBM by emphasizing different features of the social nature of science. The appeal to the authority of evidence that characterizes evidence-based practices does not increase objectivity but rather obscures the subjective elements that inescapably enter all forms of human inquiry. The seeming common sense of EBM only occurs because of its assumed removal from the social context of medical practice. In the current age where the institutional power of medicine is suspect, a model that represents biomedicine as politically disinterested or merely scientiﬁc should give pause. (shrink)
The public rejection of scientific claims is widely recognized by scientific and governmental institutions to be threatening to modern democratic societies. Intense conflict between science and the public over diverse health and environmental issues have invited speculation by concerned officials regarding both the source of and the solution to the problem of public resistance towards scientific and policy positions on such hot-button issues as global warming, genetically modified crops, environmental toxins, and nuclear waste disposal. The London Royal Society’s influential report (...) “Public Understanding of Science”, which spearheaded the now-thriving area of science... (shrink)
Steiner’s book is an engaging and challenging romp through important issues in rights theory, moral and economic reasoning, theories of freedom, and questions of justice. An Essay on Rights develops and connects themes pursued by Steiner in a series of articles written over the past two decades.
A sample of Yukatek Maya children was tested on their capacity to attribute false beliefs to a variety of stimuli, both natural and non-natural. Children's capacity to correctly infer that humans have limited perceptual access, and are, therefore, not likely to know what is inside a container if the contents have been surreptitiously replaced, is shown to have significant consequences. Children who passed the test with the human stimulus showed a nuanced capacity to attribute similar or dissimilar knowledge to (...) other natural and non-natural entities, consistently with these entities' cultural representations. In contrast, those who failed the test with the human stimulus tended to attribute similar beliefs to all natural and non-natural entity stimuli. (shrink)
While most of healthcare research and practice fully endorses evidence-based healthcare, a minority view borrows popular themes from philosophy of science like underdetermination and value-ladenness to question the legitimacy of the evidence-based movement’s philosophical underpinnings. While the feminist origins go unacknowledged, those critics adopt a feminist reading of the “gap argument” to challenge the perceived objectivism of evidence-based practice. From there, the critics seem to despair over the “subjective elements” that values introduce to clinical reasoning, demonstrating that they do not (...) subscribe to feminist science studies’ normative program——where contextual values can enable good science and justified decisions. In this paper, I investigate why it is that the critics of evidence-based medicine adopt feminist science’s characterization of the problem but resist the productive solutions offered by those same theorists. I suggest that the common feminist empiricist appeal to idealized epistemic communities is impractical for those working within the current biomedical context and instead offer an alternate stream of feminist research into the empirical content of values (found in the work of Elizabeth Anderson and Sharyn Clough) as a more helpful recourse for facilitating the important task of legitimate and justified clinical decision-making. I use a case study on clinical decision-making to illustrate the fruitfulness of the latter feminist empiricist framework. -/- See response by Sharyn Clough: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1aN See reply by Maya Goldenberg: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1oY. (shrink)
the standard reading of plato's Republic is that justice is predicated of the ideal city and of the philosophers, and that all other constitutions, both psychic and political, that are mentioned in the course of the dialogue are in some way or another defective and unjust. A non-standard reading appears to be gaining traction, however. Unorthodox Plato commentators such as Silverman, Jonas, Nakazawa, Braun, and Rowe argue that the ideal city—lovingly named 'Kallipolis'—is not just, that it is merely an improvement (...) upon, but not a complete cure for, the Luxurious City that is described immediately before it.1 If we want to gaze upon a just city, these unorthodox commentators propose, look no farther than the City of... (shrink)
The United States’ ambitious Precision Medicine Initiative proposes to accelerate exponentially the adoption of precision medicine, an approach to health care that tailors disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention to individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle. It aims to achieve this by creating a cohort of volunteers for precision medicine research, accelerating biomedical research innovation, and adopting policies geared toward patients’ empowerment. As strategies to implement the PMI are formulated, critical consideration of the initiative's ethical and sociopolitical dimensions is needed. (...) Drawing on scholarship of nationalism and democracy, we discuss the PMI's construction of what we term “genomic citizenship”; the possible normative obligations arising therefrom; and the ethical, legal, and social challenges that will ensue. Although the PMI is a work in progress, discussion of the existing and emerging issues can facilitate the development of policies, structures, and procedures that can maximize the initiative's ability to produce equitable and socially sensitive outcomes. Our analysis can also be applied to other population-based, precision medicine research programs. (shrink)
Coaches have the potential to influence athletes’ moral development, especially at the collegiate level—a powerful period of growth in young adults’ lives. As central agents in athlete moral education, coaches’ moral development and understanding of professionalism is currently unknown. The purpose of this study was to increase understanding of the ethical professional identity development of sport coaches. In-depth interviews based on moral exemplar and moral identity development theories were conducted with NCAA Division-I collegiate head coaches in the United States who (...) were peer nominated ‘moral exemplars’. Interviews elicited themes of moral exemplarity, professionalism, and above average ethical identity development. Results can inform and improve coach education for current and future members of the profession. (shrink)
Because “evidence” is at issue in evidence-based medicine (EBM), the critical responses to the movement have taken up themes from post-positivist philosophy of science to demonstrate the untenability of the objectivist account of evidence. While these post-positivist critiques seem largely correct, I propose that when they focus their analyses on what counts as evidence, the critics miss important and desirable pragmatic features of the evidence-based approach. This article redirects critical attention toward EBM’s rigid hierarchy of evidence as the culprit of (...) its objectionable epistemic practices. It reframes the EBM discourse in light of a distinction between objectivist and pragmatic epistemology, which allows for a more nuanced analysis of EBM than previously offered: one that is not either/or in its evaluation of the decision-making technology as either iconoclastic or creedal. -/- . (shrink)
We describe PADUA, a protocol designed to support two agents debating a classification by offering arguments based on association rules mined from individual datasets. We motivate the style of argumentation supported by PADUA, and describe the protocol. We discuss the strategies and tactics that can be employed by agents participating in a PADUA dialogue. PADUA is applied to a typical problem in the classification of routine claims for a hypothetical welfare benefit. We particularly address the problems that arise from the (...) extensive number of misclassified examples typically found in such domains, where the high error rate is a widely recognised problem. We give examples of the use of PADUA in this domain, and explore in particular the effect of intermediate predicates. We have also done a large scale evaluation designed to test the effectiveness of using PADUA to detect misclassified examples, and to provide a comparison with other classification systems. (shrink)
With twentieth- and twenty-first-century philosophy of science’s unfolding acceptance of the nature of scientific inquiry being value-laden, the persistent worry has been that there are no means for legitimate negotiation of the social or non-epistemic values that enter into science. The rejection of the value-free ideal in science has thereby been coupled with the spectres of indiscriminate relativism and bias in scientific inquiry. I challenge this view in the context of recently expressed concerns regarding Canada's death of evidence controversy. The (...) worry, raised by Stathis Psillos, is that as constructivist accounts of science demoted the previously secure status of evidence for drawing justified conclusions in science, we were left with no rational delineation between the right and wrong values for science. The implication for the death of evidence controversy is that we may have no rational grounds for claiming that the Canadian Government is wrong to interfere with scientific enterprise. But he does offer another avenue for reaching the conclusion that the wrong social values are directing the current stifling of some sectors of Canadian science. Psillos draws from standpoint epistemologies to devise a salient defence of ‘valuing evidence’ as a universalizable social value. That is, government bodies ought to enable scientific research via adequate funding as well as political non-interference. In this paper, I counter that non-epistemic values can be rationally evaluated and that standpoint epistemology’s universalizable standpoint provides an inadequate framework for negotiating social values in science. Regarding, I draw from the evidence-based medicine debate in philosophy of medicine and from feminist empiricist investigations into the science–values relationship in order to make the argument for empirically driven value arbitration. If social values can be rationally chosen in the context of justification, then we can have grounds for charging the Canadian leadership with being ‘at war with science’. I further argue that my recommended empiricist methodology is preferable to Psillos’s search for universalizable perspectives for negotiating social values in science because the latter method permits little more than the trivial conclusion that evidence is valuable to science. (shrink)
BackgroundThe increase in empirical methods of research in bioethics over the last two decades is typically perceived as a welcomed broadening of the discipline, with increased integration of social and life scientists into the field and ethics consultants into the clinical setting, however it also represents a loss of confidence in the typical normative and analytic methods of bioethics.DiscussionThe recent incipiency of "Evidence-Based Ethics" attests to this phenomenon and should be rejected as a solution to the current ambivalence toward the (...) normative resolution of moral problems in a pluralistic society. While "evidence-based" is typically read in medicine and other life and social sciences as the empirically-adequate standard of reasonable practice and a means for increasing certainty, I propose that the evidence-based movement in fact gains consensus by displacing normative discourse with aggregate or statistically-derived empirical evidence as the "bottom line". Therefore, along with wavering on the fact/value distinction, evidence-based ethics threatens bioethics' normative mandate. The appeal of the evidence-based approach is that it offers a means of negotiating the demands of moral pluralism. Rather than appealing to explicit values that are likely not shared by all, "the evidence" is proposed to adjudicate between competing claims. Quantified measures are notably more "neutral" and democratic than liberal markers like "species normal functioning". Yet the positivist notion that claims stand or fall in light of the evidence is untenable; furthermore, the legacy of positivism entails the quieting of empirically non-verifiable considerations like moral claims and judgments. As a result, evidence-based ethics proposes to operate with the implicit normativity that accompanies the production and presentation of all biomedical and scientific facts unchecked.SummaryThe "empirical turn" in bioethics signals a need for reconsideration of the methods used for moral evaluation and resolution, however the options should not include obscuring normative content by seemingly neutral technical measure. (shrink)
Background The increase in empirical methods of research in bioethics over the last two decades is typically perceived as a welcomed broadening of the discipline, with increased integration of social and life scientists into the field and ethics consultants into the clinical setting, however it also represents a loss of confidence in the typical normative and analytic methods of bioethics. Discussion The recent incipiency of "Evidence-Based Ethics" attests to this phenomenon and should be rejected as a solution to the current (...) ambivalence toward the normative resolution of moral problems in a pluralistic society. While "evidence-based" is typically read in medicine and other life and social sciences as the empirically-adequate standard of reasonable practice and a means for increasing certainty, I propose that the evidence-based movement in fact gains consensus by displacing normative discourse with aggregate or statistically-derived empirical evidence as the "bottom line". Therefore, along with wavering on the fact/value distinction, evidence-based ethics threatens bioethics' normative mandate. The appeal of the evidence-based approach is that it offers a means of negotiating the demands of moral pluralism. Rather than appealing to explicit values that are likely not shared by all, "the evidence" is proposed to adjudicate between competing claims. Quantified measures are notably more "neutral" and democratic than liberal markers like "species normal functioning". Yet the positivist notion that claims stand or fall in light of the evidence is untenable; furthermore, the legacy of positivism entails the quieting of empirically non-verifiable considerations like moral claims and judgments. As a result, evidence-based ethics proposes to operate with the implicit normativity that accompanies the production and presentation of all biomedical and scientific facts unchecked. Summary The "empirical turn" in bioethics signals a need for reconsideration of the methods used for moral evaluation and resolution, however the options should not include obscuring normative content by seemingly neutral technical measure. (shrink)
In "Does Four-Dimensionalism Explain Coincidence" Mark Moyer argues that there is no reason to prefer the four-dimensionalist (or perdurantist) explanation of coincidence to the three-dimensionalist (or endurantist) explanation. I argue that Moyer's formulations of perdurantism and endurantism lead him to overlook the perdurantist's advantage. A more satisfactory formulation of these views reveals a puzzle of coincidence that Moyer does not consider, and the perdurantist's treatment of this puzzle is clearly preferable.
Jamieson, Hangen, Lee, and Yaeager present their empirical findings as evidence for the effects of reappraising arousal on affective responses. This comment highlights the important contribution of the research by Jamieson and colleagues, but offers alternative ways of conceptualizing it.
Whole genome and exome sequencing techniques raise hope for a new scale of diagnosis, prevention, and prediction of genetic conditions, and improved care for children. For these hopes to materialize, extensive genomic research with children will be needed. However, the use of WGS/WES in pediatric research settings raises considerable challenges for families, researchers, and policy development. In particular, the possibility that these techniques will generate genetic findings unrelated to the primary goal of sequencing has stirred intense debate about whether, which, (...) how, and when these secondary or incidental findings should be returned to parents and minors. The debate is even more pronounced when the subjects are adolescents, for whom decisions about return of SFs may have particular implications. In this paper, we consider the rise of “genomic citizenship” and the main challenges that arise for these stakeholders: adolescents' involvement in decisions relating to return of genomic SFs, the types of SFs that should be offered, privacy protections, and communication between researchers and adolescents about SFs. We argue that adolescents' involvement in genomic SF-related decisions acknowledges their status as valuable stakeholders without detracting from broader familial interests, and promotes more informed genomic citizens. (shrink)
Acts of intimate partner violence and abuse of nonhuman animals are common, harmful, and co-occurring phenomena. The aim of the present study was to identify perpetrator subtypes based on variable paths hypothesized to influence physical violence toward both partners and nonhuman animals: callousness and instrumental representations of aggression and rejection-sensitivity and expressive representations of aggression. Strong associations emerged between callousness and instrumental representations and between rejection-sensitivity and expressive representations. For males, callousness directly predicted both IPV and animal abuse. For females, (...) rejection-sensitivity predicted IPV. Instrumental representations mediated the relationship between callousness and animal abuse for females but not for males. Results suggest that IPV and animal abuse functionally interconnect, that perpetration of animal abuse may differ in function across gender, and that identifying distinct pathways to violence may facilitate violence prediction and prevention. (shrink)
Color conveys critical information about the flavor of food and drink by providing clues as to edibility, flavor identity, and flavor intensity. Despite the fact that more than 100 published papers have investigated the influence of color on flavor perception in humans, surprisingly little research has considered how cognitive and contextual constraints may mediate color–flavor interactions. In this review, we argue that the discrepancies demonstrated in previously-published color–flavor studies may, at least in part, reflect differences in the sensory expectations that (...) different people generate as a result of their prior associative experiences. We propose that color–flavor interactions in flavor perception cannot be understood solely in terms of the principles of multisensory integration but that the role of higher-level cognitive factors, such as expectations, must also be considered. (shrink)
One of the most fundamental and recurring issues in the social sciences--the relation between language and thought--is examined in this work from a broad and coherent interdisciplinary perspective. Many of the great historical issues are also addressed and newly examined such as: the multifunctionality of language, the role of natural logic in the structuring of linguistic rules, and the place of linguistic disambiguation and repair in particular cultures.