I develop an argument that key theses from Ayn Rand's ethics and political philosophy are incompatible with one another. Her ethical egoism is not compatible with her rights theory. Though Rand's version of rights theory is libertarian, the argument does not depend upon any claims peculiar to her theory, but would apply to the (in)compatibility of ethical egoism and almost any plausible rights theory.
Recent decades have seen a resurgence of contractarian thinking about the nature and origins of the state. Scholars in this tradition ask what constraints rational, self-interested actors might deliberately impose upon themselves. In response, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, and other early contractarians answered that laws of property were an attractive alternative to “the war of all against all.” More recently, James Buchanan, Russell Hardin, Mancur Olson, Gordon Tullock, and others have used contractarian principles to justify laws that solve a variety of (...) Prisoner's Dilemmas and other collective-action problems. And in the distributional realm, John Rawls and others have applied contractarian analysis to investigate how material wealth ought to be allocated among people. (shrink)
In the continuing dialogue between Western philosophy and the Christian religion, the central issue has generally been the existence of God. There has however been a discernible shift in the focus of the discussion in recent years. Rather than the existence of God, the issue now seems to be the concept of God. It is increasingly argued by philosophers critical of religion that the concept of God is basically incoherent, and that therefore the question of God's existence or non-existence does (...) not even arise. What cannot be conceived is not even a possible object of faith. (shrink)
Paul Russell’s The Limits of Free Will is more than the sum of its parts. Among other things, Limits offers readers a comprehensive look at Russell’s attack on the problematically idealized assumptions of the contemporary free will debate. This idealization, he argues, distorts the reality of our human predicament. Herein I pose a dilemma for Russell’s position, critical compatibilism. The dilemma illuminates the tension between Russell’s critical and compatibilist commitments. The problem is not obviously insurmountable, and as a compatibilist who (...) is sympathetic to the view, my aim is to spark further discussion. (shrink)
Tocqueville pessimistically predicted that liberty and equality would be incompatible ideas. Robert Dahl, author of the classic _A Preface to Democratic Theory,_ explores this alleged conflict, particularly in modern American society where differences in ownership and control of corporate enterprises create inequalities in resources among Americans that in turn generate inequality among them as citizens. Arguing that Americans have misconceived the relation between democracy, private property, and the economic order, the author contends that we can achieve a society of (...) real democracy and political equality without sacrificing liberty by extending democratic principles into the economic order. Although enterprise control by workers violates many conventional political and ideological assumptions of corporate capitalism as well as of state socialism. Dahl presents an empirically informed and philosophically acute defense of "workplace democracy." He argues, in the light of experiences here and abroad, that an economic system of worker-owned and worker-controlled enterprises could provide a much better foundation for democracy, political equality, and liberty than does our present system of corporate capitalism. (shrink)
And I find myself knowing the things that I knew Which is all that you can know on this side of the blueIs there such a thing as direct, non-conceptual experience, or is all experience, by its very nature, conceptually mediated? Is some notion of non-conceptual sensory awareness required to account for our ability to represent and negotiate our physical environment, or is it merely an artifact of deep-seated but ultimately misguided Cartesian metaphysical assumptions? Perhaps conscious experience in humans is (...) inextricably tied to the representational or self-reflexive capacities of language; if so, does it necessarily follow that newborn infants and animals are not conscious? Is the very notion of non-conceptual... (shrink)
According to many commentators, Davidson’s earlier work on philosophy of action and truth-theoretic semantics is the basis for his reputation, and his later forays into broader metaphysical and epistemological issues, and eventually into what became known as the triangulation argument, are much less successful. This book by two of his former students aims to change that perception. In Part One, Verheggen begins by providing an explanation and defense of the triangulation argument, then explores its implications for questions concerning semantic normativity (...) and reductionism, the social character of language and thought, and skepticism about the external world. In Part Two, Myers considers what the argument can tell us about reasons for action, and whether it can overcome skeptical worries based on claims about the nature of motivation, the sources of normativity and the demands of morality. The book reveals Davidson’s later writings to be full of innovative and important ideas that deserve much more attention than they are currently receiving. (shrink)
This paper accepts as given that business students want to get ahead. It criticizes business schools for their failure to reduce the incongruence between doing what is right and doing what it takes to get ahead. Because of this failure business school graduates carry negative ideas, attitudes and behaviors vis-à-vis social responsibility from business schools into the business world. Recommendations are made for increasing the social responsibility of business schools.
Implementing critical thinking across the curriculum is challenging, involving securing substantial agreement on the nature of critical thinking, areas of prospective application, degree of need for a separate course, and the nature of coordination, including leadership, a glossary, selection of courses for incorporation, avoidance of duplication and gaps, acquiring required subject matter, and assessment of the total effort, teaching methods used, and decrease or increase in retention of subject matter.
Assuming that critical thinking dispositions are at least as important as critical thinking abilities, Ennis examines the concept of critical thinking disposition and suggests some criteria for judging sets of them. He considers a leading approach to their analysis and offers as an alternative a simpler set, including the disposition to seek alternatives and be open to them. After examining some gender-bias and subject-specificity challenges to promoting critical thinking dispositions, he notes some difficulties involved in assessing critical thinking dispositions, and (...) suggests an exploratory attempt to assess them. (shrink)
While John B. Watson articulated the intellectual commitments of behaviorism with clarity and force, wove them into a coherent perspective, gave the perspective a name, and made it a cause, these commitments had adherents before him. To document the origins of behaviorism, this series collects the articles that set the terms of the behaviorist debate, includes the most important pre-Watsonian contributions to objectivism, and reprints the first full text of the new behaviorism. Contents: Functionalism, the Critque of Introspection, and the (...) Nature and Evolution of Consciousness: Theoretical Roots of Early Behaviourism: An Anthology [1842-1914] Robert H. Wozniak (Ed) 360 pp Studies of Animal and Infant Behaviour. the Experimental and Comparative Roots of Early Behaviourism: An Anthology [1840-1911] Robert H. Wozniak (Ed) 412 pp An Introuduction to Comparative Psychology [1894 edition] Conway Lloyd Morgan 628 pp Comparative Physiology of the Brain and Comparative Psychology  Jacques Loeb 342 pp Fundamental Laws of Human Behaviour. Lectures on the foundtions of Any Mental or Social Science  Max F. Meyer 264 pp Behaviour. An Introduction to Comparative Psychology [1914 edition] John B. Watson 482 pp. (shrink)
A multilevel view of social change is presented in which socially responsible organizations, society, and high-hope individuals interact in support of hopefulness – thereby leveling the playing field. Suggestions are made about future research and the roles of organizations and society in eliciting hope in organizational and societal cultures.
Disagreements over the meaning of the thermodynamic entropy and how it should be defined in statistical mechanics have endured for well over a century. In an earlier paper, I showed that there were at least nine essential properties of entropy that are still under dispute among experts. In this paper, I examine the consequences of differing definitions of the thermodynamic entropy of macroscopic systems.Two proposed definitions of entropy in classical statistical mechanics are (1) defining entropy on the basis of probability (...) theory (first suggested by Boltzmann in 1877), and (2) the traditional textbook definition in terms of a volume in phase space (also attributed to Boltzmann). The present paper demonstrates the consequences of each of these proposed definitions of entropy and argues in favor of a definition based on probabilities. (shrink)
The use of the concept ‘religious experience’ is exceedingly broad, encompassing a vast array of feelings, moods, perceptions, dispositions, and states of consciousness. Some prefer to focus on a distinct type of religious experience known as ‘mystical experience', typically construed as a transitory but potentially transformative state of consciousness in which a subject purports to come into immediate contact with the divine, the sacred, the holy. We will return to the issue of mystical experience below. Here I would only note (...) that the academic literature does not clearly delineate the relationship between religious experience and mystical experience. The reluctance, and in the end the inability, to clearly stipulate the meaning of such terms will be a recurring theme in the discussion below. (shrink)
Children’s early science interest begins well before middle school, and parents can be important in generating and sustaining such interest. This qualitative study addresses how parental occupations shape physical scientists’ early science interest. Our framework uses Social Cognitive Career Theory, and our research question is, “How do parental occupations create learning opportunities for children and motivate them to pursue physical science?” We examine interviews from 17 physical scientists in Project Crossover, a sequential mixed-methods study that broadly examines factors influencing entry (...) into physics and chemistry doctoral programs. Parental occupations can create learning opportunities through role modeling, encouragement, exposure, familiarity, and bonding. Thus, parents can be valuable in creating learning opportunities for children outside classrooms. Study limitations include a small sample and lack of information about familial structure. Our research contributes to the emergent understanding of the role of parental occupations in science interest, which further influences individual career trajectories. (shrink)
Sympathy and other moral emotions described by David Hume (1740/1978) and Adam Smith (1759/1966) motivate people to incur a host of costs they could easily avoid. Such emotions pose a challenge to evolutionary biologists, who have long stressed the primacy of narrow self-interest in Darwinian selection. In earlier work, I argued (Frank, 1987, 1988) that natural selection might have favored moral sentiments because of their capacity to facilitate solutions to one-shot social dilemmas. Here, I present a capsule summary of the (...) basic argument. (shrink)
Working memory has been one of the most intensively studied systems in cognitive psychology. The Cognitive Neuroscience of Working Memory brings together world class researchers from around the world to summarise our current knowledge of this field, and directions for future research.
The use of role-playing (“active learning”) as a teaching tool has been reported in areas as diverse as social psychology, history and analytical chemistry. Its use as a tool in the teaching of engineering ethics and professionalism is also not new, but the approach develops new perspectives when used in a college class of exceptionally wide cultural diversity. York University is a large urban university (40,000 undergraduates) that draws its enrolment primarily from the Greater Toronto Area, arguably one of the (...) most culturally diverse cities in the world, embracing the largest percentage of Canada’s immigration. Among the area’s five million inhabitants, 50% identify themselves as a visible minority born outside Canada, while over 100 languages and dialects are spoken daily. Although students admitted from this international pool have usually been exposed to western attitudes during secondary education and are rapidly assimilated into Canadian culture, responses to specific ethical issues are strongly influenced by their prior culture. Two and three-part scripts for case studies based on NSF or original scenarios were written to illustrate issues such as gifts, attitudes towards women and ethnic minorities, conflict of interest, whistle-blowing, sexual harassment, individual rights, privacy, environment, intellectual property, and others. Following the presentation, the actors lead group discussion based on previously specified questions. Once the initial shyness and reluctance of some cultures has been overcome through the building of rapport, students have written original scripts based on hypothetical or prior personal situations. The method is now being adopted in a short course format to assist the professional integration of foreign trained engineers. (shrink)
Discussions of critical thinking across the curriculum typically make and explain points and distinctions that bear on one or a few standard issues. In this article Robert Ennis takes a different approach, starting with a fairly comprehensive concrete proposal for a four-year higher-education curriculum incorporating critical-thinking at hypothetical Wisdom University. Aspects of the Program include a one-year critical thinking freshman course with practical everyday-life and academic critical thinking goals; extensive infusion of critical thinking in other courses; a senior project; (...) attention to both critical thinking dispositions and skills; a glossary of critical thinking terms; emphasis on teaching ; communication at all levels; and last, but definitely not least, assessment. Advantages and disadvantages will be noted. Subsequently, Ennis takes and defends a position on each of several relevant controversial issues, including: 1) having a separate critical thinking course, or embedding critical thinking in existing subject matter courses, or doing both ; 2) the meaning of “critical thinking”; 3) the importance of teaching critical thinking because of its role in our everyday vocational, civic, and personal lives, as well as in our academic experiences; 4) the degree of subject-specificity of critical thinking; 5) the importance of making critical thinking principles explicit; and 6) the possible threat to subject matter coverage from the addition of critical thinking to the curriculum. (shrink)
A popular three-stage argument appraisal strategy calls for (1) identifying the parts of the argument, (2) classifYing the argument as deductive, inductive, or some other type, and (3) appraising the argument using the standards appropriate for the type. This strategy fails for a number of reasons. I propose a comprehensive alternative approach that distinguishes between inductive, deductive, and other standards; calls for the successive application of standards combined with assumption-ascription, according to policies that depend for their selection on the goals (...) of the appraiser; and provides for qualified reasoning. (shrink)
Even more so than in other areas of medicine, issues at the end of life elucidate the importance of religion and culture, as well as the role of the family and other social structures, in how these issues are framed. This article presents an overview of the variation in end-of-life treatment issues across 12 highly disparate countries. It finds that many assumptions held in the western bioethics literature are not easily transferred to other cultural settings.
As is evident from the other articles in this special issue, end-of-life treatment has engendered a vigorous dialogue in the United States over the past few decades because decision making at the end of life raises broad and difficult ethical issues that touch on health professionals, patients, and their families. This concern is exacerbated by the high cost related to the end of life in the U.S. Moreover, in light of demographic patterns, progressively scarce health care resources, and an expanding (...) array of life-saving technologies, decisions at the end of life are becoming problematic matters of public and, thus, scholarly concern in most countries. Issues at the end of life are central not only to bioethics but also raise important ancillary policy dimensions. (shrink)
It is a daunting task to tell the story of the lives emotions lead, how they are rooted in the deeper folds of the person’s psyche and wax and wane over a lifetime. Wollheim’s book is at times a daring attempt to cast an analytic philosopher in the role of narrator of this fascinating but hard to follow story. Two related story lines run through his book. One repeatedly criticizes contemporary philosophers for turning a blind eye to the psychological reality (...) and developmental nature of desire and emotion. The other, containing the book’s main project, develops an account of the characteristic history of an emotion from its origins in a satisfied or frustrated desire, to the formation of an attitude that lies at the core of an emotion, and finally to the fantasized critic in moral emotions such as shame and guilt. How we rate the success of the project depends in no small part on how we assess the relation between these two themes. (shrink)
In the long history of moral theory, non-human animals—hereafter, just animals—have often been neglected entirely or have been relegated to some secondary status. Since its emergence in the early 19th century, utilitarianism has made a difference in that respect by focusing upon happiness or well-being (and their contraries) rather than upon the beings who suffer or enjoy. Inevitably, that has meant that human relations to and use of other animals have appeared in a different light. Some cases have seemed easy: (...) once admit that the interests of animals matter and there can be little hesitation in condemning their cruel treatment. Among the more difficult cases has been the bearing of utilitarianism upon the use of animals in various kinds of research where, though the animals might suffer, there were believed to be prospects of great human benefit and where no cruel or malicious motives need be involved. What I shall provide in the current paper is an extended discussion of the bearing of utilitarianism upon practices of animal research. Since such practices have attracted both utilitarian criticism and defense, this will require the examination of arguments on both sides, including consideration of the human benefits, the animal costs, and the ways in which the one can be weighed against the other. (shrink)
This paper attempts to respond to the critique that critical thinking courses may reflect a cultural bias. After elaborating a list of constitutive dispositions and abilities taught in the critical thinking curriculum , the author considers arguments for why several of these might reflect Western, non-universal values. In each case, the author argues for the conclusion that these values, though they could be applied in ways that reflect a cultural bias, are not inherently biased. Next, the author offers an outline (...) of a more systematic examination of cultural bias. After reiterating the “tentative conclusion” that critical thinking is not culturally biased, the paper concludes by considering the various ways in which critical thinking might be promoted so as to ensure its sensitivity to cultural differences. (shrink)
The paper outlines the policy context and summarizes the numerous policy issues that AD raises from the more generic to the unique. It posits that strong public fears of AD and its future prevalence projections and costs, raise increasingly difficult policy dilemmas. After reviewing the costs in human lives and money and discussing the latest U.S. policy initiatives, the paper presents two policy areas as examples the demanding policy decisions we face. The first focuses on the basic regulatory function of (...) protecting the public from those who would exploit these fears. The second centers on the well-debated issues of advance directives and euthanasia that surround AD. Although more dialogue, education and research funding are needed to best serve the interests of AD patients and families as well as society at large, this will be challenging because of the strong feelings and divisions AD engenders. (shrink)
A dialogue-based analysis of informal fallacies does not provide a fully adequate explanation of our intuitions about what is wrong with ad baculum and of when it is admissible and when it is not. The dialogue-based analysis explains well why mild, benign threats can be legitimate in some situations, such as cooperative bargaining and negotiation, but does not satisfactorily account for what is objectionable about more malicious uses of threats to coerce and to intimidate. I propose an alternative deriving partly (...) from virtue theory in ethics and epistemology and partly from Kantian principles of respect for persons as ends-in-themselves. I examine some specific kinds of social relations, e.g., parent-child and partner relationships, and ask what kinds of threats are permissible in these relationships and especially what is wrong with the objectionable threats. My explanation is framed in terms of the good character and contributing virtues of the ideal parent or partner on the one hand, and the bad character and contributing vices of the abusive parent or violent partner on the other. This analysis puts the discussion of theats in the context of virtue theory, of human flourishing, and of the kind of social relations it is best to have. In general, what's wrong with argumentum ad baculum should be explained in terms of the intentions, purposes, and character of threateners, and the differences in intentions and purposes for which threats are made. The characters of those who make the threats will provide the criteria for distinguishing benign and malicious threats. (shrink)
Scientific editors’ policies, including peer review, are based mainly on tradition and belief. Do they actually achieve their desired effects, the selection of the best manuscripts and improvement of those published? Editorial decisions have important consequences—to investigators, the scientific community, and all who might benefit from correct information or be harmed by misleading research results. These decisions should be judged not just by intentions of reviewers and editors but also by the actual consequences of their actions. A small but growing (...) number of studies has put editorial policies to a strong scientific test. In a randomized, controlled trial. blinding reviewers to author and institution was usually successful and improved the quality of reviews. Two studies have shown that, contrary to conventional wisdom, reviewers early in their careers give better reviews than senior reviewers. Many studies have shown low agreement between reviewers but there is disagreement about whether this represents a failing of peer review or the expected and valuable effect of choosing reviewers with complementary expertise. In a study of whether manuscripts are improved by peer review and editing, articles published in Annals of Internal Medicine were improved in 33 of 34 dimensions of reporting quality, but published articles still had room for improvement. Because of the central place of peer review in the scientific community and the resources it requires, more studies are needed to define what it does and does not accomplish. (shrink)