In this paper, I argue for a particular conception of impossible worlds. Possible worlds, as traditionally understood, can be used in the analysis of propositions, the content of belief, the truth of counterfactuals, and so on. Yet possible worlds are not capable of differentiating propositions that are necessarily equivalent, making sense of the beliefs of agents who are not ideally rational, or giving truth values to counterfactuals with necessarily false antecedents. The addition of impossible worlds addresses these issues. The kinds (...) of impossible worlds capable of performing this task are not mysterious sui generis entities, but sets of structured propositions that are themselves constructed out of possible worlds and relations. I also respond to a worry that these impossible worlds are unable to represent claims about the shape of modal space itself. (shrink)
Counterpossibles are counterfactuals with necessarily false antecedents. The problem of counterpossibles is easiest to state within the "nearest possible world" framework for counterfactuals: on this approach, a counterfactual is true when the consequent is true in the "nearest" possible world where the antecedent is true. Since counterpossibles have necessarily false antecedents, there is no possible world where the antecedent is true. On the approach favored by Lewis, Stalnaker, Williamson, and others, counterpossibles are all trivially true. I introduce several arguments against (...) the trivial approach. First, it is counter-intuitive to think that all counterpossibles are true. Second, if all counterpossibles were true, then we could not make sense of their use in logical, philosophical, or mathematical arguments. Making sense of the role of sentences like these requires that they not have vacuous truth conditions. The account of counterpossibles I ultimately favor is an extension of the "nearest possible world" semantics discussed above. The Lewis/Stalnaker account is supplemented with the addition of impossible worlds, and the nearness metric is extended to range over these impossible worlds as well as possible worlds. Thus, a counterfactual is true when its consequent is true in the nearest world where the antecedent is true; if the counterfactual's antecedent is impossible, then the nearest world in question will be an impossible world. Once the framework of impossible worlds and similarity is in place, we can put it to use in the analysis of other philosophical phenomena. I examine one proposal that makes use of a theory of counterpossibles to develop an analysis of the notion of metaphysical dependence. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThe seeming distinction between motor and cognitive skills has hinged on the fact that the former are automatic and non-propositional, whereas the latter are slow and deliberative. Here, the physiological and behavioral phenomenon of long-latency stretch reflexes is used to show that “knowing-that” can be incorporated into “knowing-how,” either immediately or through learning. The experimental demonstration that slow computations can, with practice, be cached for fast retrieval, without the need for re-computation, dissolves the intellectualist/anti-intellectualist distinction: All complex human tasks, at (...) any level of expertise, are a combination of intelligent reflexes and deliberative decisions. (shrink)
Law, Economics, and Morality examines the possibility of combining economic methodology and deontological morality through explicit and direct incorporation of moral constraints into economic models. Economic analysis of law is a powerful analytical methodology. However, as a purely consequentialist approach, which determines the desirability of acts and rules solely by assessing the goodness of their outcomes, standard cost-benefit analysis is normatively objectionable. Moderate deontology prioritizes such values as autonomy, basic liberties, truth-telling, and promise-keeping over the promotion of good outcomes. It (...) holds that there are constraints on promoting the good. Such constraints may be overridden only if enough good is at stake. While moderate deontology conforms to prevailing moral intuitions and legal doctrines, it is arguably lacking in methodological rigor and precision. Eyal Zamir and Barak Medina argue that the normative flaws of economic analysis can be rectified without relinquishing its methodological advantages and that moral constraints can be formalized so as to make their analysis more rigorous. They discuss various substantive and methodological choices involved in modeling deontological constraints. Zamir and Medina propose to determine the permissibility of any act or rule infringing a deontological constraint by means of mathematical threshold functions. Law, Economics, and Morality presents the general structure of threshold functions, analyzes their elements and addresses possible objections to this proposal. It then illustrates the implementation of constrained CBA in several legal fields, including contract law, freedom of speech, antidiscrimination law, the fight against terrorism, and legal paternalism. (shrink)
Introducing non-Darwinian mind as a nonaptation I argue that Darwinian mind evolved from non-Darwinian mind through the evolution of desire and aversion. The subject position within Darwinian mind is Darwinian self and is inherently selfish. However the cathexis whereby the subject prioritises motivations of desire and aversion is not an inherent property of mind. Instead it is proposed to be an adaptation, a predisposition to respond to pleasant/unpleasant sensations with desire/aversion. This explains why self-sacrifice and disengagement from desire/aversion are the (...) sine qua non of serious commitment to the spiritual path, i.e. Darwinian self and desire/aversion are two sides of the same coin and erosion of one is erosion of the other. Thus, through self- renunciation and suspension of desire/aversion the seeker passes from adaptive selfish Darwinian mind towards nonaptive selfless non-Darwinian mind. But Darwinian mind automatically resists this transcendence by intensifying motivations of desire/aversion thereby explaining the extreme difficulties of the spiritual path. A theoretical distinction is made between evolved Darwinian 'morality' , 'Darwinian' morality and amoral non-Darwinian kenosis . These distinctions make it easy to disentangle scientific and religious jurisdictions on morality with important implications for both religious ethics and science's view of spirituality. All in all, the nonaptive theory of spiritual mind offers a unified solution to age-old problems which have been uncomfortably shifting this way and that in the interstices between biology, psychology, theology and philosophy. (shrink)
According to the tuning-for-criticality theory, the essential role of sleep is to protect the brain from super-critical behaviour. Here we argue that this protective role determines the content of dreams and any apparent relationship to the art of memory is secondary to this.
The goal of the current study was to examine novice researchers’ views about online ethics education and to identify the instructional design components that may foster ethical practice. Applying the mixed methods approach, data were collected via a survey and semi-structured interviews among M.Sc. and Ph.D. students in science and engineering. The findings point to the need for rethinking the way conventional online ethics courses are developed and delivered; encouraging students to build confidence in learning from distance, engaging them in (...) online active and interactive experiences, and providing them with personalized support and adaptive guidance. The novice researchers identified the synergistic integration of collaborative, case-based, and contextual learning, as the instructional design components that may foster not only ethical knowledge but also ethical practice in a fully online course. (shrink)
This Article explores several meanings of a regulatory preference for government inaction. It explains the rise to dominance of this inaction preference in the United States and its distorting influence on the perception and understanding of regulation. Specifically, the Article demonstrates how basic terms in regulation, such as “government failure,” “regulatory capture,” and “deregulation,” acquired misleading connotations suggesting that government inaction is always superior to government action. The Article further explains how, through government inaction, the U.S. legal system accommodates rent (...) extraction - the profitable exploitation of market imperfections and favorable laws. Several developments in recent decades have considerably improved the capacity of very small groups in society to collect rents, namely, use talent and positional advantages to gain increasing levels of earnings. The Article argues that the parallel rise of the inaction preference has contributed to this trend, primarily because the availability of rent extraction opportunities draws talent that utilizes them with growing effectiveness. The purpose of the Article is to clarify several aspects of the relationships between regulation and rent extraction or, more precisely, to emphasize that government inaction may entail undesirable income effects. (shrink)
Waging war for money has been frowned upon since the Peace of Westphalia and the rise of the modern nation-state. The stigma associated with private warfare translates, in legal terms, into a prohibition on mercenary activity and denying mercenaries the protection afforded to regular combatants . Noting the apparent similarities between mercenaries and private military contractors, some have sought to extend to the latter the restrictive regime applicable to the former. But the resemblance between these two types of actors should (...) not imply that private warfare, in its modern form, is condemnable outright. This Article argues that an inclusive approach to military outsourcing—drawing upon historical, legal and moral perspectives—is necessary to contend with the challenges raised by the growth of the private military industry. I examine the connection between history , morality , and law , to show that private warfare deserves a more nuanced and pragmatic treatment under international law. (shrink)
My purpose is to examine two of the foundations of medical ethics: the principle of autonomy and the concept of the human. I also investigate the extent to which health technology makes autonomy and humanness possible. I begin by underlining Illich's point that the same health technology designed to promote health and autonomy also is pathogenic. I proceed to analyse the Kantian concept of autonomy, a concept which is closely associated with health and which continues to determine current ethical thinking. (...) In so doing, I uncover an unexpected ontological function of health technology, a function described in Heidegger's work on technology. Based on this discovery, I suggest that calls for Kantian autonomy may often be self-defeating or even sometimes harmful. I conclude by calling for continued ethical vigilance, but also for a questioning of the hitherto virtually unquestionable concepts of ethics and humanness which may themselves play a role in our era's greatest problems. (shrink)
This essay focuses on proportionality stricto sensu as a consequential test of balancing. The basic balancing rule establishes a general criterion for deciding between the marginal benefit to the public good and the marginal limit to human rights. Based on the Israeli constitutional jurisprudence, this essay supports the adoption of a principled balancing approach that translates the basic balancing rule into a series of principled balancing tests, taking into account the importance of the rights and the type of restriction. This (...) approach provides better guidance to the balancer , restricts wide discretion in balancing, and makes the act of balancing more transparent, more structured, and more foreseeable. The advantages of proportionality stricto sensu with its three levels of abstraction are several. It stresses the need to always look for a justification of a limit on human rights; it structures the mind of the balancer; it is transparent; it creates a proper dialog between the political brunches and the judiciary, and it adds to the objectivity of judicial discretion. Proportionality stricto sensu however has it critics: some claim that it attempts to balance incommensurable items; others that balancing is irrational. The answer to the critics is that it is a common base for comparison, namely the social marginal importance and that the balancing rules—basic, principled, concrete—supply a rational basis for balancing. A democracy must entrust the judiciary—the unelected independent judiciary—to be the final decision-maker—subject to constitutional amendments—about proper ends that cannot be achieved because they are not proportionality stricto sensu. (shrink)
The unprecedented mass manipulation, mass death, and trauma of World War II created a heightened interest in technology and totalitarianism among European and American intellectuals. _The Disposition of the Subject _explores Theodor Adorno's attempt to hinder further atrocity through philosophical analysis of technology and of its contribution to totalitarianisms of various kinds: political, aesthetic, epistemological.
This article analyses and interprets the works of Friedensreich Hundertwasser as a source of inspiration for environmental ethics and offers an extended model of the Ecological Self based on an interpretation of his works. Hundertwasser was a prominent Jewish-Austrian artist and environmental activist, yet despite his commitment to environmental issues, he has not received the attention he deserves from the environmental ethics community. His works and writings suggest a critique and reformulation of the well-known concept of the Ecological Self. This (...) concept implies that humans are essentially embedded in the natural world - that the Self is porous and open rather than disengaged and atomistic. This article suggests an alternative, holistic and extended version of this concept. It assesses and incorporates additional layers found between humans and nature - clothing, architecture, urban environments, and social and political environments. (shrink)
Hebbian mechanisms are justified according to their functional utility in an evolutionary sense. The selective advantage of correlating content-contingent stimuli reflects the putative common cause of temporally or spatially contiguous inputs. The selective consequences of such correlations are discussed by using examples from the evolution of signal form in sexual selection and model-mimic coevolution. We suggest that evolutionary justification might be considered in addition to neurophysiology plansibility when constructing representational models.
Imprisonment calls into question the institutionalized violence of the state and its organs. It touches on the very core of the meaning of state sovereignty and concerns one of the most disempowered groups of society: indicted criminals. Therefore, privatization of prisons signals the willingness to apply privatization policies almost with no limitations. Private prisons have become a known phenomenon in many countries. After the debate on this issue seemed to lose its pragmatic value—in contrast to its importance on the theoretical (...) level—privatization of prisons reemerged as an issue of legal debate due to the Israeli Supreme Court decision that declared a law authorizing the establishment of a private prison unconstitutional. The following analysis evaluates this decision using it as a microcosm for studying the role of law in regulating privatization policies. The Article starts by studying the full range of privatization policies, in order to offer an analysis that would be relevant also to other cases along the privatization spectrum. It then challenges the traditional premise of public law that the move to privatization is merely a matter of policy and not of law. More concretely, the Article offers an analysis based upon distinguishing among three distinct spheres of discussion: the boundaries of privatization, the privatization process, and the regulation of privatized actions. This model of analysis is then applied to the case-study of prison privatization as decided by the Israeli Supreme Court. (shrink)
Seeking to unlock the secrets of consciousness, neuroscientists have been studying neural correlates of sensory awareness, such as meaningless randomly moving dots. But in the natural world of species' survival, “raw feelings” mediate conscious adaptive responses. Merker connects the brainstem with vigilance, orientating, and emotional consciousness. However, depending on the brain's phylogenetic level, raw feeling takes particular forms. (Published Online May 1 2007).
The growing trend of shifting from classroom to distance learning in ethics education programs raises the need to examine ways for adapting best instructional practices to online modes. To address this need, the current study was set to apply a social constructivist approach to an online course in research ethics and to examine its effect on the learning outcomes of science and engineering graduate students. The study applied a pre-test post-test quasi-experimental research design within a framework of a mixed-methods approach. (...) The study compared the learning outcomes of students who participated in a social constructivist online course with those who studied in a conventional online course. The data were collected via questionnaires and interviews. The findings indicated that both the conventional and the social constructivist online learners gained knowledge of facts and regulations. Yet, the social constructivist learners were more successful in demonstrating knowledge of practices that are used to establish research ethics, and in understanding the importance of conducting research in a responsible manner. The social constructivist online learners were also more successful in demonstrating awareness of ethical dilemmas, by identifying ethical dilemmas and providing solutions to ethical problems. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 300 - 317 This article examines R. Zvi Yehudah Kook’s reading of two earlier thinkers who were influential in the formulation of his thought—the Maharal of Prague and R. Avraham Azulai. I argue that his creative and unique reading of these texts exemplifies a fascinating dialogue he held with earlier sources, which he interpreted and infused with his own theological postulates. Here I explore his theory of the unique nature of the Jewish soul, (...) in both its collective and individual manifestations. The connection between R. Zvi Yehudah’s approach to interpreting earlier Jewish theological texts and that of his father, R. Avraham Itzhak HaCohen Kook, will also be discussed. (shrink)
This article takes a close look at a rhetoric strategy, often used in an attempt to preserve an appearance of neutrality in conflicts over rights. This strategy rests on the concept of symmetry, and in particular concerns symmetry between so-called 'positive rights' (described as the right to obtain or have an object, to engage in an activity, or to enjoy a desired state of affairs) and 'negative rights' (the right not to have this object, not to engage in this activity, (...) or to prevent this state of affairs). When a positive and a negative right protect contradictory options, this strategy conveys that they are of equal standing. The article cautions against the risks entailed by this inference. The deceptive nature of symmetry is first examined in the context of procreation rights and subsequently in other contexts, including conflicts concerning freedom of expression, active euthanasia, and abortion. Our conclusion is that the explicit or implicit recourse to the argument from symmetry is a recurrent feature of rights discourse, deserving attention and cautious handling. (shrink)
The article presents the argument that administrative decision-making should be understood as devoted to balancing between conflicting interests of individuals or groups, usually when none of the affected parties has predefined legal rights that are relevant to the substantial content of the administrative decision. Administrative decisions often have a direct effect not only on human and civil rights issues, but also on matters bearing on the quality of life, living conditions, prices of regulated products, and the allocation of government funds. (...) Since the decision as to which interest should prevail in the conflict is a distributive one and has many possible answers, the role of administrative law is primarily to ensure that these decisions are made fairly, with due weight given to the conflicting interests of the various groups and individuals involved. With this as background, the article shows how the doctrines of positive administrative law are designed to meet the challenge of coping with conflicting interests in the administrative decision-making process, using such examples as the prohibitions against decision-makers’ conflicts of interest and the rules regarding interest representation and judicial review. In the second part, the article applies the interest perspective to the administrative decision-making process in order to analyze the highly extensive regulation of land resources in Israel. The analysis concentrates on the Israeli Supreme Court decision in one of the most controversial petitions brought before it: against administrative decisions on the development of formerly agricultural lands. (shrink)
One Health, as an international movement and as a research methodology, aspires to cross boundaries between disciplines. However, One Health has also been viewed as “reductionist” due to its overemphasize on physicians-veterinarians cooperation and surveillance capacity enhancement, while limiting the involvement with socio-political preconditioning factors that shape the impact of diseases, and the ethical questions that eventually structure interventions. The current article draws on a qualitative study of Brucellosis control in Israel, to address the benefits of broadening the One Health (...) perspective to include ethical considerations and the socio-political aspects of health. Using in-depth-interviews, observations and document review, the article analyzes stakeholders’ knowledge to understand Brucellosis control interventions in the Negev region of Israel. The analysis highlights four different types of boundaries: geographical, professional, disciplinary and participatory. The variety of boundaries going beyond disciplinary ones, are often neglected by traditional One Health discourses, however they provide clearer understanding regarding the role of the Israel and Palestine relations; enforcement activities and trust creation; and mechanisms of decision-making and public participation, in Brucellosis interventions. A broad One Health analysis that addresses ethical concerns and socio-political environments, as well as human and veterinary medicine, encourages re-framing of causes and solutions when dealing particularly with Brucellosis in the Negev, but more generally with zoonotic diseases, low-trust settings and inequitable distribution of power. The inclusion of historical, political and bioethical considerations of Public Health in One Health creates opportunities to increase the relevance of One Health and expand its scope as a novel scientific paradigm. (shrink)