The question of whether AI systems such as robots can or should be afforded moral agency or patiency is not one amenable either to discovery or simple reasoning, because we as societies constantly reconstruct our artefacts, including our ethical systems. Consequently, the place of AI systems in society is a matter of normative, not descriptive ethics. Here I start from a functionalist assumption, that ethics is the set of behaviour that maintains a society. This assumption allows me to exploit the (...) theoretical biology of sociality and autonomy to explain our moral intuitions. From this grounding I extend to consider possible ethics for maintaining either human- or of artefact-centred societies. I conclude that while constructing AI systems as either moral agents or patients is possible, neither is desirable. In particular, I argue that we are unlikely to construct a coherent ethics in which it it is ethical to afford AI moral subjectivity. We are therefore obliged not to build AI we are obliged to. (shrink)
There are significant challenges to developing a neo-Aristotelian account of a virtue of patience. First, on an Aristotelian understanding, virtue is both instrumentally good and good in itself. Yet exclusively instrumental views of patience are pervasive in the philosophical literature. Furthermore, these instrumental views present patience as more like a psychological skill than a virtue of character. Skills, however, can be misused. If patience is to be a virtue, its account must entail goodness in its possessor. (...) Finally, there is the challenge of specifying a field, or sphere of concern, for patience, given the diversity of phenomena that we tend to attribute to it. I propose a thin account of a virtue of patience that, I contend, can meet these challenges. (shrink)
Many contemporary eudaimonists emphasize the role of agency in the good life. Mark LeBar, for example, characterizes his own eudaimonist view this way: “It is agentist, not patientist, because it emphasizes that our lives go well in virtue of what we do, rather than what happens, to us or otherwise”. Nicholas Wolterstorff, however, has argued that this prioritizing of agency over patiency is a fatal flaw in eudaimonist accounts of well-being. Eudaimonism must be rejected, Wolterstorff argues, because many life-goods are (...) “passivities” that are out of a person’s hands, including how she is treated by others. In this paper, I defend eudaimonism against this passivities objection. I argue that eudaimonism can maintain its agentist character while also capturing the element of truth in the passivities objection—namely, that human well-being is vulnerable and social. I also argue that eudaimonists should avail themselves of the notion of receptivity to capture important aspects of the good life. (shrink)
I offer a Buddhist-inspired account of how patience can count as a moral virtue, arguing that virtuous patience involves having a perspective on the place of our own desires and values among others and a sense of their relative importance.
In On Patience, Matthew Pianalto explores the multiple aspects of patience and the relationship of patience to other virtues such as courage, love, and wisdom. Drawing from a wide range of sources and traditions, Pianalto develops a picture of this foundational virtue, according to which we can never be too patient.
This paper adds another argument to the rising tide of panic about robots and AI. The argument is intended to have broad civilization-level significance, but to involve less fanciful speculation about the likely future intelligence of machines than is common among many AI-doomsayers. The argument claims that the rise of the robots will create a crisis of moral patiency. That is to say, it will reduce the ability and willingness of humans to act in the world as responsible moral agents, (...) and thereby reduce them to moral patients. Since that ability and willingness is central to the value system in modern liberal democratic states, the crisis of moral patiency has a broad civilization-level significance: it threatens something that is foundational to and presupposed in much contemporary moral and political discourse. I defend this argument in three parts. I start with a brief analysis of an analogous argument made in pop culture. Though those arguments turn out to be hyperbolic and satirical, they do prove instructive as they illustrates a way in which the rise of robots could impact upon civilization, even when the robots themselves are neither malicious nor powerful enough to bring about our doom. I then introduce the argument from the crisis of moral patiency, defend its main premises and address objections. (shrink)
Suppose your friends had to ascribe a single vice to you in large measure, along with any virtues that could be coherently combined with that salient vice. Suppose further that the vice had to be either cowardice or impatience. Which would you choose? I believe almost everyone would choose impatience without hesitation. There are sound moral as well as purely self-regarding reasons for despising cowardice, and to that extent our preference would be reasonable. If we say that a man who (...) is a coward is also compassionate, we know that his compassion cannot be relied upon in any circumstances where it must contend with fear, and if he has a sense of justice, that will be useless if oppression has to be resisted. We cannot even expect him to pursue his own good whenever he perceives that to be hazardous, and so even the self-regarding virtues are corrupted by his dominating vice. On the other hand, a pronounced impatience may seem to be compossible with abundant virtue. Those who are just but cannot patiently endure tyranny are perhaps the most formidable threat to tyranny, and people who boldly go out to seize their own good often fare rather better than those who patiently await its arrival. (shrink)
This paper examines Kierkegaard 's discussion of patience in some of his Upbuilding Discourses, and its connection with his understanding of the nature of selfhood as it appears both in the Discourses and in The Sickness unto Death. That understanding stresses that selfhood is not simply given, but is a task to be achieved—although a task that can only be achieved by the self that is formed in the process of undertaking it. For Kierkegaard, an account of the self (...) that recognizes its essential temporality must give a crucial role to patience as a virtue necessary for the formation and maintenance of personal identity. However, although the self is essentially temporal for Kierkegaard, it is also essentially such as to participate in eternity, and this complexity and tension in his concept of the self gives his understanding of patience a particular character—one that presents an important challenge to some of the dominant assumptions of recent and contemporary philosophy in both the analytic and the continental traditions. (shrink)
This paper presents Anthony Steinbock's broad theory of moral emotions and specifically the distinction he draws between the temporal orientation and the temporal meaning of emotions. The latter distinction is used in order to provide phenomenological descriptions of, and distinctions between, patience and impatience. The paper takes leading clues from Steinbock’s work in an effort to “do” phenomenology in a way that clarifies these specific natural attitude intentionalities.
Reciprocal altruism involves foregoing an immediate benefit for the sake of a greater long-term reward. It follows that individuals who exhibit a stronger preference for future over immediate rewards should be more disposed to engage in reciprocal altruism – in other words, ‘patient’ people should be more cooperative. The present study tested this prediction by investigating whether participants’ contributions in a public-good game correlated with their ‘discount rate’. The hypothesis was supported: patient people are indeed more cooperative. The paper discusses (...) alternative interpretations of this result, and makes some suggestions for future research. (shrink)
In contemporary society nothing upsets us more than having to wait for our bodies. Our bodies serve us as we direct and when they break down we become angry that they have failed us. Christians, however, are called to be a patient people even in illness. Indeed, impatience is a sin. Learning to be patient when sick requires practicing patience while healthy. First, we must learn that our bodies are finite — they will die. Second, we must learn to (...) live with one another in patience as Christians with the love that the presence of others can and does create in us. Third, in life there is time for the acquisition of habits that come from worthy activities that require time and force us to take first one step and then another. In patience one can live with God. (shrink)
In this paper I provide an exposition and critique of the Organic View of Ethical Status, as outlined by Torrance (2008). A key presupposition of this view is that only moral patients can be moral agents. It is claimed that because artificial agents lack sentience, they cannot be proper subjects of moral concern (i.e. moral patients). This account of moral standing in principle excludes machines from participating in our moral universe. I will argue that the Organic View operationalises anthropocentric intuitions (...) regarding sentience ascription, and by extension how we identify moral patients. The main difference between the argument I provide here and traditional arguments surrounding moral attributability is that I do not necessarily defend the view that internal states ground our ascriptions of moral patiency. This is in contrast to views such as those defended by Singer (1975, 2011) and Torrance (2008), where concepts such as sentience play starring roles. I will raise both conceptual and epistemic issues with regards to this sense of sentience. While this does not preclude the usage of sentience outright, it suggests that we should be more careful in our usage of internal mental states to ground our moral ascriptions. Following from this I suggest other avenues for further exploration into machine moral patiency which may not have the same shortcomings as the Organic View. (shrink)
ABSTRACTAccumulating evidence suggests that emotional information is often recognised faster than neutral information. Several studies examined the effects of valence and arousal on word recognition, but yielded partially diverging results. Here, we used two alternative versions of a constructive recognition paradigm in which a target word is hidden by a visual mask that gradually disappears, to investigate whether the emotional properties of words influence their speed of recognition. Participants were instructed either to classify the incrementally appearing word as emotional or (...) non-emotional or to decide whether the appearing letter string is an existing word or not. Results from both tasks revealed faster recognition times for high- compared to low-arousing words, and for positive compared to negative or neutral words. These findings indicate a recognition advantage for emotionally positive and highly arousing stimuli that persists even when visua... (shrink)
So-called ‘new materialism’ enables feminist theorists to emphasize the agential quality of matter, thereby challenging the notion that matter, particularly the biological body, is passive and inert – a notion that is gendered given the traditional association of passive matter with the feminine. While appreciating the materialist turn increasingly evident in feminist theory, Claire Colebrook warns feminist thinkers against an uncritical appeal to the vitalist tradition, which continues to privilege action, creativity and productivity over that materiality which remains unactualized potential. (...) After outlining the new materialist re-conception of matter, this paper considers the idea of a ‘passive vitalism’, which Colebrook develops in light of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's co-authored works. This paper shares Colebrook's contention that the new materialist emphasis on the agency of matter simply extends the model of the human person to the rest of nature. However, the final part of this paper begins to indicate how a theological materialism is able to affirm both the agency and patiency of matter in ways that challenge the view that the avowal of divine transcendence is inevitably opposed to the integrity of material immanence. (shrink)
Mobile health devices pose novel questions at the intersection of philosophy and technology. Many such applications not only collect sensitive data, but also aim at persuading users to change their lifestyle for the better. A major concern is that persuasion is paternalistic as it intentionally aims at changing the agent’s actions, chipping away at their autonomy. This worry roots in the philosophical conviction that perhaps the most salient feature of living autonomous lives is displayed via agency as opposed to patiency—our (...) lives go well in virtue of what we do, rather than what happens to us. Being persuaded by a device telling us how to conduct our lives seemingly renders the agent passive, an inert recipient of technological commands. This agential bias, however, has led to a marginalization of patiential characteristics that are just as much part of our lives as are agential characteristics. To appreciate the inherent interlocking of acting and being acted upon, it is vital to acknowledge that agency and patiency are correlates, not mutually exclusive opposites. Furthermore, it is unclear whether an action can only count as agential so long as its causes are internal. Drawing on the extended mind and extended will framework, I argue that mHealth applications merely serve as volitional aids to the agent’s internal cognition. Autonomously set goals can be achieved more effectively via technology. To be persuaded by an mHealth device does not mainly—let alone exclusively—emphasize patiency; on the contrary, it can be an effective tool for technologically enhancing agency. (shrink)
Mr. Agar in Homerica, Preface ix., has suggested that κακι γλνηι was the original reading, ‘Be off with the evil eye upon you.’ I have searched, but in vain, for any formula of imprecation corresponding to the formula of blessing, τύχγαθι, though I should like to see it in κακι τѵχι of the Treacherous Hound in Agamemnon 1230. Mr. T. C. Snow, objecting to Mr. Agar's alterations of the Homeric text, once suggested to me that we should rather retain the (...) vocative, and translate it, ‘Be off, evil eye.’ Others also may have thought of this, but it does not appear to have got into print. (shrink)
In New Testament times, Job was considered a model of “steadfastness.” Job persevered by looking ahead to God's salvation. New Testament authors similarly portrayed Jesus as one who stood fast in time of trial, even unto death, thereby breaking the power of sin and strengthening Christians to standfast in their own trials.
Alain Epp Weaver's analysis of the theological foundations of Augustine's proscription of all lies in all circumstances does more than improve our understanding of Augustine. In drawing a plausible and illuminating parallel between the theological logic of Augustine and the theological logic of John Howard Yoder, Weaver not only succeeds in defending the credibility of Christian pacifism but also provides support for interpreting Yoder as a biblical realist. Moreover, the divergence between Weaver and Christopher Kirwan in their critical assessments of (...) the cogency of Augustine's treatment of lying serves to throw into relief the differences between secular philosophical ethics and theological ethics, incidentally suggesting why it is often difficult for twentieth-century thinkers to understand and evaluate premodern texts. (shrink)
Four centuries ago, Christian moral theologians addressed the issue of dying by turning to scripture and the virtues. This work revives that tradition by showing that careful theological reflection upon the nature of Christian patience, compassion, and hope illuminates the shape of the Good Death. The author draws upon Luke's passion narrative to develop a better understanding of these virtues. He also takes up the question of whether Jesus' death can be a model of dying well for contemporary Christians. (...) Christians are often advised to look to Jesus in his dying as a model for themselves, but this recommendation typically leaves unanswered what exactly it is about Jesus' dying that is to be imitated. The understanding of patience, compassion, and hope developed here provides a means of sorting through this issue. (shrink)
The distinction between acting and suffering underlies any theory of agency. Among contemporary writers, Fred Dretske is one of the few who has attempted to explicate this distinction without restricting the notion of action to intentional action alone. Aristotle also developed a global account of agency, one which is deeper and more detailed than Dretske's, and it is to Aristotle's account (with some modifications) that the bulk of this paper is devoted. Dretske's sketchier theory faces at least two ground-level problems. (...) It is shown in the course of the paper how these can be handled by the Aristotelian account, in a way which is friendly to Dretske's approach. (shrink)
Christians have historically differed as to whether the wrongness of an act is to be located in the objective character of the act or in the intention of the agent. By blurring this distinction, Alain Epp Weaver fails to see the real principle of consistency that unites Augustine's analyses of warfare and lying. Likewise, by not appreciating the fact that Augustine analyzes the wrongness of the act in terms of intention whereas Yoder analyzes its wrongness in terms of its objective (...) character, Weaver proposes a conversation between two figures who lack the framework of shared assumptions that makes engagement in conversation possible. (shrink)
The concept of patience describes a person's ability to make prolonged efforts towards future goals, and his or her ability to consider long-term future consequences. Clearly, patience is a capacity that comes by degrees. On the following pages, a person will be said to be patient to the extent that his actions are motivated by future consequences. Hence, a person is not patient if he has the ability to see long-term consequences, while being unable to take these consequences (...) into consideration when he decides how to act. (shrink)
The paper considers the definition and characteristics of concept within the main aspects of its study, in particular, epistemological, philosophical, linguocultural, cognitive and psycholinguistic. The experience of working out the various approaches to the interpretation and formation of the concept is reflected. Patience is one of the key concepts on which the society relies, using it as a key to maintain human rights and freedoms. The genesis of patience in philosophy is related to the person's representation of the (...) world, the formation of abstract norms of behavior and the embodiment of this behavior in a particular situation. In modern cognitive linguistics studying of the concept is rather actual and controversial nowadays, as it is functionally significant for the corresponding culture. Any concept is realized in language units. We’ve made the semantic-etymological analysis of the word patience and come to the conclusion that semantic structure of the concept “patience” in English consists of the different meanings, forming the conceptual layer of the investigated concept. (shrink)
Despite considerable differences, Stanley Cavell and Jean-Luc Nancy share the demand for a renewal of thinking produced through and with the concept of the world. Their articulation of the legacy bequeathed by Heidegger and Wittgenstein begins with an understanding of the world in excess of knowledge and insists on this impossible mastery as the most productive incentive for thinking. Inasmuch as philosophy has understood itself as producer of worldviews, systems and principle, philosophy has constantly suppressed the thinking of the world, (...) for any worldview absorbs and dissolves the world in its vision. For both Cavell and Nancy an insistence on this suppression leads to an emphasis on film. Two gestures can be said to intertwine in their thinking of film: to recapture our relation to the world as one that is not based on knowing as certainty, but on the reception of the singular; to recapture thinking as that which is attracted and called for by the insurgence of the singular, by the seam in experience. Nancy and Cavell reverse the idea of cinema as completing the regime of representation stressing how cinema produces a step away from thinking as representation in view of what the article names thinking as patience. The article concludes by asking: what does it mean for philosophy to understand itself as patience? (shrink)