As the world held its breath for news surrounding COVID-19 and hunkered down amidst stay-at-home orders, medical students across the U.S. wondered if they would be called to serve on the front lines of the pandemic. Medical school administrators faced the challenge of protecting learners while also minimizing harm to their medical education. This balancing act raised critical questions in medical education as institutions reacted to changing guidelines. COVID-19 has punctuated already contentious areas of medical education and has forced institutions (...) and organizations to take quick action. From the perspectives of a recent medical school graduate and current resident and a practicing clinician-educator, we examine the pandemic’s impact on undergraduate medical education through an ethical lens. First, we explore the value of medical education, what drives this value, and how COVID-19 may alter it. We next consider student choice and how shifts toward utilitarianism in healthcare during a pandemic may affect learning and career exploration. Then, we inquire how access to technology may impact the experience of medical students from diverse backgrounds and varied institutions during a rapid shift to socially distanced learning. We identify vulnerabilities for students at several phases of the journey: premedical, preclinical, clinical, and preparation for residency. Finally, we address the hidden curriculum of COVID-19, its potential erosion of empathy among current medical students, and possible long-term consequences for future physicians and patients. (shrink)
A central criticism of William James’s “The Will to Believe” is that it gives individuals a license for wishful thinking. There may be insufficient evidence with respect to the existence of God, but our willing to believe that God exists does not make it the case. Simply put, wanting something to be true does not make it true. Accordingly, some of James’s early critics proposed that the essay would have been more accurately titled “The Will to Deceive” or “The Will (...) to Make Believe.” More recently, a number of scholars have defended James’s essay from these charges of wishful thinking. According... (shrink)
This article challenges conventional readings of Michel Foucault by examining his fascination with neoliberalism in the late 1970s. Foucault did not critique neoliberalism during this period; rather, he strategically endorsed it. The necessary cause for this approval lies in the broader rehabilitation of economic liberalism in France during the 1970s. The sufficient cause lies in Foucault's own intellectual development: drawing on his long-standing critique of the state as a model for conceptualizing power, Foucault concluded, during the 1970s, that economic liberalism, (...) rather than “discipline,” was modernity's paradigmatic power form. Moreover, this article seeks to clarify the relationship between Foucault's philosophical antihumanism and his assessment of liberalism. Rather than arguing that Foucault's antihumanism precluded a positive appraisal of liberalism, or that the apparent reorientation of his politics in a more liberal direction in the late 1970s entailed a partial retreat from antihumanism, this article contends that Foucault's brief, strategic, and contingent endorsement of liberalism was possible precisely because he saw no incompatibility between antihumanism and liberalism—but only liberalism of the economic variety. Economic liberalism alone, and not its political iteration, was compatible with the philosophical antihumanism that is the hallmark of Foucault's thought. (shrink)
This article explores the relationships between legal proof and fundamental epistemic concepts such as knowledge and justification. A survey of the legal literature reveals a confusing array of seemingly inconsistent proposals and presuppositions regarding these relationships. This article makes two contributions. First, it reconciles a number of apparent inconsistencies and tensions in accounts of the epistemology of legal proof. Second, it argues that there is a deeper connection between knowledge and legal proof than is typically argued for or presupposed in (...) the legal literature. This connection is illustrated through a discussion of the Gettier problem in epistemology. It is argued that the gap or disconnect between truth and justification that undermines knowledge in Gettier cases also potentially undermines the success of legal verdicts. (shrink)
What we are dealing with is the problem of underdetermination of information – there is not enough information to prove one hypothesis over the other. This is a common problem that comes up most often in the sciences. But while scientists have recourse to a variety of considerations that help them settle on a hypothesis, when interpreting films, the principle that is most helpful is the principle of charity.
In an opinion piece penned at the Great War’s onset yet apparently unpublished until now, the historian of religion Hermann Gunkel outlined the opportunities he saw for the German people in anticipation of their triumph. He believed this war could consummate what the Napoleonic Wars and the Unification of Germany had not. Gunkel hoped for true German unity, more liberal domestic politics, and spiritual restoration. Further still, he referred to a resurgence of piety on account of the conflict. On the (...) Great War’s centenary, this documentation speaks to the mobilizing, nationalist activities of Gunkel in particular and of academicians and theologians more generally. (shrink)
In various areas of Anglo-American law, legal liability turns on causation. In torts and contracts, we are each liable only for those harms we have caused by the actions that breach our legal duties. Such doctrines explicitly make causation an element of liability. In criminal law, sometimes the causal element for liability is equally explicit, as when a statute makes punishable any act that has “ caused … abuse to the child….” More often, the causal element in criminal liability is (...) more implicit, as when criminal statutes prohibit killings, maimings, rapings, burnings, etc. Such causally complex action verbs are correctly applied only to defendants who have caused death, caused disfigurement, caused penetration, caused fire damage, etc. (shrink)
Freud justified his extensive theorizing about dreams by the observation that they were “the royal road” to something much more general: namely, our unconscious mental life. The current preoccupation with the theory of excuse in criminal law scholarship can be given a similar justification, for the excuses are the royal road to theories of responsibility generally. The thought is that if we understand why we excuse in certain situations but not others, we will have also gained a much more general (...) insight into the nature of responsibility itself. Nowhere has this thought been more evident than in the century-old focus of criminal law theoreticians on the excuse of insanity, a focus that could not be justified by the importance of the excuse itself. In this paper I wish to isolate two theories of excuse, each of which instantiates its own distinctive theory of responsibility. One is what I shall call the choice theory of excuse, according to which one is excused for the doing of a wrongful action because and only because at the moment of such action's performance, one did not have sufficient capacity or opportunity to make the choice to do otherwise. Such a choice theory of excuse instantiates a more general theory of responsibility, according to which we are responsible for wrongs we freely choose to do, and not responsible for wrongs we lacked the freedom to avoid doing. The second I shall call the character theory of excuse, according to which one is excused for the doing of a wrongful action because and only because such action is not determined by those enduring attributes of ourselves we call our characters. (shrink)
This paper deals with Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought styles and Michael Polanyi’s theory of tacit knowledge. Though both concepts have been very influential for science studies in general, and both have been subject to numerous interpretations, their accounts have, somewhat surprisingly, hardly been comparatively analyzed. Both Fleck and Polanyi relied on the physiology and psychology of the senses in order to show that scientific knowledge follows less the path of logical principles than the path of accepting or rejecting (...) specific conventions, where these may be psychologically or sociologically grounded. It is my aim to show that similarities and differences between Fleck and Polanyi are to be seen in the specific historical and political context in which they worked. Both authors, I shall argue, emphasized the relevance of perception in close connection to their respective understanding of science, freedom, and democracy. (shrink)
In the Trolley Case, as devised by Philippa Foot and modified by Judith Jarvis Thomson, a runaway trolley is headed down a main track and will hit and kill five unless you divert it onto a side track, where it will hit and kill one.
I acquired many intellectual debts while writing What’s the Point of Knowledge?, but I am especially indebted to my three symposiasts. David Henderson’s work helped me to appreciate the value of thinking about the point of epistemic evaluation; Catherine Elgin’s writings prompted me to investigate the purpose of the concept of understanding; and Krista Lawlor’s 2013 book revealed important connections between three of my primary epistemological interests: the role of epistemic evaluation, the semantics of knowledge claims and the work of (...) J.L. Austin. It is therefore an honour to have such personally influential scholars engage with my work. Their thoughtful, generous and philosophically rich comments have provided yet another opportunity to clarify my thinking and develop some ideas further. (shrink)
Prussia's Edict on Religion of 1788 forbade sermons that undermined popular belief in the Holy Trinity and the Bible. Scholars have assumed that this act was counter-enlightened because it limited the free use of reason in public. An analysis of two court cases related to the edict reveals, however, that both the edict and its “enlightened” opponents within the state assumed that public expression should be disciplined. With respect to the enlightened bureaucratic elite that opposed the edict, it identifies two (...) factors that impelled them toward the disciplining of public communication: 1) German universities created an elite social group that assiduously cultivated its own intellectual sphere, and 2) having access to state power gave each member of the elite something to lose if the process of the Enlightenment proved politically or socially destabilizing. As a result, the fight over the Edict on Religion cannot be understood in terms of an Enlightenment/counter-Enlightenment dichotomy, but must be seen as a debate within the German elite about the level of social discipline that was sufficient for maintaining domestic tranquility. (shrink)
Despite its title, Alan Wertheimer’s new book is not another tiresome exploration of Marxist economic theories. Indeed, there is virtually no extended discussion of Marxism at all, since Wertheimer believes that what is unique to that perspective is highly problematic, given that when Marxists simply assert that capitalists do exploit wage laborers they are appealing to “the ordinary notion that one party exploits another when it gets unfair and undeserved benefits from its transactions or relationships with others”. His goal is (...) to analyze this ordinary sense of exploitation, to explore in detail some of the many forms it can take, and to begin some serious thinking about what he terms its moral weight and its moral force. This groundbreaking work, the first book-length treatment of its subject from a broadly analytic standpoint, should do much to disabuse non-Marxist philosophers of the notion that exploitation is largely peripheral to the central questions of moral and political philosophy. (shrink)
Over the last two or three decades, puzzles concerning vagueness, identity, and material constitution have led an increasing number of ontologists to “eliminate” at least some of the objects of folk ontology. In the book here reviewed, Trenton Merricks proposes to eliminate any and all material objects that lack nonredundant causal powers. The objects found lacking include statues, baseballs, planets, and all other inanimate macroscopica, including the masses and conjunctive objects favored by some other eliminativists. The objects found to possess (...) the requisite powers include human persons, who are taken to be human organisms, other conscious organisms, such as dogs and dolphins, and the microscopica of which organisms are composed. Merricks doesn’t assume that there are physical simples. But he does assume that there is at least one level of microscopica, and he uses ‘atoms’ as a convenient term for the microscopica of some unspecified level. As regards organisms that lack consciousness, Merricks is agnostic. (shrink)
We are purposive agents; but we—adult humans in a broadly modern world—are more than that. We are reflective about our motivation. We form prior plans and policies that organize our activity over time. And we see ourselves as agents who persist over time and who begin, develop, and then complete temporally extended activities and projects. Any reasonably complete theory of human action will need in some way to advert to this trio of features—to our reflectiveness, our planfulness, and our conception (...) of our agency as temporally extended. These are, further, features that have great significance for the kinds of lives we can live. For these two reasons I will say that these are among the core features of human agency. A theory of human action needs to say what these core features consist in and how they are related to each other. And such a theory needs also to clarify the relation between these core features of our agency and the possibility that we are fully embedded in an event causal order. (shrink)
Can self-locating beliefs be relevant to non-self-locating claims? Traditional Bayesian modeling techniques have trouble answering this question because their updating rule fails when applied to situations involving contextsensitivity. This essay develops a fully general framework for modeling stories involving context-sensitive claims. The key innovations are a revised conditionalization rule and a principle relating models of the same story with different modeling languages. The essay then applies the modeling framework to the Sleeping Beauty Problem, showing that when Beauty awakens her degree (...) of belief in heads should be one-third. This demonstrates that it can be rational for an agent who gains only self-locating beliefs between two times to alter her degree of belief in a non-self-locating claim. (shrink)
The Representative Claim is set to transform our core assumptions about what representation is and can be. At a time when political representation is widely believed to be in crisis, the book provides a timely and critical corrective to conventional wisdom on the present and potential future of representative democracy.
According to some philosophers of technology, technology embodies moral values in virtue of its functional properties and the intentions of its designers. But this paper shows that such an account makes the values supposedly embedded in technology epistemically opaque and that it does not allow for values to change. Therefore, to overcome these shortcomings, the paper introduces the novel Affordance Account of Value Embedding as a superior alternative. Accordingly, artefacts bear affordances, that is, artefacts make certain actions likelier given the (...) circumstances. Based on an interdisciplinary perspective that invokes recent moral anthropology, I conceptualize affordances as response-dependent properties. That is, they depend on intrinsic as well as extrinsic properties of the artefact. We have reason to value these properties. Therefore, artefacts embody values and are not value-neutral, which has practical implications for the design of new technologies. (shrink)
Many economists and social theorists hypothesize that most societies could soon face a ‘post-work’ future, one in which employment and productive labor have a dramatically reduced place in human affairs. Given the centrality of employment to individual identity and its pivotal role as the primary provider of economic and other goods, transitioning to a ‘post-work’ future could prove traumatic and disorienting to many. Policymakers are thus likely to face the difficult choice of the extent to which they ought to satisfy (...) individual citizens’ desires to work in a socioeconomic environment in which work is in permanent decline. Here I argue that policymakers confronting a post-work economy should discount, or at least consider problematic, the desire to work because it is very likely that this desire is an adaptive preference. An adaptive preference is a preference for some state of affairs within a limited set of options formed under unjust conditions. The widespread desire for work has been formed under unjust labor conditions to which individuals are compelled to submit in order to meet material and ethical needs. Furthermore, the prevalence of the ‘work dogma’ in contemporary societies precludes nearly all individuals from seeing alternatives to work as live options. (shrink)
This is an excellent book. It is innovative in scope and carefully argued throughout. The book recasts the debate between compatibilists and incompatibilists as a normative debate about the conditions under which it is fair to hold a person morally responsible. Wallace’s strategy is to explain moral agency by examining the stance of holding morally responsible. On Wallace’s account, moral agency does not require the ability to do otherwise; this would invite legitimate incompatibilist suspicions about free will and determinism. Rather, (...) what is required is the rational capacity to grasp and act upon distinctively moral reasons. (shrink)
If there is something (P) that every possible agent is committed to value, and certain actions or attitudes either enhance or diminish P, then normative claims about a range of intentional actions can be objectively and non-trivially evaluated. I argue that the degree of existence as an agent depends on the consistency of reflexive-relating with other individuals of the agent-kind: the ontological thesis. I then show that in intending to act on a reason, every agent is rationally committed to value (...) ‘above all else’ being an agent, what consists in exercising the capacity to act and having the freedom to discriminate between more or less valuable actions: the transcendental thesis. Since the degree of possession of this personal but non-contingent good depends on relating to other agents in a special way, certain actions and attitudes may be objectively right or wrong for all agents. (shrink)
Michael Walzer is currently at the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, New Jersey. Professor Walzer has written Just and Unjust Wars; The Revolution of the Saints and has edited Toward A Global Civil Society. In this interview, he discusses some of the current concerns about education, political theory and the current state of the art of toleration, and acceptance and accommodation of different racial, ethnic, social and minority groups. He has published extensively and his (...) work has been translated in several other languages. In this interview, he responds to questions about his work, his writings and his current concerns. (shrink)