According to the German Embryo Protection Act, PGD has been banned in Germany since 1990; one reason is the legislature’s avoiding to insert a revision clause regarding medical advance into the law. The ruling of the German Federal Court of Justice of July 2010 shows the problems resulting out of this approach and declares PGD to be permitted in certain cases. The article discusses the necessity for, as well as the problems of, an interdisciplinary dialogue in the field of reproductive (...) medicine. (shrink)
Das Balsamierungsritual: Eine Edition der Textkomposition Balsamierungsritual. By Susanne Töpfer. Studien zur spätägyptischen Religion, vol. 13. Wiesbaden: Harroswitz, 2015. Pp. xii + 440, 53 pls. €89.
Mill's most famous departure from Bentham is his distinction between higher and lower pleasures. This article argues that quality and quantity are independent and irreducible properties of pleasures that may be traded off against each other – as in the case of quality and quantity of wine. I argue that Mill is not committed to thinking that there are two distinct kinds of pleasure, or that ‘higher pleasures’ lexically dominate lower ones, and that the distinction is compatible with hedonism. I (...) show how this interpretation not only makes sense of Mill but allows him to respond to famous problems, such as Crisp's Haydn and the oyster and Nozick's experience machine. (shrink)
Consequentialists typically think that the moral quality of one's conduct depends on the difference one makes. But consequentialists may also think that even if one is not making a difference, the moral quality of one's conduct can still be affected by whether one is participating in an endeavour that does make a difference. Derek Parfit discusses this issue – the moral significance of what I call ‘participation’ – in the chapter of Reasons and Persons that he devotes to what he (...) calls ‘moral mathematics’. In my paper, I expose an inconsistency in Parfit's discussion of moral mathematics by showing how it gives conflicting answers to the question of whether participation matters. I conclude by showing how an appreciation of Parfit's error sheds some light on consequentialist thought generally, and on the debate between act- and rule-consequentialists specifically. (shrink)
In contemporary discourses, it has become common sense to acknowledge that humans and some species of animals, from their very inception, are embedded in social and intersubjective contexts. As social beings, we live, interact, communicate, and cooperate with others for a range of different reasons: sometimes we do so for strategic and instrumental reasons, while at other times it is purely for its own sake. Moreover, in one way or another, we encounter others not only as rational but also as (...) sentient beings; our interactions with others are shaped by reason, though not exclusively so. They are also affected by our emotions, feelings, moods, and environments. In this way, we seek understanding both for and by others. We are able to recognize, interpret, and categorize others’ expression and behavior; in turn, we express our emotions, desires, and motivations to act towards others and hope that others will react adequately and appropriately. Empathy is usually understood as the capacity to apprehend others’ mental states—especially emotions. In recent decades, it has become one of the most widely discussed concepts, especially in the philosophy of mind, ethics, and aesthetics. Although there is a vast array of publications on the topic of empathy, a number of controversies have persisted, particularly in relation to how the process, outcome, and value of empathy should be understood. One recent debate concerns the question of whether we directly perceive others’ mental states or whether we rather imagine their perspective. Another central discussion is ongoing regarding empathy in respect of narratives and fictional characters. The aim of this Special Issue is to interrelate these two branches—fiction and imagination—and to examine the role of imagination in the empathic process, especially in relation to the thesis of direct perception of others’ mental states. Despite the wealth of recent research into empathy that has emerged from a diverse range of disciplinary perspectives, there is still no consensus about the nature and role of imagination and whether empathizing with fictions should be categorically or just gradually distinguished from empathizing with real persons. (shrink)
This article identifies an argument in Hobbes’s writings often overlooked but relevant to current philosophical debates. Political philosophers tend to categorize his thought as representing consent or rescue theories of political authority. Though these interpretations have textual support and are understandable, they leave out one of his most compelling arguments—what we call the lesser evil argument for political authority, expressed most explicitly in Chapter 20 of Leviathan. Hobbes frankly admits the state’s evils but appeals to the significant disparity between those (...) evils and the greater evils outside the state as a basis for political authority. More than a passing observation, aspects of the lesser evil argument appear in each of his three major political works. In addition to outlining this argument, the article examines its significance both for Hobbes scholarship and recent philosophical debates on political authority. (shrink)
This book offers a new account of what it is to act for a normative reason. The first part of the book examines the problems of causal accounts of acting for reasons and suggests to solve them by a dispositional approach. The author argues for a dispositional account which unites epistemic, volitional, and executional dispositions in a complex normative competence. This ‘Normative Competence Account’ allows for more and less reflective ways of acting for normative reasons. The second part of the (...) book clarifies the relation between the normative reason that an agent acts for and his or her motivating reasons. It refutes the widely held ‘identity view’ that acting for a normative reason requires the normative reason to be identical with a motivating reason. The author describes how normative reasons are related to motivating reasons by a relation of correspondence, and proposes a new understanding of how normative reasons explain those actions that are performed for them. Determined by Reasons engages with current debates from a wide range of different philosophical areas, including action theory, metaethics, moral psychology, epistemology, and ontology, to develop a new account of acting for normative reasons. (shrink)
Well-Being and Death addresses philosophical questions about death and the good life: what makes a life go well? Is death bad for the one who dies? How is this possible if we go out of existence when we die? Is it worse to die as an infant or as a young adult? Is it bad for animals and fetuses to die? Can the dead be harmed? Is there any way to make death less bad for us? Ben Bradley defends the (...) following views: pleasure, rather than achievement or the satisfaction of desire, is what makes life go well; death is generally bad for its victim, in virtue of depriving the victim of more of a good life; death is bad for its victim at times after death, in particular at all those times at which the victim would have been living well; death is worse the earlier it occurs, and hence it is worse to die as an infant than as an adult; death is usually bad for animals and fetuses, in just the same way it is bad for adult humans; things that happen after someone has died cannot harm that person; the only sensible way to make death less bad is to live so long that no more good life is possible. (shrink)
This paper defends the view, put roughly, that to think that p is to guess that p is the answer to the question at hand, and that to think that p rationally is for one’s guess to that question to be in a certain sense non-arbitrary. Some theses that will be argued for along the way include: that thinking is question-sensitive and, correspondingly, that ‘thinks’ is context-sensitive; that it can be rational to think that p while having arbitrarily low credence (...) that p; that, nonetheless, rational thinking is closed under entailment; that thinking does not supervene on credence; and that in many cases what one thinks on certain matters is, in a very literal sense, a choice. Finally, since there are strong reasons to believe that thinking just is believing, there are strong reasons to think that all this goes for belief as well. (shrink)
This volume brings together philosophical and interdisciplinary perspectives on improvisation. The contributions connect the theoretical dimensions of improvisation with different viewpoints on its practice in the arts and the classroom. The chapters address the phenomenon of improvisation in two related ways. On the one hand, they attend to the lived practices of improvisation both within and without the arts in order to explain the phenomenon. They also extend the scope of improvisational practices to include the role of improvisation in habit (...) and in planned action, at both individual and collective levels. Drawing on recent work done in the philosophy of mind, they also address questions such as whether improvisation is a single unified phenomenon, or whether it entails different senses that can be discerned theoretically and practically. Finally, they ask after the special kind of improvisational expertise which characterizes musicians, dancers, and other practitioners, an expertise marked by the artist's ability to participate competently in complex situations while deliberately relinquishing control. Philosophy of Improvisation will appeal to researchers working in philosophy, aesthetics, and pedagogy and the arts as well as practitioners involved in different kinds of music, dance, and theater performances. (shrink)
In this extended essay, I argue that Frege plagiarized the Stoics --and I mean exactly that-- on a large scale in his work on the philosophy of logic and language as written mainly between 1890 and his death in 1925 (much of which published posthumously) and possibly earlier. I use ‘plagiarize' (or 'plagiarise’) merely as a descriptive term. The essay is not concerned with finger pointing or casting moral judgement. The point is rather to demonstrate carefully by means of detailed (...) evidence that there are numerous (over a hundred) and extensive parallels both in formulation and --more importantly-- in content between the Stoics and Frege, parallels so plentiful that one would be hard pressed to brush them off as coincidence. These parallels include several that appear to occur in no other modern works that were published before Frege’s own and were accessible to him. Additionally, a cluster of corroborating historical data is adduced to support the suggestion, showing how easy it would have to been for Frege to plagiarize the Stoics. This (first) part of the essay is easy to read and vaguely entertaining, or so I hope. (shrink)
Although artificial intelligence has been given an unprecedented amount of attention in both the public and academic domains in the last few years, its convergence with other transformative technologies like cloud computing, robotics, and augmented/virtual reality is predicted to exacerbate its impacts on society. The adoption and integration of these technologies within industry and manufacturing spaces is a fundamental part of what is called Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The impacts of this paradigm shift on the human operators (...) who continue to work alongside and symbiotically with these technologies in the industry bring with it novel ethical issues. Therefore, how to design these technologies for human values becomes the critical area of intervention. This paper takes up the case study of robotic AI-based assistance systems to explore the potential value implications that emerge due to current design practices and use. The design methodology known as Value Sensitive Design (VSD) is proposed as a sufficient starting point for designing these technologies for human values to address these issues. (shrink)
In light of the many corporate scandals, social and ethical commitment of society has increased considerably, which puts pressure on companies to communicate information related to corporate social responsibility (CSR). The reasons underlying the decision by management teams to engage in ethical communication are scarcely focussed on. Thus, grounded on legitimacy and stakeholder theory, this study analyses the views management teams in large listed companies have on communication of CSR. The focus is on aspects on interest, motives/reasons, users and problems (...) related to corporate communication of CSR information. A questionnaire survey and in-depth interviews confirm that there is a distinct trend shift: towards more focus on CSR in corporate communication. Whilst this trend shift started as a reactive approach initiated by the many corporate scandals, the trend shift is now argued to be of a proactive nature focussed at preventing legitimacy concerns to arise. These findings are significant and interesting, implying that we are witnessing a transit period between two legitimacy strategies. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the way respondents argue when it comes to CSR activities coincides with consequentialism or utilitarianism, i. e. companies engage in CSR activities to avoid negative impacts instead of being driven by a will to make a social betterment or acting in accordance with what is fundamentally believed to be right to do. This provides new input to the ongoing debate about business ethics. The findings should alert national and international policy makers to the need both to increase the vigilance and capacity of the regulatory and judicial systems in the CSR context and to increase institutional pressure to enhance CSR adoption and CSR communication. Furthermore, stakeholders need to be careful in assuming that CSR communication is an evidence of a CSR commitment influencing corporate behaviour and increasing business ethics. (shrink)
To what extent do we know our own minds when making decisions? Variants of this question have preoccupied researchers in a wide range of domains, from mainstream experimental psychology to cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics. A pervasive view places a heavy explanatory burden on an intelligent cognitive unconscious, with many theories assigning causally effective roles to unconscious influences. This article presents a novel framework for evaluating these claims and reviews evidence from three major bodies of research in which unconscious factors (...) have been studied: multiple-cue judgment, deliberation without attention, and decisions under uncertainty. Studies of priming and the role of awareness in movement and perception are also given brief consideration. The review highlights that inadequate procedures for assessing awareness, failures to consider artifactual explanations of “landmark” results, and a tendency to uncritically accept conclusions that fit with our intuitions have all contributed to unconscious influences being ascribed inflated and erroneous explanatory power in theories of decision making. The review concludes by recommending that future research should focus on tasks in which participants' attention is diverted away from the experimenter's hypothesis, rather than the highly reflective tasks that are currently often employed. (shrink)
I argue for the view that there are important similarities between knowledge and acting for a normative reason. I interpret acting for a normative reason in terms of Sosa’s notion of an apt performance. Actions that are done for a normative reason are normatively apt actions. They are in accordance with a normative reason because of a competence to act in accordance with normative reasons. I argue that, if Sosa’s account of knowledge as apt belief is correct, this means that (...) acting for a normative reason is in many respects similar to knowledge. In order to strengthen Sosa’s account of knowledge, I propose to supplement it with an appeal to sub-competences. This clarifies how this account can deal with certain Gettier cases, and it helps to understand how exactly acting for a normative reason is similar to apt belief. (shrink)
This essay is concerned with the relation between motivating and normative reasons. According to a common and influential thesis, a normative reason is identical with a motivating reason when an agent acts for that normative reason. I will call this thesis the ‘Identity Thesis’. Many philosophers treat the Identity Thesis as a commonplace or a truism. Accordingly, the Identity Thesis has been used to rule out certain ontological views about reasons. I distinguish a deliberative and an explanatory version of the (...) Identity Thesis and argue that there are no convincing arguments to accept either version. Furthermore, I point out an alternative to the Identity Thesis. The relation between motivating and normative reasons can be thought of as one of representation, not identity. (shrink)
In this article I advocate a worldly account of normative reasons according to which there is an ontological gap between these and the premises of practical thought, i.e. motivating considerations. While motivating considerations are individuated fine-grainedly, normative reasons should be classified as coarse-grained entities, e.g. as states of affairs, in order to explain certain necessary truths about them and to make sense of how we count and weigh them. As I briefly sketch, acting for normative reasons is nonetheless possible if (...) the connection between normative reasons and motivating considerations is a competence-based correspondence. (shrink)
Ben Fine traces the origins of social capital through the work of Becker, Bourdieu and Coleman and comprehensively reviews the literature across the social sciences. The text is uniquely critical of social capital, explaining how it avoids a proper confrontation with political economy and has become chaotic. This highly topical text addresses some major themes, including the shifting relationship between economics and other social sciences, the 'publish or perish' concept currently burdening scholarly integrity, and how a social science interdisciplinarity requires (...) a place for political economy together with cultural and social theory. (shrink)
The issue of whether emotions are rational is at the centre of philosophical and psychological discussions. I believe that emotions are rational, but that they follow different principles to those of intellectual reasoning. The purpose of this paper is to reveal the unique logic of emotions. I begin by suggesting that we should conceive of emotions as a general mode of the mental system; other modes are the perceptual and intellectual modes. One feature distinguishing one mode from another is the (...) logical principles underlying its information processing mechanism. Before describing these principles, I clarify the notion of ‘rationality,’ arguing that in an important sense emotions can be rational. (shrink)
This paper examines whether an agent becomes liable to defensive harm by engaging in a morally permissible but foreseeably risk-imposing activity that subsequently threatens objectively unjustified harm. It first clarifies the notion of a foreseeably risk-imposing activity by proposing that an activity should count as foreseeably risk-imposing if an agent may morally permissibly perform it only if she abides by certain duties of care. Those who argue that engaging in such an activity can render an agent liable to defensive harm (...) ground this liability in the luck egalitarian thought that we may justly hold individuals responsible for the consequences of their voluntary choices. Against this, I argue that a luck egalitarian commitment to holding people responsible cannot, by itself, ground liability to defensive harm. It can help ground such liability only against the backdrop of a distributively just society, and only if further considerations speak morally in favour of attaching certain well-defined costs to individuals’ risk-imposing choices. I conclude by suggesting that if an account of liability applies robustly across distributively just and unjust contexts alike, then what grounds an agent’s liability is plausibly not her responsibility for threatening objectively unjustified harm, but her culpability for doing so. (shrink)
This paper considers some puzzling knowledge ascriptions and argues that they present prima facie counterexamples to credence, belief, and justification conditions on knowledge, as well as to many of the standard meta-semantic assumptions about the context-sensitivity of ‘know’. It argues that these ascriptions provide new evidence in favor of contextualist theories of knowledge—in particular those that take the interpretation of ‘know’ to be sensitive to the mechanisms of constraint.
Bobzien presents the definitive study of one of the most interesting intellectual legacies of the ancient Greeks: the Stoic theory of causal determinism. She explains what it was, how the Stoics justified it, and how it relates to their views on possibility, action, freedom, moral responsibility, moral character, fatalism, logical determinism and many other topics. She demonstrates the considerable philosophical richness and power that these ideas retain today.
Epicurus seems to have thought that death is not bad for the one who dies, since its badness cannot be located in time. I show that Epicurus’ argument presupposes Presentism, and I argue that death is bad for its victim at all and only those times when the person would have been living a life worth living had she not died when she did. I argue that my account is superior to competing accounts given by Thomas Nagel, Fred Feldman and (...) Neil Feit. (shrink)
This paper defends the simple view that in asserting that p, one lies iff one knows that p is false. Along the way it draws some morals about deception, knowledge, Gettier cases, belief, assertion, and the relationship between first- and higher-order norms.