Ryan, Jennie A current search of reliable internet sources gives the present number of recognised major world religions as somewhere between twenty two and twenty five. These religions have approximately 6.9 billion adherents. Recent meta-analysis of a range of surveys into non-belief in 'God' has reported that between 7% and 10% of the world's population identifies as non-theistic . Out of the top fifty countries with the largest percentage of self-professed atheists, , close to 80% are developed, democratic, mostly (...) European countries, with high standards of public healthcare and accessible food, water and housing. (shrink)
Social evolution theory conventionally takes an externalist explanatory stance, treating observed cooperation as explanandum and the positive assortment of cooperative behaviour as explanans. We ask how the circumstances bringing about this positive assortment arose in the first place. Rather than merely push the explanatory problem back a step, we move from an externalist to an interactionist explanatory stance, in the spirit of Lewontin and the Niche Construction theorists. We develop a theory of ‘social niche construction’ in which we consider biological (...) entities to be both the subject and object of their own social evolution. Some important cases of the evolution of cooperation have the side-effect of causing changes in the hierarchical level at which the evolutionary process acts. This is because the traits that act to align the fitness interests of particles in a collective can also act to diminish the extent to which those particles are bearers of heritable fitness variance, while augmenting the extent to which collectives of such particles are bearers of heritable fitness variance. In this way, we can explain upward transitions in the hierarchical level at which the Darwinian machine operates in terms of particle-level selection, even though the outcome of the process is a collective-level selection regime. Our theory avoids the logical and metaphysical paradoxes faced by other attempts to explain evolutionary transitions. (shrink)
Body integrity identity disorder is a very rare condition in which people experience long-standing anguish because there is a mismatch between their bodies and their internal image of how their bodies should be. Most typically, these people are deeply distressed by the presence of what they openly acknowledge as a perfectly normal leg. Some with the condition request that their limb be amputated. 1 We and others have argued that such requests should be acceded to in carefully selected patients.1–4 Consistent (...) with this view, a group at the University of Sydney is developing a programme to better understand and treat BIID and to offer amputation if appropriate. In a recent paper, Patrone argues that such amputations should be prohibited.5 He suggests that authors supporting amputation in BIID depend on analogies with more familiar conditions and then claim that the ‘the desires, choices and requests of BIID patients should be held to exactly the same standards and treated with exactly the same respect as the desires, choices and requests of any more conventional patient’.5 He believes that these analogies are invalid and that therefore the arguments for amputation are invalid.Patrone concentrates a great deal upon whether a decision to have a particular medical intervention is to be regarded as ‘rational’. Unfortunately, he makes no attempt to define what he …. (shrink)
Michael Ryan (d. 1840) remains one of the most mysterious figures in the history of medical ethics, despite the fact that he was the only British physician during the middle years of the 19th century to write about ethics in a systematic way. Michael Ryan’s Writings on Medical Ethics offers both an annotated reprint of his key ethical writings, and an extensive introductory essay that fills in many previously unknown details of Ryan’s life, analyzes the significance of (...) his ethical works, and places him within the historical trajectory of the field of medical ethics. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill is—surprisingly—a difficult writer. He writes clearly, non-technically, and in a very plain prose which Bertrand Russell once described as a model for philosophers. It is never hard to see what the general drift of the argument is, and never hard to see which side he is on. He is, none the less, a difficult writer because his clarity hides complicated arguments and assumptions which often take a good deal of unpicking. And when we have done that unpicking, (...) the task of analysing the merits and deficiencies of the arguments is still only half completed. This is true of all his work and particularly true of Liberty. It is an essay whose clarity and energy have made it the most popular of all Mill's work. Yet it conceals philosophical, sociological and historical assumptions of a very debatable kind. In his introduction, Mill says the object of this essay is to defend one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. (shrink)
This paper is a small contribution to two large subjects. The first large subject is that of exploitation—what it is for somebody to be exploited, in what ways people can be and are exploited, whether exploitation necessarily involves coercion, what Marx's understanding of exploitation was and whether it was adequate: all these are issues on which I merely touch, at best. My particular concern here is to answer the two questions, whether Marx thought capitalist exploitation unjust and how the answer (...) to that question illuminates Marx's conception of morality in general. The second large subject is that of the nature of morality—whether there are specifically moral values and specifically moral forms of evaluation and criticism, how these relate to our explanatory interests in the same phenomena, what it would be like to abandon the ‘moral point of view’, whether the growth of a scientific understanding of society and ourselves inevitably undermines our confidence in the existence of moral ‘truths’. These again are issues on which I only touch if I mention them at all, but the questions I try to answer are, what does Marx propose to put in the place of moral judgment, and what kind of assessment of the horrors of capitalism does he provide if not a moral assessment? (shrink)
There are at least three tolerably distinct views about the connections between liberty and property; two of these I shall discuss fairly briefly in order to get on to Mill's central claims about the relationship between property rights and freedom, but in conclusion I shall return to them to show how they bear on what Mill has to say.
Pain asymbolia is a rare condition caused by brain damage, usually in adulthood. Asymbolics feel pain but appear indifferent to it, and indifferent also to visual and verbal threats. How should we make sense of this? Nikola Grahek thinks asymbolics’ pains are abnormal, lacking a component that make normal pains unpleasant and motivating. Colin Klein thinks that what is abnormal is not asymbolics’ pains, but asymbolics: they have a psychological deficit making them unresponsive to unpleasant pain. I argue that an (...) illuminating account requires elements of both views. Asymbolic pains are indeed abnormal, but they are abnormal because asymbolics are. I agree with Klein that asymbolics are incapable of caring about their bodily integrity; but I argue against him that, if this is to explain not only their indifference to visual and verbal threat, but also their indifference to pain, we must do the following: take asymbolics’ lack of bodily care not as an alternative to, but as an explanation of their pains’ missing a component, and claim that the missing component consists in evaluative content. Asymbolia, I conclude, reveals not only that unpleasant pain is composite, but that its ‘hedomotive component’ is evaluative. (shrink)
Two of the most potent challenges faced by scientific realism are the underdetermination of theories by data, and the pessimistic induction based on theories previously held to be true, but subsequently acknowledged as false. Recently, Stanford (2006, Exceeding our grasp: Science, history, and the problem of unconceived alternatives. Oxford: Oxford University Press) has formulated what he calls the problem of unconceived alternatives: a version of the underdetermination thesis combined with a historical argument of the same form as the pessimistic induction. (...) In this paper, I contend that while Stanford does present a novel antirealist argument, a successful response to the pessimistic induction would likewise defuse the problem of unconceived alternatives, and that a more selective and sophisticated realism than that which he allows is arguably immune to both concerns. (shrink)
Ted Warfield has argued that if Ockhamism and Molinism offer different responses to the problems of foreknowledge and prophecy, it is the Molinist who is in trouble. I show here that this is not so – indeed, things may be quite the reverse.
Some philosophers (such as Kant and Rawls) think it is only wrong to be cruel to cats because it will make one behave cruelly to humans. This explanation is unsatisfactory. Why? Because being cruel to your cat is a direct wrong to your cat regardless of the effects it has on other humans. Ascribing the wrongness of cruelty to the fact it will make one callous to other humans is to assess the character of the cruel person not the act (...) they are performing. Cruelty to your cat is wrong because it wrongs your cat directly. (shrink)
Zusammenfassung Der Beitrag untersucht den Gebrauch von Moral in der Kommunikation zwischen Trainer und Athleten im Spitzensport. Dabei wird moralische Kommunikation aus systemtheoretischer Perspektive als soziale Tatsache konstruiert, um im Lichte dieser Konstruktion konkrete Beispiele aus den Sportarten Handball und Hockey analysieren und im Hinblick auf ihre Funktionen und Folgen reflektieren zu können. Die Ergebnisse dieser Analysen münden in Empfehlungen an Trainer, die zu einem sensiblen Umgang mit Moral raten, da insbesondere dem polemogenen Charakter moralischer und moralisierender Kommunikation Rechnung zu (...) tragen ist. (shrink)