Communication by scientists with policy makers and attentive publics raises ethical issues. Scientists need to decide how to communicate knowledge effectively in a way that nonscientists can understand and use, while remaining honest scientists and presenting estimates of the uncertainty of their inferences. They need to understand their own ethical choices in using scientific information to communicate to audiences. These issues were salient in the Fourth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with respect to possible sea level rise (...) from disintegration of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. Due to uncertainty, the reported values of projected sea level rise were incomplete, potentially leading some relevant audiences to underestimate future risk. Such judgments should be made in a principled rather than an ad hoc manner. Five principles for scientific communication under such conditions are important: honesty, precision, audience relevance, process transparency, and specification of uncertainty about conclusions. Some of these principles are of intrinsic importance while others are merely instrumental and subject to trade-offs among them. Scientists engaged in assessments under uncertainty should understand these principles and which trade-offs are acceptable. (shrink)
This chapter compares the social behaviour of human hunter-gatherers with that of the better-studied chimpanzee species, Pan troglodytes, in an attempt to pinpoint the unique features of human social evolution. Although hunter-gatherers and chimpanzees living in central Africa have similar body weights, humans live at much lower population densities due to their greater dependence on predation. Human foraging parties have longer duration than those of chimpanzees, lasting hours rather than minutes, and a higher level of mutual dependence, through the division (...) of labour between men and women ; which is in turn related to pair-bonding, and meat sharing to reduce the risk of individual hunters' failure on any particular day. The band appears to be a uniquely human social unit that resolves the tension between greater dispersion and greater interdependence. (shrink)
Random noise in the neurobiology of animals allows for the generation of alternative possibilities for action. In lower animals, this shows up as behavioral freedom. Animals are not causally predetermined by prior events going back in a causal chain to the origin of the universe. In higher animals, randomness can be consciously invoked to generate surprising new behaviors. In humans, creative new ideas can be critically evaluated and deliberated. On reflection, options can be rejected and sent back for “second thoughts” (...) before a final responsible decision and action. When the indeterminism is limited to the early stage of a mental decision, the later decision itself can be described as adequately determined. This is called the two-stage model, first the “free” generation of ideas, then an adequately determinism evaluation and selection process we call “will.”. (shrink)
The authors articulate a global public standard for the normative legitimacy of global governance institutions. This standard can provide the basis for principled criticism of global governance institutions and guide reform efforts in circumstances in which people disagree deeply about the demands of global justice and the role that global governance institutions should play in meeting them.
Accountability is the key to ensuring the fairness of rules governing the preventive use of force. Buchanan and Keohane propose a scheme that would make those promoting and those rejecting the preventive use of force more accountable.
Irish Travellers constitute a pre-demographic-shift population living among a post-demographic-shift one. Their socio-medico profile identifies them as largely on fast life-history trajectories. In addition, they are strongly religious, highly sexually behaviorally dimorphic, with strong traditions of male-male competition and quasi-symbolic bride capture. Their male-male competitions thus allow for the comparative testing of a number of interesting theories pertaining to the nature and function of types of violence in society. As a pilot study, we used expert raters to analyze a number (...) of real-life bare-knuckle competitions in terms of the support said spectacles offered to theories of this sort of violence as reinforcing ideas of antisociality, hierarchical promotion, intersexual signaling, or maintenance of within-group equality. We found good evidence to support theories of within-group, prosocial hierarchical functions for these contests. Limitations and implications for future research, such as direct measurement of fitness, are discussed. (shrink)
Now this is disastrous, not only because the richest and most profound aspect of being is lost, but also because such an approach cannot avoid falsifying our understanding of the real. For only in the concrete experience of self--not a knowledge of a certain object that might be so designated, but as the absolutely incom- municable presence of the I --can the significance of being as an absolute and unconditioned value, which at the same time founds a radical plurality whose (...) unique terms resist absorption into a common denominator, be properly grasped. The idea of being envelopes the value of what is most intimate in the subject; the I who thinks being, and the act by which I think it, and my liberty which takes its stand in its presence, and whatever is most interior and most singular in my personal attitude--all this is being, and in being. And instead of relegating the subject to the investigations of some other branch of study, the self, we must insist, occupies a privileged place in metaphysics. It is the manifestation par excellence in which being presents itself to us as an absolute value and first reveals what it means really to exist. (shrink)
This paper investigates the impact of activism on a large, powerful corporation in Tasmania. Gunns Ltd was a large woodchip processor in Tasmania that fought a long-running battle with environmental activists regarding Gunns’ logging and processing activities. The study focuses on events in 2004–2005, when Gunns applied to build a pulp mill in rural northern Tasmania and began a legal case against activists. The research question is whether there is clear statistical evidence that these events were important, as is widely (...) believed, in the ultimate failure of Gunns in, just 6 years after being the largest and one of the most financially successful Tasmanian companies. We use a mixed methods approach that combines a detailed narrative informed by theory, to examine issues of corporate social responsibility and ethical behaviour, with an econometric time series analysis of the impact of activism on the market value of Gunns. Our analysis supports the contention that the events in 2004–2005 played a significant part in the decline of the long-run market value of Gunns over the subsequent period, through to its failure in 2011. We discuss the underlying causes for Gunns’ failure in terms of agency, stakeholder, legitimacy and leadership theories. Research frequently assesses effects such as those in the Gunns’ case through solely qualitative means. This paper integrates a quantitative analysis into a detailed qualitative narrative and theoretical interpretation of events, to provide additional precision to its findings. It contributes to research in CSR and the impact of activism. (shrink)
Teachers help steady modern democracy by teaching children the limits of liberty and by cultivating the social virtues -- trust, cooperation, helpfulness, and the like -- upon which civil society depends. We need not only to recognize this but also to avoid education policies that undermine their willingness and ability to do so.
In their article “Just War and Unjust Soldiers: American Public Opinion on the Moral Equality of Combatants,” Scott Sagan and Benjamin Valentino argue that the American public evaluates soldiers’ wartime actions more according to whether the war they are fighting was initiated justly, than on their actions during warfare. In this respect, their views are more similar to those of revisionist philosophers than to those of traditional just war theorists. Before leaping to broad conclusions from their survey, it should be (...) replicated. If the findings hold in the replication, intriguing questions could be asked about comparative cross-national attitudes and about the relationship between democracy and war. (shrink)