A layered approach to the evaluation of action alternatives with continuous time for decision making under the moral doctrine of NegativeUtilitarianism is presented and briefly discussed from a philosophical perspective.
For many philosophers working in the area of Population Ethics, it seems that either they have to confront the Repugnant Conclusion , or they have to confront the Non-Identity Problem . To them it seems there is no escape, they either have to face one problem or the other. However, there is a way around this, allowing us to escape the Repugnant Conclusion, by using what I will call Negative Average Preference Utilitarianism – which though similar to anti-frustrationism, (...) has some important differences in practice. Current “positive” forms of utilitarianism have struggled to deal with the Repugnant Conclusion, as their theory actually entails this conclusion; however, it seems that a form of Negative Average Preference Utilitarianism easily escapes this dilemma. (shrink)
RationaleThere are growing concerns over the occurrence of adverse physiologic events occurring in pilots during operation of United States Air Force and Navy high-performance aircraft. We hypothesize that a heightened inspiratory work of breathing experienced by jet pilots by virtue of the on-board life support system may constitute a “distraction stimulus” consequent to an increased sensation of respiratory muscle effort. As such, the purpose of this study was to determine whether increasing inspiratory muscle effort adversely impacts on attentional performance.MethodsTwelve, healthy (...) participants were recruited for this study. Participants completed six repetitions of a modified Masked Conjunctive Continuous Performance Task protocol while breathing against four different inspiratory threshold loads to assess median reaction times. A computer-controlled threshold loading device was used to set the inspiratory threshold loads. Repeated measures analysis of variances were performed to examine: the efficacy of the threshold loading device to impose significantly higher loading at each loading condition; the effects of loading condition on respiratory muscle effort sensation; and the influence of hypercapnia on MCCPT scores during inspiratory threshold loading. Generalized additive mixed effects models were used to examine the potential non-linear effects of respiratory muscular effort sensation, device loading, and hypercapnia, on MCCPT scores during inspiratory threshold loading.ResultsInspiratory threshold loading significantly augmented inspiratory effort sensation and the inspiratory pressure-time product. Our analyses also revealed that median hit RT was positively associated with inspiratory effort sensation during inspiratory loading trials.ConclusionThe findings of this work suggest that it was not increasing inspiratory muscle effort per se, but rather participant’s subjective perception of inspiratory “load” that impacts negatively on attentional performance; i.e., as the degree of inspiratory effort sensation increased, sotoo did median hit RT. As such, it is reasonable to suggest that minimizing inspiratory effort sensation during high-performance flight operations may prove useful in reducing pilot RTs during complex behavioral tasks. (shrink)
Giorgio Agamben’s thought arises out of thinking through the concrete negativity or ungroundedness figured by “life” as understood under the sovereign exception. His work is sustained by the continuous exposure of philosophical concepts to what remains excluded, silenced, and to an extent unsayable for philosophy: Thus, disfiguring, decentering, and violating the temporality of Western history and philosophy as well as the concepts that order it. This means that Agamben thinks out of the ungrounded occurrences of language and history, and that (...) the transformative potency of his thought arises from sheer negativity and yet, in his engagement of thought’s concrete situation. (shrink)
Ever since the publication of Harry Frankfurt’s “Equality as a Moral Ideal” :21–43, 1987), the doctrine of sufficiency has attracted great attention among both ethical theorists and political philosophers. The doctrine of sufficiency consists of two main theses: the positive thesis states that it is morally important for people to have enough; and the negative thesis states that once everybody has enough, relative inequality has absolutely no moral importance. Many political philosophers have presented different versions of sufficientarianism that retain (...) the general spirit of what Frankfurt had proposed in his seminal work. However, all of these different versions of sufficientarianism suffer from two critical problems: they fail to give right answers to lifeboat situations, and they fail to provide continuous ethical judgments. In this paper, I show a version of utilitarianism that solves these problems while retaining the major attractions of sufficientarianism. I call it “prospect utilitarianism.” In addition, I show that prospect utilitarianism can avoid standard objections to utilitarianism and has aspects that can appeal to both prioritarians and egalitarians as well. (shrink)
The article develops an internalist justification of welfare ethics based on empathy. It takes up Hume’s and Schopenhauer’s internalistic (but not consistently developed) justification approach via empathy, but tries to solve three of their problems: 1. the varying strength of empathy depending on the proximity to the object of empathy, 2. the unclear metaethical foundation, 3. the absence of a quantitative model of empathy strength. 1. As a solution to the first problem, the article proposes to limit the foundation of (...) welfare ethics to certain types of empathy. 2. In response to the second problem, an internalistic metaethical conception of the justification of moral principles is outlined, the result of which is: The moral value of the well-being of persons is identical to the expected extent of (positive and negative) empathy arising from this well-being. 3. The contribution to the solution of the third problem and focus of the article is an empirical model of the (subject’s) expected extent of empathy depending on (an object’s) well-being. According to this model, the extent of empathy is not proportional to the expected empathy, but follows a concave function and is therefore prioritarian. Accordingly, the article provides a sketch of an internalist justification of prioritarianism. (shrink)
Hun Chung argues for a theory of distributive justice – ‘prospect utilitarianism’ – that overcomes two central problems purportedly faced by sufficientarianism: giving implausible answers in ‘lifeboat cases’, where we can save the lives of some but not all of a group, and failing to respect the axiom of continuity. Chung claims that prospect utilitarianism overcomes these problems, and receives empirical support from work in economics on prospect theory. This article responds to Chung's criticisms of sufficientarianism, showing that (...) they are misplaced. It then shows that prospect utilitarianism faces independent problems, since it too requires a threshold, which Chung bases on the idea of ‘adequate functioning’. The article shows that there are problems with this as a threshold, and that it is not empirically supported by prospect theory. (shrink)
In this essay I defend a variety of political perfectionism that I call negative perfectionism. Negative perfectionism is the position that if some design of the basic structure of society promotes objectively bad human living, then this should count as a reason against it. To give this hypothetical some bite, I draw on Rousseau’s diagnosis of the maladies of his society to defend two further claims: first, that some human lives are objectively bad, and, second, that some designs (...) of the basic structure promote objectively bad human living. It follows that we have should avoid such designs of the basic structure, which means that negative political perfectionism presents true requirements of justice. (shrink)
The argument has been made that future generations of human beings are being harmed unjustifiably by the actions individuals commit today. This paper addresses what it might mean to harm future generations, whether we might harm them, and what our duties toward future generations might be. After introducing the Global Health Impact (GHI) concept as a unit of measurement that evaluates the effects of human actions on the health of all organisms, an incomplete theory of human justice is proposed. Having (...) shown that the negative GHIs of our current generation cause unfair harm to future generations, I argue that each human being must be allocated a fair threshold of negative GHIs that should not be exceeded. By emphasising the need to consider all the GHIs of human actions, the theory of human justice developed here is highly relevant to evaluate human actions that might affect future generations, for example those related to climate change. (shrink)
According to a number of international organizations such as UNESCO, the development of critical thinking is fundamental in youth education. In general, critical thinking is recognized as thinking that doubts and evaluates principles and facts. We define it as essentially dialogical, in other words constructive and responsible. And we maintain that its development is essential to help youngsters make enlightened decisions and adequately face up to the challenges of everyday living. Our recent analyses of exchanges among pupils who benefited from (...) philosophical praxis showed that dialogical critical thinking comprises four thinking modes and six epistemological perspectives that range from the simplest increasing in complexity to the most complex . Relativism merits special focus in that a majority of the pupils’ interventions that we analyzed are situated within this perspective, and in that relativism is charged with both positive and negative meanings. In its positive meaning, it is associated with reflection, plurality and open-mindedness, but in its negative sense, relativism refers to arbitrary decisions, to indifference and the status quo. This is why we maintain that relativism must be transcended. In this respect, we suggest two series of open-ended questions that are designed to provoke a disequilibrium in pupils’ certainties and, by so doing, stimulate their reflection towards inter-subjectivity. These questions are associated with the diversification of thinking modes and the increasing complexity of these modes. (shrink)
Many consider Nozick’s “utility monster”—a being more efficient than ordinary people at converting resources into wellbeing, with no upper limit—to constitute a damning counterexample to utilitarianism. But our intuitions may be reversed by considering a variation in which the utility monster starts from a baseline status of massive suffering. This suggests a rethinking of the force of the original objection.
InMoral Thinking R. M. Hare offers a very influential defense of utilitarianism against intuitive objections. Hare's argument is roughly that utilitarianism conflicts with defensible moral intuitions only in unusual cases and that, in such cases, even defensible moral intuitions are unreliable. This paper reconstructs Hare's arguments and argues that they presuppose the success of his problematic proof of utilitarianism. Contrary to what many have thought, Hare's negative defense of utilitarianism against intuitive objections is not separable (...) from his proof. In the second part of the paper I argue that Hare does not succeed in defending utilitarianism against the objection that it is too demanding. The final section of the paper sketches a substantially revised version of Hare's reply to intuitive objections. So revised, the argument is independent of Hare's proof and affords a plausible answer to the objection that utilitarianism is too demanding. (shrink)
In this article I defend a rule utilitarian approach to paternalistic policies in research with human participants. Some rules that restrict individual autonomy can be justified on the grounds that they help to maximize the overall balance of benefits over risks in research. The consequences that should be considered when formulating policy include not only likely impacts on research participants, but also impacts on investigators, institutions, sponsors, and the scientific community. The public reaction to adverse events in research (such as (...) significant injury to participants or death) is a crucial concern that must be taken into account when assessing the consequences of different policy options, because public backlash can lead to outcomes that have a negative impact on science, such as cuts in funding, overly restrictive regulation and oversight, and reduced willingness of individuals to participate in research. I argue that concern about the public reaction to adverse events justifies some restrictions on the risks that competent, adult volunteers can face in research that offers them no significant benefits. The paternalism defended here is not pure, because it involves restrictions on the rights of investigators in order to protect participants. It also has a mixed rationale, because individual autonomy may be restricted not only to protect participants from harm but also to protect other stakeholders. Utility is not the sole justification for paternalistic research policies, since other considerations, such as justice and respect for individual rights/autonomy, must also be taken into account. (shrink)
As a moral foundation for vegetarianism and other consumer choices, act consequentialism can be appealing. When we justify our consumer and dietary choices this way, however, we face the problem that our individual actions rarely actually precipitate more just agricultural and economic practices. This threshold or individual impotence problem engaged by consequentialist vegetarians and their critics extends to morally motivated consumer decision-making more generally, anywhere a lag persists between individual moral actions taken and systemic moral progress made. Regan and (...) others press just this point against Singer's utilitarian basis for vegetarianism; recently Chartier criticizes act-consequentialist vegetarianism by identifying many factors weakening the connection between individual meat purchases and changes in animal production. While such factors are relevant to act-consequentialist moral reasoning, I argue, they need not defeat the act-consequentialist case for vegetarianism and consumer ethics. This is shown by offering a probabilistic account of the threshold issue and discussing the positive and negative role-modelling effects of our morally motivated dietary and consumer choices. (shrink)
One prominent welfarist axiology, critical-level utilitarianism, says that individual lives must surpass a specified ‘critical level’ in order to make a positive contribution to the comparative status of a given population. In this article I develop a new dilemma for critical-level utilitarians. When comparatively evaluating populations composed of different species, critical-level utilitarians must decide whether the critical level is a universal threshold or whether the critical level is a species-relative threshold. I argue that both thresholds lead to (...) a range of axiological puzzles and objections as yet undiscussed within the literature, and therefore conclude that critical-level utilitarianism should not be taken as a morally plausible welfarist axiology. I show that certain competitive formulations of critical range utilitarianism are subject to the argument too, and that further attempts to relativise critical levels to a particular group or category of welfare bearer are unsustainable. (shrink)
Whilst previous observational studies have linked negative thought processes such as an external locus of control and holding negative cognitive styles with depression, the directionality of these associations and the potential role that these factors play in the transition to adulthood and parenthood has not yet been investigated. This study examined the association between locus of control and negative cognitive styles in adolescence and probable depression in young adulthood and whether parenthood moderated these associations. Using a UK (...) prospective population-based birth cohort study: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, we examined the association between external locus of control and negative cognitive styles in adolescence with odds of depression in 4,301 young adults using logistic regression models unadjusted and adjusted for potential confounding factors. Interaction terms were employed to examine whether parenthood moderated these associations. Over 20% of young adults in our sample were at or above the clinical threshold indicating probable depression. For each standard deviation increase in external locus of control in adolescence, there was a 19% higher odds of having probable depression in young adulthood, after adjusting for various confounding factors including baseline mood and different demographic and life events variables. Similarly, for each SD increase in negative cognitive styles in adolescence, there was a 29% higher odds of having probable depression in the adjusted model. We found little evidence that parenthood status moderated the relationship between external locus of control or negative cognitive styles in adolescence and probable depression following adjustment for confounding factors. Effect estimates were comparable when performed in the complete case dataset. These findings suggest that having an external locus of control and holding negative cognitive styles in mid- to late adolescence is associated with an increased likelihood of probable depression in young adulthood. (shrink)
The caesura of tragedy, more precisely tragedy as the scene of a caesura upon which an interruption occurs in the relation between divine grounds and human will, stands at the center of Susan Taubes's confrontation with tragedy. Moving beyond an explication of generic history, she analyzed the “Nature of Tragedy” (1953) as a phenomenon emerging from a cultural-historical threshold situation, illuminating tragedy's origins in the framework of her approach to ritual, religion, and philosophy. In respect to the history of (...) theory, these reflections are located at a transition point between religious and cultural history. Her argument that tragedy maintains a…. (shrink)
The most common argument against negativeutilitarianism is the world destruction argument, according to which negativeutilitarianism implies that if someone could kill everyone or destroy the world, it would be her duty to do so. Those making the argument often endorse some other form of consequentialism, usually traditional utilitarianism. It has been assumed that negativeutilitarianism is less plausible than such other theories partly because of the world destruction argument. So, it is (...) thought, someone who finds theories in the spirit of utilitarianism attractive should not go for negativeutilitarianism, but should instead pick traditional utilitarianism or some other similar theory such as prioritarianism. I argue that this is a mistake. The world destruction argument is not a reason to reject negativeutilitarianism in favour of these other forms of consequentialism, because there are similar arguments against such theories that are at least as persuasive as the world destruction argument is against negativeutilitarianism. (shrink)
Despite the prevalence of the terms utilitarianism and utilitarian in the health care and health policy literature, anecdotal evidence suggests that authors are often not fully aware of the diversity of utilitarian theories, their principles, and implications. Further, it seems that authors often categorically reject utilitarianism under the assumption that it violates individual rights. The tendency of act utilitarianism to neglect individual rights is attenuated, however, by the diminishing marginal utility of wealth and the disutility of a (...) protest by those who are disadvantaged. In practice, act utilitarians tend to introduce moral rules and preserve traditional rules. At the same time, the tenability of rule utilitarianism is limited because it ultimately collapses into act utilitarianism or a deontological theory. Negativeutilitarianism is a viable utilitarian variant only if we accept complete aversion to suffering, ie, if we disregard any forgone opportunities to increase pleasure. Finally, the adoption of preference utilitarianism requires us to accept the subjectivity of individual claims which may be perceived as unfair. (shrink)
Principles are investigated that allow one to establish a preference ordering between possible actions based on the question of whether the acting agent himself or other agents will benefit or be harmed by the consequences of an action. It is shown that a combination of utility maximization, an altruist principle, and weak negativeutilitarianism yields an ordering that seems to be intuitively appealing, although it does not necessarily reflect common everyday evaluations of actions.
Recent research has relied on trolley-type sacrificial moral dilemmas to study utilitarian versus nonutili- tarian modes of moral decision-making. This research has generated important insights into people’s attitudes toward instrumental harm—that is, the sacrifice of an individual to save a greater number. But this approach also has serious limitations. Most notably, it ignores the positive, altruistic core of utilitarianism, which is characterized by impartial concern for the well-being of everyone, whether near or far. Here, we develop, refine, and validate (...) a new scale—the Oxford Utilitarianism Scale—to dissociate individual differences in the ‘negative’ (permissive attitude toward instrumental harm) and ‘positive’ (impartial concern for the greater good) dimensions of utilitarian thinking as manifested in the general population. We show that these are two independent dimensions of proto-utilitarian tendencies in the lay population, each exhibiting a distinct psychological profile. Empathic concern, identification with the whole of humanity, and concern for future generations were positively associated with impartial beneficence but negatively associated with instrumental harm; and although instrumental harm was associated with subclinical psychopathy, impartial beneficence was associated with higher religiosity. Importantly, although these two dimensions were independent in the lay population, they were closely associated in a sample of moral philosophers. Acknowledging this dissociation between the instrumental harm and impartial beneficence components of utilitarian thinking in ordinary people can clarify existing debates about the nature of moral psychology and its relation to moral philosophy as well as generate fruitful avenues for further research. (shrink)
The view that the obligation to promote happiness is, as Popper puts it, "in any case much less urgent" than the obligation to eliminate unhappiness we might call the "Negative Doctrine". I know of no plausible form of the Negative Doctrine.
This study examines the efficiency of tools for fighting software piracy in the conditional distributions of software piracy. Our paper examines software piracy in 99 countries over the period 1994–2010, using contemporary and non-contemporary quantile regressions. The intuition for modelling distributions contingent on existing levels of software piracy is that the effectiveness of tools against piracy may consistently decrease or increase simultaneously with the increasing levels of software piracy. Hence, blanket policies against software piracy are unlikely to succeed unless they (...) are contingent on initial levels of software piracy and tailored differently across countries with low, medium and high levels of software piracy. Our findings indicate that GDP per capita, research and development expenditure, main intellectual property laws, multilateral treaties, bilateral treaties, World Intellectual Property Organisation treaties, money supply and respect for the rule of law have negative effects on software piracy. Equitably distributed wealth reduces software piracy, and the tendency not to indulge in software piracy because of equitably distributed wealth increases with the increasing software piracy levels. Hence, the negative degree of responsiveness of software piracy to changes in income levels is an increasing function of software piracy. Moreover, the relationships between policy instruments and software piracy display various patterns: U-shape, Kuznets-shape, S-shape and negative thresholds. A negativethreshold represents negative estimates with the increasing negative magnitude throughout the conditional distributions of software piracy. We also discuss the policy implications of our study. (shrink)
According to Pettit and Skinner the rising of utilitarianism would have decisively contributed to the eclipse of the modern republican tradition. The Utilitarians would have been responsible for a radical critique of the concept of republican liberty, which would have resulted in the predominance of the Hobbesian conception of freedom. The sharpness and strength of the utilitarian attack to the conception of republican liberty would have be summarized in a set of objections formulated, in the late eighteenth century, by (...) the English theological utilitarian William Paley. An examination of Paley's thought shows that his conception of liberty, contrary to what suggest Skinner and Pettit, is quite distinct from the Hobbesian concept. (shrink)
There exists a significant disparity within society between individuals in terms of intelligence. While intelligence varies naturally throughout society, the extent to which this impacts on the life opportunities it affords to each individual is greatly undervalued. Intelligence appears to have a prominent effect over a broad range of social and economic life outcomes. Many key determinants of well-being correlate highly with the results of IQ tests, and other measures of intelligence, and an IQ of 75 is generally accepted as (...) the most important threshold in modern life. The ability to enhance our cognitive capacities offers an exciting opportunity to correct disabling natural variation and inequality in intelligence. Pharmaceutical cognitive enhancers, such as modafinil and methylphenidate, have been shown to have the capacity to enhance cognition in normal, healthy individuals. Perhaps of most relevance is the presence of an ‘inverted U effect’ for most pharmaceutical cognitive enhancers, whereby the degree of enhancement increases as intelligence levels deviate further below the mean. Although enhancement, including cognitive enhancement, has been much debated recently, we argue that there are egalitarian reasons to enhance individuals with low but normal intelligence. Under egalitarianism, cognitive enhancement has the potential to reduce opportunity inequality and contribute to relative income and welfare equality in the lower, normal intelligence subgroup. Cognitive enhancement use is justifiable under prioritarianism through various means of distribution; selective access to the lower, normal intelligence subgroup, universal access, or paradoxically through access primarily to the average and above average intelligence subgroups. Similarly, an aggregate increase in social well-being is achieved through similar means of distribution under utilitarianism. In addition, the use of cognitive enhancement within the lower, normal intelligence subgroup negates, or at the very least minimises, several common objections to cognitive enhancement. Subsequently, this paper demonstrates that there is a compelling case for cognitive enhancement use in individuals with lower, normal intelligence. (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)
The article is a reductio ad absurdum of assumptions which are shared by a large number of followers of the animal welfare movement and utilitarianism. I argue that even if we accept the main ethical arguments for a negative moral assessment of eating meat we should not promote vegetarianism but rather beefism (eating only meat from beef cattle). I also argue that some forms of vegetarianism, i.e. ichtivegetarianism, can be much more morally worse than normal meat diet. In (...) order to justify these thesis I show that there are significant moral differences in the consumption of animal products from different species. (shrink)
We argue that some algorithms are value-laden, and that two or more persons who accept different value-judgments may have a rational reason to design such algorithms differently. We exemplify our claim by discussing a set of algorithms used in medical image analysis: In these algorithms it is often necessary to set certain thresholds for whether e.g. a cell should count as diseased or not, and the chosen threshold will partly depend on the software designer’s preference between avoiding false positives (...) and false negatives. This preference ultimately depends on a number of value-judgments. In the last section of the paper we discuss some general principles for dealing with ethical issues in algorithm-design. (shrink)
Karl Popper suggested that the utilitarian formula "Maximise happiness" should be replaced by the formula "Minimize suffering" – a view which has been called "negativeutilitarianism". Can such a view be spelled out in a plausible way? Examining several ways of understanding the alleged ethical priority of pain over pleasure, I come to the conclusion that none of them is satisfactory as a basis for a theory of benevolence. However, once we move from hedonistic to preference utilitarianism (...) two possible views emerge which, although not fundamentally different from classical utilitarianism, diverge from it in interesting ways and seem to warrant further study. (shrink)
Biomedical sciences cannot answer the question who should be saved from death if not everyone can be. This is an ethical issue. However, we face exactly this question when deliberating on the criteria for organ allocation. The main aim of this article is to formulate a pluralistic theory of just distribution of organs, which incorporates the tenets of utilitarianism, egalitarianism and sufficientarianism. Each constituent theory adopts a different value as a criterion for organ allocation. For utilitarianism it is (...) a health benefit for the patient, for egalitarianism it is the ratio of deserts and health-related well being, for sufficientarianism what is important is that the candidate for a transplant be situated below the sufficientarian threshold. The article presents a proposal to reconcile these three competing theories. (shrink)
Negative compatibility effects in the masked-prime paradigm are usually obtained when primes are masked effectively. With ineffective masks—and primes above the perceptual threshold—positive compatibility effects occur. We investigated whether this pattern reflects a causal relationship between conscious awareness and low-level motor control, or whether it reflects the fact that both are affected in the same way by changes in physical stimulus attributes. In a 5-session perceptual learning task, participants learned to consciously identify masked primes. However, they showed unaltered (...) NCEs that were not different from those produced by participants in a control group without equivalent perceptual learning. A control experiment demonstrated that no NCEs occur when prime identification is made possible by ineffective masking. The results suggest that perceptual awareness and low-level motor control are affected by the same factors, but are fundamentally independent of each other. (shrink)
In their role as political actors and lobbyists, corporations have responsibilities to help determine the existence and content of global regulations of pollutants. The ethical nature of those responsibilities is highly sensitive to the assumed normative framework. This paper compares several frameworks by modeling them as differently weighted versions of utilitarianism. Under a strict neoclassical approach, corporations have a narrow obligation to maximize profits, which generally entails opposing emission regulations. In contrast, a stakeholder approach as well as Marxian and (...) common ethics approaches suggest that firms have an obligation to actively support sustainable emission regulations with the following properties • major restrictions would be global rather than local• global restrictions would apply in all cases of persistent emissions• global restrictions would apply to non-persistent emissions as well, unless they have been affirmatively shown to be safe using reasonably persuasive scientific evidence• safety thresholds would be set fairly restrictively, based on administrative models and rules of thumb, in light of existing scientific knowledge but without requiring full scientific justification• long-run goals would include zero emission of persistent unsafe substances.However, the stakeholder approach supports phase-in rules to mitigate short-run compliance costs. (shrink)
This paper aims to check some Nussbaum’s reviews, in Hiding from Humanity, about Mill’s conception of liberty. The analysis frame is given by constant tension between the utilitarian justification and the justification based on per se value of liberty. This article wants to support the following hypothesis: Millean liberty cannot be criticized for reducing its value to instrumental terms. On the contrary, in order to be loyal with Mill, liberty has a double justification: one based on its utilitarianism and (...) another based on its intrinsic value. We use Bernard Williams’s suggestion about the intrinsic value of human goods for supporting the latter. He proposed an important criterion to demonstrate the intrinsic value: coherent relation with other values and other human necessities. Finally, the article briefly exposes the problem of coherence in Millean utilitarianism. (shrink)
Built-in decision thresholds for AI diagnostics are ethically problematic, as patients may differ in their attitudes about the risk of false-positive and false-negative results, which will require that clinicians assess patient values.
Totalism is the view that one distribution of well-being is better than another just in case the one contains a greater sum of well-being than the other. Many philosophers, following Parfit, reject totalism on the grounds that it entails the repugnant conclusion: that, for any number of excellent lives, there is some number of lives that are barely worth living whose existence would be better. This paper develops a theory of welfare aggregation—the lexical-threshold view—that allows totalism to avoid the (...) repugnant conclusion, as well as its analogues involving suffering populations and the lengths of individual lives. The theory is grounded in some independently plausible views about the structure of well-being, identifies a new source of incommensurability in population ethics, and avoids some of the implausibly extreme consequences of other lexical views, without violating the intuitive separability of lives. (shrink)
Backdating of stock options is an example of an agency problem. It has emerged despite all the measures (i.e., new regulations and additional corporate governance mechanisms) aimed at addressing such problems? Beyond such negative controlling measures, a more positive empowering approach based on ethics may also be necessary. What ethical measures need to be taken to address the agency problem? What values and norms should guide the board of directors in protecting the shareholders' interests? To examine these issues, we (...) first discuss the role values and norms can play with respect to underlying corporate governance and the proper role of directors, such as transparency, accountability, integrity (which is reflected in proper mechanisms of checks and balances), and public responsibility. Second, we discuss various stakeholder approaches (e.g., government, directors, managers, and shareholders) by which conflicts of interest (i.e., the agency problem) can be addressed. Third, we assess the practice of backdating stock options, as an illustration of the agency problem, in terms of whether the practice is legally acceptable or ethically justifiable. Fourth, we proceed to an analysis of good corporate governance practice involving backdating options based on a series of ethical standards including: (1) trustworthiness; (2) utilitarianism; (3) justice; and (4) Kantianism. We conclude that while executive compensation schemes (e. g., stock options) were originally intended to help remedy the agency problem by tying together the interests of the executives and shareholders, these schemes may have actually become "part of the problem," and that the solution ultimately depends upon whether directors and executives accept that all of their actions must be based on a set of core ethical values. (shrink)
The thesis of the present volume is critical and dual. (1) Present day philosophy of man and sciences of man suffer from the Greek mis taken polarization of everything human into nature and convention which is (allegedly) good and evil, which is (allegedly) truth and fal sity, which is (allegedly) rationality and irrationality, to wit, the polar ization of all fields of inquiry, the natural and social sciences, as well as ethics and all technology, whether natural or social, into the (...) totally positive and the totally negative. (2) Almost all philosophy and sci ences of man share the erroneous work ethic which is the myth of man's evil nature - the myth of the beast in man, the doctrine of original sin. To mediate or to compromise between the first view of human nature as good with the second view of it as evil, sociologists have devised a modified utilitarianism with deferred gratification so called, and the theory of the evil of artificial competition (capitalist and socialist alike) and of keeping up with the Joneses. Now, the mediation is not necessary. For, the polarization makes for abstract errors which are simplistic views of rationality, such as reductionism and positivism of all sorts, as well as for concrete errors, such as the disposition to condemn repeatedly those human weaknesses which are inevitable, namely man's inability to be perfectly rational, avoid all error, etc. , thus setting man against himself as all too wicked. (shrink)
ABSTRACT A complex problem exists about how to promote the best interests of children as a group through research while protecting the rights and welfare of individual research subjects. The Nuremberg Code forbids studies without consent, eliminating most children as subjects, and the Declaration of Helsinki disallows non-therapeutic research on non-consenting subjects. Both codes are unreasonably restrictive. Another approach is represented by the Council for the International Organizations of Medical Science, the U.S. Federal Research Guidelines, and many other national policies. (...) They allow research ethics committees or institutional review boards to authorize studies with acceptable balances of likely benefits and harms, but neither clarify how to balance them nor explain the meaning of pivotal concepts, like “minimal risk.” Paths to the improvement of balancing or consequentialist approaches include improving standardizing of risk assessment, rejecting crude utilitarianism, identifying and justifying normative or moral judg-ments, and acknowledging extra-regulatory thresholds and deontological or non-negotiable duties to children. (shrink)
When an individual’s action is only one among a large number of similar actions and does not seem to make any difference to the bad collective outcome, can it nonetheless be condemned by act utilitarianism? This question has currently regained interest with papers, e.g., by Shelly Kagan, Julia Nefsky, and Felix Pinkert. Christopher Morgan-Knapp and Charles Goodman answer the question in the affirmative for miniscule emissions in the context of climate change. They use expected utility analysis as Kagan did (...) in consumer ethics. The assumptions about the impact of emissions vary according to some underlying empirical scenarios, all of which are possible. Individual actions might be relevant in the sense of contributing to a mere linear accumulation of emissions; or they might be relevant by leading to an accumulation in the form of crossing thresholds, be it one or several, Finally, such actions might not be relevant at all. To give an answer that solves the problem and that is based solely on expected utility analysis is impossible. Therefore, the view of Morgan-Knapp and Goodman must be rejected. (shrink)
Many consequentialists argue that you ought to do your part in collective action problems like climate change mitigation and ending factory farming because (i) all such problems are triggering cases, in which there is a threshold number of people such that the outcome will be worse if at least that many people act in a given way than if fewer do, and (ii) doing your part in a triggering case maximises expected value. I show that both (i) and (ii) (...) are false: Some triggering cases cannot be solved by appeal to expected value, since they involve infinities, and some collective action problems are not triggering cases, since they involve parity. However, I argue that consequentialism can still generally prohibit failure to do your part in those collective action problems where we believe that so acting would be impermissible. (shrink)
De acordo com Pettit e Skinner, o surgimento do utilitarismo teria contribuído decisivamente para o eclipse da tradição republicana moderna. Os utilitaristas teriam sido responsáveis por uma crítica radical à concepção de liberdade republicana, o que teria resultado no predomínio da concepção de liberdade hobbesiana. A agudeza e a força do ataque utilitarista à concepção de liberdade republicana estariam sintetizadas em um conjunto de objeções formuladas, ainda no final do século XVIII, pelo utilitarista teológico inglês William Paley. Um exame do (...) pensamento de Paley mostra que sua concepção de liberdade, ao contrário do que sugerem Skinner e Pettit, é bastante distinta da concepção hobbesiana. (shrink)