Thought experiments are profitably compared to compasses. A compass is a simple but useful device for determining direction. Nevertheless, it systematically errs in the presence of magnets ...it becomes unreliable near the North Pole, in mine shafts, when vibrated, in the presence of metal ...experts will wish to use the compass as one element in a wider portfolio of navigational techniques. Analogously, thought experiments are simple but useful devices for determining the status of propositions. Sadly, they systematically err under certain (...) conditions and so are best used with sensitivity to their foibles and limited scope (Sorensen, 1992, pp. 288–289). (shrink)
When the benefits of surgery do not outweigh the harms or where they do not clearly do so, surgical interventions become morally contested. Cutting to the Core examines a number of such surgeries, including infant male circumcision and cutting the genitals of female children, the separation of conjoined twins, surgical sex assignment of intersex children and the surgical re-assignment of transsexuals, limb and face transplantation, cosmetic surgery, and placebo surgery.
It has been suggested by many philosophers that the cosmos cries out for explanation. They base this claim on the fact that many of the fundamental characteristics of the cosmos seem to have to be incredibly ’fine-tuned’ to permit the existence of intelligent life. They further claim from this ’fine-tuning’ that the cosmos is highly improbable, and thus requires an explanation. In recent times, these views have been criticized by writers, such as Quentin Smith, who suggest that no explanation for (...) the universe is really required at all, that the universe just is. I wish in this paper to criticize this view, for I believe that we have reached a point in our history where the only defensible way to maintain that the universe requires no explanation at all, is to suggest that intelligent life is in no way special. (edited). (shrink)
This paper discusses privacy and the monitoring of e-mail in the context of the international nature of the modern world. Its three main aims are: (1) to highlight the problems involved in discussing an essentially philosophical question within a legal framework, and thus to show that providing purely legal answers to an ethical question is an inadequate approach to the problem of privacy on the Internet; (2) to discuss and define what privacy in the medium of the Internet actually is; (...) and (3) to apply a globally acceptable ethical approach of international human rights to the problem of privacy on the Internet, and thus to answer the question of what is and is not morally permissible in this area, especially in light of recent heightened concerns about terrorist activities. It concludes that the monitoring of e-mail is, at least in the vast majority of cases, an unjustified infringement of the right to privacy, even if this monitoring is only aimed at preventing the commission of acts of terrorism. (shrink)
This book provides an introduction to the real-life ethical issues faced by those serving in modern military forces. With its focus on the practical problems facing those in positions of command, it is of particular relevance to prospective military officers at military academies. The book is also appropriate for Ethics of War and Military Ethics courses at non-military undergraduate programs in philosophy and ethics. The book includes more than fifty specially selected case studies, many previously unpublished. These cases enable students (...) to examine, in real and understandable situations, the ethical problems which military personnel face in modern operations. (shrink)
From its earliest beginnings, American conditioning research using human subjects had to deal with the possibility that subjects might voluntarily control the reaction that the experimenter attempts to condition, with the result that voluntary control contaminates the study of conditioning in humans. A preliminary solution to the problem was achieved around 1940, ending the time frame of this survey. This article provides an historical survey of the conceptual background of the opposition of volition and reflexes; describes manifestations of the problem (...) in conditioning research; and critically examines earlier efforts to solve the problem as well as the presumptive solution that disposed of the issue by 1940. Lessons from this story are adduced. (shrink)