Are humans alone in their ability to reminisce about the past and imagine the future? Recent evidence suggests that food-storing birds (scrub jays) have access to information about what they have stored where and when. This has raised the possibility of mental time travel (MTT) in animals and sparked similar research with other species. Here we caution that such data do not provide convincing evidence for MTT. Examination of characteristics of human MTT (e.g. non-verbal declaration, generativity, developmental prerequisites) points to (...) other avenues as to how a case for animal MTT could be made. In light of the current lack of evidence, however, we maintain that MTT is a uniquely human characteristic. (shrink)
Discovering obligations that are ascribed to them by others is potentially an important element in the development of the moral imagination of engineers. Moral imagination cannot reasonably be developed by contemplating oneself and one’s task alone: there must be some element of discovering the expectations of people one could put at risk. In practice it may be impossible to meet ascribed obligations if they are completely general and allow no exceptions — for example if they demand an unlimited duty to (...) avoid harm. But they can still serve to modify engineers’ prior ethics, for example by limiting a purely utilitarian approach to deciding who should bear risk and how much risk they should bear. Ascribed obligations can also give engineers insight into the public reaction to risks that arise from engineered systems, and the consequent expectations that the public have about how much protection is desirable and where the responsibility for this protection lies. This article analyses the case for taking ascribed obligations seriously, and reviews some of the obligations that have been ascribed in the aftermath of recent engineering failures. It also proposes ways in which ascribed obligations could be used in engineers’ moral development. (shrink)
This paper draws on findings from interviews with people donating blood for a large epidemiological study of psoriatic arthritis concerned with identifying the genetic component in the aetiology of this disease. The 27 qualitative research interviews addressed peoples' reasons for agreeing to be involved in the biomedical research project, their hopes and expectations in relation to the study, and their views about the donation of a blood sample for the genetic element of the research. The involvement of these research subjects (...) can be characterized in terms of an investment in the future health of an imagined community, in which the NHS featured prominently. (shrink)
Contemporary Philosophy in Focus offers a series of introductory volumes to many of the dominant philosophical thinkers of the current age. Thomas Kuhn, the author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, is probably the best-known and most influential historian and philosopher of science of the last 25 years, and has become something of a cultural icon. His concepts of paradigm, paradigm change and incommensurability have changed the way we think about science. This volume offers an introduction to Kuhn's life (...) and work and then considers the implications of Kuhn's work for philosophy, cognitive psychology, social studies of science and feminism. The volume is more than a retrospective on Kuhn, exploring future developments of cognitive and information services along Kuhnian lines. Outside of philosophy the volume will be of particular interest to professionals and students in cognitive science, history of science, science studies and cultural studies. (shrink)
Difficult moral issues in economic life, such as evaluating the impact of hostile takeovers and plant relocations or determining the obligations of business to the environment, constitute the raison d'etre of business ethics. Yet, while the ultimate resolution of such issues clearly requires detailed, normative analysis, a shortcoming of business ethics is that to date it has failed to develop an adequate normative theory. 1 The failing is especially acute when it results in an inability to provide a basis for (...) fine-grained analyses of issues. Both general moral theories and stakeholder theory seem incapable of expressing the moral complexity necessary to provide practical normative guidance for many business ethics contexts. (shrink)
We argue that considering only a few ‘big’ ethical decisions in any engineering design process — both in education and practice — only reinforces the mistaken idea of engineering design as a series of independent sub-problems. Using data collected in engineering design organisations over a seven year period, we show how an ethical component to engineering decisions is much more pervasive. We distinguish three types of ethical justification for engineering decisions: (1) consequential, (2) deontological or non-consequential, and (3) virtue-based. We (...) find that although there is some evidence for engineering designers as ‘classic’ consequentialists, a more egocentric consequentialism would appear more fitting. We also explain how the idea of a ‘folk ethics’ — a justification in the second category that consciously weighs one thing with another — fits with the idea of the engineering design process as social negotiation rather than as technological progress. (shrink)
Abstract Freedom in the sense of free will is a multiway power to do any one of a number of things, leaving it up to us which one of a range of options by way of action we perform. What are the ethical implications of our possession of such a power? The paper examines the pre-Hobbesian scholastic view of writers such as Peter Lombard and Francisco Suárez: freedom as a multiway power is linked to the right to liberty understood as (...) a right to exercise that power, and to liberation as a desirable goal involving the perfection of that power. Freedom as a power, liberty as a right, and liberation as a desirable goal, are all linked within this scholastic view to a distinctive theory of law as constituting, in its primary form of natural law, the normative recognition of human freedom. Hobbes's denial of the very existence of freedom as a power led him to a radical revision both of the theory of law and of the relation of law to liberty. Law and liberty were no longer harmonious phenomena, but were left in essential conflict. One legacy of Hobbes is the attempt to base a theory of law and liberty not on freedom as a multiway power, but on rationality. Instead of an ethics of freedom, we have an ethics of reason as involving autonomy. The paper expresses some scepticism about the prospects for such an appeal to reason as a replacement for multiway freedom. (shrink)
In the first systematic study of the philosophy of Thomas Nagel, Alan Thomas discusses Nagel's contrast between the "subjective" and the "objective" points of view throughout the various areas of his wide ranging philosophy. Nagel's original and distinctive contrast between the subjective view and our aspiration to a "view from nowhere" within metaphysics structures the chapters of the book. A "new Humean" in epistemology, Nagel takes philosophical scepticism to be both irrefutable and yet to indicate a profound truth (...) about our capacity for self-transcendence. The contrast between subjective and objective views is then considered in the case of the mind, where consciousness proves to be the central aspect of mind that contemporary theorising fails to acknowledge adequately. The second half of the book analyses Nagel's work on moral and political philosophy where he has been most deeply influential. Topics covered include the contrast between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons and values, Nagel's distinctive version of a hybrid ethical theory, his discussion of life's meaningfulness and finally his sceptical arguments about whether a liberal society can reconcile the conflicting moral demands of self and other. (shrink)
This paper explores the perspectives of women who have agreed that their umbilical cord blood may be collected for a public ‘cord blood bank’, for use in transplant medicine or research. Drawing on interview data from 27 mothers who agreed to the collection and use of their umbilical cord blood, these choices and the informed consent process are explored. It is shown that the needs of sick children requiring transplants are prominent in narrative accounts of cord blood banking, together with (...) high expectations for future applications of stem cells. Given this dynamic, a concern arises that the complex and multiple uses of tissues and related data might be oversimplified in the consent process. In conclusion, the positive finding of a commitment to mutuality in cord blood banking among these women is underlined, and its implications for the wider debate on cord blood banking are discussed. (shrink)
" This collection proves otherwise, for the letters illuminate virtually every aspect of Reid's life and career and, in some instances, provide us with invaluable evidence about activities otherwise undocumented in his manuscripts or ...
Thomas Hobbes. CHAPITRE IV LE TEXTE DU MANUSCRIT DE PARIS (Fonds latin 6566 A) Le manuscrit Ce manuscrit est un petit in-folio dont la reliure en chagrin couvert de velours, d'un genre qui n'est pas rare à la fin du xvif siècle et au ...
The paper discusses some aspects of the relationship between Feyerabend and Kuhn. First, some biographical remarks concerning their connections are made. Second, four characteristics of Feyerabend and Kuhn's concept of incommensurability are discussed. Third, Feyerabend's general criticism of Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions is reconstructed. Fourth and more specifically, Feyerabend's criticism of Kuhn's evaluation of normal science is critically investigated. Finally, Feyerabend's re-evaluation of Kuhn's philosophy towards the end of his life is presented.
This paper examines some of the metaphysical assumptions behind Aquinas’s denials that a human rational soul unites with matter at conception and that a human rational soul is capable of developing and arranging the organic parts of an embryo. The paper argues that Buridan does not share these assumptions and holds that a soul is capable of developing and arranging organic parts. It argues that, given hylomorphism about the nature of organisms, including human beings, Buridan’s view is philosophically superior to (...) Aquinas’s in several respects. Finally, the paper poses an apparent inconsistency between several of Buridan’s texts on this topic and attempts to show that the inconsistency is merely apparent. (shrink)