In his recent article, Ben-Moshe offers an account of conscientious objection in terms of the truth of the underlying moral objections, as judged by the standards of an impartial spectator. He seems to advocate for the view that having a valid moral objection to X is the sole criteria for the instantiation of a right to conscientiously object to X, and seems indifferent to the moral status of the prevailing moral attitudes. I argue that the moral status of the (...) prevailing moral attitudes is relevant, and that a good faith disagreement between those who condone the relevant act and those who object to it is a criterion for CO. In this light, I suggest that CO is a sociopolitical device for managing differing ethical perspectives, particularly in the context of collective moral change. Thus, it is misguided to equate having a valid moral objection with the recognition of a CO. (shrink)
Most decisions in life involve ambiguity, where probabilities can not be meaningfully specified, as much as they involve probabilistic uncertainty. In such conditions, the aspiration to utility maximization may be self-deceptive. We propose “robust satisficing” as an alternative to utility maximizing as the normative standard for rational decision making in such circumstances. Instead of seeking to maximize the expected value, or utility, of a decision outcome, robust satisficing aims to maximize the robustness to uncertainty of a satisfactory outcome. That is, (...) robust satisficing asks, “what is a ‘good enough’ outcome,” and then seeks the option that will produce such an outcome under the widest set of circumstances. We explore the conditions under which robust satisficing is a more appropriate norm for decision making than utility maximizing. (shrink)
Modern engineering has included the basic sciences and their accompanying mathematical theories among its primary tools. The theory of probability is one of the more recent entries into standard engineering practice in various technological disciplines. Probability and statistics serve useful functions in the solution of many engineering problems. However, not all technological manifestations of uncertainty are amenable to probabilistic representation. In this paper we identify the conceptual limitations of probabilistic and related theories as they occur in a wide range of (...) engineering tasks. We discuss the structure and properties of an alternative, non-probabilistic, method — convex modelling — for quantitatively representing uncertain phenomena. (shrink)
Surprise and change are the way of the world. Philosophers have known this at least since Thales, and practical men knew it long before. Variety and the continual flux of one thing into another is, for Peirce, a central notion. A very similar conception underlies the information-gap theory of uncertainty and its application to decisions with severely deficient understanding which I have argued for earlier. For Haack, whose treatment of warrant is strongly non-probabilistic, info-gap theory is a natural context. The (...) connection between Peirce, Haack and info-gap theory is explored in this paper. (shrink)
Two problems seem to plague Adam Smith’s account of sympathy and approbation in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS). First, Smith’s account of sympathy at the beginning of TMS appears to be inconsistent with the account of sympathy at the end of TMS. In particular, it seems that Smith did not appreciate the distinction between ‘self-oriented sympathy’ and ‘other-oriented sympathy’, that is, between imagining being oneself in the actor’s situation and imagining being the actor in the actor’s situation. Second, Smith’s (...) account of approbation, according to which a sentiment of approval arises when there is recognition of concordance between the spectator’s sympathetic passion and the actor’s original passion, seems to face the following problem: since the spectator attains both his own sympathetic passion and the actor’s original passion by sympathizing with the actor, the sympathetic passion of the spectator and the original passion of the actor will necessarily be identical. Therefore, Smith’s account of approbation requires that the spectator utilize both self-oriented and other-oriented sympathy (‘the double-sympathy model of approbation’). I offer a novel developmental account of sympathy in TMS that renders Smith’s account of sympathy consistent and allows for the utilization of the double-sympathy model of approbation. (shrink)
Physicians frequently ask whether they should give patients what they want, usually when there are considerations pointing against doing so, such as medicine’s values and physicians’ obligations. It has been argued that the source of medicine’s values and physicians’ obligations lies in what has been dubbed “the internal morality of medicine”: medicine is a practice with an end and norms that are definitive of this practice and that determine what physicians ought to do qua physicians. In this paper, I defend (...) the claim that medicine requires a morality that is internal to its practice, while rejecting the prevalent characterization of this morality and offering an alternative one. My approach to the internal morality of medicine is constructivist in nature: the norms of medicine are constructed by medical professionals, other professionals, and patients, given medicine’s end of “benefitting patients in need of prima facie medical treatment and care.” I make the case that patients should be involved in the construction of medicine’s morality not only because they have knowledge that is relevant to the internal morality of medicine—namely, their own values and preferences—but also because medicine is an inherently relational enterprise: in medicine the relationship between physician and patient is a constitutive component of the craft itself. The framework I propose provides an authoritative morality for medicine, while allowing for the incorporation, into that very morality, of qualified deference to patient values. (shrink)
The Humean Theory of Reasons, according to which all of our reasons for action are explained by our desires, has been criticized for not being able to account for “moral reasons,” namely, overriding reasons to act on moral demands regardless of one's desires. My aim in this paper is to utilize ideas from Adam Smith's moral philosophy in order to offer a novel and alternative account of moral reasons that is both desire-based and accommodating of an adequate version of the (...) requirement that moral demands have overriding reason-giving force. In particular, I argue that the standpoint of what Smith calls “the impartial spectator” can both determine what is morally appropriate and inappropriate and provide the basis for normative reasons for action—including reasons to act on moral demands—to nearly all reason-responsive agents and, furthermore, that these reasons have the correct weight. The upshot of the proposed account is that it offers an interesting middle road out of a dilemma pertaining to the explanatory and normative dimensions of reasons for informed-desire Humean theorists. (shrink)
Answers to the questions of what justifies conscientious objection in medicine in general and which specific objections should be respected have proven to be elusive. In this paper, I develop a new framework for conscientious objection in medicine that is based on the idea that conscience can express true moral claims. I draw on one of the historical roots, found in Adam Smith’s impartial spectator account, of the idea that an agent’s conscience can determine the correct moral norms, even if (...) the agent’s society has endorsed different norms. In particular, I argue that when a medical professional is reasoning from the standpoint of an impartial spectator, his or her claims of conscience are true, or at least approximate moral truth to the greatest degree possible for creatures like us, and should thus be respected. In addition to providing a justification for conscientious objection in medicine by appealing to the potential truth of the objection, the account advances the debate regarding the integrity and toleration justifications for conscientious objection, since the standard of the impartial spectator specifies the boundaries of legitimate appeals to moral integrity and toleration. The impartial spectator also provides a standpoint of shared deliberation and public reasons, from which a conscientious objector can make their case in terms that other people who adopt this standpoint can and should accept, thus offering a standard fitting to liberal democracies. (shrink)
I defend the feasibility of a medical conscience in the following sense: a medical professional can object to the prevailing medical norms because they are incorrect as medical norms. In other words, I provide an account of conscientious objection that makes use of the idea that the conscience can issue true normative claims, but the claims in question are claims about medical norms rather than about general moral norms. I further argue that in order for this line of reasoning to (...) succeed, there needs to be an internal morality of medicine that determines what medical professionals ought to do qua medical professionals. I utilize a constructivist approach to the internal morality of medicine and argue that medical professionals can conscientiously object to providing treatment X, if providing treatment X is not in accordance with norms that would have been constructed, in light of the end of medicine, by the appropriate agents under the appropriate conditions. (shrink)
Hoping to bring some objectivity to the debate, Ben-Moshe has argued that conscientious objection in medicine should be accommodated based on its concordance with the ‘impartial spectator’, a metaphor for conscience drawn from the writings of Adam Smith. This response finds fault with this account on two fronts: first, that its claim to objectivity is unsubstantiated; second, that it implicitly relies on moral absolutes, despite claiming that conscience is a social construct, thereby calling its coherence and claims into question. (...) Briefly, a traditional account of conscience is then described, before ending with a related thesis for future discussion. (shrink)
Inspired by Smith, Ben-Moshe suggests that we should only accommodate conscientious objections in medicine based on moral beliefs that are true, or which closely approximate to the truth. He suggests that we can identify moral truths by consulting our consciences when our consciences adopt the standpoint of an impartial spectator. He also suggests some changes to our current practices in regard to the management of CO in medicine that would be needed were his proposal to be adopted. Here, I (...) argue that both Smith and Ben-Moshe underestimate the difficulties involved in adopting the standpoint of an impartial spectator. In particular, both authors fail to recognise the extent to which cognitive bias and ideological commitments prevent many of us from identifying the standpoint of an impartial spectator and also prevent us from realising that we are failing to be impartial. I also consider some different changes to current practices that would be needed if we were to take on Ben-Moshe’s approach to CO in medicine while also recognising the difficulties involved in adopting the standpoint of an impartial spectator. (shrink)
In his paper ‘The truth behind conscientious objection’ Nir Ben-Moshe develops a new approach aimed at justifying conscientious objection without relying on respect of moral integrity of the conscientious objector or tolerance towards her moral views.1 According to Ben-Moshe, the problem with justifications of CO based on moral integrity and tolerance is that ‘truth of conscience’s claims is irrelevant to their justification’. He argues, to the contrary, that whether the claims of the conscientious objector are true or false (...) makes a difference in assessing whether their objection is justifiable or not. He goes on explaining that someone’s CO can be justified if it can be proved that ‘conscience can express true moral claims’. Ben-Moshe then proceeds to explain how one can determine true moral claims. He develops an account of conscience that is modelled on that of Adam Smith. In particular, he uses the idea of the ‘impartial spectator’ to show how a true claim of conscience can emerge after careful thinking from the point of view of an impartial perspective. So, if the healthcare practitioner wants to object to a certain medical procedure after considering the issue at hand from the moral standpoint of such impartial spectator, then her claims of conscience are true (or …. (shrink)
I shared Raanan Gillon’s1 surprise at Robert Veatch’s criticism of the white coat ceremonies,2 and I think that the points raised by Veatch were quite adequately countered by Gillon’s response. The provocative points raised by Veatch do stimulate some valuable critical thinking about the process, although I think Veatch was carried away a bit by hyperbole. To label the drama of the ceremony as “ominous” goes a bit far by any criterion.I should like to describe an oath taking initiation ceremony (...) in use at the Ben Gurion University Faculty of Health Sciences for almost three decades, its history, features, current practice, and conclusions. I believe that Veatch’s specific objections are addressed by our process and merit consideration by other institutions as well.When the medical school was founded in 1974 the then dean , Professor Moshe Prywes, met with the just entering class several weeks before the onset of the academic year during a summer preliminary orientation period . Professor Prywes, an imaginative, charismatic innovator with a flair for public relations and the dramatic, suggested to the entering class that they take the physician’s oath during the first weeks of the academic year, coinciding with their first exposure to patients . He explained that he wanted the students to regard themselves as already bearing responsibilities and duties, and not just rights. He saw them as “change agents” working to upgrade the medical care and the health of the patients and community, right from the first days of their schooling.I had just arrived in Israel as a new immigrant to assume the foundation professorship of medicine, coming from …. (shrink)
The Hebrew text On the Heavens and the World, ascribed to Ibn S, is an interesting and intriguing composition. It dates from the 13th century and was quite influential. It is not a translation of any text of Ibn S known to us, but is related to the Latin De celo et mundo, which appears in the 1508 Venice edition of translations of Ibn S. The Latin and Hebrew texts differ widely and the relation between them is far from being (...) clear. Both are in sixteen chapters, the titles of the chapters are the same, but the texts are only roughly similar. The Hebrew text often offers short, incomplete summaries of the Latin arguments. On the other hand it includes many passages which have no parallel in the Latin. There are two possible explanations of the perplexing relationship between the two texts: either that there was more than one version of the Latin text, or that the translator, Shlomo ben Moshe of Laguiri wrote a kind of paraphrase. The paper shows that the second explanation is correct and offers a preliminary study of the sources and the aims of the Hebrew text. (shrink)
This article takes a birds-eye view of equity in action, showcasing efforts to embed an equity lens in legislated and non-legislated policies and practices in three states. Authors from California, Colorado, and Minnesota provide state-specific examples of how equity has been advanced and operationalized in state-level governance. The article describes progress and lessons learned and offers guidance to others.
The publication of Moshe Idel’s book, Kabbalah: New Perspectives marks a turning point in the field of Jewish mysticism. In this volume, Moshe Idel offered phenomenology as an alternative key to appreciating the history and ideas of Jewish mystical traditions. This study returns to this book in order to assess and critique the meaning and function of phenomenology in his early scholarship, as a prelude to the developing and possibly changing methodologies that he has employed in numerous studies (...) published since the appearance of his now classic study. The study considers the connection between phenomenology and experience and its role within the multiple perspectives suggested in the volume. Moshe Idel’s methodology is thus appreciated within the larger context of his work, positioned within the history of scholarship in the field and serves as a measure of the turn to new perspectives. (shrink)
Ceea ce ne uneşte: istorii, biografii, idei. Sorin Antohi în dialog cu Moshe Idel (Those things that bind us: histories, biographies, ideas. Sorin Antohi in dialogue with Moshe Idel) Ed. Polirom, Iaşi, 2006.
Ancient Jewish law took a strict approach to medical relationships between Jews and non-Jews. Sages forbade Jews to provide non-Jews with medical services: to treat them, circumcise them, or deliver their babies, in order to refrain from helping pagan-idolatrous society. Such law created particularly severe social conflicts in cases of mixed societies based on joint systems. The current paper focuses on the attitude of Moses ben Maimon, a medieval Sephardic Jewish Rabbi towards providing medical service to gentiles. Following the classical (...) rabbis R. Moshe ben Maimon in his halakhic tome Mishne Torah, objected to treating non-Jews. His rigid attitude found expression in several aspects of helping and giving medical treatment to non-Jews. Despite the classical rabbinical restrictions on medical relationships between Jews and non-Jews, and his own rigid halakhic verdicts, Maimonides treated gentiles. According to one understanding, Maimonides cured Muslims for a wage, which is permitted. However, it seems that the main factor that may have facilitated Maimonides halakhic position is the identification of Islam as a non-idolatrous faith. Interestingly not only on medical issues did the Maimonides act differently than his halakhic rulings in Mishne Torah, rather in other areas as well. (shrink)
This text deals with Moshe Idel’s perspective on the connections between Maimonide’s philosophy and Abulafia’s esoteric thought. Idel analyses their thinking under the aspect of their appearance, inter-relation, and inner dynamics. Idel’s analysis reveals that Maimonide’s attempt to issue an esoteric book, one that would give back to Judaism a lost esoteric science, gave a particular impulse to the development of Jewish mysticism, and especially to the ecstatic Kabbalah. Maimonide attempted to transform philosophy into a mystic instrument of understanding (...) the secrets of the Torah. This fact determined Abulafia to re-signify the Maimonidean thought and to integrate it into a limit experience of “unio mystica”. In this context, several aspects concerning the arcanization and the super-arcanization of philosophical and mystical texts are discussed. (shrink)
The article discusses the contribution of Moshe Idel’s vast research to the field of religious studies. The terms which best capture his overall approach are “plurality” and “complexity”. As a result, Idel rejects essentialist definitions of “Judaism”, or any other religious tradition. The ensuing question is: to what extent does his approach allow for the characterization of Judaism as a singular phenomenon which can be differentiated from other religions? The answer seems to lie in Idel’s definition of the “connectivity” (...) between the human and the divine as a relationship which “underlies the basic notion of religion as such”. Opposing Rudolph Otto’s description of the holy as remote, Idel explains holiness in terms of closeness and connection. This reading of religion is supported by that of sociologist Daniéle Hervieu-Léger, who describes religious practice as constructing a “chain of memory” - a term which echoes with Idel’s analysis of Jewish ritual as the construction of “enchanted chains” of connectivity. Hervieu-Léger’s study points towards the possibility of regarding Judaism, as a family-centered tradition, as paradigmatic for traditional religion. Indeed, in recent studies, Idel describes the construction of memory through ritual practice as the most important means of shaping identity for all forms of traditional Judaism. The model of “chains of memory” can be located in classical Jewish texts, such as a much-quoted passage by Nahmanidies - the extremely important thirteenth-century Kabbalist and legal authority. This text describes Jewish rituals as maintaining continuity across generations. We see then that the notion of connectivity moves us closer to the concerns found in central Jewish texts, rather than imposing modern agenda on them. It can also be used to determine to what extent a given idea or practice is connected to the chain of connectivity constructed by a given tradition or is rather tangential to it. In this sense, it is a corrective to the danger of “dispersion” that is implicit in Idel’s focus on plurality and complexity. (shrink)
We investigate the connection between $\triangle^1_3$-stability for random and Cohen forcing notions and the measurability and categoricity of the $\triangle^1_3$-sets. We show that Shelah's model for $\triangle^1_3$-measurability and categoricity satisfies $\triangle^1_3$-random-stability while it does not satisfy $\triangle^1_3$-Cohen-stability. This gives an example of measure-category asymmetry. We also present a result concerning finite support iterations of Suslin forcing.