Use of symbols, the key to the biosemiotics field as to many others, required bigger brains which implied a promissory note for greater energy consumption; symbols are obviously expensive. A score years before the current estimate of 18–20% for the human brain’s metabolic demand on the organism, it was known that neural tissue is metabolically dear. This paper first discusses two evolutionary responses to this demand, on both of which there is some consensus. The first, assigning care of altricial infants (...) with burgeoning brains (and in human infants the metabolic demand peaks at 65% of the total) to “allomothers” is not unique to humans. The second, using relatively small neurons as primates do, risks misfires past a certain minimal value. Moreover, in apparent paradox, there is an increasing consensus that large “Von Economo” neurons are critical for communication. This paper’s main contribution is the discussion of two further evolutionary tricks. The first is the use of self-similarity in the cortex, both in structure and process, to allow the cortex readily—and in energetic terms, parsimoniously—to shift between states in a high-dimensional space. This leads to discussion of the kind of formalism appropriate to model these shifts, a formalism which—it is tentatively suggested—may do double duty for the modeling of symbolic thought. The second trick is the superimposition on the background “white noise” of neural firing of EEG-detected waves like gamma. The paper describes a method, using the Hilbert transform, of calculating the dips in energy consumption as the brain is transitioned by gamma waves. It is hypothesized that consciousness may be a spandrel, the incidental result of a neurodynamic imperative that the brain enter a maximally sensitive (in sensory terms) “zero power” state a few times a second. If that is the case, then there are obvious benefits for health in meditation, which can be viewed as a state of consciousness extended over time by limiting afferent stimuli. (shrink)
There are many questions we can ask about time, but perhaps the most fundamental is whether there are metaphysically interesting differences between past, present and future events. An eternalist believes in a block universe: past, present and future events are all on an equal footing. A gradualist believes in a growing block: he agrees with the eternalist about the past and the present but not about the future. A presentist believes that what is present has a special status. My first (...) claim is that the familiar ways of articulating these views result in there being no substantive disagreement at all between the three parties. I then show that if we accept the controversial truthmaking principle, we can articulate a substantive disagreement. Finally, I apply this way of formulating the debate to related questions such as the open future and determinism, showing that these do not always line up in quite the way one would expect. (shrink)
This is an extremely thorough revision of the leading textbook of bioethics. The authors have made many improvements in style, organization, argument and content. These changes reflect advances in the bioethics literature over the past five years. The most dramatic expansions of the text are in the comprehensiveness with which the authors treat different currents in ethical theory and the greater breadth and depth of their discussion of public policy and public health issues. In every chapter, readers will find new (...) material and refinements of old discussions. This is evident in the many new sections on topics like communitarianism, ethics of care, relationship-based accounts, casuistry, case-based reasoning, principle-based common-morality theories, the justification of assistance in dying, rationing through priorities in the health care budget, and virtues in professional roles. The most extensive revisions are in chapters 1, 2 and 8. (shrink)
This article develops an unconventional perspective on the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill in at least four areas. First, it is shown that both authors conceived of utility as irreducibly multi-dimensional, and that Bentham in particular was very much aware of the ambiguity that multi-dimensionality imposes upon optimal choice under the greatest happiness principle. Secondly, I argue that any attribution of intrinsic worth to any form of human behaviour violates the first principles of Bentham's and Mill's utilitarianism, and that this (...) renders both authors immune to the claim by G. E. Moore that they committed a ‘naturalistic fallacy’. Thirdly, in light of these contentions, I find no flaw in Mill's ‘proof of utility’. Fourthly, I use the notion of intrapersonal utility weights to provide an interpretation of Mill's qualitative hedonism that is entirely consistent with his value monism. (shrink)
This book is a provocative contribution to contemporary ethical theory challenging foundational conceptions of character that date back to Aristotle. John Doris draws on behavioral science, especially social psychology, to argue that we misattribute the causes of behavior to personality traits and other fixed aspects of character rather than to the situational context. More often than not it is the situation not the nature of the personality that really counts. The author elaborates the philosophical consequences of this research for (...) a whole array of ethical theories and shows that, once rid of the misleading conception of motivation, moral psychology can support more robust ethical theories and more humane ethical practices. (shrink)
Kant's claim that modality is a 'category' provides an approach to modality to be contrasted with Lewis's reductive analysis. Lewis's position is unsatisfactory, since it depends on an inherently modal conception of a world. This suggests that modality is 'primitive'; and the Kantian position is a prima facie plausible position of this kind, which is filled out by considering the relationship between modality and inference. This provides a context for comparing the Kantian position with Wright's non-cognitivist 'conventionalism'. Wright's position is (...) vulnerable to the type of argument used against ethical non-cognitivism, and the Kantian position is further confirmed by Blackburn's acknowledgment that modality is 'antinaturalistic to its core'. The position is further elaborated to show that it can accommodate the famous Kripkean categories of the empirically necessary and the contingent a priori, and finally defended against the criticisms used by Quine against Carnap. (shrink)
Do we know what we're doing, and why? Psychological research seems to suggest not: reflection and self-awareness are surprisingly uncommon and inaccurate. John M. Doris presents a new account of agency and responsibility, which reconciles our understanding of ourselves as moral agents with empirical work on the unconscious mind.
The principal thesis in this book is that bioethics emerged—in the 1960s through the 1980s—under the influence of philosophers who claimed to have universally valid principles that could steer medicine and research to the solution of ethical problems, including even those arising at the bedside of patients. Tom Koch contends that these philosophers and their allied bioethicists “stole medicine” and its traditional values, substituting a philosophical discourse generally inaccessible to the average person. Philosophers thereby refashioned medical ethics in accordance with (...) their vision of a morally and intellectually robust new field. Koch maintains that philosophers have failed to deliver on their promises and that .. (shrink)
Western ethics and law have been slow to come to conclusions about the right to choose the time and manner of one's death. However, policies, practices, and legal precedents have evolved quickly in the last quarter of the twentieth century, from the forgoing of respirators to the use of Do Not Resuscitate orders, to the forgoing of all medical technologies, and now, in one U.S. state, to legalized physician-assisted suicide. The sweep of history—from the Quinlan case in New Jersey to (...) legislation in Oregon that allows physician-assisted suicide—has been as rapid as it has been revolutionary. (shrink)
There is a widespread view that well-learned skills are automated, and that attention to the performance of these skills is damaging because it disrupts the automatic processes involved in their execution. This idea serves as the basis for an account of choking in high pressure situations. On this view, choking is the result of self-focused attention induced by anxiety. Recent research in sports psychology has produced a significant body of experimental evidence widely interpreted as supporting this account of choking in (...) certain kinds of complex sensorimotor skills. We argue against this interpretation, pointing to problems with both the empirical evidence and the underlying theory. The experimental research fails to provide direct support for the central claims of the self-focus approach, contains inconsistencies, and suffers from problems of ecological validity. In addition, qualitative studies of choking have yielded contrary results. We further argue that in their current forms the self-focus and rival distraction approaches both lack the theoretical resources to provide a good theory of choking, and we argue for an expanded approach. Some of the elements that should be in an expanded approach include accounts of the features of pressure situations that influence the psychological response, the processes of situation appraisal, and the ways that attentional control can be overwhelmed, leading to distraction in some cases, and in others, perhaps, to damaging attention to skill execution. We also suggest that choking may sometimes involve performance-impairing mechanisms other than distraction or self-focus. (shrink)
Paradoxes are more than just intellectual puzzles - they raise substantive philosophical issues and offer the promise of increased philosophical knowledge. In this introduction to paradox and paradoxes, Doris Olin shows how seductive paradoxes can be, why they confuse and confound, and why they continue to fascinate. Olin examines the nature of paradox, outlining a rigorous definition and providing a clear and incisive statement of what does and does not count as a resolution of a paradox. The view that (...) a statement can be both true and false, that contradictions can be true, is seen to provide a challenge to the account of paradox resolution, and is explored. With this framework in place, the book then turns to an in-depth treatment of the Prediction Paradox, versions of the Preface/Fallibility Paradox, the Lottery Paradox, Newcomb's Problem, the Prisoner's Dilemma and the Sorites Paradox. Each of these paradoxes is shown to have considerable philosophical punch. Olin unpacks the central arguments in a clear and systematic fashion, offers original analyses and solutions, and exposes further unsettling implications for some of our most deep-seated principles and convictions. (shrink)
__Demoralized: Why Teachers Leave the Profession They Love and How They Can Stay_ offers a timely analysis of professional dissatisfaction that challenges the common explanation of burnout. _Featuring the voices of educators, the book offers concrete lessons for practitioners, school leaders, and policy makers on how to think more strategically to retain experienced teachers and make a difference in the lives of students. Based on ten years of research and interviews with practitioners across the United States, the book theorizes the (...) existence of a “moral center” that can be pivotal in guiding teacher actions and expectations on the job. Education philosopher Doris Santoro argues that demoralization offers a more precise diagnosis that is born out of ongoing value conflicts with pedagogical policies, reform mandates, and school practices. _Demoralized_ reveals that this condition is reversible when educators are able to tap into authentic professional communities and shows that individuals can help themselves. Detailed stories from veteran educators are included to illustrate the variety of contexts in which demoralization can occur. Based on these insights, Santoro offers an array of recommendations and promising strategies for how school leaders, union leaders, teacher groups, and individual practitioners can enact and support “re-moralization” by working to change the conditions leading to demoralization. (shrink)
Democratic legitimacy is rarely associated with private governance. After all, private actors are not legitimized through elections by a demos. Instead of abandoning democratic principles when entering the private sphere of governance, however, this article argues in favour of employing alternative criteria of democracy in assessments. Specifically, this article uses the criteria of participation, transparency and accountability to evaluate the democratic legitimacy of private food retail governance institutions. It pursues this evaluation of the democratic legitimacy of these institutions against the (...) background of their ambivalent impact on the sustainability of the global agrifood system. The paper refers to a range of cases of private retail standards with different governance structures and substantial foci to illustrate its argument. (shrink)
Benefit sharing has been a recurrent theme in international debates for the past two decades. However, despite its prominence in law, medical ethics and political philosophy, the concept has never been satisfactorily defined. In this conceptual paper, a definition that combines current legal guidelines with input from ethics debates is developed. Philosophers like boxes; protective casings into which they can put concisely-defined concepts. Autonomy is the human capacity for self-determination; beneficence denotes the virtue of good deeds, coercion is the intentional (...) threat of harm and so on. What about benefit sharing? Does the concept have a box and are the contents clearly defined? The answer to this question has to be no. The concept of benefit sharing is almost unique in that various disciplines use it regularly without precise definitions. In this article, a definition for benefit sharing is provided, to eliminate unnecessary ambiguity. (shrink)
One of the most significant shifts in current thinking on war and gender is the recognition that rape in wartime is not a simple by-product of war, but often a planned and targeted policy. For many feminists ‘rape as a weapon of war’ provides a way to articulate the systematic, pervasive, and orchestrated nature of wartime sexual violence that marks it as integral rather than incidental to war. This recognition of rape as a weapon of war has taken on legal (...) significance at the Rwandan and Yugoslav Tribunals where rape has been prosecuted as a crime against humanity and genocide. In this paper, I examine how the Rwanda Tribunal’s record of judgments conceives of rape enacted as an instrument of the genocide. I consider in particular how the Tribunal’s conception of ‘rape as a weapon of war’ shapes what can be known about sexual violence and gender in the Rwandan genocide and what cannot, the categories of victims legally recognised and those that are not, and the questions pursued, and those foreclosed, about the patterns of violence before and during the genocide. (shrink)
Psychopaths appear to be ‘creatures apart’ – grandiose, shameless, callous and versatile in their violence. I discuss biological underpinnings to their pale affect, their selective inability to discern fear and sadness in others and a predatory orienting towards images that make most startle and look away. However, just because something is biologically underpinned does not mean that it is innate. I show that while there may be some genetic determination of fearlessness and callous-unemotionality, these and other features of the personality (...) may arise from developmental failures in the interpersonal reception of their emotions, needs and their sense of self. One is unlikely to be able to own inner experiences if shamed for having them, or if, having them, one does not know how to regulate and soothe. So psychopaths may learn to attend away and suppress them. Rather than a fully inherited difficulty, they may have become unable to reflect on inner states, so meta-emotions and self-reflective emotions like guilt and shame do not fully arise. They retain enough sensitivity to know their difference, and hide. I suggest that psychopaths are characterised by a nested sense of self, arising from the surprising effect of shame on these seemingly shameless characters. They do not have an integrated sense of self across context or across time or in relation to a generalised social other. With a nested sense of self, diminished intensity and scope of affective experience (in both directly experienced and vicarious forms) they lack textured access to a personal, owned and integrated past. Thus they lack the kind of access to the past required for a motivationally compelling planning of the future. They lack the emotional investment in the future that enables us to overcome the motivation to act opportunistically and myopically. These individuals live strangely in time. They have a fugitive sense of self and live nimbly among many pasts. They present an elegant and coherent mask to the person they are addressing in the moment and generate possible futures without conviction. (shrink)
This open access book offers insights into the development of the ground-breaking Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings (GCC) and the San Code of Research Ethics. Using a new, intuitive moral framework predicated on fairness, respect, care and honesty, both codes target ethics dumping – the export of unethical research practices from a high-income setting to a lower- or middle-income setting. The book is a rich resource of information and argument for any research stakeholder who opposes double (...) standards in research. It will be indispensable for applicants to European Union framework programmes, as the GCC is now a mandatory reference document for EU funding. (shrink)
Yoga is a unique form of expert movement that promotes an increasingly subtle interpenetration of thought and movement. The mindful nature of its practice, even at expert levels, challenges the idea that thought and mind are inevitably disruptive to absorbed coping. Building on parallel phenomenological and ethnographic studies of skilful performance and embodied apprenticeship, we argue for the importance in yoga of mental access to embodied movement during skill execution by way of a case study of instruction and practice in (...) two related traditions, Iyengar and Anusara. Sharing a pose repertoire, they are based on distinctive philosophical systems with different teaching styles and metaphoric structures. To address relations between pedagogy and practice in embodied expertise, and to investigate the reciprocal influences of embodiment and thought, we explore in detail the linguistically mediated learning context where practitioners work with yoga teachers. Here, the mind/body problem comes to practical life. We demonstrate the effects of words on bodies, as knowledge is literally incorporated. We show why interpersonal influence on our movement capacities is sometimes needed to enhance expertise. We theorize and identify ?signature patterns of tension? among practitioners. These patterns have four sources: ghost gestures, innate differences in bodily form, functional fusing, and signature patterns of affective experience, modulation and expression. These patterns of tension produce ?silent zones?, cognitively impenetrable actions, functional fusing of a skilful, compensatory form, and signature patterns of pain and damage. We show how instruction can disrupt these silent zones, enhancing mental and physical flexibility. (shrink)
Moral psychology investigates human functioning in moral contexts, and asks how these results may impact debate in ethical theory. This work is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on both the empirical resources of the human sciences and the conceptual resources of philosophical ethics. The present article discusses several topics that illustrate this type of inquiry: thought experiments, responsibility, character, egoism v . altruism, and moral disagreement.
Tom Beauchamp presents a new edition, designed especially for the student reader, of An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, the classic work in which David Hume gave a general exposition of his philosophy to a broad educated readership. An authoritative new version of the text is preceded by a substantial introduction explaining the historical and intellectual background to the work and surveying its main themes. The volume also includes detailed explanatory notes on the text, a glossary of terms, and a section (...) of supplementary readings. (shrink)
In elite sport, the advantages demonstrated by expert performers over novices are sometimes due in part to their superior physical fitness or to their greater technical precision in executing specialist motor skills. However at the very highest levels, all competitors typically share extraordinary physical capacities and have supremely well-honed techniques. Among the extra factors which can differentiate between the best performers, psychological skills are paramount. These range from the capacities to cope under pressure and to bounce back from setbacks, to (...) the knowledge of themselves, opponents, and the domain, which experts access and apply in performance. In the companion chapter on breadth and depth of knowledge in expert sport (see Chapter 11), we discussed the forms or kinds of knowledge deployed by elite athletes, and described some lines of research which seek to tap and study such expert knowledge (McPherson & MacMahon, 2008; McRobert, Ward, Eccles & Williams, 2011). In this chapter we focus more directly on questions about methods for measuring or more accurately assessing expert knowledge, in particular addressing a wider range of methods to help us understand what experts know. Suggesting that sport researchers can productively adopt and adapt existing qualitative methodologies for integration with more standard quantitative methods, we introduce and survey a number of areas of qualitative research in psychology. (shrink)
Tom Sparrow shows how, in the 21st century, speculative realism aims to do what phenomenology could not: provide a philosophical method that disengages the human-centred approach to metaphysics in order to chronicle the complex realm of nonhuman reality. -/- Through a focused reading of the methodological statements and metaphysical commitments of key phenomenologists and speculative realists, Sparrow shows how speculative realism is replacing phenomenology as the beacon of realism in contemporary Continental philosophy.
Aggregation shows that virtue-relevant behavior is indeed highly predictable, and that individual differences in global virtues do indeed exist. Aggregation is a key response to the situationist argument against the existence of broad virtues. However, a concern with aggregation is that, because it is an average, the specifics of what are included in that average matter. In particular, if heinous actions could be included in the average, then aggregates cannot provide enough confidence that the holders of high aggregates have not (...) conducted heinous actions and thus cannot provide enough confidence that such people qualify as virtuous. Doris has challenged aggregation with this concern, and no one has responded substantively to this challenge. If Doris’ challenge is in fact correct, then the situationist argument against the existence of broad virtues stands. In the article, we present a full response to this concern. We argue that aggregation does not in fact allow heinous exceptions, because aggregates do indeed predict extreme single behaviors very well. In fact, aggregates do allow confidence that holders of high aggregates do not commit heinous actions. Thus, Doris’ rejection of the aggregation solution does not defeat aggregation, aggregation continues to stand in the defense of global virtues, and the situationist argument does not threaten the existence and predictive power of global virtues. Models of traits that rely on aggregates, such as Whole Trait Theory, may provide useful post-situationist models of virtues. (shrink)
This article considers how we should frame the ethical issues raised by current proposals for large-scale genebanks with on-going links to medical and lifestyle data, such as the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council's 'UK Biobank'. As recent scandals such as Alder Hey have emphasised, there are complex issues concerning the informed consent of donors that need to be carefully considered. However, we believe that a preoccupation with informed consent obscures important questions about the purposes to which such collections are (...) put, not least that they may be only haphazardly used for research —an end that would not fairly reflect the original altruistic motivation of donors, and the trust they must invest. We therefore argue that custodians of such databases take on a weighty pro-active duty, to encourage public debate about the ends of such collections and to sponsor research that reflects publicly agreed priorities and provides public benefits. (shrink)
Why should all human beings have certain rights simply by virtue of being human? One justification is an appeal to religious authority. However, in increasingly secular societies this approach has its limits. An alternative answer is that human rights are justified through human dignity. This paper argues that human rights and human dignity are better separated for three reasons. First, the justification paradox: the concept of human dignity does not solve the justification problem for human rights but rather aggravates it (...) in secular societies. Second, the Kantian cul-de-sac: if human rights were based on Kant’s concept of dignity rather than theist grounds, such rights would lose their universal validity. Third, hazard by association: human dignity is nowadays more controversial than the concept of human rights, especially given unresolved tensions between aspirational dignity and inviolable dignity. In conclusion, proponents of universal human rights will fare better with alternative frameworks to justify human rights rather than relying on the concept of dignity. (shrink)
This open access book provides original, up-to-date case studies of “ethics dumping” that were largely facilitated by loopholes in the ethics governance of low and middle-income countries. It is instructive even to experienced researchers since it provides a voice to vulnerable populations from the fore mentioned countries. Ensuring the ethical conduct of North-South collaborations in research is a process fraught with difficulties. The background conditions under which such collaborations take place include extreme differentials in available income and power, as well (...) as a past history of colonialism, while differences in culture can add a new layer of complications. In this context, up-to-date case studies of unethical conduct are essential for research ethics training. (shrink)
Imagine you are walking down a city street. It is windy and raining. Amidst the bustle you see a young woman. She sits under a railway bridge, hardly protected from the rain and holds a woolen hat containing a small number of coins. You can see that she trembles from the cold. Or imagine seeing an old woman walking in the street at dusk, clutching her bag with one hand and a walking stick with the other. A group of male (...) youths walk behind her without overtaking, drunk and in the mood for mischief. It doesn't need an academic to say what vulnerability is. We can all see it, much more often than we care to. (shrink)
Tom Stoneham offers a clear and detailed study of Berkeley's metaphysics and epistemology, as presented in his classic work Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, originally published in 1713 and still widely studied. Stoneham shows that Berkeley is an important and systematic philosopher whose work is still of relevance to philosophers today.
The concept of rights is now so dominant in the language of politics that it is becoming difficult to identify its use with any particular approach to the solution of social problems or to gain a clear picture of its significance, its advantages and its disadvantages as a way of conceptualizing and resolving contentious political issues. None the less there is a perceptible shift towards an emphasis on rights in contemporary politics which many welcome and encourage and others question and (...) even reject, a shift which is matched in jurisprudence by the renewed stress which many theorists place on rights as a basic legal concept despite recurrent problems associated with the concept as a tool for legal analysis and moral justification. Conflicting theories of legal rights are canvassed and this in turn feeds into the debate concerning the reality or significance of non-legal rights, for the process of law reform is often presented as a matter of giving legal embodiment to the rights which various interested categories of people are asserted to possess already. (shrink)
While nothing justiﬁes atrocity, many perpetrators manifest cognitive impairments that profoundly degrade their capacity for moral judgment, and such impairments, we shall argue, preclude the attribution of moral responsibility.
Yoga is a unique form of expert movement that promotes an increasingly subtle interpenetration of thought and movement. The mindful nature of its practice, even at expert levels, challenges the idea that thought and mind are inevitably disruptive to absorbed coping. Building on parallel phenomenological and ethnographic studies of skilful performance and embodied apprenticeship, we argue for the importance in yoga of mental access to embodied movement during skill execution by way of a case study of instruction and practice in (...) two related traditions, Iyengar and Anusara. Sharing a pose repertoire, they are based on distinctive philosophical systems with different teaching styles and metaphoric structures. To address relations between pedagogy and practice in embodied expertise, and to investigate the reciprocal influences of embodiment and thought, we explore in detail the linguistically mediated learning context where practitioners work with yoga teachers. Here, the mind/body problem comes to practical life. We demonstrate the effects of words on bodies, as knowledge is literally incorporated. We show why interpersonal influence on our movement capacities is sometimes needed to enhance expertise. We theorize and identify ‘signature patterns of tension’ among practitioners. These patterns have four sources: ghost gestures, innate differences in bodily form, functional fusing, and signature patterns of affective experience, modulation and expression. These patterns of tension produce ‘silent zones’, cognitively impenetrable actions, functional fusing of a skilful, compensatory form, and signature patterns of pain and damage. We show how instruction can disrupt these silent zones, enhancing mental and physical flexibility. (shrink)
The Médecins Sans Frontières ethics review board has been solicited in an unprecedented way to provide advice and review research protocols in an ‘emergency’ mode during the recent Ebola epidemic. Twenty-seven Ebola-related study protocols were reviewed between March 2014 and August 2015, ranging from epidemiological research, to behavioural research, infectivity studies and clinical trials with investigational products at early development stages. This article examines the MSF ERB’s experience addressing issues related to both the process of review and substantive ethical issues (...) in this context. These topics include lack of policies regarding blood sample collection and use, and engaging communities regarding their storage and future use; exclusion of pregnant women from clinical and vaccine trials; and the difficulty of implementing timely and high-quality qualitative/anthropological research to consider potential upfront harms. Having noticed different standards across ethics committees, we propose that when multiple ethics reviews of clinical and vaccine trials are carried out during a public health emergency they should be accompanied by transparent communication between the ECs involved. The MSF ERB experience should trigger a broader discussion on the ‘optimal’ ethics review in an emergency outbreak and what enduring structural changes are needed to improve the ethics review process. (shrink)
Bioethics claimed to offer a set of generally applicable, universally accepted guidelines that would simplify complex situations. In Thieves of Virtue, Tom Koch argues that bioethics has failed to deliver on its promises.