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Thomas Douglas
Oxford University
  1. Moral Enhancement.Thomas Douglas - 2008 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (3):228-245.
    Opponents of biomedical enhancement often claim that, even if such enhancement would benefit the enhanced, it would harm others. But this objection looks unpersuasive when the enhancement in question is a moral enhancement — an enhancement that will expectably leave the enhanced person with morally better motives than she had previously. In this article I (1) describe one type of psychological alteration that would plausibly qualify as a moral enhancement, (2) argue that we will, in the medium-term future, probably be (...)
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  2. Moral Enhancement Via Direct Emotion Modulation: A Reply to John Harris.Thomas Douglas - 2013 - Bioethics 27 (3):160-168.
    Some argue that humans should enhance their moral capacities by adopting institutions that facilitate morally good motives and behaviour. I have defended a parallel claim: that we could permissibly use biomedical technologies to enhance our moral capacities, for example by attenuating certain counter-moral emotions. John Harris has recently responded to my argument by raising three concerns about the direct modulation of emotions as a means to moral enhancement. He argues that such means will be relatively ineffective in bringing about moral (...)
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  3.  30
    Parental Partiality and Future Children.Thomas Douglas - forthcoming - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
    Prospective parents are sometimes partial towards their future children, engaging in what I call ‘pre-parental partiality’. Common sense morality is as permissive of pre-parental partiality as it is of ordinary parental partiality—partiality towards one’s existing children. But I argue that existing justifications for partiality typically establish weaker reasons in support of pre-parental partiality than in support of parental partiality. Thus, either these existing justifications do not fully account for our reasons of parental partiality, or our reasons to engage in pre-parental (...)
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  4.  78
    Criminal Rehabilitation Through Medical Intervention: Moral Liability and the Right to Bodily Integrity.Thomas Douglas - 2014 - The Journal of Ethics 18 (2):101-122.
    Criminal offenders are sometimes required, by the institutions of criminal justice, to undergo medical interventions intended to promote rehabilitation. Ethical debate regarding this practice has largely proceeded on the assumption that medical interventions may only permissibly be administered to criminal offenders with their consent. In this article I challenge this assumption by suggesting that committing a crime might render one morally liable to certain forms of medical intervention. I then consider whether it is possible to respond persuasively to this challenge (...)
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  5. Enhancement, Biomedical.Thomas Douglas - 2013 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.
  6.  56
    Enhancement & Desert.Thomas Douglas - forthcoming - Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
    It is sometimes claimed that those who succeed with the aid of enhancement technologies deserve the rewards associated with their success less, other things being equal, than those who succeed without the aid of such technologies. This claim captures some widely held intuitions, has been implicitly endorsed by participants in social-psychological research, and helps to undergird some otherwise puzzling philosophical objections to the use of enhancement technologies. I consider whether it can be provided with a rational basis. I examine three (...)
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  7.  41
    Impartiality and Infectious Disease: Prioritising Individuals Versus the Collective in Antibiotic Prescription.Bernadine Dao, Thomas Douglas, Alberto Giubilini, Julian Savulescu, Michael Selgelid & Nadira Faber - forthcoming - Ajob Empirical Bioethics.
  8.  65
    Enhancing Moral Conformity and Enhancing Moral Worth.Thomas Douglas - 2014 - Neuroethics 7 (1):75-91.
    It is plausible that we have moral reasons to become better at conforming to our moral reasons. However, it is not always clear what means to greater moral conformity we should adopt. John Harris has recently argued that we have reason to adopt traditional, deliberative means in preference to means that alter our affective or conative states directly—that is, without engaging our deliberative faculties. One of Harris’ concerns about direct means is that they would produce only a superficial kind of (...)
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  9. Biological Interventions for Crime Prevention.Christopher Chew, Thomas Douglas & Nadira Faber - forthcoming - In David Birks & Thomas Douglas (eds.), Treatment for Crime: Philosophical Essays on Neurointerventions in Criminal Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  10. Moral Neuroenhancement.Brian D. Earp, Thomas Douglas & Julian Savulescu - 2017 - In L. Syd M. Johnson & Karen S. Rommelfanger (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Neuroethics. Routledge.
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  11.  66
    A Conception of Genetic Parenthood.Thomas Douglas & Katrien Devolder - 2019 - Bioethics 33 (1):54-59.
    We seek to develop a plausible conception of genetic parenthood, taking a recent discussion by Heidi Mertes as our point of departure. Mertes considers two conceptions of genetic parenthood—one invoking genetic resemblance, and the other genetic inheritance—and presents counter-examples to both conceptions. We revise Mertes’ second conception so as to avoid these and related counter-examples.
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  12. Neuro-Interventions as Criminal Rehabilitation: An Ethical Review.Jonathan Pugh & Thomas Douglas - 2017 - In Jonathan D. Jacobs & Jonathan Jackson (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Criminal Justice Ethics. London: Routledge.
    According to a number of influential views in penal theory, 1 one of the primary goals of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate offenders. Rehabilitativemeasures are commonly included as a part of a criminal sentence. For example, in some jurisdictions judges may order violent offenders to attend anger management classes or to undergo cognitive behavioural therapy as a part of their sentences. In a limited number of cases, neurointerventions — interventions that exert a direct biological effect on the brain (...)
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  13. Stem Cell Research and Same Sex Reproduction.Thomas Douglas, Catherine Harding, Hannah Bourne & Julian Savulescu - 2012 - In Muireann Quigley, Sarah Chan & John Harris (eds.), Stem Cells: New Frontiers in Science and Ethics. World Scientific.
  14.  16
    Philosophical Medical Ethics: More Necessary Than Ever.Julian Savulescu, Thomas Douglas & Dominic Wilkinson - 2018 - Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (7):434-435.
    When we applied for the editorship of the JME 7 years ago, we said that we considered the JME to be the most important journal in medicine. The most profound questions that health professionals face are not scientific or technical, but ethical. Our enormous scientific and medical progress already outstrips our capability to provide treatment. Life can be prolonged at enormous cost, sometimes far beyond the point that the individual appears to be gaining a net benefit from that life. Science (...)
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  15.  38
    Are You Morally Modified?: The Moral Effects of Widely Used Pharmaceuticals.Neil Levy, Thomas Douglas, Guy Kahane, Sylvia Terbeck, Philip J. Cowen, Miles Hewstone & Julian Savulescu - 2014 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 21 (2):111-125.
    A number of concerns have been raised about the possible future use of pharmaceuticals designed to enhance cognitive, affective, and motivational processes, particularly where the aim is to produce morally better decisions or behavior. In this article, we draw attention to what is arguably a more worrying possibility: that pharmaceuticals currently in widespread therapeutic use are already having unintended effects on these processes, and thus on moral decision making and morally significant behavior. We review current evidence on the moral effects (...)
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  16.  6
    Cognitive Enhancement and Motivation Enhancement: An Empirical Comparison of Intuitive Judgments.Nadira S. Faber, Thomas Douglas, Felix Heise & Miles Hewstone - 2015 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 6 (1):18-20.
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  17.  53
    Coercion, Incarceration, and Chemical Castration: An Argument From Autonomy.Thomas Douglas, Pieter Bonte, Farah Focquaert, Katrien Devolder & Sigrid Sterckx - 2013 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 10 (3):393-405.
    In several jurisdictions, sex offenders may be offered chemical castration as an alternative to further incarceration. In some, agreement to chemical castration may be made a formal condition of parole or release. In others, refusal to undergo chemical castration can increase the likelihood of further incarceration though no formal link is made between the two. Offering chemical castration as an alternative to further incarceration is often said to be partially coercive, thus rendering the offender’s consent invalid. The dominant response to (...)
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  18.  23
    Procreative Altruism: Beyond Individualism in Reproductive Selection.Thomas Douglas & Katrien Devolder - 2013 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 38 (4):400-419.
    Existing debate on procreative selection focuses on the well-being of the future child. However, selection decisions can also have significant effects on the well-being of others. Moreover, these effects may run in opposing directions; some traits conducive to the well-being of the selected child may be harmful to others, whereas other traits that limit the child’s well-being may preserve or increase that of others. Prominent selection principles defended to date instruct parents to select a child, of the possible children they (...)
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  19.  20
    Genome Editing Technologies and Human Germline Genetic Modification: The Hinxton Group Consensus Statement.Sarah Chan, Peter J. Donovan, Thomas Douglas, Christopher Gyngell, John Harris, Robin Lovell-Badge, Debra J. H. Mathews & Alan Regenberg - 2015 - American Journal of Bioethics 15 (12):42-47.
  20.  19
    Stocking the Genetic Supermarket: Reproductive Genetic Technologies and Collective Action Problems.Chris Gyngell & Thomas Douglas - 2015 - Bioethics 29 (4):241-250.
    Reproductive genetic technologies allow parents to decide whether their future children will have or lack certain genetic predispositions. A popular model that has been proposed for regulating access to RGTs is the ‘genetic supermarket’. In the genetic supermarket, parents are free to make decisions about which genes to select for their children with little state interference. One possible consequence of the genetic supermarket is that collective action problems will arise: if rational individuals use the genetic supermarket in isolation from one (...)
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  21.  55
    Enhancement and Civic Virtue.William Jefferson, Thomas Douglas, Guy Kahane & Julian Savulescu - 2014 - Social Theory and Practice 40 (3):499-527.
    Opponents of biomedical enhancement frequently adopt what Allen Buchanan has called the “Personal Goods Assumption.” On this assumption, the benefits of biomedical enhancement will accrue primarily to those individuals who undergo enhancements, not to wider society. Buchanan has argued that biomedical enhancements might in fact have substantial social benefits by increasing productivity. We outline another way in which enhancements might benefit wider society: by augmenting civic virtue and thus improving the functioning of our political communities. We thus directly confront critics (...)
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  22. Selecting Against Disability: The Liberal Eugenic Challenge and the Argument From Cognitive Diversity.Christopher Gyngell & Thomas Douglas - 2018 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 35 (2):319-340.
    Selection against embryos that are predisposed to develop disabilities is one of the less controversial uses of embryo selection technologies. Many bio-conservatives argue that while the use of ESTs to select for non-disease-related traits, such as height and eye-colour, should be banned, their use to avoid disease and disability should be permitted. Nevertheless, there remains significant opposition, particularly from the disability rights movement, to the use of ESTs to select against disability. In this article we examine whether and why the (...)
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  23.  6
    Enhancement and Desert.Thomas Douglas - 2018 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 18 (1):3-22.
    It is sometimes claimed that those who succeed with the aid of enhancement technologies deserve the rewards associated with their success less, other things being equal, than those who succeed without the aid of such technologies. This claim captures some widely held intuitions, has been implicitly endorsed by participants in social–psychological research and helps to undergird some otherwise puzzling philosophical objections to the use of enhancement technologies. I consider whether it can be provided with a rational basis. I examine three (...)
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  24.  63
    Autonomy and the Ethics of Biological Behaviour Modification.Julian Savulescu, Thomas Douglas & Ingmar Persson - 2014 - In Akira Akabayashi (ed.), The Future of Bioethics: International Dialogues. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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  25. Resisting Sparrow's Sexy Reductio : Selection Principles and the Social Good.Simon Rippon, Pablo Stafforini, Katrien Devolder, Russell Powell & Thomas Douglas - 2010 - American Journal of Bioethics 10 (7):16-18.
    Principles of procreative beneficence (PPBs) hold that parents have good reasons to select the child with the best life prospects. Sparrow (2010) claims that PPBs imply that we should select only female children, unlesswe attach normative significance to “normal” human capacities. We argue that this claim fails on both empirical and logical grounds. Empirically, Sparrow’s argument for greater female wellbeing rests on a selective reading of the evidence and the incorrect assumption that an advantage for females would persist even when (...)
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  26.  48
    Nonconsensual Neurocorrectives and Bodily Integrity: A Reply to Shaw and Barn.Thomas Douglas - forthcoming - Neuroethics:1-12.
    In this issue, Elizabeth Shaw and Gulzaar Barn offer a number of replies to my arguments in ‘Criminal Rehabilitation Through Medical Intervention: Moral Liability and the Right to Bodily Integrity’, Journal of Ethics. In this article I respond to some of their criticisms.
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  27.  41
    Justifications for Non-­Consensual Medical Intervention: From Infectious Disease Control to Criminal Rehabilitation.Jonathan Pugh & Thomas Douglas - 2016 - Criminal Justice Ethics 35 (3):205-229.
    A central tenet of medical ethics holds that it is permissible to perform a medical intervention on a competent individual only if that individual has given informed consent to the intervention. However, in some circumstances it is tempting to say that the moral reason to obtain informed consent prior to administering a medical intervention is outweighed. For example, if an individual’s refusal to undergo a medical intervention would lead to the transmission of a dangerous infectious disease to other members of (...)
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  28.  38
    Neural and Environmental Modulation of Motivation: What's the Moral Difference?Thomas Douglas - forthcoming - In David Birks & Thomas Douglas (eds.), Treatment for Crime: Philosophical Essays on Neurointerventions in Criminal Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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  29.  29
    Is the Creation of Artificial Life Morally Significant?Thomas Douglas, Russell Powell & Julian Savulescu - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):688-696.
    In 2010, the Venter lab announced that it had created the first bacterium with an entirely synthetic genome. This was reported to be the first instance of ‘artificial life,’ and in the ethical and policy discussions that followed it was widely assumed that the creation of artificial life is in itself morally significant. We cast doubt on this assumption. First we offer an account of the creation of artificial life that distinguishes this from the derivation of organisms from existing life (...)
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  30.  9
    Two Ways to Frustrate a Desire.David Birks & Thomas Douglas - 2017 - Journal of Value Inquiry 51 (3):417-434.
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  31.  47
    The Epistemic Costs of Compromise in Bioethics.Katrien Devolder & Thomas Douglas - 2018 - Bioethics 32 (2):111-118.
    Bioethicists sometimes defend compromise positions, particularly when they enter debates on applied topics that have traditionally been highly polarised, such as those regarding abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research. However, defending compromise positions is often regarded with a degree of disdain. Many are intuitively attracted to the view that it is almost always problematic to defend compromise positions, in the sense that we have a significant moral reason not to do so. In this paper, we consider whether this common (...)
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  32.  3
    Is the Creation of Artificial Life Morally Significant?Thomas Douglas, Russell Powell & Julian Savulescu - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 44 (4b):688-696.
    In 2010, the Venter lab announced that it had created the first bacterium with an entirely synthetic genome. This was reported to be the first instance of ‘artificial life,’ and in the ethical and policy discussions that followed it was widely assumed that the creation of artificial life is in itself morally significant. We cast doubt on this assumption. First we offer an account of the creation of artificial life that distinguishes this from the derivation of organisms from existing life (...)
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  33.  52
    The Morality of Moral Neuroenhancement.Thomas Douglas - forthcoming - In Clausen Jens & Levy Neil (eds.), Handbook of Neuroethics. Springer.
    This chapter reviews recent philosophical and neuroethical literature on the morality of moral neuroenhancements. It first briefly outlines the main moral arguments that have been made concerning moral status neuroenhancements. These are neurointerventions that would augment the moral status of human persons. It then surveys recent debate regarding moral desirability neuroenhancements: neurointerventions that augment that the moral desirability of human character traits, motives or conduct. This debate has contested, among other claims (i) Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu’s contention that there (...)
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  34.  40
    The Moral Imperative to Continue Gene Editing Research on Human Embryos.Julian Savulescu, Jonathan Pugh, Thomas Douglas & Chris Gyngell - 2015 - Protein Cell 6 (7):476–479.
    The publication of the first study to use gene editing techniques in human embryos (Liang et al., 2015) has drawn outrage from many in the scientific community. The prestigious scientific journals Nature and Science have published commentaries which call for this research to be strongly discouraged or halted all together (Lanphier et al., 2015; Baltimore et al., 2015). We believe this should be questioned. There is a moral imperative to continue this research.
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  35.  31
    Disease, Normality, and Current Pharmacological Moral Modification.Neil Levy, Thomas Douglas, Guy Kahane, Sylvia Terbeck, Philip J. Cowen, Miles Hewstone & Julian Savulescu - 2014 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 21 (2):135-137.
  36. Human Enhancement and Supra-Personal Moral Status.Thomas Douglas - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (3):473-497.
    Several authors have speculated that (1) the pharmaceutical, genetic or other technological enhancement of human mental capacities could result in the creation of beings with greater moral status than persons, and (2) the creation of such beings would harm ordinary, unenhanced humans, perhaps by reducing their immunity to permissible harm. These claims have been taken to ground moral objections to the unrestrained pursuit of human enhancement. In recent work, Allen Buchanan responds to these objections by questioning both (1) and (2). (...)
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  37.  31
    The Regulation of Cognitive Enhancement Devices : Extending the Medical Model.Hannah Maslen, Thomas Douglas, Roi Cohen Kadosh, Neil Levy & Julian Savulescu - 2014 - Journal of Law and the Biosciences 1 (1):68-93.
    This article presents a model for regulating cognitive enhancement devices. Recently, it has become very easy for individuals to purchase devices which directly modulate brain function. For example, transcranial direct current stimulators are increasingly being produced and marketed online as devices for cognitive enhancement. Despite posing risks in a similar way to medical devices, devices that do not make any therapeutic claims do not have to meet anything more than basic product safety standards. We present the case for extending existing (...)
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  38.  23
    The Unilateralist’s Curse and the Case for a Principle of Conformity.Nick Bostrom, Thomas Douglas & Anders Sandberg - 2016 - Social Epistemology 30 (4):350-371.
    In some situations a number of agents each have the ability to undertake an initiative that would have significant effects on the others. Suppose that each of these agents is purely motivated by an altruistic concern for the common good. We show that if each agent acts on her own personal judgment as to whether the initiative should be undertaken, then the initiative will be undertaken more often than is optimal. We suggest that this phenomenon, which we call the unilateralist’s (...)
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  39.  19
    Why is Cognitive Enhancement Deemed Unacceptable? The Role of Fairness, Deservingness, and Hollow Achievements.Nadira S. Faber, Julian Savulescu & Thomas Douglas - 2016 - Frontiers in Psychology 7.
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  40.  87
    Consequentialism and the Death Penalty.Dominic Wilkinson & Thomas Douglas - 2008 - American Journal of Bioethics 8 (10):56-58.
  41.  73
    Enhancement in Sport, and Enhancement Outside Sport.Thomas Douglas - 2007 - Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology 1 (1).
    Sport is one of the first areas in which enhancement has become commonplace. It is also one of the first areas in which the use of enhancement technologies has been heavily regulated. Some have thus seen sport as a testing ground for arguments about whether to permit enhancement. However, I argue that there are fairness-based objections to enhancement in sport that do not apply as strongly in some other areas of human activity. Thus, I claim that there will often be (...)
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  42.  3
    Procreative Beneficence and in Vitro Gametogenesis.Hannah Bourne, Thomas Douglas & Julian Savulescu - 2012 - Monash Bioethics Review 30 (2):29-48.
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  43.  34
    The Harms of Enhancement and the Conclusive Reasons View.Thomas Douglas - 2015 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24 (1):23-36.
    Many critics of bioenhancement go to considerable lengths to establish the existence of reasons against pursuing bioenhancements but do little to establish the absence of reasons in favor. This suggests that they accept what Allen Buchanan has called the conclusive reasons view . According to this view, our reasons against bioenhancement are obviously decisive, so there is no need to balance them against countervailing reasons. Buchanan criticizes the CRV by showing that the reasons most commonly adduced against bioenhancement are not (...)
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  44.  42
    Risk Assessment Tools in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychiatry: The Need for Better Data.Thomas Douglas, Jonathan Pugh, Illina Singh, Julian Savulescu & Seena Fazel - 2017 - European Psychiatry 42:134-137.
    Violence risk assessment tools are increasingly used within criminal justice and forensic psychiatry, however there is little relevant, reliable and unbiased data regarding their predictive accuracy. We argue that such data are needed to (i) prevent excessive reliance on risk assessment scores, (ii) allow matching of different risk assessment tools to different contexts of application, (iii) protect against problematic forms of discrimination and stigmatisation, and (iv) ensure that contentious demographic variables are not prematurely removed from risk assessment tools.
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  45.  20
    Introduction.Thomas Douglas & David Birks - forthcoming - In David Birks & Thomas Douglas (eds.), Treatment for Crime: Philosophical Essays on Neurointerventions in Criminal Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  46.  56
    The Relationship Between Effort and Moral Worth: Three Amendments to Sorensen’s Model.Thomas Douglas - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (2):325-334.
    Kelly Sorensen defends a model of the relationship between effort and moral worth in which the effort exerted in performing a morally desirable action contributes positively to the action’s moral worth, but the effort required to perform the action detracts from its moral worth. I argue that Sorensen’s model, though on the right track, is mistaken in three ways. First, it fails to capture the relevance of counterfactual effort to moral worth. Second, it wrongly implies that exerting unnecessary effort confers (...)
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  47.  7
    The Negative Effects of Neurointerventions: Confusing Constitution and Causation.Thomas Douglas & Hazem Zohny - 2018 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 9 (3):162-164.
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  48.  26
    Refusing to Treat Sexual Dysfunction in Sex Offenders.Thomas Douglas - 2017 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 26 (1):143-158.
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  49.  25
    Taking Drugs to Help Others.Thomas Douglas - 2016 - In David Edmonds (ed.), Philosophers Take On the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  50.  86
    Intertemporal Disagreement and Empirical Slippery Slope Arguments.Thomas Douglas - 2010 - Utilitas 22 (2):184-197.
    One prevalent type of slippery slope argument has the following form: (1) by doing some initial act now, we will bring it about that we subsequently do some more extreme version of this act, and (2) we should not bring it about that we do this further act, therefore (3) we should not do the initial act. Such arguments are frequently regarded as mistaken, often on the grounds that they rely on speculative or insufficiently strong empirical premises. In this article (...)
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