John Broome argues that fairness requires that claims are satisfied in proportion to their strength. Broome holds that, when distributing indivisible goods, fairness requires the use of weighted lotteries as a surrogate to satisfy proportionally each candidate's claims. In this article, we present two arguments against Broome's account of fairness. First, we argue that it is almost impossible to calculate the weights of the lotteries in accordance with the requirements of fairness. Second, we argue that Broome rules out those methods (...) whose use might provide some resolution to this problem. From these arguments, we conclude that, contra Broome, fairness does not require the proportional satisfaction of claims. (shrink)
We surveyed 1005 postdoctoral fellows by questionnaire about ethical matters related to biomedical research and publishing; 33% responded. About 18% of respondents said they had taken a course in research ethics, and about 31% said they had had a course that devoted some time to research ethics. A substantial majority stated willingness to grant other investigators, except competitors, access to their data before publication and to share research materials. Respondents’ opinions about contributions justifying authorship of research papers were mainly consistent (...) but at variance with those of many biomedical journal editors. More than half said they had observed what they considered unethical research practices. To increase the chances of getting a grant funded, 27% said they were willing to select or omit data to improve their results; to make publication of their work more likely or to benefit their career, 15% would select or omit data and 32% would list an undeserving author. Of respondents who thought they had been unfairly denied authorship on a paper, or been listed with or asked to list an undeserving author, 75% said they would be willing to list an undeserving author (P<0.001). Having taken a course dealing with research ethics had no effect on stated willingness to select or omit data or to fabricate data in the future, but was positively associated with willingness to grant undeserved authorship (P<0.04). Although these results do not controvert research demonstrating the effectiveness of ethics courses during professional education, they indicate that the research environment is a powerful component of a trainee’s experience and ethical development. (shrink)
A substantial body of research has established that even when we are not consciously aware of the faces of others we are nevertheless sensitive to, and impacted by their facial expression. In this paper, we consider this body of research from a new perspective by examining the functions of unconscious perception revealed by these studies. A consideration of the literature from this perspective highlights that existing research methods are limited when it comes to revealing possible functions of unconscious perception. The (...) critical shortcoming is that in all of the methods, the perceived facial expression remains outside of awareness. This is a problem because there are good reasons to believe that one important function of unconsciously perceived negative faces is to attract attention so that they are consciously perceived; such conscious perception, however, is never allowed with existing methodologies. We discuss recent studies of emotional face perception under conditions of visual search that address this issue directly. Further, we suggest that methodologies that do not examine cognitive processes as they occur in more natural settings may result in fundamental misunderstandings of human cognition. (shrink)
John Broome has proposed a theory of fairness according to which fairness requires that agents’ claims to goods be satisfied in proportion to the relative strength of those claims. In the case of competing claims for a single indivisible good, Broome argues that what fairness requires is the use of a weighted lottery as a surrogate to satisfying the competing claims: the relative chance of each claimant's winning the lottery should be set to the relative strength of each claimant's claim. (...) In this journal, James Kirkpatrick and NickEastwood have objected that the use of weighted lotteries in the case of indivisible goods is unacceptable. In this article, I explain why Kirkpatrick and Eastwood's objection misses its mark. (shrink)
Studies of change detection suggest that people tend to overestimate their ability to detect visual changes. In a recent laboratory study of change detection and human intention, Beck et al., found that individuals have an inadequate understanding that intention can improve change detection performance and that its importance increases with scene complexity. We note that these findings may be specific to unfamiliar situations such as those generated routinely in studies of change detection. In two questionnaire studies, we demonstrate that when (...) participants consider real world scenarios such as driving, people are well aware that the intention to detect changes improves detection performance, especially in complex scenes. We suggest several reasons why change detection findings like Beck et al.’s do not generalize to real world situations. More broadly, we suggest a possible way to bridge the gap between lab and life. (shrink)
Erdelyi argues persuasively for his unified theory of repression. Beyond this, what can studying repression bring to our understanding of other aspects of emotional function? Here we consider ways in which work on repression might inform the study of, on one hand, emotional memory, and on the other, the emotional numbing seen in patients with chronic persistent depersonalization symptoms.
Studies of change blindness indicate that more intentional monitoring of changes is necessary to successfully detect changes as scene complexity increases. However, there have been conflicting reports as to whether people are aware of this relation between intention and successful change detection as scene complexity increases. Here we continue our dialogue with [Beck, M. R., Levin, D. T., & Angelone, B. . Change blindness blindness: Beliefs about the roles of intention and scene complexity in change detection. Consciousness and Cognition, 16, (...) 31–51; Beck, M. R., Levin, D. T., & Angelone, B. . Metacognitive errors in change detection: Lab and life converge. Consciousness and Cognition, 16, 58–62] by reporting two experiments that show participants do in fact intuit that more intentional monitoring is needed to detect changes as scene complexity increases. We also discuss how this dialogue illustrates the need for psychological studies to be grounded in measurements taken from real world situations rather than laboratory experiments or questionnaires. (shrink)
I ask four questions: (1) Why should we think that our hominid ancestor's predation is not just a causal influence but the main causal factor responsible for human cruelty? (2) Why not think of human cruelty as a necessary part of a syndrome in which other phenomena are necessarily involved? (3) What definitions of cruelty does Nell propose that we operate with? And (4) what about the meaning of cruelty for human beings?
Max Weber 's understanding of the role of people's interests in determining their behavior has been widely misunderstood, because of a misinterpretation of a famous passage in which he analogizes interests to railway?switchmen.? Contrary to this widespread view, Weber does not see material self?interest as the driving force behind human action. Rather, he distinguishes between material and?ideal? interests; emphasizes the latter; and, arguably, suggests that even the former are, to a great extent, culturally constructed, not least because they rely on (...) ideas about the way the world is. It is almost fair to say, then, that the notion that Weber reduces ideas to interests has things completely backwards. (shrink)
One of the more interesting developments in recent historical writing has been a reconsideration of the debates over poor law reform. In the sharply-demarcated world of post-war scholarship, the poor law fell clearly, if somewhat problematically, into the domain of social history. For obvious contemporary reasons, post-war social history devoted a good deal of scholarly energy to constructing a history of social policy. Much of this work was problematized in terms of the then orthodox agenda of the welfare state. The (...) dominant questions concerned modes of assessing entitlements, mechanisms for delivering welfare, and the bureaucratic characteristics of the old and new poor laws. Despite its considerable empirical merits, this kind of social history was inhibited by its methodological and problematic certainties. To a large extent this was a social history which defined itself against traditional political history, offering a narrative of social policy formation which, whilst not eliminating political processes from its account, tended to marginalize their normative significance. One extreme formulation was Sydney Checkland's ‘socially innocent state’. Here the loss of ‘social innocence’ on the part of the British state is evaluated directly in terms of its willingness to develop the kind of social agenda and administrative machinery characteristic of modern wellfarism. For Checkland in particular, social policy was conceived almost exclusively in terms of state-driven programmes of ‘social improvement’. The old poor law, with its pattern of local management, discretionary administration, and paternalist social vision flatly contracted the statutorily-articulated welfarism which Checkland took to be axiomatic to a coherently-conceived social policy. In terms of statutory authority and administrative machinery, Checkland saw the new poor law as a critical move towards a more coherently-constructed state social policy. (shrink)
No one before Platter and Kepler proposed retinal reception of an inverted visual image. The dominant tradition in visual theory, especially that of Alhazen and his Western followers, subordinated the intra-ocular geometry of visual rays to the requirement for an upright image and to preconceptions about the precise nature of the visual spirit and its part in vision. Henry of Langenstein and an anonymous glossator in the late Middle Ages proposed alternatives to Alhazen, including the suggestion of double inversion of (...) the image. Leonardo da Vinci was aware of both Alhazen's theory and Henry's contradiction, but perhaps not of the anonymous hypothesis of double inversion. Leonardo's visual ‘theory’ has more the character of a critique than of a theoretical alternative, and he did not transcend the medieval concept of visual spirit. (shrink)
For over a decade, managed care has profoundly altered how healthcare is delivered in the United States. There have been concerns that the patient-physician relationship may be undermined by various aspects of managed care, such as restrictions on physician choice, productivity requirements that limit the time physicians may spend with patients, and the use of compensation formulas that reward physicians for healthcare dollars not spent. We have previously published data on the effects of managed care on the physician-patient relationship from (...) the physician's perspective. In 1999, we collected data on the impact of managed care arrangements on the physician-patient relationship from the patient's perspective. This article discusses our collective findings. (shrink)
‘William L. Rowe on Philosophy of Religion’ edited by Nick Trakakis, collects 30 papers of William Rowe's important work in the philosophy of religion. I review this collection, and offer an objection of one of Rowe's arguments.
In this exchange, Peter Coghlan and Nick Trakakis discuss the problem of natural evil in the light of the recent Asian tsunami disaster. The exchange begins with an extract from a newspaper article written by Coghlan on the tsunami, followed by three rounds of replies and counter-replies, and ending with some final comments from Trakakis. While critical of any attempt to show that human life is good overall despite its natural evils, Coghlan argues that instances of natural evil, even (...) horrific ones, can be justified as the unavoidable by-product of a natural system on which human life and culture depends. Trakakis, however, rejects this view, counselling instead a degree of skepticism about our ability to construct a plausible theodicy for horrific evil. (shrink)
With very advanced technology, a very large population of people living happy lives could be sustained in the accessible region of the universe. For every year that development of such technologies and colonization of the universe is delayed, there is therefore a corresponding opportunity cost: a potential good, lives worth living, is not being realized. Given some plausible assumptions, this cost is extremely large. However, the lesson for standard utilitarians is not that we ought to maximize the pace of technological (...) development, but rather that we ought to maximize its safety, i.e. the probability that colonization will eventually occur. This goal has such high utility that standard utilitarians ought to focus all their efforts on it. Utilitarians of a ‘person-affecting’ stripe should accept a modified version of this conclusion. Some mixed ethical views, which combine utilitarian considerations with other criteria, will also be committed to a similar bottom line. (shrink)
In this article, I propose a new model for understanding the function of representation in bioethics. Bioethicists have traditionally judged representations according to a mimetic paradigm, in which representations of bioethical dilemmas are assessed based on their correspondence to the “reality” of bioethics itself. In this article, I argue that this mimetic paradigm obscures the interaction between representation and reality and diverts bioethicists from analyzing the tensions in the representational object itself. I propose an anti-mimetic model of representation that is (...) attuned to how representations can both maintain and potentially subvert dominant conceptions of bioethics. I illustrate this model through a case study of Clint Eastwood’s film Million Dollar Baby. By focusing attention on the film’s lack of adherence bioethical procedures and medical science, critics missed how an analysis of its representational logic provides a means of reimagining both bioethics and medical practice. In my conclusion, I build off this case study to assess how an incorporation of representational studies can deepen—and be deepened by—recent calls for interdisciplinarity in bioethics. (shrink)
Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek, and Graham Harman (eds): The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s10746-012-9218-0 Authors Geoff Pfeifer, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, USA Journal Human Studies Online ISSN 1572-851X Print ISSN 0163-8548.
This essay critically comments on Contingent Future Persons (1997), an anthology of thirteen papers on the same topic as Obligations to Future Generations (1978), namely, the morality of decisions affecting the existence, number and identity of future persons. In my discussion, I identify the basic point of dispute between R. M. Hare and Michael Lockwood on potentiality; I criticize Nick Fotion's thesis that the Repugnant Conclusion is too far-fetched to be philosophically valuable; I object to Clark Wolf's "Impure Consequentialist (...) Theory of Obligation"; and I discuss the Non-Identity Problem in connection with essays by Robert Elliot and Ingmar Persson. (shrink)
Few philosophers have published at the impressively prolific rate that Roger Scruton has. Of the forty-two books by Scruton listed in a special bibliography at the end of Scruton’s Aesthetics, no fewer than nine of them have been devoted to topics in aesthetics. The present volume, edited by Andy Hamilton and Nick Zangwill, arises out of a 2008 conference devoted to Scruton’s seminal work in this field. While sympathetic in tone, the majority of the essays critically engage with Scruton’s (...) views on a number of topics in aesthetics, with particular attention devoted to issues of music and of architecture. Although Scruton’s frequently discussed and sometimes provocative views will be familiar to most readers, the contributions to this volume manage well in reconstructing enough of the background to be intelligible to the reader not already well-versed in Scruton’s wide-ranging body of work. (shrink)