Ordinary judgments about personal identity are complicated by the fact that phrases like “same person” and “different person” have multiple uses in ordinary English. This complication calls into question the significance of recent experimental work on this topic. For example, Tobia (2015) found that judgments of personal identity were significantly affected by whether the moral change described in a vignette was for the better or for the worse, while Strohminger and Nichols (2014) found that loss of moral conscience had more (...) of an effect on identity judgments than loss of biographical memory. In each case, however, there are grounds for questioning whether the judgments elicited in these experiments engaged a concept of numerical personal identity at all (cf. Berniūnas and Dranseika 2016; Dranseika 2017; Starmans and Bloom 2018). In two pre-registered studies we validate this criticism while also showing a way to address it: instead of attempting to engage the concept of numerical identity through specialized language or the terms of an imaginary philosophical debate, we should consider instead how the identity of a person is described through the connected use of proper names, definite descriptions, and the personal pronouns “I”, “you”, “he”, and “she”. When the experiments above are revisited in this way, there is no evidence that the differences in question had an effect on ordinary identity judgments. (shrink)
This interdisciplinary new work explores one of the central theoretical problems in linguistics: learnability. The authors, from different backgrounds---linguistics, philosophy, computer science, psychology and cognitive science-explore the idea that language acquisition proceeds through general purpose learning mechanisms, an approach that is broadly empiricist both methodologically and psychologically. Written by four researchers in the full range of relevant fields: linguistics, psychology, computer science, and cognitive science, the book sheds light on the central problems of learnability and language, and traces their implications (...) for key questions of theoretical linguistics and the study of language acquisition. (shrink)
Responding to serious environmental problems, requires urgent and fundamental shifts in our day-to-day lifestyles. This paper employs a qualitative, cross-cultural approach to explore people’s subjective self-reflections on their experiences of pro-environmental behavioral spillover in three countries; Brazil, China, and Denmark. Behavioral spillover is an appealing yet elusive phenomenon, but offers a potential way of encouraging wider, voluntary lifestyle shifts beyond the scope of single behavior change interventions. Behavioral spillover theory proposes that engaging in one pro-environmental action can catalyze the performance (...) of others. To date, evidence for the phenomenon has been mixed, and the causal processes governing relationships between behaviors appear complex, inconsistent and only partly understood. This paper addresses a gap in the literature by investigating accounts of behavioral spillover in three diverse cultural settings using qualitative semi-structured interviews. The analysis shows that while around half of participants overall who were questioned recalled spillover effects, the other half had not consciously experienced spillover. There were few significant differences across cultures, though some forms of spillover effects were reported more in some cultures than others. More environmentally-engaged participants across all three countries were significantly more likely to experience spillover than those who were less engaged. Accounts of within-domain spillovers were most commonly reported, mainly comprising waste, resource conservation and consumption-related actions. Accounts of between-domain spillover were very rare. Recollection of contextual and interpersonal spillover effects also emerged from the interviews. Our findings suggest that more conscious behavioral spillover pathways may be limited to those with pre-existing environmental values. Behavioral spillover may comprise multiple pathways incorporating conscious and unconscious processes. We conclude that targeting behavioral catalysts that generate more socially diffuse spillover effects could offer more potential than conventional spillover involving a single individual. (shrink)
Müller argues that double dissociations do not imply underlying modularity of the cognitive system, citing neural networks as examples of fully distributed systems that can give rise to double dissociations. We challenge this claim, noting that suchdouble dissociations typically do not “scale-up,” and that even some singledissociations can be difficult to account for in a distributed system.
God is thought of as hidden in at least two ways. Firstly, God's reasons for permitting evil, particularly instances of horrendous evil, are often thought to be inscrutable or beyond our ken. Secondly, and perhaps more problematically, God's very existence and love or concern for us is often thought to be hidden from us (or, at least, from many of us on many occasions). But if we assume, as seems most plausible, that God's reasons for permitting evil will (in many, (...) if not most, instances) be impossible for us to comprehend, would we not expect a loving God to at least make his existence or love sufficiently clear to us so that we would know that there is some good, albeit inscrutable, reason why we (or others) are permitted to suffer? In this paper I examine John Hick's influential response to this question, a response predicated on the notion of 'epistemic distance': God must remain epistemically distant and hence hidden from us so as to preserve our free will. Commentators of Hick's work, however, disagree as to whether the kind of free will that is thought to be made possible by epistemic distance is the freedom to believe that God exists, or the freedom to choose between good and evil, or the freedom to enter into a personal relationship with God. I argue that it is only the last of these three varieties of free will that Hick has in mind. But this kind of freedom, I go on to argue, does not necessitate an epistemically distant God, and so the problem of divine hiddenness remains unsolved. . (shrink)
Edmundson has written an admirably concise yet powerful book. It blends a critical account of Rawls’ work with an original case for democratic socialism hewn from Rawlsian stone. In my opinion, this case has some flaws but it remains a timely contribution to the enduring quest for justice and social stability.
Can John Stuart Mill’s radicalism achieve liberal egalitarian ends? Joseph Persky’s The Political Economy of Progress is a provocative and compelling discussion of Mill’s economic thought. It is also a defense of radical political economy. Providing valuable historical context, Persky traces Mill’s intellectual journey as an outspoken proponent of laissez-faire to a cautious supporter of co-operative socialism. I propose two problems with Persky’s optimistic take on radical social reform. First, demands for substantive equality have led past radicals to endorse exclusionary (...) nationalist and eugenics policies. It pushes some contemporary radicals towards illiberal interventions into intimate social life. Second, the radical critique of capitalism relies on an account of profit that neglects the epistemic function of private-property markets. Once this is acknowledged, capitalism retains some progressive credentials against radical alternatives. (shrink)
Although consumers are increasingly engaged with ethical factors when forming opinions about products and making purchase decisions, recent studies have highlighted significant differences between consumers' intentions to consume ethically, and their actual purchase behaviour. This article contributes to an understanding of this 'Ethical Purchasing Gap' through a review of existing literature, and the inductive analysis of focus group discussions. A model is suggested which includes exogenous variables such as moral maturity and age which have been well covered in the literature, (...) together with further impeding factors identified from the focus group discussions. For some consumers, inertia in purchasing behaviour was such that the decision-making process was devoid of ethical considerations. Several consumers manifested their ethical views through post-purchase dissonance and retrospective feelings of guilt. Others displayed a reluctance to consume ethically due to personal constraints, a perceived negative impact on image or quality, or an outright negation of responsibility. Those who expressed a desire to consume ethically often seemed deterred by cynicism, which caused them to question the impact they, as an individual, could achieve. These findings enhance the understanding of ethical consumption decisions and provide a platform for future research in this area. (shrink)
Peer review is a widely accepted instrument for raising the quality of science. Peer review limits the enormous unstructured influx of information and the sheer amount of dubious data, which in its absence would plunge science into chaos. In particular, peer review offers the benefit of eliminating papers that suffer from poor craftsmanship or methodological shortcomings, especially in the experimental sciences. However, we believe that peer review is not always appropriate for the evaluation of controversial hypothetical science. We argue that (...) the process of peer review can be prone to bias towards ideas that affirm the prior convictions of reviewers and against innovation and radical new ideas. Innovative hypotheses are thus highly vulnerable to being “filtered out” or made to accord with conventional wisdom by the peer review process. Consequently, having introduced peer review, the Elsevier journal Medical Hypotheses may be unable to continue its tradition as a radical journal allowing discussion of improbable or unconventional ideas. Hence we conclude by asking the publisher to consider re-introducing the system of editorial review to Medical Hypotheses. (shrink)
In this article John Merrill, a long-time observer of the journalistic scene and author/co-author of more than two-dozen books, picks the brain of Niccolo Machiavelli, who, if he had been asked, might have had some interesting observations about the ethics of journalism.
Previous research has suggested that offspring sex ratio may be influenced by the actions of prenatal sex steroids, principally androgens. The relative length of the second (index finger) to the fourth digit (ring finger) has been reported to be a proxy to prenatal testosterone levels. This trait is sexually dimorphic, such that males display a significantly lower 2D:4D ratio (indicating higher testosterone exposure), and this dimorphism appears robust across different populations. We suggest that digit ratio (2D:4D) may form a useful (...) marker to help explain variation in sex ratio and sociosexuality. (shrink)
To adequately deal with unpredictable and dynamic environments, normative frameworks typically deployed in mechanisms for modifying the norms at runtime are crucial. We present the syntax and operational semantics of programming constructs to facilitate runtime norm modification, allowing a programmer to specify when and how the norms may be changed by external agents or by the normative mechanism. The norms take on the form of conditional obligations and prohibitions, instantiating obligations and prohibitions. We present rule-based constructs for runtime modification of (...) the norms and their instances, and a mechanism for automatically updating the instances when their underlying norms change. Moreover, we investigate a mechanism for avoiding norm conflicts. (shrink)
Abstract: In this article we introduce an input-oriented democratic innovation – that we term ‘TaxTrack’ – which offers individual taxpayers the means to engage with their political economies in three ways. After joining the TaxTrack program, an individual can: (1) see and understand how much, and what types, of taxes they have contributed, (2) see and understand how their tax contributions are, or have been, used, and (3) control what their tax contributions can, or cannot, be spent on. We explain (...) this democratic innovation in two ways. The first is through evocation to prefigure what the innovation could look like in future practise which raises the prospects for both good and problematic outcomes. The second is through formal theory to produce a detailed model of the innovation to assist theory building. We conclude by discussing three interactive outcomes of ‘TaxTrack’ through the democratic innovations literature to establish the beginnings of a theory for the model. This theory tells us that ‘TaxTrack’ can return benefits to its users and the democratic regimes in which they are located but it may also place restrictions on output-oriented innovations like Participatory Budgeting. (shrink)
The Repugnant Conclusion served an important purpose in catalyzing and inspiring the pioneering stage of population ethics research. We believe, however, that the Repugnant Conclusion now receives too much focus. Avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion should no longer be the central goal driving population ethics research, despite its importance to the fundamental accomplishments of the existing literature.
Articulation and defense of Pragmatism against epistemic critiques leveled by historian John Patrick Diggins. -/- Argues that the inferential structure of pragmatist epistemic authority is misunderstood by Diggins and by other critics. -/- Defends both classical and neo-pragmatist naturalism via inferentialism.
We report the results of a dual-task study in which participants performed a tracking and typing task under various experimental conditions. An objective payoff function was used to provide explicit feedback on how participants should trade off performance between the tasks. Results show that participants’ dual-task interleaving strategy was sensitive to changes in the difficulty of the tracking task and resulted in differences in overall task performance. To test the hypothesis that people select strategies that maximize payoff, a Cognitively Bounded (...) Rational Analysis model was developed. This analysis evaluated a variety of dual-task interleaving strategies to identify the optimal strategy for maximizing payoff in each condition. The model predicts that the region of optimum performance is different between experimental conditions. The correspondence between human data and the prediction of the optimal strategy is found to be remarkably high across a number of performance measures. This suggests that participants were honing their behavior to maximize payoff. Limitations are discussed. (shrink)
Abductive reasoning is central to reconstructing the past in the geosciences. This paper outlines the nature of the abductive method and restates it in Bayesian terms. Evidence plays a key role in this working method and, in particular, traces of the past are important in this explanatory framework. Traces, whether singularly or as groups, are interpreted within the context of the event for which they have evidential claims. Traces are not considered as independent entities but rather as inter-related pieces of (...) information concerning the likelihood of specific events. Exemplification of the use of such traces is provided by dissecting an example of their use in the environmental reconstruction of mountain climate. (shrink)
Despite its impact on public administration, policy development, education, philosophy and politics, American pragmatism has made a relatively small impression on the social sciences. In particular, American pragmatism has seldom influenced feminism, which is remarkable given the potentially striking affinities between these two disciplines. Drawing upon the pragmatist philosophy of John Dewey and the work of feminists who support a pragmatist approach to the study of gender, this article discusses the chequered history of relations between the two disciplines. It also (...) focuses on the methodological possibilities of establishing a pragmatist-feminist position. Taking ethnography as a means to illustrate our ideas, we suggest that a pragmatist-feminist ethnography can help social scientists to rethink theory in terms of its practical application, articulate the value of an anti-foundational view of knowledge and promote investigating people's concrete experiences for understanding gender inequalities. (shrink)
Historically, American political science has rarely engaged popular culture as a central topic of study, despite the domain’s outsized influence in American community life. This article argues that this marginalization is, in part, the by-product of long-standing disciplinary debates over the inadequate political development of the American public. To develop this argument, the article first surveys the work of early political scientists, such as John Burgess and Woodrow Wilson, to show that their reformist ambitions largely precluded discussion of mundane activities (...) of social life such as popular culture. It then turns to Harold Lasswell, who produced some of the first investigations of popular culture in American political science. Ironically, however, his work – and the work of those who adapted similar ways of speaking about popular culture after him – only reinforced skepticisms concerning the American public. It has thus helped keep the topic on the margins of disciplinary discourse. (shrink)
Human enhancement has emerged in recent years as a blossoming topic in applied ethics. With continuing advances in science and technology, people are beginning to realize that some of the basic parameters of the human condition might be changed in the future. One important way in which the human condition could be changed is through the enhancement of basic human capacities. If this becomes feasible within the lifespan of many people alive today, then it is important now to consider the (...) normative questions raised by such prospects. The answers to these questions might not only help us be better prepared when technology catches up with imagination, but they may be relevant to many decisions we make today, such as decisions about how much funding to give to various kinds of research. Enhancement is typically contraposed to therapy. In broad terms, therapy aims to fix something that has gone wrong, by curing specific diseases or injuries, while enhancement interventions aim to improve the state of an organism beyond its normal healthy state. However, the distinction between therapy and enhancement is problematic, for several reasons. First, we may note that the therapy-enhancement dichotomy does not map onto any corresponding dichotomy between standard-contemporary-medicine and medicineas-it-could-be-practised-in-the-future. Standard contemporary medicine includes many practices that do not aim to cure diseases or injuries. It includes, for example, preventive medicine, palliative care, obstetrics, sports medicine, plastic surgery, contraceptive devices, fertility treatments, cosmetic dental procedures, and much else. At the same time, many enhancement interventions occur outside of the medical framework. Office workers enhance their performance by drinking coffee. Make-up and grooming are used to enhance appearance. Exercise, meditation, fish oil, and St John’s Wort are used to enhance mood. Second, it is unclear how to classify interventions that reduce the probability of disease and death.. (shrink)
Before COVID-19, dementia singing groups and choirs flourished, providing activity, cognitive stimulation, and social support for thousands of people with dementia in the UK. Interactive music provides one of the most effective psychosocial interventions for people with dementia; it can allay agitation and promote wellbeing. Since COVID-19 has halted the delivery of in-person musical activities, it is important for the welfare of people with dementia and their carers to investigate what alternatives to live music making exist, how these alternatives are (...) delivered and how their accessibility can be expanded. This community case study examines recent practice in online music-making in response to COVID-19 restrictions for people with dementia and their supporters, focusing on a UK context. It documents current opportunities for digital music making, and assesses the barriers and facilitators to their delivery and accessibility. Online searches of video streaming sites and social media documented what music activities were available. Expert practitioners and providers collaborated on this study and supplied input about the sessions they had been delivering, the technological challenges and solutions they had found, and the responses of the participants. Recommendations for best practice were developed and refined in consultation with these collaborators. Over 50 examples of online music activities were identified. In addition to the challenges of digital inclusion and accessibility for some older people, delivering live music online has unique challenges due to audio latency and sound quality. It is necessary to adapt the session to the technology's limitations rather than expect to overcome these challenges. The recommendations highlight the importance of accessibility, digital safety and wellbeing of participants. They also suggest ways to optimize the quality of their musical experience. The pandemic has prompted innovative approaches to deliver activities and interventions in a digital format, and people with dementia and their carers have adapted rapidly. While online music is meeting a clear current need for social connection and cognitive stimulation, it also offers some advantages which remain relevant after COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. The recommendations of this study are intended to be useful to musicians, dementia care practitioners, and researchers during the pandemic and beyond. (shrink)
John Dewey's ideas on politics derive from his epistemology of inquiry as practical problem-solving. Dewey's philosophy is important for democratic theory because it emphasizes deliberation through questioning. However, Dewey's philosophy shares with positivism the same conception of answering as exclusively the dissolution of questions. While Dewey's ideas are distinct from positivism in important respects, he rejects a constitutive role for questioning by constructing knowledge as problem-solving via experience. The problem-solving ideal lends itself to a scientific conception of politics. Applying Michel (...) Meyer's philosophy of questioning, problematology, to Dewey's logic, reveals that Dewey's theory of inquiry is itself the product of an inquiry, confirming that questioning plays a constitutive role in knowledge. This suggests a problematological reconstruction of knowledge which extends Dewey's ideas by affirming an enhanced status for questioning. Grounding knowledge in the principle of questioning provides the basis for extending the rhetorical analysis of politics. (shrink)
This article seeks to identify, theoretically,some broad ethical issues about the type ofspace which the Internet is becoming, issueswhich are closely linked to developing newagendas for empirical research into Internetuse. It seeks to move away from the concept of''digital divide'' which has dominated debate inthis area while presuming a rather staticnotion of the space which the Internet is, orcould become. Instead, it draws on deliberativedemocracy theory in general and John Dryzek''sconcept of ''discursive design'' in particular toformulate six types of issue (...) (Convergence, WhoConverges?, Deliberation, Public Action,Relations to the State, and Long-term Patternsof Practice) around which both empiricalresearch and ethical debate can focus, andwhich taken together will help answer whetherthe Internet is, or can be, in part a''discursive design'' which contributes to theconditions of democratic public life. (shrink)
How is the philosophical study of religion best pursued? Responses to this meta-philosophical question tend to recapitulate the analytic-Continental divide in philosophy in general. My aim is to examine the nature of this divide, particularly as it has manifested itself in the philosophy of religion. I begin with a comparison of the stylistic differences in the language of the two traditions, taking the work of Alvin Plantinga and John Caputo as exemplars of the analytic and Continental schools respectively. In order (...) to account for these stylistic divergences, however, it is necessary to delve further into meta-philosophy. I go on to show how each philosophical school models itself on different theoretical practices, the analytic school mimicking the scientific style of inquiry, while in Continental philosophy it is the arts and humanities rather than the sciences that provide the model for philosophical discourse. By situating themselves in such different genres, analytic and Continental philosophers have developed contrasting, if not mutually exclusive, methods for pursuing the philosophy of religion. (shrink)