Climate change is a global problem that is predominantly an intergenerational conflict, and which takes place in a setting where our ethical impulses are weak. This "perfect moral storm" poses a profound challenge to humanity. This book explains how the "perfect storm" metaphor makes sense of our current malaise, and why a better ethics can help see our way out.
What might a theory of mental imagery look like, and how might one begin formulating such a theory? These are the central questions addressed in the present paper. The first section outlines the general research direction taken here and provides an overview of the empirical foundations of our theory of image representation and processing. Four issues are considered in succession, and the relevant results of experiments are presented and discussed. The second section begins with a discussion of the proper form (...) for a cognitive theory, and the distinction between a theory and a model is developed. Following this, the present theory and computer simulation model are introduced. This theory specifies the nature of the internal representations (data structures) and the processes that operate on them when one generates, inspects, or transforms mental images. In the third, concluding, section we consider three very different kinds of objections to the present research program, one hinging on the possibility of experimental artifacts in the data, and the others turning on metatheoretical commitments about the form of a cognitive theory. Finally, we discuss how one ought best to evaluate theories and models of the sort developed here. (shrink)
On the traditional view, moral distress arises only in cases where an individual believes she knows the morally right thing to do but fails to perform that action due to various constraints. We seek to motivate a broader understanding of moral distress. We begin by presenting six types of distress that fall outside the bounds of the traditional definition and explaining why they should be recognized as forms of moral distress. We then propose and defend a new and more expansive (...) definition of moral distress and examine how it can enable the development of a taxonomy of moral distress. (shrink)
In this volume, Stephen M. Gardiner and David A. Weisbach present arguments for and against the relevance of ethics to global climate policy. Gardiner argues that climate change is fundamentally an ethical issue, since it is an early instance of a distinctive challenge to ethical action, and ethical concerns are at the heart of many of the decisions that need to be made. Consequently, climate policy that ignores ethics is at risk of.
Very few moral philosophers have written on climate change.1 This is puzzling, for several reasons. First, many politicians and policy makers claim that climate change is not only the most serious environmental problem currently facing the world, but also one of the most important international problems per se.2 Second, many of those working in other disciplines describe climate change as fundamentally an ethical issue.3.
I critically examine the semantic view of theories to reveal the following results. First, models in science are not the same as models in mathematics, as holders of the semantic view claim. Second, when several examples of the semantic approach are examined in detail no common thread is found between them, except their close attention to the details of model building in each particular science. These results lead me to propose a deflationary semantic view, which is simply that model construction (...) is an important component of theorizing in science. This deflationary view is consistent with a naturalized approach to the philosophy of science. (shrink)
Biologists, climate scientists, and economists all rely on models to move their work forward. In this book, I explore the use of models in these and other fields to introduce readers to the various philosophical issues that arise in scientific modeling. I show that paying attention to models plays a crucial role in appraising scientific work. -/- After surveying a wide range of models from a number of different scientific disciplines, I demonstrate how focusing on models sheds light on many (...) perennial issues in philosophy of science and in philosophy in general. For example, reviewing the range of views on how models represent their targets introduces readers to the key issues in debates on representation, not only in science but in the arts as well. Also, standard epistemological questions are cast in new and interesting ways when we confront the question, "What makes for a good (or bad) model?". (shrink)
The peculiar features of the climate change problem pose substantial obstacles to our ability to make the hard choices necessary to address it. Climate change involves the convergence of a set of global, intergenerational and theoretical problems. This convergence justifies calling it a 'perfect moral storm'. One consequence of this storm is that, even if the other difficult ethical questions surrounding climate change could be answered, we might still find it difficult to act. For the storm makes us extremely vulnerable (...) to moral corruption. (shrink)
“[T]he Precautionary Principle still has neither a commonly accepted definition nor a set of criteria to guide its implementation. “There is”, Freestone … cogently observes, “a certain paradox in the widespread and rapid adoption of the Precautionary Principle”: While it is applauded as a “good thing”, no one is quite sure about what it really means or how it might be..
It is widely assumed that disability is typically a bad thing for those who are disabled. Our purpose in this essay is to critique this view and defend a more nuanced picture of the relationship between disability and well-being. We first examine four interpretations of the above view and argue that it is false on each interpretation. We then ask whether disability is thereby a neutral trait. Our view is that most disabilities are neutral in one sense, though we cannot (...) make simple generalizations about disability's relationship to well-being in other important senses. After defending this view, we discuss its practical implications for selective abortion for disability, nondisabled people's interactions with disabled people, and the use of QALYs in health policy. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis article offers a constructive critique of the Oxford Principles for the governance of geoengineering and proposes an alternative set of principles, the Tollgate Principles, based on that critique. Our main concern is that, despite their many merits, the Oxford Principles remain largely instrumental and dominated by procedural considerations; therefore, they fail to lay the groundwork sufficiently for the more substantive ethical debate that is needed. The article aims to address this gap by making explicit many of the important ethical (...) questions lurking in the background, especially around values such as justice, respect and legitimacy. (shrink)
Lucas Matthews and I substantially revised my SEP entry on Heritability. This version includes discussion of the missing heritability problem and other issues that arise from the use of Genome Wide Association Studies by Behavioral Geneticists.
The concept of representation has become almost inextricably bound to the concept of symbol systems. the concepts is nowhere more prevalent than in descriptions of "internal representations." These representations are thought to occur in an internal symbol system that allows the brain to store and use information. In this paper we explore a different approach to understanding psychological processes, one that retains a commitment to representations and computations but that is not based on the idea that information must be stored (...) and manipulated in symbol systems. In particular, we suggest that the notion of a symbol system as currently understood construes psychological processes in terms of a specific type of computational system, in which a control function "reads," "interprets," and manipulates discrete entities called "symbols." We argue that other types of computational systems may provide a more appropriate characterization of psychological processes. One implication of our argument is the need to consider the constraints placed on computational theories in psychology by the nature of the computing device itself, the human brain. Perhaps surprisingly, this implication leads us to the conclusion that a "functionalist" conception of psychological processes (discussed below) does not entail that physiology is irrelevant to psychology, as has been maintained by prominent adherents of the symbol-systems approach. (shrink)
Arguing About Human Nature covers recent debates--arising from biology, philosophy, psychology, and physical anthropology--that together systematically examine what it means to be human. Thirty-five essays--several of them appearing here for the first time in print--were carefully selected to offer competing perspectives on 12 different topics related to human nature. The context and main threads of the debates are highlighted and explained by the editors in a short, clear introduction to each of the 12 topics. Authors include Louise Anthony, Patrick Bateson, (...) David Buller, John Dupre, Paul Griffiths, Sally Haslanger, Richard Lewontin, Ron Mallon, and E.O. Wilson. Contributors Rachel Cooper, Nancy Holmstrom, Kim Sterelny, and Elizabeth Cashdan provide brand new chapters in these debates. Suggested Reading lists offer curious readers new resources for exploring these debates further. A rguing About Human Nature is the first volume of its kind, designed to introduce to an interdisciplinary student audience some of the most important arguments on the subject generated by scientific research and philosophical reflection. (shrink)
This contribution provides an assessment of the epistemological role of scientific models. The prevalent view that all scientific models are representations of the world is rejected. This view points to a unified way of resolving epistemic issues for scientific models. The emerging consensus in philosophy of science that models have many different epistemic roles in science is presented and defended.
It is widely recognized that lives and activities can be meaningful or meaningless, but few have appreciated that they can also be anti-meaningful. Anti-meaning is the polar opposite of meaning. Our purpose in this essay is to examine the nature and importance of this new and unfamiliar topic. In the first part, we sketch four theories of anti-meaning that correspond to leading theories of meaning. In the second part, we argue that anti-meaning has significance not only for our attempts to (...) theorize about meaning in life, but also for our ability to lead meaningful lives in the modern world. (shrink)
In two celebrated and widely-anthologized articles, as well as several books, the biologist Garrett Hardin claims (a) that the world population problem has a certain structure – it is a tragedy of the commons - and, (b) that, given this structure, the only tenable solutions involve either coercion or immense human suffering. In this paper, I shall argue for two claims. First, Hardin’s arguments are deeply flawed. The population problem as he conceives it does not have the structure of a (...) commons; and even if it did, this would not necessitate the extreme responses he canvasses. Second, nevertheless, much of Hardin’s pessimism is justified. Some environmental problems associated with population do have tragic structures, though these are of a different form than Hardin envisions. For example, the problem of global climate change has an intergenerational aspect that makes it importantly worse than Hardin’s commons, and for this reason (as opposed to Hardin’s) extreme responses may be needed to avert environmental catastrophe. (shrink)
A critical study of two recent books in climate ethics by Dale Jamieson (Reason in a Dark Time, Oxford 2014), and Darrel Moellendorf (The Moral and Political Challenges of Climate Change, Cambridge 2014).
I argue that Evolutionary Psychologists’ notion of adaptationism is closest to what Peter Godfrey-Smith (2001) calls explanatory adaptationism and as a result, is not a good organizing principle for research in the biology of human behavior. I also argue that adopting an alternate notion of adaptationism presents much more explanatory resources to the biology of human behavior. I proceed by introducing Evolutionary Psychology and giving some examples of alternative approaches to the biological explanation of human behavior. Next I characterize adaptation (...) and explain the range of biological phenomena that can count as adaptations. I go onto introduce the range of adaptationist views that have been distinguished by philosophers of biology and lay out explanatory adaptationism in detail. (shrink)
Climate change and other global environmental problems constitute a significant challenge to contemporary political philosophy, especially with respect to complacency. This paper assesses Rawls? theory, and argues for three conclusions. First, Rawls does not already solve such problems, and simple extensions of his theory are unlikely to do so. This is so despite the rich structure of Rawls? philosophy, and the appeal of some of its parts. Second, the most promising areas for extension ? the circumstances of justice, the duty (...) to maintain and promote just institutions, and his vision of social development ? are those that have not yet been explored. Third, unfortunately, Rawls? views on these topics are both seriously underdeveloped, and largely stipulative. Hence, in trying to meet climate change, Rawlsians are more likely to add new theories to Rawls, and perhaps even to transform his original account, than to generate an approach ?from the inside out? (shrink)
In this paper I briefly introduce work on ancient-DNA and give some examples of the impact this work has had on responses to questions in archaeology. Next, I spell out David Reich’s reasons for his optimism about the contribution aDNA research makes to archaeology. I then use Robert Chapman and Alison Wylie’s framework to offer an alternative to Reich’s view of relations between aDNA research and archaeology. Finally, I develop Steven Mithen’s point about the different questions archaeologists and geneticists ask, (...) arguing that different disciplinary perspectives color researchers’ perceptions of “the most important questions” or the “central topics” in a field. I conclude that evidence from aDNA research cannot solve archaeological disputes without closer, mutually respectful collaboration between aDNA researchers and archaeologists. Ancient DNA data, like radiocarbon data, is not a silver bullet for problems in archaeology. (shrink)
I propose an approach to naturalized philosophy of science that takes the social nature of scientific practice seriously. I criticize several prominent naturalistic approaches for adopting "cognitive individualism", which limits the study of science to an examination of the internal psychological mechanisms of scientists. I argue that this limits the explanatory capacity of these approaches. I then propose a three-level model of the social nature of scientific practice, and use the model to defend the claim that scientific knowledge is socially (...) produced. (shrink)
The Carnegie Council's work “is rooted in the premise that the incorporation of ethical concerns into discussions of international affairs will yield more effective policies both in the United States and abroad.” In honor of the Council's centenary, we have been asked to present our views on the ethical and policy issues posed by climate change, focusing on what people need to know that they probably do not already know, and what should be done. In that spirit, this essay argues (...) that climate change poses a profound ethical challenge, that the ongoing evasion of this challenge produces ineffective policy, and, therefore, that a fundamental paradigm shift is needed. More specifically, I maintain that the climate problem is usually misdiagnosed as a traditional tragedy of the commons, that this obscures two deeper and distinctively ethical challenges, and that we should address these challenges head on, by calling for a global constitutional convention focused on future generations. (shrink)
Contract theories – such as contractarianism and contractualism - seek to justify (and sometimes to explain) moral and political ideals and principles through the notion of “mutually agreeable reciprocity or cooperation between equals” (Darwall 2002). This chapter argues that such theories face fundamental difficulties in the intergenerational setting. Most prominently, the standard understanding of cooperation appears not to apply, and the intergenerational setting brings on a more severe collective action problem than the traditional prisoner’s dilemma. Mainstream contract theorists (such as (...) Gauthier and Rawls) have tried to overcome such difficulties by postulating some kind of chain of connection between generations. However, the chapter maintains that thus far such attempts have proven inadequate. Given this, it seems either that mainstream contract theory needs to be rethought, or that a new, specifically intergenerational, contract theory is needed. (shrink)
This essay introduces and defends a new analysis of prudential value. According to this analysis, what it is for something to be good for you is for that thing to contribute to the appeal or desirability of being in your position. I argue that this proposal fits well with our ways of talking about prudential value and well-being; enables promising analyses of the related concepts of luck, selfishness, self-sacrifice, and paternalism; preserves the relationship between prudential value and the attitudes of (...) concern, love, pity, and envy; and satisfies various other desiderata. I also highlight two ways in which the analysis is informative and can lead to progress in our substantive theorizing about the good life. (shrink)
The Royal Society's landmark report on geoengineering is predicated on a particular account of the context and rationale for intentional manipulation of the climate system, and this ethical framework probably explains many of the Society's conclusions. Critical reflection on the report's values is useful for understanding disagreements within and about geoengineering policy, and also for identifying questions for early ethical analysis. Topics discussed include the moral hazard argument, governance, the ethical status of geoengineering under different rationales, the implications of understanding (...) geoengineering as a consequence of wider moral failure, and ethical resistance to invasive interventions in environmental systems. (shrink)
Several prominent philosophers of science, most notably Ron Giere, propose that scientific theories are collections of models and that models represent the objects of scientific study. Some, including Giere, argue that models represent in the same way that pictures represent. Aestheticians have brought the picturing relation under intense scrutiny and presented important arguments against the tenability of particular accounts of picturing. Many of these arguments from aesthetics can be used against accounts of representation in philosophy of science. I rely on (...) Dominic Lopes' recent summary of arguments against various views of picturing and reformulate some of them to fit the philosophy of science context. My specific targets here are Giere and Steven French. I go on to argue that assuming all scientific models and images represent in the same way is not the best guide to understanding scientific practice. (shrink)