This essay maintains that the logical distinction between ‘is’ and ‘ought’ does not amount to a dichotomy between the natural order and the moral, or between speculative knowledge and practical. This essay thus clarifies an important and often misunderstood aspect of the natural law theory advanced by the Grisez School. While affirming the logical distinction of ‘is’ from ‘ought’, this essay attempts to argue that the principles of the moral order have a basis in human nature insofar as human nature (...) delimits the parameters of what is fulfilling for human persons. Furthermore, it is through the experience of one’s nature that one inductively grasps by a non-inferential insight the practical principles whose integral directiveness leads one to human fulfillment. The non-practical awareness of factual data one grasps in experience and which ground such a non-inferential practical insight is distinct from and more basic than reflexive, propositional, speculative knowledge (‘speculative knowledge proper’). Thus, practical understanding supposes some non-practical knowledge, although the non-practical knowledge supposed differs from speculative knowledge as ordinarily understood. Still, while the understanding of practical principles does not presuppose speculative knowledge proper, such speculative knowledge does contribute to practical reasoning in significant ways by supplying content crucial for adequate deliberation. (shrink)
In light of the variety of uses of the term autonomy in recent bioethics literature, in this paper, I suggest that competence, not being as contested, is better placed to play the anti-paternalistic role currently assigned to autonomy. The demonstration of competence, I will argue, can provide individuals with robust spheres of non-interference in which they can pursue their lives in accordance with their own values. This protection from paternalism is achieved by granting individuals rights to non-interference upon demonstration of (...) competence. In this paper, I present a risk-sensitive account of competence as a means of grounding rights to non-interference. On a risk-sensitive account of competence individuals demonstrate their competence by exercising three capacities to the extent necessary to meet a threshold determined by the riskiness of the decision. These three capacities are the capacity to acquire knowledge, use instrumental rationality, and form and revise a life plan. (shrink)
In _Pharmaceutical Freedom_ Professor Flanigan argues we ought to grant people self-medication rights for the same reasons we respect people’s right to give (or refuse to give) informed consent to treatment. Despite being the most comprehensive argument in favour of self-medication written to date, Flanigan’s _Pharmaceutical Freedom_ leaves a number of questions unanswered, making it unclear how the safe-guards Flanigan incorporates to protect people from harming themselves would work in practice. In this paper, I extend Professor Flanigan’s account by discussing (...) a hypothetical case to illustrate how these safe-guards could work together to protect people from harms caused by their own ignorance or incompetence. (shrink)
This article argues against the relevance of the enhancement/treatment and biomedical/non-biomedical enhancement distinctions by analysing their validity in two ways: their clarity and whether they track our intuitions regarding what is permissible and impermissible. The treatment/enhancement distinction is found to be deficient in both respects. The biomedical/non-biomedical distinction, whilst clear, does not track our intuitions regarding what is permissible and impermissible. The article concludes that, in order to help the enhancement medicine debate, the distinctions should be abandoned due to the (...) fact they hinder clear ethical analysis. (shrink)
The state currently grants the medical profession a monopolistic entitlement on the legal use of medical technology. As physicians are duty bound to not expose people to medically unnecessary harm, individuals who wish to engage in Body Modification Practices are effectively precluded from doing so as only physicians are legally entitled to use medical technology. In this article, I argue this is incompatible with respect for persons. Abolishing the medical monopoly allows us to meet the demands of respect for persons (...) by granting access to technology, whilst still upholding physicians’ right to refuse to provide requested services and thereby determine the boundaries of their profession according to what they consider to be the internal morality of medicine. (shrink)
What motives underlie the ways humans interact socially? Are these the same for all societies? Are these part of our nature, or influenced by our environments?Over the last decade, research in experimental economics has emphatically falsified the textbook representation of Homo economicus. Literally hundreds of experiments suggest that people care not only about their own material payoffs, but also about such things as fairness, equity and reciprocity. However, this research left fundamental questions unanswered: Are such social preferences stable components of (...) human nature; or, are they modulated by economic, social and cultural environments? Until now, experimental research could not address this question because virtually all subjects had been university students, and while there are cultural differences among student populations throughout the world, these differences are small compared to the full range of human social and cultural environments. A vast amount of ethnographic and historical research suggests that people's motives are influenced by economic, social, and cultural environments, yet such methods can only yield circumstantial evidence about human motives. Combining ethnographic and experimental approaches to fill this gap, this book breaks new ground in reporting the results of a large cross-cultural study aimed at determining the sources of social preferences that underlie the diversity of human sociality. The same experiments which provided evidence for social preferences among university students were performed in fifteen small-scale societies exhibiting a wide variety of social, economic and cultural conditions by experienced field researchers who had also done long-term ethnographic field work in these societies. The findings of these experiments demonstrated that no society in which experimental behaviour is consistent with the canonical model of self-interest. Indeed, results showed that the variation in behaviour is far greater than previously thought, and that the differences between societies in market integration and the importance of cooperation explain a substantial portion of this variation, which individual-level economic and demographic variables could not. Finally, the extent to which experimental play mirrors patterns of interaction found in everyday life is traced.The book starts with a succinct but substantive introduction to the use of game theory as an analytical tool and its use in the social sciences for the rigorous testing of hypotheses about fundamental aspects of social behaviour outside artificially constructed laboratories. The results of the fifteen case studies are summarized in a suggestive chapter about the scope of the project. (shrink)
The liar paradox is widely conceived as a problem for logic and semantics. On the basis of empirical studies presented here, we suggest that there is an underappreciated psychological dimension to the liar paradox and related problems, conceived as a problem for human thinkers. Specific findings suggest that how one interprets the liar sentence and similar paradoxes can vary in relation to one’s capacity for logical and reflective thought, acceptance of certain logical principles, and degree of philosophical training, but also (...) as a function of factors such as religious belief, gender, and whether the problem is treated as theoretical or practical. Though preliminary, these findings suggest that one reason the liar paradox resists a final resolution is that it engages both aspects described by so-called dual process accounts of human cognition. (shrink)
Why does performing certain tasks cause the aversive experience of mental effort and concomitant deterioration in task performance? One explanation posits a physical resource that is depleted over time. We propose an alternative explanation that centers on mental representations of the costs and benefits associated with task performance. Specifically, certain computational mechanisms, especially those associated with executive function, can be deployed for only a limited number of simultaneous tasks at any given moment. Consequently, the deployment of these computational mechanisms carries (...) an opportunity cost – that is, the next-best use to which these systems might be put. We argue that the phenomenology of effort can be understood as the felt output of these cost/benefit computations. In turn, the subjective experience of effort motivates reduced deployment of these computational mechanisms in the service of the present task. These opportunity cost representations, then, together with other cost/benefit calculations, determine effort expended and, everything else equal, result in performance reductions. In making our case for this position, we review alternative explanations for both the phenomenology of effort associated with these tasks and for performance reductions over time. Likewise, we review the broad range of relevant empirical results from across sub-disciplines, especially psychology and neuroscience. We hope that our proposal will help to build links among the diverse fields that have been addressing similar questions from different perspectives, and we emphasize ways in which alternative models might be empirically distinguished. (shrink)
Researchers from across the social sciences have found consistent deviations from the predictions of the canonical model of self-interest in hundreds of experiments from around the world. This research, however, cannot determine whether the uniformity results from universal patterns of human behavior or from the limited cultural variation available among the university students used in virtually all prior experimental work. To address this, we undertook a cross-cultural study of behavior in ultimatum, public goods, and dictator games in a range of (...) small-scale societies exhibiting a wide variety of economic and cultural conditions. We found, first, that the canonical model – based on self-interest – fails in all of the societies studied. Second, our data reveal substantially more behavioral variability across social groups than has been found in previous research. Third, group-level differences in economic organization and the structure of social interactions explain a substantial portion of the behavioral variation across societies: the higher the degree of market integration and the higher the payoffs to cooperation in everyday life, the greater the level of prosociality expressed in experimental games. Fourth, the available individual-level economic and demographic variables do not consistently explain game behavior, either within or across groups. Fifth, in many cases experimental play appears to reflect the common interactional patterns of everyday life. Key Words: altruism; cooperation; cross-cultural research; experimental economics; game theory; ultimatum game; public goods game; self-interest. (shrink)
This paper presents a simple mathematical model that shows how economic inequality between social groups can arise and be maintained even when the only adaptive learning process driving cultural evolution increases individuals’ economic gains. The key assumptions are that human populations are structured into groups and that cultural learning is more likely to occur within than between groups. Then, if groups are sufficiently isolated and there are potential gains from specialization and exchange, stable stratification can sometimes result. This model predicts (...) that stratification is favored, ceteris paribus, by (1) greater surplus production, (2) more equitable divisions of the surplus among specialists, (3) greater cultural isolation among subpopulations within a society, and (4) more weight given to economic success by cultural learners. (shrink)
Theories of discourse bring to realism new ideas about how knowledge develops and how representations of reality are influenced. We gain an understanding of the conceptual aspect of social life and the processes by which meaning is produced. This collection reflects the growing interest realist critics have shown towards forms of discourse theory and deconstruction. The diverse range of contributions address such issues as the work of Derrida and deconstruction, discourse theory, Eurocentrism and poststructuralism. What unites all of the contributions (...) is a sense that it is essential to provide a realist alternative to the hitherto dominance of social constructionism, hermeneutics and postmodernism, over many of the issues discussed. By developing a realist perspective the different authors attempt to embed discourse within the structured nature of the reality of the world. Realism can situate language, discourse and ideology within context specific, or 'causally efficacious' circumstances. Realism can help to uncover issues of power, representation, and subjectivity and how discursive and other social practices produce real effects. This can help us understand the manner in which social structures are reproduced through various forms of ideology and discourse. And by knowing this, we can start to address questions concerning human emancipation and how the world is to be transformed. (shrink)
This book introduces Robert Corrington’s “ecstatic naturalism,” a new perspective in understanding “sacred” nature and naturalism, and explores what can be done with this philosophical thought. This is an excellent resource for scholars of Continental philosophy, philosophy of religion, and American pragmatism.
Robert Gordon (Ph.D., Columbia) works primarily in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. For his Master's degree he specialized in Medieval and Renaissance philosophy, with a thesis on Nicholas of Cusa. His doctoral dissertation was in ethics and metaethics, on universalizability and analogy in moral arguments.
A typical guiding principle of an account of truth is: “truth is objective,” or, to be clear, judging whether an assertion is true or false depends upon how things are in the world rather than how someone or some community believes it to be. Accordingly, whenever a claim is objectively true, its truth conditions ought not depend upon the context in which it is uttered or the utterer making the claim. Part of our ongoing empirical studies surveying people’s responses to (...) questions about truth involved prompts on objectivity. Our studies suggest the following: overall, individuals tend to endorse claims that are consistent with the objectivity of truth; not all conceptions of objectivity are equal, even people who endorse the objectivity of truth sometimes assent to one form of truth’s objectivity over other forms; philosophers and non-philosophers both endorse the objectivity of truth, but the apparent commitment of philosophers is stronger. (shrink)
Philosophical theorizing about truth manifests a desire to conform to the ordinary or folk notion of truth. This practice often involves attempts to accommodate some form of correspondence. We discuss this accommodation project in light of two empirical projects intended to describe the content of the ordinary conception of truth. One, due to Arne Naess, claims that the ordinary conception of truth is not correspondence. Our more recent study is consistent with Naess’ result. Our findings suggest that contextual factors and (...) respondent gender affect whether the folk accept that correspondence is sufficient for truth. These findings seem to show that the project of accommodating the ordinary notion of truth is more difficult than philosophers had anticipated because it is fragmentary. (shrink)
Although clinical ethics consultation is a high-stakes endeavor with an increasing prominence in health care systems, progress in developing standards for quality is challenging. In this article, we describe the results of a pilot project utilizing portfolios as an evaluation tool. We found that this approach is feasible and resulted in a reasonably wide distribution of scores among the 23 submitted portfolios that we evaluated. We discuss limitations and implications of these results, and suggest that this is a significant step (...) on the pathway to an eventual certification process for clinical ethics consultants. (shrink)