This dissertation is a critical examination of dialetheism, the view that there are true contradictions. Dialetheism's proponents argue that adopting the view will allow us to solve hitherto unsolved problems, including the well-known logical paradoxes. ;Dialetheism faces three kinds of challenge. Challenges of the first kind put in doubt the intrinsic coherence of dialetheism. It can be claimed, for example, that it is incoherent for a claim to be both true and false; that claims known to be false cannot be (...) accepted; that claims known to be false cannot be rationally accepted; and that dialetheism entails the falsity of some of its own theoretical claims. The second kind of challenge concerns the use of paraconsistent logics, which dialetheists must adopt on pain of accepting the truth of every proposition. I examine a number of paraconsistent logics, and conclude that either they come at an unacceptably high price or they do not support the dialetheist project. ;I devote most attention to the third kind of challenge, according to which dialetheism fails to provide the promised solutions to the paradoxes and other previously intractable problems, and so we lose the major motivation for the theory. Proponents claim that dialetheism allows for the solution of numerous problems, particularly in metaphysics, law, and logic. In the case of metaphysics, it is claimed that dialetheism allows us to deal with puzzles involving change, vagueness, and motion. However, I argue that the proposed solution does not eliminate the old metaphysical problems, and in fact gives rise to new ones. In the case of law, it is claimed that dialetheism can allow us to deal with legal contradiction. I argue there are more plausible means of solving such conflicts. The strongest case for dialetheism is that it allows us to solve logical and semantic paradoxes of self-reference, some of which have endured for well over two thousand years. I construct a paradox that the dialetheist cannot accommodate, and which shows that dialetheism never provided a solution to the paradoxes at all, even in their more familiar forms. (shrink)
Former NAACP chapter head Rachel Dolezal's attempted transition from the white to the black race occasioned heated controversy. Her story gained notoriety at the same time that Caitlyn Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair, signaling a growing acceptance of transgender identity. Yet criticisms of Dolezal for misrepresenting her birth race indicate a widespread social perception that it is neither possible nor acceptable to change one's race in the way it might be to change one's sex. Considerations that support transgenderism (...) seem to apply equally to transracialism. Although Dolezal herself may or may not represent a genuine case of a transracial person, her story and the public reaction to it serve helpful illustrative purposes. (shrink)
I explore how gender can shape the pragmatics of speech. In some circumstances, when a woman deploys standard discursive conventions in order to produce a speech act with a specific performative force, her utterance can turn out, in virtue of its uptake, to have a quite different force—a less empowering force—than it would have if performed by a man. When members of a disadvantaged group face a systematic inability to produce a specific kind of speech act that they are entitled (...) to perform—and in particular when their attempts result in their actually producing a different kind of speech act that further compromises their social position and agency—then they are victims of what I call discursive injustice. I examine three examples of discursive injustice. I contrast my account with Langton and Hornsby's account of illocutionary silencing. I argue that lack of complete control over the performative force of our speech acts is universal, and not a special marker of social disadvantage. However, women and other relatively disempowered speakers are sometimes subject to a distinctive distortion of the path from speaking to uptake, which undercuts their social agency in ways that track and enhance existing social disadvantages. (shrink)
The principle of informed consent obligates physicians to explain possible side effects when prescribing medications. This disclosure may itself induce adverse effects through expectancy mechanisms known as nocebo effects, contradicting the principle of nonmaleficence. Rigorous research suggests that providing patients with a detailed enumeration of every possible adverse event?especially subjective self-appraised symptoms?can actually increase side effects. Describing one version of what might happen may actually create outcomes that are different from what would have happened without this information. This essay argues (...) that the perceived tension between balancing informed consent with nonmaleficence might be resolved by recognizing that adverse effects have no clear black or white?truth.? This essay suggests a pragmatic approach for providers to minimize nocebo responses while still maintaining patient autonomy through?contextualized informed consent,? which takes into account possible side effects, the patient being treated, and the particular diagnosis involved. (shrink)
Miranda Fricker claims that a “gap” in collective hermeneutical resources with respect to the social experiences of marginalized groups prevents members of those groups from understanding their own experiences (Fricker 2007). I argue that because Fricker misdescribes dominant hermeneutical resources as collective, she fails to locate the ethically bad epistemic practices that maintain gaps in dominant hermeneutical resources even while alternative interpretations are in fact offered by non-dominant discourses. Fricker's analysis of hermeneutical injustice does not account for the possibility that (...) marginalized groups can be silenced relative to dominant discourses without being prevented from understanding or expressing their own social experiences. I suggest that a gap in dominant hermeneutical resources is ambiguous between two kinds of unknowing: hermeneutical injustice suffered by members of marginalized groups, and epistemically and ethically blameworthy ignorance perpetrated by members of dominant groups. (shrink)
Phase 1 healthy volunteer clinical trials—which financially compensate subjects in tests of drug toxicity levels and side effects—appear to place pressure on each joint of the moral framework justifying research. In this article, we review concerns about phase 1 trials as they have been framed in the bioethics literature, including undue inducement and coercion, unjust exploitation, and worries about compromised data validity. We then revisit these concerns in light of the lived experiences of serial participants who are income-dependent on phase (...) 1 trials. We show how participant experiences shift attention from discrete exchanges, behaviors, and events in the research enterprise to the ongoing and dynamic patterns of serial participation in which individual decision-making is embedded in collective social and economic conditions and shaped by institutional policies. We argue in particular for the ethical significance of structurally diminished voluntariness, routine powerlessness in setting the terms of exchange, and incentive structures that may promote pharmaceutical interests but encourage phase 1 healthy volunteers to skirt important rules. (shrink)
Open-mindedness is widely valued as an important intellectual virtue. Definitional debates about open-mindedness have focused on whether open-minded believers must possess a particular first-order attitude toward their beliefs or a second-order attitude toward themselves as believers, taking it for granted that open-mindedness is motivated by the pursuit of propositional knowledge. In this article, Rebecca Taylor develops an alternative to knowledge-centered accounts of open-mindedness. Drawing on recent work in epistemology that reclaims understanding as a primary epistemic good, Taylor argues for (...) an expanded account of open-mindedness as an intellectual virtue motivated by the pursuit of both knowledge and understanding. Incorporating understanding allows for a more robust account of open-mindedness that better accommodates common usage, avoids common criticisms, and better explains the widespread acceptance of open-mindedness as an important intellectual virtue. Taylor also identifies the connections between open-mindedness and several other intellectual virtues, including intellectual humility, intellectual courage, and intellectual diligence. (shrink)
Boardwalk Empire is one of the most popular HBO shows ever and its popularity is on the rise. Fans see parallels with the show's events and contemporary political events, and between the show's characters and contemporary figures. In fact, the philosophical issues raised bear on "real life" in a way that few fictional television shows and movies do.In this volume, twenty philosophers address issues in political philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, feminism, and metaphysics.
I develop and defend the following neo-Aristotelian account of supererogation: an action is supererogatory if and only if it is overall virtuous and either the omission of an overall virtuous action in that situation would not be overall vicious or there is some overall virtuous action that is less virtuous than it and whose performance in its place would not be overall vicious. I develop this account from within the virtue-ethical tradition. And I argue that it is intuitively defensible and (...) fully compatible with the doctrine of the mean. (shrink)
We consider the current debate between bioconservatives and their opponents—whom we dub bioliberals—about the moral acceptability of human enhancement and the policy implications of moral debates about enhancement. We argue that this debate has reached an impasse, largely because bioconservatives hold that we should honour intuitions about the special value of being human, even if we cannot identify reasons to ground those intuitions. We argue that although intuitions are often a reliable guide to belief and action, there are circumstances in (...) which they are not reliable. Intuitions—including intuitions about enhancement—are subject to various cognitive biases rendering them unreliable in some circumstances. We argue that many bioconservative intuitions about enhancement are examples of such unreliable intuitions. Given this, it is unrealistic of bioconservatives to expect others to rely on their unexamined intuitions. Furthermore, refusing to engage in debates about the reasons and values that underpin their intuitions about enhancement will have the effect of making bioconservative voices less relevant in policy debates about enhancement than they would otherwise be. (shrink)
Thomas Reid's distinction between original and acquired perception is not merely metaphysical; it has psychological and phenomenological stories to tell. Psychologically, acquired perception provides increased sensitivity to features in the environment. Phenomenologically, Reid's theory resists the notion that original perception is exhaustive of perceptual experience. James Van Cleve has argued that most cases of acquired perception do not count as perception and so do not pose a threat to Reid's direct realism. I argue that acquired perception is genuine perception and (...) as direct as original perception. Perception is grounded in a productive and developing relationship between the mind and world. (shrink)
This essay explores three issues in respect for autonomy that pose unfinished business for the concept. By this, I mean that the dialogue over them is ongoing and essentially unresolved. These are: whether we ought to respect persons or their autonomous choices; the role of relational autonomy; and whether nonhuman animals can be autonomous. In attending to this particular set of unfinished business, I highlight some critical moral work left aside by the concept of respect for autonomy as understood in (...) Beauchamp and Childress’ Principles of Biomedical Ethics. Specifically, while significant pragmatic traction is gained by the authors’ focus on autonomous choice, carving such a focus out from the broader questions of moral respect and the autonomy of the person leaves aside a number of questions that we might have thought a view about respect for autonomy in biomedicine ought to answer. These include: How should physicians respond when autonomous patients make decisions that appear nonautonomous? What is the impact of the view that autonomy is “relational” for cross-cultural differences in how autonomy is respected? If chimpanzees can be autonomous, what does that mean for how they should be treated? (shrink)
Stanley Klein and Shaun Nichols describe the case of patient R.B., whose memories lacked the sense of “mineness” usually conveyed by memory. Klein and Nichols take R.B.’s case to show that the sense of mineness is merely a contingent feature of memory, which they see as raising two problems for memory-based accounts of personal identity. First, they see it as potentially undermining the appeal of memory-based accounts. Second, they take it to show that the conception of quasi-memory that underpins many (...) memory-based accounts is inadequate. I argue that Klein and Nichols’ characterization of R.B.’s experience is implausible; as a result, the problems that they describe for memory-based accounts of personal identity do not arise. (shrink)
The claim that we have a moral obligation, where a choice can be made, to bring to birth the 'best' child possible, has been highly controversial for a number of decades. More recently Savulescu has labelled this claim the Principle of Procreative Beneficence. It has been argued that this Principle is problematic in both its reasoning and its implications, most notably in that it places lower moral value on the disabled. Relentless criticism of this proposed moral obligation, however, has been (...) unable, thus far, to discredit this Principle convincingly and as a result its influence shows no sign of abating. I will argue that while criticisms of the implications and detail of the reasoning behind it are well founded, they are unlikely to produce an argument that will ultimately discredit the obligation that the Principle of Procreative Beneficence represents. I believe that what is needed finally and convincingly to reveal the fallacy of this Principle is a critique of its ultimate theoretical foundation, the notion of impersonal harm. In this paper I argue that while the notion of impersonal harm is intuitively very appealing, its plausibility is based entirely on this intuitive appeal and not on sound moral reasoning. I show that there is another plausible explanation for our intuitive response and I believe that this, in conjunction with the other theoretical criticisms that I and others have levelled at this Principle, shows that the Principle of Procreative Beneficence should be rejected. (shrink)
Some writers claim that ethicists involved in assessing future technologies like nanotechnology and human enhancement devote too much time to debating issues that may or may not arise, at the expense of addressing more urgent, current issues. This practice has been claimed to squander the scarce and valuable resource of ethical concern. I assess this view, and consider some alternatives to ‘speculative ethics’ that have been put forward. I argue that attempting to restrict ethical debate so as to avoid considering (...) unacceptably speculative scenarios would not only leave scientific progress devoid of ethical guidance, but would also rule out some of our most important ethical projects. I conclude that the issue of speculation is a red herring: what is most important is not that ethicists concentrate on current issues or those that are most likely to arise; but that ethicists, scientists, and others focus on maximising what is most valuable. (shrink)
Mass Hysteria examines the medical and cultural practices surrounding pregnancy, new motherhood, and infant feeding. Late eighteenth century transformations in these practices reshaped mothers' bodies, and contemporary norms and routines of prenatal care and early motherhood have inherited the legacy of that era. As a result, mothers are socially positioned in ways that can make it difficult for them to establish and maintain healthy and safe boundaries and appropriate divisions between public and private space.
Debates about indoctrination raise fundamental questions about the ethics of teaching. This paper presents a philosophical analysis of indoctrination, including 1) an account of what indoctrination is and why it is harmful, and 2) a framework for understanding the responsibilities of teachers and other educational actors to avoid its negative outcomes. I respond to prominent outcomes-based accounts of indoctrination, which I argue share two limiting features—a narrow focus on the threat indoctrination poses to knowledge and on the dyadic relationship between (...) indoctrinator and indoctrinated person. I propose a system-based account of indoctrination in which actors with authority contribute to the production or reinforcement of closed-mindedness, which threatens both knowledge and understanding. By taking a system-based approach, my account is better equipped to identify the implications of indoctrination for educational policy and practice. (shrink)
We consider the current debate between bioconservatives and their chief opponents — whom we dub bioliberals — about the moral acceptability of human enhancement and the policy implications of moral debates about enhancement. We argue that this debate has reached an impasse, largely because bioconservatives hold that we should honour intuitions about the special value of being human, even if we cannot identify reasons to ground those intuitions. We argue that although intuitions are often a reliable guide to belief and (...) action, there are circumstances in which they are not reliable. Intuitions — including intuitions about enhancement — are subject to various cognitive biases rendering them unreliable in some circumstances. We argue that many bioconservative intuitions about enhancement are examples of such unreliable intuitions. Given this, it is unrealistic of bioconservatives to expect others to rely on their unexamined intuitions. Furthermore, refusing to engage in debates about the reasons and values that underpin their intuitions about enhancement will have the effect of making bioconservative voices less relevant in policy debates about enhancement than they would otherwise be. (shrink)
This book brings together international academics from a range of Social Science and Humanities disciplines to reflect on how Deleuze's philosophy is opening up and shaping methodologies and practices of empirical research.
The early modern period is arguably the most pivotal of all in the study of the mind, teeming with a variety of conceptions of mind. Some of these posed serious questions for assumptions about the nature of the mind, many of which still depended on notions of the soul and God. It is an era that witnessed the emergence of theories and arguments that continue to animate the study of philosophy of mind, such as dualism, vitalism, materialism, and idealism. -/- (...) Covering pivotal figures in philosophy such as Descartes, Hobbes, Kant, Leibniz, Cavendish, and Spinoza, Philosophy of Mind in the Early Modern and Modern Ages provides an outstanding survey of philosophy of mind of the period. Following an introduction by Rebecca Copenhaver, sixteen specially commissioned chapters by an international team of contributors discuss key topics, thinkers, and debates, including: -/- Hobbes, Descartes’ philosophy of mind and its early critics, consciousness, the later Cartesians, Malebranche, Cavendish, Locke, Spinoza, Descartes and Leibniz, perception and sensation, desires, mental substance and mental activity, Hume, and Kant. Essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of mind, enlightenment philosophy, and the history of philosophy, Philosophy of Mind in the Early Modern and Modern Ages is also a valuable resource for those in related disciplines such as religion, history of psychology, and history of science. (shrink)
Research using human embryonic stem cells raises an array of complex ethical issues, including, but by no means limited to, the moral status of developing human life. Unfortunately much of the public discussion fails to take into account this complexity. Advocacy for liberal and conservative positions on human embryonic stem cell research can be simplistic and misleading. Ethical concepts such as truth-telling, scientific integrity, and social justice should be part of the debate over federal support for human embryonic stem cell (...) research. Moreover, the debate should be conducted in accord with principles of deliberative democracy, including respect for people holding competing views. (shrink)
Combatting chronic, lifestyle-related disease has become a healthcare priority in the developed world. The role personal responsibility should play in healthcare provision has growing pertinence given the growing significance of individual lifestyle choices for health. Media reporting focussing on the ‘bad behaviour’ of individuals suffering lifestyle-related disease, and policies aimed at encouraging ‘responsibilisation’ in healthcare highlight the importance of understanding the scope of responsibility ascriptions in this context. Research into the social determinants of health and psychological mechanisms of health behaviour (...) could undermine some commonly held and tacit assumptions about the moral responsibility of agents for the sorts of lifestyles they adopt. I use Philip Petit's conception of freedom as ‘fitness to be held responsible’ to consider the significance of some of this evidence for assessing the moral responsibility of agents. I propose that, in some cases, factors outside the agent's control may influence behaviour in such a way as to undermine her freedom along the three dimensions described by Pettit: freedom of action; a sense of identification with one's actions; and whether one's social position renders one vulnerable to pressure from more powerful others. (shrink)