Plant genome editing has the potential to become another chapter in the intractable debate that has dogged agricultural biotechnology. In 2016, 107 Nobel Laureates accused Greenpeace of emotional and dogmatic campaigning against agricultural biotechnology and called for governments to defy such campaigning. The Laureates invoke the authority of science to argue that Greenpeace is putting lives at risk by opposing agricultural biotechnology and Golden Rice and is notable in framing Greenpeace as unethical and its views as marginal. This paper (...) examines environmental, food and farming NGOs’ social and ethical concerns about genome editing, situating these concerns in comparison to alternative ethical assessments provided by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, a key actor in this policy debate. In doing so, we show that participant NGOs and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics share considerable concerns about the social and ethical implications of genome editing. These concerns include choices over problem/solution framing and broader terminology, implications of regulatory and research choices on consumer choice and relations of power. However, GM-engaged NGOs and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics diverge on one important area: the NGOs seek to challenge the existing order and broaden the scope of debate to include deeply political questions regarding agricultural and technological choices. This distinction between the ethical positions means that NGOs provide valuable ethical insight and a useful lens to open up debate and discussion on the role of emerging technologies, such as genome editing, and the future of agriculture and food sovereignty. (shrink)
This article examines the complex intertwinements of feminism, anti-colonial Marxism and imperialism in the work of the recent Literature Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing, particularly in her writings on colonial Africa and the travelogue African Laughter. The article outlines the implications of these intersections for the representation of Zimbabwe against some political, aesthetic and epistemological developments in Lessing's oeuvre. Through a reading of African Laughter, the article argues that a crucial tension is at stake between Lessing's political project of giving (...) voice to black Zimbabweans and the western female protagonist as the authoritative subject of this project. The aim is to render an innovative perspective of Doris Lessing's status as a feminist icon, which she gained in the wake of her acclaimed novel The Golden Notebook, by proceeding from postcolonial feminist scholarship. (shrink)
Wattles offers a comprehensive survey of the history of the golden rule, "Do unto others as you want others to do unto you". He traces the rule's history in contexts as diverse as the writings of Confucius and the Greek philosophers, the Bible, modern theology and philosophy, and the American "self-help" context. He concludes by offering his own synthesis of these varied understandings.
Generic generalizations such as ‘mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus’ or ‘sharks attack bathers’ are often accepted by speakers despite the fact that very few members of the kinds in question have the predicated property. Previous work suggests that such low-prevalence generalizations may be accepted when the properties in question are dangerous, harmful, or appalling. This paper argues that the study of such generic generalizations sheds light on a particular class of prejudiced social beliefs, and points to new ways in (...) which those beliefs might be undermined and combatted. (shrink)
Sarah Moss argues that in addition to full beliefs, credences can constitute knowledge. She introduces the notion of probabilistic content and shows how it plays a central role not only in epistemology, but in the philosophy of mind and language. Just you can believe and assert propositions, you can believe and assert probabilistic contents.
In this incisive study Sarah Broadie gives an argued account of the main topics of Aristotle's ethics: eudaimonia, virtue, voluntary agency, practical reason, akrasia, pleasure, and the ethical status of theoria. She explores the sense of "eudaimonia," probes Aristotle's division of the soul and its virtues, and traces the ambiguities in "voluntary." Fresh light is shed on his comparison of practical wisdom with other kinds of knowledge, and a realistic account is developed of Aristototelian deliberation. The concept of pleasure (...) as value-judgment is expounded, and the problem of akrasia is argued to be less of a problem to Aristotle than to his modern interpreters. Showing that the theoretic ideal of Nicomachean Ethics X is in step with the earlier emphasis on practice, as well as with the doctrine of the Eudemian Ethics, this work makes a major contribution towards the understanding of Aristotle's ethics. (shrink)
In her excellent and comprehensive article, Friesen argues that utilising personal responsibility in healthcare is problematic in several ways: it is difficult to ascribe responsibility to behaviour; there is a risk of prejudice and bias in deciding which behaviours a person should be held responsible for; it may be ineffective at reducing health costs. In this short commentary, I will elaborate the critique of personal responsibility in health but suggest one way in which it could be used ethically. In doing (...) so, I will introduce the concepts of reasonable risk and golden opportunity. I previously argued that it is both difficult to disentangle responsibility and that we risk prejudice and bias in singling out behaviours that are socially disapproved of.1 So I am sympathetic to Friesen’s concerns. I also discussed another way in which ascribing personal responsibility for health is problematic which Friesen does not discuss and which, in my view, is the most concerning and further supports her arguments. It represents a back door assault on liberalism and neutrality towards concepts of the good life. Even if one were to accurately and in an unbiased way divine the personal contribution to disease, the greatest problem would remain: those who voluntarily take on risk would be penalised. That is, such a system would be risk-averse. Those lives which avoided risk would be prioritised, while those who chose to take on risky activities in their conception of the good life would be penalised. Yet risk is necessary, both for the good life, and social progress. Columbus, Edmund Hilary, Florence Nightingale, Ernest Hemingway and countless monumental figures in human history took risks in order to achieve something great. Should we aim for a society of trembling, teetotalling health nuts? Surely that prospect is horrific. It is horrific because it elevates health …. (shrink)
Many of our most important goals require months or even years of effort to achieve, and some never get achieved at all. As social psychologists have lately emphasized, success in pursuing such goals requires the capacity for perseverance, or "grit." Philosophers have had little to say about grit, however, insofar as it differs from more familiar notions of willpower or continence. This leaves us ill-equipped to assess the social and moral implications of promoting grit. We propose that grit has an (...) important epistemic component, in that failures of perseverance are often caused by a significant loss of confidence that one will succeed if one continues to try. Correspondingly, successful exercises of grit often involve a kind of epistemic resilience in the face of failure, injury, rejection, and other setbacks that constitute genuine evidence that success is not forthcoming. Given this, we discuss whether and to what extent displays of grit can be epistemically as well as practically rational. We conclude that they can be (although many are not), and that the rationality of grit will depend partly on features of the context the agent normally finds herself in. In particular, grit-friendly norms of deliberation might be irrational to use in contexts of severe material scarcity or oppression. (shrink)
Some omissions seem to be causes. For example, suppose Barry promises to water Alice’s plant, doesn’t water it, and that the plant then dries up and dies. Barry’s not watering the plant – his omitting to water the plant – caused its death. But there is reason to believe that if omissions are ever causes, then there is far more causation by omission than we ordinarily think. In other words, there is reason to think the following thesis true.
The traditional Christian version of the Golden Rule, some modern philosophical reformulations, and the Confucian version are compared. It is argued that the Confucian version, in contrast with its Western parallels, is based on shu as bodily or somatic interpersonal care and love, and thus should be understood first of all as a human "way" rather than as a divine rule, a way grounded in the human heart and a way for the human community.
This paper defines and defends time-slice epistemology, according to which there are no essentially diachronic norms of rationality. First I motivate and distinguish two notions of time-slice epistemology. Then I defend time-slice theories of action under indeterminacy, i.e. theories about how you should act when the outcome of your decision depends on some indeterminate claim. I raise objections to a theory of action under indeterminacy recently defended by Robbie Williams, and I propose some alternative theories in its place. Throughout this (...) discussion, I defend a more general moral about action under indeterminacy, namely that time-slice theories are supported by strong analogies with ethical theories. In particular, our understanding of agents torn between interpretations of a decision situation should be guided by our theories of agents torn between incommensurable values. (shrink)
This article provides a history of private sector tracking technologies, examining how the advent of commercial surveillance centered around a logic of data capitalism. Data capitalism is a system in which the commoditization of our data enables an asymmetric redistribution of power that is weighted toward the actors who have access and the capability to make sense of information. It is enacted through capitalism and justified by the association of networked technologies with the political and social benefits of online community, (...) drawing upon narratives that foreground the social and political benefits of networked technologies. I examine its origins in the wake of the dotcom bubble, when technology makers sought to develop a new business model to support online commerce. By leveraging user data for advertising purposes, they contributed to an information environment in which every action leaves behind traces collected by companies for commercial purposes. Through analysis of primary source materials produced by technology makers, journalists, and business analysts, I examine the emergence of data capitalism between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s and its central role in the contemporary information economy. (shrink)
Since Mill's seminal work On Liberty, philosophers and political theorists have accepted that we should respect the decisions of individual agents when those decisions affect no one other than themselves. Indeed, to respect autonomy is often understood to be the chief way to bear witness to the intrinsic value of persons. In this book, Sarah Conly rejects the idea of autonomy as inviolable. Drawing on sources from behavioural economics and social psychology, she argues that we are so often irrational (...) in making our decisions that our autonomous choices often undercut the achievement of our own goals. Thus in many cases it would advance our goals more effectively if government were to prevent us from acting in accordance with our decisions. Her argument challenges widely held views of moral agency, democratic values and the public/private distinction, and will interest readers in ethics, political philosophy, political theory and philosophy of law. (shrink)
Conceptual engineering is to be explained by appeal to the externalist distinction between concepts and conceptions. If concepts are determined by non-conceptual relations to objective properties rather than by associated conceptions (whether individual or communal), then topic preservation through semantic change will be possible. The requisite level of objectivity is guaranteed by the possibility of collective error and does not depend on a stronger level of objectivity, such as mind-independence or independence from linguistic or social practice more generally. This means (...) that the requisite level of objectivity is exhibited not only by natural kinds, but also by a wide range of philosophical kinds, social kinds and artefactual kinds. The alternative externalist accounts of conceptual engineering offered by Herman Cappelen and Derek Ball fall back into a kind of descriptivism which is antithetical to externalism and fails to recognise this basic level of objectivity. (shrink)
Jan Westerhoff unfolds the story of one of the richest episodes in the history of Indian thought, the development of Buddhist philosophy during the first millennium CE. He aims to offer the reader a systematic grasp of key Buddhist concepts such as non-self, suffering, reincarnation, karma, and nirvana.
We have been teaching gender issues and feminist theory for many years, and we know that there is certainly a diversity of views among women, and men, about what counts as feminist or as good for women. Some may see a competent woman running for V.P as inevitably a step forward for women's equality. But consider this.
The phenomenon of globalization of markets has been accompanied by calls for a globalization of ethical norms. One principle often referred to in such calls is the so-called Golden Rule. The rule, often stated as Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, has long been used and referenced in the business literature. But those who use it often do so without full realization of the rule itself and what it stands for. This paper examines the (...) history, meaning, and problems of the rule and attempts to show, through a case analysis, how these problems surface when using the rule in a business context. In so doing it attempts to clarify exactly what the rule means and how it can fit into a universal code of morality. (shrink)
The Golden Rule has received remarkably little philosophical discussion. No book has ever been written on it, and articles devoted to it have been exceedingly few, and usually not very searching. It is usually mentioned, where it is mentioned at all, only in passing, and most of these passing remarks have either been false, trite, or misleading, though some of them, as we shall see, have certainly been interesting enough. Considering its obvious importance and its almost universal acceptance, this (...) dearth of philosophical discussion is unfortunate, and also somewhat surprising. One of the things I hope to show about it, though only incidentally, is that there are problems connected with it of the utmost subtlety, worthy of the attention of even the most minute philosophers. (shrink)
This chapter defines and defends time-slice epistemology, according to which there are no essentially diachronic norms of rationality. The chapter begins by distinguishing two notions of time-slice epistemology, and ends by defending time-slice theories of action under indeterminacy, i.e. theories about how you should act when the outcome of your decision depends on some indeterminate claim. In a recent chapter, J. Robert G. Williams defends a theory of action under indeterminacy which is subject to several objections. An alternative theory is (...) proposed in its place. The resulting discussion highlights a more general moral about action under indeterminacy, namely that time-slice theories are supported by strong analogies with ethical theories. In particular, our understanding of agents torn between interpretations of a decision situation should be guided by our theories of agents torn between incommensurable values. (shrink)
"The golden rule" (Matthew 7:12) is a formulation of natural moral law, a logical way to divide good from evil. It has been attacked by J.W. Hennessey, Jr. and Bernard Gert as a "particularist preachment." On the contrary, it remains a useful, universal guide to moral conduct and cannot be considered a self-centered, subjective guide to the moral life. We must agree with Jeffrey Wattles that there are multiple possible meanings to the "rule", some legitimate and some spurious. The (...) legitimate meanings, such as the "standard of God-like behavior," all yield the same judgment on morally doubtful actions such as forgery. The so-called "platinum" rule, "Do unto others as they would have you do unto them" has face appeal, but is fatally flawed in its logic, and does not supercede "the golden rule" because part of the treatment I wish from others is a full understanding of my true needs and wishes, even when I do not judge my own needs correctly. (shrink)
Relaxed realists hold that there are deep differences between moral truths and the truths studied by the empirical sciences, but they deny that these differences raise troubling metaphysical or epistemological questions about moral truths. On this view, although features such as causal inefficacy, perceptual inaccessibility, and failure to figure in the best explanations of our empirical beliefs would raise pressing skeptical concerns were they claimed to characterize some aspect of physical reality, the same is not true when it comes to (...) the moral domain. This chapter raises some doubts about this general picture of morality and some prominent ways of defending it. First, it takes up a comparison that is frequently invoked by relaxed realists, and one on which they often place a great deal of weight: a comparison between irreducibly normative properties and truths on the one hand, and mathematical properties and truths on the other. It argues that this comparison is much less favorable to the relaxed realist’s cause than is often thought. It then offers an extended critique of a particularly vigorous and sustained presentation of relaxed realism: that offered by Ronald Dworkin in Justice for Hedgehogs. (shrink)
A thorough analysis of the Golden Rule (GR) is given including formal investigations of its logical structure and essential implications. Starting with the general distinction of positive and negative forms of GR a set of sixteen formal implications, one for each variant of the rule, is presented. The moral acceptability of the output of the different versions of GR is assessed in various problem contexts and in discussing several objections to GR with the conclusion that GR is hopelessly inadequate (...) as a general criterion of moral choice. (shrink)
Ducks lay eggs' is a true sentence, and `ducks are female' is a false one. Similarly, `mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus' is obviously true, whereas `mosquitoes don't carry the West Nile virus' is patently false. This is so despite the egg-laying ducks' being a subset of the female ones and despite the number of mosquitoes that don't carry the virus being ninety-nine times the number that do. Puzzling facts such as these have made generic sentences defy adequate semantic treatment. (...) However complex the truth conditions of generics appear to be, though, young children grasp generics more quickly and readily than seemingly simpler quantifiers such as `all' and `some'. I present an account of generics that not only illuminates the strange truth conditions of generics, but also explains how young children find them so comparatively easy to acquire. I then argue that generics give voice to our most cognitively primitive generalizations and that this hypothesis accounts for a variety of facts ranging from acquisition patterns to cross-linguistic data concerning the phonological articulation of operators. I go on to develop an account of the nature of these cognitively fundamental generalizations and argue that this account explains the strange truth-conditional behavior of generics. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop a neglected puzzle for the moral realist. I then canvass some potential responses. Although I endorse one response as the most promising of those I survey, my primary goal is to make vivid how formidable the puzzle is, as opposed to offering a definitive solution.
Plato's Timaeus is one of the most influential and challenging works of ancient philosophy to have come down to us. Sarah Broadie's rich and compelling study proposes new interpretations of major elements of the Timaeus, including the separate Demiurge, the cosmic 'beginning', the 'second mixing', the Receptacle and the Atlantis story. Broadie shows how Plato deploys the mythic themes of the Timaeus to convey fundamental philosophical insights and examines the profoundly differing methods of interpretation which have been brought to (...) bear on the work. Her book is for everyone interested in Ancient Greek philosophy, cosmology and mythology, whether classicists, philosophers, historians of ideas or historians of science. It offers new findings to scholars familiar with the material, but it is also a clear and reliable resource for anyone coming to it for the first time. (shrink)
One of the main themes that has emerged from behavioral decision research during the past three decades is the view that people's preferences are often constructed in the process of elicitation. This idea is derived from studies demonstrating that normatively equivalent methods of elicitation (e.g., choice and pricing) give rise to systematically different responses. These preference reversals violate the principle of procedure invariance that is fundamental to all theories of rational choice. If different elicitation procedures produce different orderings of options, (...) how can preferences be defined and in what sense do they exist? This book shows not only the historical roots of preference construction but also the blossoming of the concept within psychology, law, marketing, philosophy, environmental policy, and economics. Decision making is now understood to be a highly contingent form of information processing, sensitive to task complexity, time pressure, response mode, framing, reference points, and other contextual factors. (shrink)
In a new English translation by Christopher Rowe, this great classic of moral philosophy is accompanied here by an extended introduction and detailed lin-by-line commentary by Sarah Broadie. Assuming no knowledge of Greek, her scholarly and instructive approach will prove invaluable for students reading the text for the first time. This thorough treatment of Aristotle's text will be an indispensable resource for students, teachers, and scholars alike.
In this paper, I argue that content externalism and privileged access are compatible, but that one can, in a sense, have privileged access to the world. The supposedly absurd conclusion should be embraced.
Toward a Sociology of Conflict of Interest in Medical Research Content Type Journal Article Category Case Studies Pages 389-391 DOI 10.1007/s11673-011-9332-0 Authors Sarah Winch, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia 4072 Michael Sinnott, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia 4072 Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529 Journal Volume Volume 8 Journal Issue Volume 8, Number 4.
This is an attack on the very notion of narrow content. In particular, I argue against two-factor theories of mental content, Chalmers's epistemic two-dimensional account of narrow content and Segal's truth-conditional account of narrow content.
Was there ever a golden age of academe: a time when academics were able to pursue their own interests, had relatively light and undemanding teaching responsibilities, and enjoyed widespread respect from both the general public and policy makers? This article explores that question, primarily in the context of the United Kingdom, but with some reference to other systems as well. It attempts to separate the mythical elements of the golden age from the reported memories and analyses of both (...) those who were there at the time and subsequent authors. (shrink)
Among the many practical failures that threaten us, weakness of will or akrasia is often considered to be a paradigm of irrationality. The eleven new essays in this collection, written by an excellent international team of philosophers, some well-established, some younger scholars, give a rich overview of the current debate over weakness of will and practical irrationality more generally. Issues covered include classical questions such as the distinction between weakness and compulsion, the connection between evaluative judgement and motivation, the role (...) of emotions in akrasia, rational agency, and the existence of the will. The also include new topics, such as group akrasia, strength of will, the nature of correct choice, the structure of decision theory, the temporality of prudential reasons, and emotional rationality. Because these questions cut across philosophy of mind and ethics, the collection will be essential reading for scholars, postgraduates, and upper-level undergraduates in both these fields. (shrink)
Recently, von Fintel (2001) and Gillies (2007) have argued that certain sequences of counterfactuals, namely reverse Sobel sequences, should motivate us to abandon standard truth conditional theories of counterfactuals for dynamic semantic theories. I argue that we can give a pragmatic account of our judgments about counterfactuals without giving up the standard semantics. In particular, I introduce a pragmatic principle governing assertability, and I use this principle to explain a variety of subtle data concerning reverse Sobel sequences.
A compelling argument for the morality of limitations on procreation in lessening the harmful environmental effects of unchecked populationWe live in a world where a burgeoning global population has started to have a major and destructive environmental impact. The results, including climate change and the struggle for limited resources, appear to be inevitable aspects of a difficult future. Mandatory population control might be a possible last resort to combat this problem, but is also a potentially immoral and undesirable violation of (...) human rights. Since so many view procreation as an essential component of the right to personal happiness and autonomy, the dominant view remains that the government does not have the right to impose these restrictions on its own citizens, for the sake of future people who have yet to exist.Sarah Conly is first to make the contentious argument that not only is it wrong to have more than one child in the face of such concerns, we do not even retain the right to do so. In One Child, Conly argues that autonomy and personal rights are not unlimited, especially if one's body may cause harm to anyone, and that the government has a moral obligation to protect both current and future citizens. Conly gives readers a thought-provoking and accessible exposure to the problem of population growth and develops a credible view of what our moral obligations really are, to generations present and future. (shrink)