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Philip J. Nickel [32]Philip James Nickel [1]
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Philip J. Nickel
Eindhoven University of Technology
  1.  41
    Moral Uncertainty in Technomoral Change: Bridging the Explanatory Gap.Philip J. Nickel, Olya Kudina & Ibo van de Poel - 2022 - Perspectives on Science 30 (2):260-283.
    This paper explores the role of moral uncertainty in explaining the morally disruptive character of new technologies. We argue that existing accounts of technomoral change do not fully explain its disruptiveness. This explanatory gap can be bridged by examining the epistemic dimensions of technomoral change, focusing on moral uncertainty and inquiry. To develop this account, we examine three historical cases: the introduction of the early pregnancy test, the contraception pill, and brain death. The resulting account highlights what we call “differential (...)
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  2. Disruptive Innovation and Moral Uncertainty.Philip J. Nickel - 2020 - NanoEthics 14 (3):259-269.
    This paper develops a philosophical account of moral disruption. According to Robert Baker, moral disruption is a process in which technological innovations undermine established moral norms without clearly leading to a new set of norms. Here I analyze this process in terms of moral uncertainty, formulating a philosophical account with two variants. On the harm account, such uncertainty is always harmful because it blocks our knowledge of our own and others’ moral obligations. On the qualified harm account, there is no (...)
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  3. Trust in Medical Artificial Intelligence: A Discretionary Account.Philip J. Nickel - 2022 - Ethics and Information Technology 24 (1):1-10.
    This paper sets out an account of trust in AI as a relationship between clinicians, AI applications, and AI practitioners in which AI is given discretionary authority over medical questions by clinicians. Compared to other accounts in recent literature, this account more adequately explains the normative commitments created by practitioners when inviting clinicians’ trust in AI. To avoid committing to an account of trust in AI applications themselves, I sketch a reductive view on which discretionary authority is exercised by AI (...)
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  4. Moral Uncertainty in Technomoral Change: Bridging the Explanatory Gap.Philip J. Nickel, Olya Kudina & Ibo van de Poel - manuscript
    This paper explores the role of moral uncertainty in explaining the morally disruptive character of new technologies. We argue that existing accounts of technomoral change do not fully explain its disruptiveness. This explanatory gap can be bridged by examining the epistemic dimensions of technomoral change, focusing on moral uncertainty and inquiry. To develop this account, we examine three historical cases: the introduction of the early pregnancy test, the contraception pill, and brain death. The resulting account highlights what we call “differential (...)
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  5. Voluntary Belief on a Reasonable Basis.Philip J. Nickel - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):312-334.
    A person presented with adequate but not conclusive evidence for a proposition is in a position voluntarily to acquire a belief in that proposition, or to suspend judgment about it. The availability of doxastic options in such cases grounds a moderate form of doxastic voluntarism not based on practical motives, and therefore distinct from pragmatism. In such cases, belief-acquisition or suspension of judgment meets standard conditions on willing: it can express stable character traits of the agent, it can be responsive (...)
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  6. On Testimony and Transmission.J. Adam Carter & Philip J. Nickel - 2014 - Episteme 11 (2):145-155.
    Jennifer Lackey’s case “Creationist Teacher,” in which students acquire knowledge of evolutionary theory from a teacher who does not herself believe the theory, has been discussed widely as a counterexample to so-called transmission theories of testimonial knowledge and justification. The case purports to show that a speaker need not herself have knowledge or justification in order to enable listeners to acquire knowledge or justification from her assertion. The original case has been criticized on the ground that it does not really (...)
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  7. Disruptive Innovation and Moral Uncertainty.Philip J. Nickel - forthcoming - NanoEthics: Studies in New and Emerging Technologies.
    This paper develops a philosophical account of moral disruption. According to Robert Baker (2013), moral disruption is a process in which technological innovations undermine established moral norms without clearly leading to a new set of norms. Here I analyze this process in terms of moral uncertainty, formulating a philosophical account with two variants. On the Harm Account, such uncertainty is always harmful because it blocks our knowledge of our own and others’ moral obligations. On the Qualified Harm Account, there is (...)
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  8. Trust in technological systems.Philip J. Nickel - 2013 - In M. J. de Vries, S. O. Hansson & A. W. M. Meijers (eds.), Norms in technology: Philosophy of Engineering and Technology, Vol. 9. Springer.
    Technology is a practically indispensible means for satisfying one’s basic interests in all central areas of human life including nutrition, habitation, health care, entertainment, transportation, and social interaction. It is impossible for any one person, even a well-trained scientist or engineer, to know enough about how technology works in these different areas to make a calculated choice about whether to rely on the vast majority of the technologies she/he in fact relies upon. Yet, there are substantial risks, uncertainties, and unforeseen (...)
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  9. Trust and Obligation-Ascription.Philip J. Nickel - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (3):309-319.
    This paper defends the view that trust is a moral attitude, by putting forward the Obligation-Ascription Thesis: If E trusts F to do X, this implies that E ascribes an obligation to F to do X. I explicate the idea of obligation-ascription in terms of requirement and the appropriateness of blame. Then, drawing a distinction between attitude and ground, I argue that this account of the attitude of trust is compatible with the possibility of amoral trust, that is, trust held (...)
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  10. Trust in engineering.Philip J. Nickel - 2021 - In Diane Michelfelder & Neelke Doorn (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Engineering. Taylor & Francis Ltd. pp. 494-505.
    Engineers are traditionally regarded as trustworthy professionals who meet exacting standards. In this chapter I begin by explicating our trust relationship towards engineers, arguing that it is a linear but indirect relationship in which engineers “stand behind” the artifacts and technological systems that we rely on directly. The chapter goes on to explain how this relationship has become more complex as engineers have taken on two additional aims: the aim of social engineering to create and steer trust between people, and (...)
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  11. Trust in Medicine.Philip J. Nickel & Lily Frank - 2020 - In Judith Simon (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Trust and Philosophy.
    In this chapter, we consider ethical and philosophical aspects of trust in the practice of medicine. We focus on trust within the patient-physician relationship, trust and professionalism, and trust in Western (allopathic) institutions of medicine and medical research. Philosophical approaches to trust contain important insights into medicine as an ethical and social practice. In what follows we explain several philosophical approaches and discuss their strengths and weaknesses in this context. We also highlight some relevant empirical work in the section on (...)
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  12. The prospect of artificial-intelligence supported ethics review.Philip J. Nickel - forthcoming - Ethics and Human Research.
    The burden of research ethics review falls not just on researchers, but on those who serve on research ethics committees (RECs). With the advent of automated text analysis and generative artificial intelligence, it has recently become possible to teach models to support human judgment, for example by highlighting relevant parts of a text and suggesting actionable precedents and explanations. It is time to consider how such tools might be used to support ethics review and oversight. This commentary argues that with (...)
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  13.  74
    Vulnerable populations in research: The case of the seriously ill.Philip J. Nickel - 2006 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 27 (3):245-264.
    This paper advances a new criterion of a vulnerable population in research. According to this criterion, there are consent-based and fairness-based reasons for calling a group vulnerable. The criterion is then applied to the case of people with serious illnesses. It is argued that people with serious illnesses meet this criterion for reasons related to consent. Seriously ill people have a susceptibility to “enticing offers” that hold out the prospect of removing or alleviating illness, and this susceptibility reduces their ability (...)
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  14. Artificial Speech and Its Authors.Philip J. Nickel - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (4):489-502.
    Some of the systems used in natural language generation (NLG), a branch of applied computational linguistics, have the capacity to create or assemble somewhat original messages adapted to new contexts. In this paper, taking Bernard Williams’ account of assertion by machines as a starting point, I argue that NLG systems meet the criteria for being speech actants to a substantial degree. They are capable of authoring original messages, and can even simulate illocutionary force and speaker meaning. Background intelligence embedded in (...)
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  15. Trust and testimony.Philip J. Nickel - 2012 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (3):301-316.
    Some recent accounts of testimonial warrant base it on trust, and claim that doing so helps explain asymmetries between the intended recipient of testimony and other non-intended hearers, e.g. differences in their entitlement to challenge the speaker or to rebuke the speaker for lying. In this explanation ‘dependence-responsiveness’ is invoked as an essential feature of trust: the trustor believes the trustee to be motivationally responsive to the fact that the trustor is relying on the trustee. I argue that dependence-responsiveness is (...)
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  16. Sound Trust and the Ethics of Telecare.Sander A. Voerman & Philip J. Nickel - 2017 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 42 (1):33-49.
    The adoption of web-based telecare services has raised multifarious ethical concerns, but a traditional principle-based approach provides limited insight into how these concerns might be addressed and what, if anything, makes them problematic. We take an alternative approach, diagnosing some of the main concerns as arising from a core phenomenon of shifting trust relations that come about when the physician plays a less central role in the delivery of care, and new actors and entities are introduced. Correspondingly, we propose an (...)
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  17. Being Pragmatic about Trust.Philip J. Nickel - 2017 - In Paul Faulkner & Thomas Simpson (eds.), The Philosophy of Trust. Oxford University Press. pp. 195-213.
    Trust should be able to explain cooperation, and its failure should help explain the emergence of cooperation-enabling institutions. This proposed methodological constraint on theorizing about trust, when satisfied, can then be used to differentiate theories of trust with some being able to explain cooperation more generally and effectively than others. Unrestricted views of trust, which take trust to be no more than the disposition to rely on others, fare well compared to restrictive views, which require the trusting person to have (...)
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  18.  41
    Can We Make Sense of the Notion of Trustworthy Technology?Philip J. Nickel, Maarten Franssen & Peter Kroes - 2010 - Knowledge, Technology & Policy 23 (3):429-444.
    In this paper we raise the question whether technological artifacts can properly speaking be trusted or said to be trustworthy. First, we set out some prevalent accounts of trust and trustworthiness and explain how they compare with the engineer’s notion of reliability. We distinguish between pure rational-choice accounts of trust, which do not differ in principle from mere judgments of reliability, and what we call “motivation-attributing” accounts of trust, which attribute specific motivations to trustworthy entities. Then we consider some examples (...)
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  19. Testimonial entitlement, norms of assertion and privacy.Philip J. Nickel - 2013 - Episteme 10 (2):207-217.
    According to assurance views of testimonial justification, in virtue of the act of testifying a speaker provides an assurance of the truth of what she asserts to the addressee. This assurance provides a special justificatory force and a distinctive normative status to the addressee. It is thought to explain certain asymmetries between addressees and other unintended hearers (bystanders and eavesdroppers), such as the phenomenon that the addressee has a right to blame the speaker for conveying a falsehood but unintended hearers (...)
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  20.  46
    Trust, staking, and expectations.Philip J. Nickel - 2009 - Journal of the Theory of Social Behaviour 39 (3):345–362.
    Trust is a kind of risky reliance on another person. Social scientists have offered two basic accounts of trust: predictive expectation accounts and staking (betting) accounts. Predictive expectation accounts identify trust with a judgment that performance is likely. Staking accounts identify trust with a judgment that reliance on the person’s performance is worthwhile. I argue (1) that these two views of trust are different, (2) that the staking account is preferable to the predictive expectation account on grounds of intuitive adequacy (...)
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  21. Justice and empowerment through digital health: ethical challenges and opportunities.Philip J. Nickel, Iris Loosman, Lily Frank & Anna Vinnikova - 2023 - Digital Society 2.
    The proposition that digital innovations can put people in charge of their health has been accompanied by prolific talk of empowerment. In this paper we consider ethical challenges and opportunities of trying to achieve justice and empowerment using digital health initiatives. The language of empowerment can misleadingly suggest that by using technology, people can control their health and take responsibility for health outcomes to a greater degree than is realistic or fair. Also, digital health empowerment often primarily reaches people who (...)
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  22. Can We Make Sense of the Notion of Trustworthy Technology?Philip J. Nickel, Maarten Franssen & Peter Kroes - 2010 - Knowledge, Technology & Policy 23 (3-4):429-444.
    In this paper we raise the question whether technological artifacts can properly speaking be trusted or said to be trustworthy. First, we set out some prevalent accounts of trust and trustworthiness and explain how they compare with the engineer’s notion of reliability. We distinguish between pure rational-choice accounts of trust, which do not differ in principle from mere judgments of reliability, and what we call “motivation-attributing” accounts of trust, which attribute specific motivations to trustworthy entities. Then we consider some examples (...)
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  23. Risk and trust.Philip J. Nickel & Krist Vaesen - 2012 - In Sabine Roeser, Rafaela Hillerbrand, Martin Peterson & Per Sandin (eds.), Handbook of Risk Theory. Springer.
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  24. Ethics in e-trust and e-trustworthiness: the case of direct computer-patient interfaces.Philip J. Nickel - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (2):355-363.
    In this paper, I examine the ethics of e - trust and e - trustworthiness in the context of health care, looking at direct computer-patient interfaces (DCPIs), information systems that provide medical information, diagnosis, advice, consenting and/or treatment directly to patients without clinicians as intermediaries. Designers, manufacturers and deployers of such systems have an ethical obligation to provide evidence of their trustworthiness to users. My argument for this claim is based on evidentialism about trust and trustworthiness: the idea that trust (...)
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  25. Assurance Views of Testimony.Philip J. Nickel - 2019 - In M. Fricker, N. J. L. L. Pedersen, D. Henderson & P. J. Graham (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology. Routledge. pp. 96-102.
    Assurance theories of testimony attempt to explain what is distinctive about testimony as a form of epistemic warrant or justification. The most characteristic assurance theories hold that a distinctive subclass of assertion (acts of “telling”) involves a real commitment given by the speaker to the listener, somewhat like a promise to the effect that what is asserted is true. This chapter sympathetically explains what is attractive about such theories: instead of treating testimony as essentially similar to any other kind of (...)
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  26. Horror and the idea of everyday life: On skeptical threats in psycho and the birds.Philip J. Nickel - 2010 - In Thomas Richard Fahy (ed.), The philosophy of horror. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 14--32.
  27. Ownership and Commodifiability of Synthetic and Natural Organs.Philip J. Nickel - manuscript
    The arrival of synthetic organs may mean we need to reconsider principles of ownership of such items. One possible ownership criterion is the boundary between the organ’s being outside or inside the body. What is outside of my body, even if it is a natural organ made of my cells, may belong to a company or research institution. Yet when it is placed in me, it belongs to me. In the future, we should also keep an eye on how the (...)
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  28.  13
    Towards a Design Toolkit of Informed Consent Models Across Fields: A Systematic Review.Iris Loosman & Philip J. Nickel - 2022 - Science and Engineering Ethics 28 (5):1-19.
    In the 60+ years that the modern concept of informed consent has been around, researchers in various fields of practice, especially medical ethics, have developed new models to overcome theoretical and practical problems. While (systematic) literature reviews of such models exist within given fields (e.g., genetic screening), this article breaks ground by analyzing academic literature on consent models across fields. Three electronic research databases (Scopus, Google Scholar, and Web of Science) were searched for publications mentioning informed consent models. The titles, (...)
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  29. Ethical issues in human embryonic stem cell research.Philip J. Nickel - 2008 - In Kristen Renwick Monroe, Ronald B. Miller & Jerome Tobis (eds.), Fundamentals of the Stem Cell Debate: The Scientific, Religious, Ethical & Political Issues. University of California Press.
    As a moral philosopher, the perspective I will take in this chapter is one of argumentation and informed judgment about two main questions: whether individuals should ever choose to conduct human embryonic stem cell research, and whether the law should permit this type of research. I will also touch upon a secondary question, that of whether the government ought to pay for this type of research. I will discuss some of the main arguments at stake, and explain how the ethical (...)
     
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  30. Moral Dependence: Reliance on Moral Testimony.Philip J. Nickel - 2002 - Dissertation, Ucla
    Moral dependence is taking another person's assertion or "testimony" that C as a reason to believe C (where C is some moral claim), such that whatever justificatory force is associated with the person's testimony endures or remains as one's reason for believing C. People are justified in relying on one another's testimony in non-moral matters. The dissertation takes up the question whether the same is true for moral beliefs. My method is to divide the topic into three somewhat separate questions. (...)
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  31.  29
    Vrijheid door scepticisme.Philip J. Nickel - 2016 - Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 108 (1):19-36.
    In this paper, I consider a form of skepticism that has a permissive conclusion, according to which we are rationally permitted to suspend judgment in an area, or to have beliefs in that area. I argue that such a form of skepticism is resistant to some traditional strategies of refutation. It also carries a benefit, namely that it increases voluntary control over doxastic states by introducing options, and therefore greater freedom, into the realm of belief. I argue that intellectual preferences (...)
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  32.  39
    Book ReviewsRichard. Foley, Intellectual Trust in Oneself and Others. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Pp. x+182. $55.00. [REVIEW]Philip J. Nickel - 2003 - Ethics 114 (1):170-172.
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