The distinction between the essential and the accidental characteristics of a thing should be understood not in modal terms (the received view) nor in definitional terms (Fine’s recent proposal) but as follows: an essential characteristic of a thing is one that is not explained by any other of that thing’s characteristics, and an accidental characteristic of a thing is one that is so explained. Various versions of this proposal can be formulated.
Although the idea of intellectual property (IP) rights—proprietary rights to what one invents, writes, paints, composes or creates—is firmlyembedded in Western thinking, these rights are now being challenged across the globe in a number of areas. This paper will focus on one of these challenges: government-sanctioned copying of patented drugs without permission or license of the patent owner in the name of national security, in health emergencies, or life-threatening epidemics. After discussing standard rights-based and utilitarian arguments defending intellectual property we (...) will present another model. IP is almost always a result of a long history of scientific or technological development and numbers of networks of creativity, not the act of a single person or a group of people at one moment in time. Thus thinking about and evaluating IP requires thinking about IP as shared rights. A network approach to IP challenges a traditional model of IP. It follows that the owner of those rights has some obligations to share that information or its outcomes. If that conclusion is applied to the distribution of antiretroviral drugs, what pharmaceutical companies are ethically required to do to increase access to these medicines in the developing world will have to be reanalyzed from a more systemic perspective. (shrink)
The societal and ethical impacts of emerging technological and business systems cannot entirely be foreseen; therefore, management of these innovations will require at least some ethicists to work closely with researchers. This is particularly critical in the development of new systems because the maximum degrees of freedom for changing technological direction occurs at or just after the point of breakthrough; that is also the point where the long-term implications are hardest to visualize. Recent work on shared expertise in Science & (...) Technology Studies (STS) can help create productive collaborations among scientists, engineers, ethicists and other stakeholders as these new systems are designed and implemented. But collaboration across these disciplines will be successful only if scientists, engineers, and ethicists can communicate meaningfully with each other. The establishment of a trading zone coupled with moral imagination present one method for such collaborative communication. (shrink)
The paper takes up a traditional view that has also been a part of some recent analytic metaphysics, namely, the view that substance is to be understood in terms of independence. Taking as my point of departure some recent remarks by Kit Fine, I propose reviving the Aristotelian-scholastic idea that the sense in which substances are independent is that they are non-inherent, and I do so by developing a broad notion of inherence that is more usable in the context of (...) contemporary analytic metaphysics than the traditional notion is. I end by showing how non-inherence, while necessary for being a substance, cannot be taken as sufficient without some qualifying remarks. (shrink)
The traditional claim that Christ is one person who is both divine and human might seem inconsistent with classical conceptions of understanding divinity and humanity. For example, the classical understanding of divinity would seem to require us to hold that divine beings are immaterial, while the classical understanding of humanity would seem to require us to hold that human beings are material, leaving us unable to speak consistently of one person who is divine and human both. This paper argues that (...) revised versions of classical theism and classical anthropology can be developed, versions that avoid these problems. (shrink)
The lives of persons are valuable, but are all humans persons? Some humans—the immature, the damaged, and the defective—are not capable, here and now, of engaging in the rational activities characteristic of persons, and for this reason, one might call their personhood into question. A standard way of defendingit is by appeal to potentiality: we know they are persons because we know they have the potentiality to engage in rational activities. In this paper I develop acomplementary strategy based on normativity. (...) We know that the humans in question are persons because we know that lacking the here-and-now ability to engage in rational activities is—for them, unlike for tulips or kittens—a falling-short of some norm. Their personhood, in other words, is established on the basis of their being subject to the norm of having those here-and-now capacities. (shrink)
According to Christian belief, Jesus Christ is a divine person who became “incarnate,” i.e., who became human. A key event in the second act of the drama of creation and redemption, the incarnation could not have failed to interest Aquinas, and he discusses it in a number of places. A proper understanding of what he thought about it is thus part of any complete understanding of his work. It is, furthermore, a window into his ideas on a variety of other (...) topics: God, human nature, language, substance, and so on. Finally, it forces us to come to grips with what is at stake in acknowledging that Aquinas was not only a philosopher but a theologian as well. (shrink)
A certain theory of substance, one that grows out of Aristotelian philosophy but which has adherents today as well, draws a distinction between the features a substance has by instantiating a universal and the features it has by possessing a trope. An adherent of this theory might say that a certain cat is red because it possesses a redness-trope, but that it is a cat because it instantiates the universal CAT. A problem that must be faced by philosophers who hold (...) this sort of view is the following: Which features are which? In other words, which features are the ones had in virtue of trope-possession, and which are the ones had in virtue of instantiation? In this paper I discuss this problem, consider and reject a competing view, and propose my own Aristotelian solution. I also raise and answer an objection. (shrink)
In this paper I explain Thomas Aquinas's view that Christ is a composite person, and then I explain the role of Christ's compositeness in Thomas‘s solutions to a range of Christological problems. On the topics I will be discussing, Thomas‘s views did not change significantly over the course of his career; for the sake of simplicity, then, I will focus on texts from the Summa theologiae, citing parallels in the notes.
Discusses the old problem of how to characterize apparently intentional states that appear to lack objects. In tandem with critically discussing a recent proposal by Tim Crane, I develop the line of reasoning according to which talking about intentional objects is really a way of talking about intentional states—in particular, it’s a way of talking about their satisfaction-conditions.
There is no consensus on how to define substance, but one popular view is that substances are entities that are independent in some sense or other. E. J. Lowe’s version of this approach stresses that substances are not dependent on other particulars for their identity. I develop the meaning of this proposal, defend it against some criticisms, and then show that others do require that the theory be modified.
This article reviews the public health and environmental regulations applicable to nanotechnology using a life cycle model from basic research through end-of-life for products. Given nanotechnology's immense promise and public investment, regulations are important, balancing risk with the public good. Trading zones and earth systems engineering management assist in explaining potential solutions to gaps in an otherwise complex, overlapping regulatory system.
Productive work on societal implications needs to be engaged with the research from the start. Ethicists need to go into the lab to understand what's possible. Scientists and engineers need to engage with humanists to start thinking about this aspect of their work. Only thus, working together in dialog, will we make genuine progress on the societal and ethical issues that nanotechnology poses.Davis Baird, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, May 1, 2003Federal funding of the (...) National Nanotechnology Initiative has averaged roughly $1 billion annually for the last three years, from 2004 to 2006. Society is poised to see more realistic nano-scale devices enter the marketplace, along with futuristic depictions of nanotechnology. For this reason, serious thought must be given to the societal impact of nanotechnology. (shrink)
The author describes his efforts to become a participant observer while he was a Program Director at the NSF. He describes his plans for keeping track of his reflections and his goals before he arrived at NSF, then includes sections from his reflective diary and comments after he had completed his two-year rotation. The influx of rotators means the NSF has to be an adaptive, learning organization but there are bureaucratic obstacles in the way.
Tim Crane has recently defended the view that all intentional states have objects, even when these objects do not exist. In this note I first set forth some crucial elements of Crane’s view: his reasons for accepting intentional objects, his rejection of certain ways of thinking about them, and his distinction between the ‘substantial’ and the ‘schematic’ notion of an object. I then argue that while Crane’s account successfully explains what intentional objects are not, it leaves unexplained how it could (...) make sense to say that intentional objects need not exist. Finally I propose that we can do justice to Crane’s reasons for talking about intentional objects by re‐interpreting talk about intentional objects as talk about the truth‐ or satisfaction‐conditions of intentional states. (shrink)
As computating technologies become ubiquitous and at least partly autonomous, they will have increasing impact on societies, both in the developed and developing worlds. This article outlines a framework for guiding emerging technologies in directions that promise social as well as technical progress. Multiple stakeholders will have to be engaged in dialogues over new technological directions, forming trading zones in which knowledge and resources are exchanged. Such discussions will have to incorporate cultural and individual values.
The paper defends Hume's theory of belief against charges of inconsistency (but does not argue that Hume's theory is correct). It is noted that his statements about belief are actually statements about three different questions: the nature of belief, the effects of belief, and the causes of belief. The question of the nature of belief is analyzed in the most detail. Hume has two theories, which I call his "manner of conception theory" and his "feeling theory," but on Humean assumptions, (...) these theories turn out to mean the same thing. (shrink)
Anyone who tries to understand categories soon runs into the problem of giving an account of the unity of a category. Call this the “unity problem.” In this essay, I describe a distinctive and under-studied version of the unity problem and discuss how it might be solved. First, I describe various versions of the unity problem. Second, I focus on one version and argue that it is best dealt with by thinking of at least some categories as “norm-constituted,” in a (...) sense that I try to make clear. Third, I discuss some objections to my proposal. Fourth, I compare norm -constituted categories to categories that are normative in a different sense. Fifth, I briefly discuss the possibility of grounding the normativity of norm-constituted categories. Finally, I raise a few questions for further research. (shrink)
According to the orthodox Christian belief expressed most famously at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, Jesus Christ is one person who is both divine and human. Not surprisingly, many have wondered at this, for it seems impossible for one person to have both divine and human characteristics. There are different versions of this difficulty, which correspond to different human and divine characteristics. In this article, I will defend traditional Christology against an argument that bases itself on one particular difficulty. (...) The argument contends that Christ's omniscience and non-omniscience mean that he cannot be one person; it contends, in short, that Chalcedon is self-undermining. I will begin by making some preliminary remarks. In the second section of the paper, I will show that the anti-Chalcedonian argument cannot simply be avoided or ignored. In the third section, I will examine the argument itself. (shrink)
This article proposes three states in an actor-network and a global/local distinction among actants. This theoretical framework is applied to two invention networks: one created by an inventor of solar heating systems and another created by a designer who wanted to create an environmentally sustainable furniture fabric. Both solar inventor and fabric designer wanted to develop technologies that would improve the environment and also make money. The article concludes by considering whether invention networks that intend to turn “good into gold” (...) have to evolve a shared representation or whether it is sufficient for a new design to serve as a boundary object for actants. (shrink)
Metaphysicians have not always been sufficiently attentive to the problem of dependence. Those who have paid attention to it have disagreed over what depends on what: do minds depend on brains, or vice versa? accidents on substances? creatures on God? Even less attention, however, has been paid to the question of what dependence actually is; usually, some answer to this question is taken for granted, and consideration is given only to the subsequent questions of which things depend on which. The (...) present paper discusses what dependence is, not for its own sake, but, rather, as a case study concerning the question of form in metaphysical inquiry. Distinguishing logical from metaphysical form, one can say that certain difficulties in twentieth-century theories of dependence can be traced to the error of trying to answer a metaphysical question by making use of logical form instead of metaphysical form. The paper will proceed in three steps. First, it will discuss the leading twentieth-century theory of dependence, point out the difficulties with that theory, and make explicit the presuppositions about form that give rise to those difficulties. Second, the paper will show how those difficulties can be avoided by using a properly metaphysical form to understand dependence. Finally, the paper will reflect on the implications for metaphysical inquiry that can be drawn from the difference between the two approaches. (shrink)
The philosophical literature understands ontological priority in two ways, in terms of dependence, and in terms of degrees-of-being. These views are not reconcilable in any straightforward manner. However, they can be reconciled indirectly, if both are seen as instances of higher-level concept that is a modification of John Duns Scotus' notion of essential order. The result is a theory of ontological priority that takes the form of a list of membership criteria for the class of "ontological priority relations", of which (...) dependence and degrees-of-being are just two examples. (shrink)
At the forefront of international concerns about global legislation and regulation, a host of noted environmentalists and business ethicists examine ethical issues in consumption from the points of view of environmental sustainability, economic development, and free enterprise.
Historians of technology have provided important accounts of technological innovation, but they rarely employ concepts which permit a rigorous analysis ofinvention as a mental or cognitive process. This article seeks to address this theoretical lacuna by using concepts adapted from cognitive psychology to compare the mental processes of two telephone inventors, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. Specifically, we suggest that invention may be seen as a process in which inventors combine ideas with objects, or what we call mental models (...) and mechanical representations. The strategies by which inventors generate and manipulate these mental models and mechanical representations are what we refer to as heuristics. Using these concepts to narrate the development of the telephone, this article shows how invention can be interpreted as being much more than simply a mysterious act of individual genius. (shrink)
This article introduces a method to identify risks through expert elicitation, using silver nanotechnology as a case study. Unique features of the method include supplying experts with a list of silver nanotechnology products, and conducting the elicitation in an extended interview format that captures the experts' reasoning. The end result is a series of graphical representations of expert thinking from which high-risk scenarios and knowledge gaps can be reliably inferred. This methodology, combined with other approaches to expert elicitation, can help (...) identify knowledge and oversight gaps, and can be used as part of an adaptive management strategy. (shrink)
This article presents a framework for practitioners who may be interested in maintaining adaptive stability of sociotechnical networks. The framework is developed from assembling several concepts that are useful for assessing and for drawing on appropriate moral reasoning strategies as sociotechnical networks are designed, constructed, and adapted. One such strategy involves the ability to assess degrees of perspective sharing and trading relationships in networks using moral imagination. The article uses the case of the design of an environmentally sustainable fabric to (...) illustrate these strategic concepts. The framework also draws on other examples of cases in which sociotechnical networks have become destabilized to illustrate instances in which the framework may have been useful for decreasing a tendency for destabilization. (shrink)