The importance of communities in strengthening the ethics of international collaborative research is increasingly highlighted, but there has been much debate about the meaning of the term ‘community’ and its specific normative contribution. We argue that ‘community’ is a contingent concept that plays an important normative role in research through the existence of morally significant interplay between notions of community and individuality. We draw on experience of community engagement in rural Kenya to illustrate two aspects of this interplay: (i) that (...) taking individual informed consent seriously involves understanding and addressing the influence of communities in which individuals’ lives are embedded; (ii) that individual participation can generate risks and benefits for communities as part of the wider implications of research. We further argue that the contingent nature of a community means that defining boundaries is generally a normative process itself, with ethical implications. Community engagement supports the enactment of normative roles; building mutual understanding and trust between researchers and community members have been important goals in Kilifi, requiring a broad range of approaches. Ethical dilemmas are continuously generated as part of these engagement activities, including the risks of perverse outcomes related to existing social relations in communities and conditions of ‘half knowing’ intrinsic to processes of developing new understandings. (shrink)
After more than three centuries, Molyneux's question continues to challenge our understanding of cognition and perceptual systems. Locke, the original recipient of the question, approached it as a theoretical exercise relevant to long-standing philosophical issues, such as nativism, the possibility of common sensibles, and the empiricism-rationalism debate. However, philosophers were quick to adopt the experimentalist's stance as soon as they became aware of recoveries from congenital blindness through ophtalmic surgery. Such recoveries were widely reported to support empiricist positions, suggesting (...) that the question had found its empirical answer. Contrary to this common view, we argue that studies of patients recovering from early blindness through surgery cannot provide an answer. In fact, because of the very nature of such ophtalmological interventions it is impossible to test the question in the empirical conditions outlined by Molyneux. Thus we propose that Molyneux's question be treated as an early thought experiment of a specific kind. Although thought experiments of this kind cannot be turned into actual experimental conditions, they provide a conceptual restructuring of theories. Such restructuring in turn leads to new predictions that can then be tested by normal experiments. In accord with this interpretation, we show that Molyneux's question can be analyzed into a hierarchy of specific questions about vision in its phenomenal and sensory-motor components. Some of these questions do lead to actual experimental conditions that could be studied empirically. (shrink)
There is wide agreement that community engagement is important for many research types and settings, often including interaction with ‘representatives’ of communities. There is relatively little published experience of community engagement in international research settings, with available information focusing on Community Advisory Boards or Groups (CAB/CAGs), or variants of these, where CAB/G members often advise researchers on behalf of the communities they represent. In this paper we describe a network of community members (‘KEMRI Community Representatives’, or ‘KCRs’) linked to a (...) large multi-disciplinary research programme on the Kenyan Coast. Unlike many CAB/Gs, the intention with the KCR network has evolved to be for members to represent the geographical areas in which a diverse range of health studies are conducted through being typical of those communities. We draw on routine reports, self-administered questionnaires and interviews to: 1) document how typical KCR members are of the local communities in terms of basic characteristics, and 2) explore KCR's perceptions of their roles, and of the benefits and challenges of undertaking these roles. We conclude that this evolving network is a potentially valuable way of strengthening interactions between a research institution and a local geographic community, through contributing to meeting intrinsic ethical values such as showing respect, and instrumental values such as improving consent processes. However, there are numerous challenges involved. Other ways of interacting with members of local communities, including community leaders, and the most vulnerable groups least likely to be vocal in representative groups, have always been, and remain, essential. (shrink)
If some philosophers had not existed, the history of philosophy would have to invent them. After all, what would the introduction to philosophy teacher do without good old Berkeley, the notorious denier of common sense, or Hume, the infamous sceptic. In some cases, in fact, philosophers have been invented by the history of philosophy. I don't mean to suggest that historians of philosophy have actually altered the past by bringing into being real flesh and blood philosophers. Rather, I mean to (...) say that the textbook caricatures of famous philosophers are often a creation of the tradition, encrusted layers of hoary myths and legends which often hold the actual philosopher prisoner, the myths of Berkeley and Hume which I just alluded to being excellent examples. (shrink)
C. S. Lewis takes us on a profound journey through both heaven and hell in this engaging allegorical tale. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis introduces us to supernatural beings who will change the way we think about good and evil.
The Essay concerning Human Understanding was published at the end of 1689.1 It sold well, and within three years Locke was planning revisions for a second edition. Among those whose “advice and assistance” he sought was the Irish scientist William Molyneux. Locke had begun a correspondence with Molyneux a few months before, after the latter had lavishly praised the Essay and its author in the Epistle Dedicatory of his own Dioptrica Nova, published early in 1692. Here was a (...) man, Locke concluded, whose judgment one could trust. He returned Molyneux’s compliment in the Essay’s new edition, calling him “that very Ingenious and Studious promoter of real Knowledge, ... whom I am proud to call my friend”. (shrink)
This is one of the seminal articles of the pragmatist tradition where C.S. Peirce sets out his doctrine of doubt and belief --and their relationship to inquiry and clarity of our concepts. Originally published in the Popular Science Monthly; and widely available in reprints and collections of Peirce's writings.
“Probably Peirce’s best-known works are the first two articles in a series of six that originally were collectively entitled Illustrations of the Logic of Science and published in Popular Science Monthly from November 1877 through August 1878. The first is entitled ‘The Fixation of Belief’ and the second is entitled ‘How to Make Our Ideas Clear.’ In the first of these papers Peirce defended, in a manner consistent with not accepting naive realism, the superiority of the scientific method over other (...) methods of overcoming doubt and ‘fixing belief.’” — Robert Burch, “Charles Sanders Peirce,” entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2021 revision) -/- “Pragmatist epistemologies often explore how we can carry out inquiries in a self-controlled and fruitful way. (Where much analytic epistemology centres around the concept of knowledge, considered as an idealised end-point of human thought, pragmatist epistemology centres around the concept of inquiry, considered as the process of knowledge-seeking and how we can improve it.) So pragmatists often provide rich accounts of the capacities or virtues that we must possess in order to inquire well, and the rules or guiding principles that we should adopt. A canonical account is Peirce’s classic early paper ‘The Fixation of Belief‘. Here Peirce states that inquiry is a struggle to replace doubt with “settled belief“, and that the only method of inquiry that can make sense of the fact that at least some of us are disturbed by inconsistent beliefs, and will subsequently reflect upon which methods of fixing belief are correct is the Method of Science, which draws on the Pragmatic Maxim described above. This contrasts with three other methods of fixing belief: i) refusing to consider evidence contrary to one’s favored beliefs (the Method of Tenacity), ii) accepting an institution’s dictates (the Method of Authority), iii) developing the most rationally coherent or elegant-seeming belief-set (the A Priori Method).“ — Catherine Legg, “Pragmatism,” entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2021 revision). (shrink)
A repackaged edition of the revered author's classic work that examines the four types of human love: affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God—part of the C. S. Lewis Signature Classics series. C.S. Lewis—the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other beloved classics—contemplates the essence of love and how it works in our daily lives in one of (...) his most famous works of nonfiction. Lewis examines four varieties of human love: affection, the most basic form; friendship, the rarest and perhaps most insightful; Eros, passionate love; charity, the greatest and least selfish. Throughout this compassionate and reasoned study, he encourages readers to open themselves to all forms of love—the key to understanding that brings us closer to God. (shrink)
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis’s death, a special annotated edition of his Christian classic, The Screwtape Letters, with notes and excerpts from his other works that help illuminate this diabolical masterpiece. Since its publication in 1942, The Screwtape Letters has sold millions of copies worldwide and is recognized as a milestone in the history of popular theology. A masterpiece of satire, it offers a sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the (...) vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, The Screwtape Letters comprises the correspondence of the worldly-wise devil Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. For the first time, The Screwtape Letters will be presented in full-text accompanied by helpful annotations in a striking two-color format. These annotations will give fans a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the popular book, providing background information, explanations of terms, historical significance, and excerpts from Lewis’s other works that more fully explain the ideas in this volume. For both expert Lewis fans and casual readers, The Screwtape Letters: Annotated Edition will be a beautiful and insightful guide to a beloved classic. (shrink)
A repackaged edition of the revered author’s spiritual memoir, in which he recounts the story of his divine journey and eventual conversion to Christianity. C. S. Lewis—the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other beloved classics—takes readers on a spiritual journey through his early life and eventual embrace of the Christian faith. Lewis begins with his childhood in Belfast, surveys (...) his boarding school years and his youthful atheism in England, reflects on his experience in World War I, and ends at Oxford, where he became "the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." As he recounts his lifelong search for joy, Lewis demonstrates its role in guiding him to find God. (shrink)
Peirce’s doctrine of God has scarcely been studied at all. This is surprising because his own naturally religious temperament, his desire for philosophical completeness and the influence of Kant, all led him to give an important place to theistic speculation in his philosophy. It is true that few parts of his philosophy reveal more than the fragmentary and unfinished nature of his thinking. This however does not take away from its importance both for the interpretation of his philosophy and for (...) the evaluation of its contribution. In this paper I want to examine his doctrine of God mainly in order to discover and outline what views he held in the matter. Such examination is an essential preliminary to any consideration of the value of his theistic thinking. Moreover, an objective exposition is already the best beginning of evaluation. However it is impossible to undertake this kind of examination without a careful search into various corners of his writings and a meticulous and slightly laboured presentation of one’s findings. But I think that the patience involved in such research has a rich reward. (shrink)