CrystalCordell - Metaphysics and Method in Plato's Statesman - Journal of the History of Philosophy 46:1 Journal of the History of Philosophy 46.1 168-169 Muse Search Journals This Journal Contents Reviewed by CrystalCordell University of TorontoÉcole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris Kenneth Sayre. Metaphysics and Method in Plato's Statesman. Cambridge-New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Pp. xii + 265. Cloth, $75.00. In his most recent book on Plato, Kenneth Sayre argues that the (...) Statesman is, first and foremost, a dialogue on dialectical division, the aim of which is to produce better dialecticians . The author guides the reader through a rigorous analysis of several dialectical instruments deployed in Plato's late dialogues ,.. (shrink)
The world is said to contain crystal balls whenever the present carries news of the as-yet-undetermined parts of the future. Many philosophers believe that crystal balls are metaphysically possible. In this essay, I argue that they are not. Whether crystal balls are possible matters, for at least two reasons. The first is epistemological. According to a simple, user-friendly chance norm for credence, which I call the Present Principle, agents are rationally required to conform their credences to their (...) expectations of the present chances, deferring to the present chances as they would to an expert. I would like to defend the Present Principle since its truth would do much to simplify the relation between chance and credence. But the Present Principle is counterexample-free, and hence defensible, only if crystal balls are impossible. The second reason is decision-theoretic. The problem of crystal balls is one of the main objections to causal decision theory. But crystal ball cases can be counterexample to causal decision theory only if crystal balls are possible, and, as I argue, crystal balls are not possible. (shrink)
The article discusses the characteristics of virtuous persons in relation to their social role(s). It explores the key features of the neo-Aristotelian account of right action and some problems for this account in the context of a certain social role. The problem can be characterized as a dilemma. When evaluating an action in some role, one view is that the obligations and requirements of roles could be taken as something already given by social or professional role descriptions, such that the (...) virtuous person must respond to these demands in the right way. Alternatively, the virtuous person could evaluate the role itself in terms of what the “good parent, teacher, doctor” and so on should be like. Using two different neo-Aristotelian approaches to the ethics of professional roles as examples I argue that neither strategy is, as it stands, satisfactory. ‘Internalism’ about role demands takes institutionally specified role requirements in a way that is too strongly determinate for a virtue ethical analysis. On the other side, ‘externalism’ is all too indeterminate in bypassing or failing to accommodate the institutionally determined demands of social or professional roles. These shortcomings contour an “institution shaped gap” in virtue ethics such that it needs to attend to the qualities of social institutions as well as the character and actions of individuals. In response I suggest that there is a distinctly Aristotelian way in which the virtue ethicist can address it, by appeal to the distinctive function or “characteristic activity”— ergon—of the institution. (shrink)
It is now being recognized across the spectrum of bioethics, and particularly in genetics and population ethics, that to focus on the individual person, and thereby neglect communities and the goods which accrue to them, is to fail to see all the ethically significant features of a range of ethical issues. This article argues that more work needs to be done in order for bioethics to respect not only goods (such as rights and interests) of communities per se, but also (...) to recognize the difference between different types of communities and their goods. The diversity of communities and the types of communal goods which accrue to them is first outlined. Following this, a basic distinction between two such types: aggregative and corporate community goods, is explained and defended, and it is then argued argue that this distinction is necessary to understand and address what and whom is ethically at stake in any situation. This is illustrated with the example of UK Biobank, the conclusion being that if current and future individual are to be respected then communal goods of both types must be recognized and respected in an effective bioethics. (shrink)
A body of work in ethics and epistemology has advanced a collectivist view of virtues. Collectivism holds that some social groups can be subjects in themselves which can possess attributes such as agency or responsibility. Collectivism about virtues holds that virtues are among those attributes. By focusing on two different accounts, I argue that the collectivist virtue project has limited prospects. On one such interpretation of institutional virtues, virtue-like features of the social collective are explained by particular group-oriented features of (...) individual role-bearers that are elicited by institutional structures or goals. On another account of groups as moral agents unbound by formal institutional constraints, to the extent that group characteristics meet the collectivist requirement, they fail to stand up as virtues in the substantive sense of a character trait. These two positions’ respective drawbacks and insights support a non-collectivist conclusion: Where there is a substantive virtue of some social group, it consists only in certain group-specific attitudes and motives of individuals qua members of that group. I end by outlining some risks in adopting collectivism about virtues as an explanatory or normative doctrine, and suggesting that we can abandon it without embracing an equally undesirable individualism in virtue theory. (shrink)
Numerous examples of unethical organizational decision-making highlighted in the media have led many to question the general moral perception and ethical judgments of individuals. The present study examined two forms of a straightforward ethical decision-making tool that could be a relatively simple instrument for organizations to improve the moral and EDM of its members. Results revealed that participants utilizing either form of ACED IT were more likely to identify a moral dilemma than were control participants. Additionally, participants in the modified (...) condition responded differently to the situation. Implications and other findings are discussed. (shrink)
This essay proposes a reductive account of robust macro-regularities. On the view proposed, regularities can earn their elite scientific status by featuring in good summaries of restricted regions in the space of physical possibilities: our “modal neighborhoods.” I argue that this view vindicates “nomic foundationalism”, while doing justice to the practice of invoking physically contingent generalizations in higher-level explanations. Moreover, the view suggests an explanation for the particular significance of robust macro-regularities: we rely on summaries of our modal neighborhoods when (...) reasoning hypothetically about “agentially accessible” possibilities. (shrink)
This paper argues that a certain way of thinking about the function of the biobank—about what it does and is constructed for as a social institution aimed at ‘some good’—can and should play a substantial role in an effective biobanking ethic. It first exemplifies an ‘institution shaped gap’ in the current field of biobanking ethics. Next the biobank is conceptualized as a social institution that is apt for a certain kind of purposive functional definition such that we know it by (...) what it does and what it is designed to do. This purpose is then characterized further as essentially incorporating the human goods the institution is designed to serve, such that it plays a useful and indispensible role in how it should operate, i.e. in the ethics and governance of biobanking. Finally the ethical scope and limitations of such a theory is clarified by a discussion of some theoretical objections and suggested practical examples of its application. (shrink)
Acclaimed theorist and social scientist Donna Jeanne Haraway uses the work of pioneering developmental biologists Ross G. Harrison, Joseph Needham, and Paul Weiss as a springboard for a discussion about a shift in developmental biology from a vitalism-mechanism framework to organicism. The book deftly interweaves Thomas Kuhn's concept of paradigm change into this wide-ranging analysis, emphasizing the role of model, analogy, and metaphor in the paradigm and arguing that any truly useful theoretical system in biology must have a central metaphor.
This paper is about the actual and potential development of an ethics that is appropriate to the practices and institutions of biobanking, the question being how best to develop a framework within which the relevant ethical questions are first identified and then addressed in the right ways. It begins with ways in which a standard approach in bioethics – namely upholding a principle of individual autonomy via the practice of gaining donors’ informed consent – is an inadequate ethical framework for (...) biobanking. In donating material to a biobank, the individual donor relinquishes a degree of control and knowledge over the way their material is used in large-scale and typically open ended projects; and the identifying nature of genetic material means that third parties have rights and interests which must be taken into account as well as those of the individual donor. After discussing the problems for informed consent in the biobanking context, the paper then considers three emerging alternative approaches which, broadly speaking, conceptualize the subject of biobanking ethics in communal or co-operative terms: one version sees participants in biobanking research as ‘shareholders’ whilst the other expands on the notion of participation to include the wider public beneficiaries of biobanking as ‘stakeholders’. It concludes by outlining a third view, on which the biobanking institution itself is conceived as an ethical subject whose defining function can do useful normative work in guiding and evaluating its activities. (shrink)
The ethics of biobanking is one of the most controversial issues in current bioethics and public health debates. For some, biobanks offer the possibility of unprecedented advances which will revolutionise research and improve the health of future generations. For others they are worrying repositories of personal information and tissue which will be used without sufficient respect for those from whom they came. Wherever one stands on this spectrum, from an ethics perspective biobanks are revolutionary. Traditional ethical safeguards of informed consent (...) and confidentiality, for example, simply don’t work for the governance of biobanks and as a result new ethical structures are required. Thus it is not too great a claim to say that biobanks require a rethinking of our ethical assumptions and frameworks which we have applied generally to other issues in ethics. This paper maps the key challenges and controversies of biobanking ethics; it considers; informed consent (its problems in biobanking and possibilities of participants’ withdrawal), broad consent, the problems of confidentiality, ownership, property and comercialisation issues, feedback to participants and the ethics of re-contact. (shrink)
This paper presents, explains, and addresses the pedagogical utility of the “Wachter crystal,” a three-dimensional representation of basic principles of logic designed and created by Thomas Wachter in 1992. The author first discusses a way of understanding relations of logical inference which groups propositions possessing identical truth tables into the same class . Next, the author presents and explains a 16 x 16 matrix, the most basic figure for representing the inferential relations between the classes of propositional logic. Such (...) a matrix easily maps reflexivity, asymmetry, and transitivity in relations of implication. Moreover, since the relations and properties it illustrates can also be illustrated by a lattice, one can construct a three-dimensional model to represent them. The Wachter crystal, which resembles chemists’ models of molecules, illustrates the same principles as the matrix while foregrounding the commonly-neglected difference between Philonian conditionals and implication . In addition to being a perspicuous and aesthetically engaging way to represent basic principles of propositional logic, the Wachter crystal is a bridge to more advanced logical concepts such as modal logic, sentence connectives, and predicates of sentences. (shrink)
This research extends our understanding of ethical decision making on the part of leaders by merging social role and self-construal perspectives. Interdependent self-construal is generally seen as enhancing concern for justice and moral values. Across two studies, we tested the prediction that non-leading group members’ interdependent self-construal would be associated with lower levels of unethical decision making on behalf of their group but that, in contrast, this relationship would be weaker for leaders, given their social role. These predictions were experimentally (...) tested by assigning participants to the role of leader or non-leading group member, and assessing the association between their interdependent self-construal and their unethical decision making. Across both studies, interdependence predicted less unethical decision making on behalf of one’s group for non-leading group members. However, the leader role was shown to weaken, and even reverse, this relationship. This research demonstrates that self-construal influences group-based ethical decision making, but that the nature of this influence is moderated by social role. (shrink)
In a recent case in the UK, six men stored their sperm before undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer in case they proved to be infertile after the treatment. The sperm was not properly stored and as a result was inadvertently destroyed. The men sued the NHS Trust that stored the sperm and were in the end successful. This paper questions the basis on which the judgement was made and the rationale behind it, namely that the men ‘had ownership’ of the (...) sperm, and that compensation was thus due on the grounds that the men’s property had been destroyed. We first argue that the claim is erroneous and enhances the tendency towards the commodification of body parts. We then suggest that the men could have been compensated for the harm done to them without granting property rights, and that this would, at least in philosophical and ethical terms, have been more appropriate. To help illustrate this, we draw on a parallel case in French law in which a couple whose embryos had been destroyed were overtly denied ownership rights in them. Finally, we suggest some possible ethical and practical problems if the proprietary view expressed in the UK ruling were to become dominant in law, with particular focus on the storing of genetic information in biobanks. We conclude that, although compensation claims should not necessarily be ruled out, a ‘no property in the body’ approach should be the default position in cases of detached bodily materials, the alternative being significantly ethically problematic. (shrink)
(1996). European union and the nation‐state: The politics of hope encounters the politics of experience. The European Legacy: Vol. 1, Fourth International Conference of the International Society for the study of European Ideas, pp. 710-719.
In Goethe's Faust, the poet refers to alchemists' widespread ideas on artificial creation of life in the laboratory. In Faust, such an attempt was not successful: the little man,Homunculus, created by the scholar Wagner through crystallization, was a pure spirit; his form and light disappeared in an attempt to become real life. According to Goethe, life was obviously not a crystal, and he pointed to decisive differences between crystals and organic beings, the latter for example elaborating their food into (...) clear-cut organs and unable to be reconstituted from their ingredients, once destroyed. Thus Goethe's "sensitivity to the 'Gestalt' of the entire complicated organism and his general philosophical attitude .. (shrink)
In the Netherlands, the poet Herman Gorter is mostly known as the author of the neo-romantic poem May and the “sensitivistic” Poems, but internationally he became famous as a propagandist of radical Marxism: the author of influential brochures and of an “open letter” to comrade W.I. Lenin in 1920. During the 1890s, Gorter became increasingly dissatisfied with his poetry, considering it as ego-centric, disinterested and “bourgeois”, unconnected with what was happening in the real world. He wanted to put his poetry (...) on a scientific footing, notably by endorsing a dialectical materialist worldview. In the communist society he envisioned, science would become poetry and poetry would become science. In his opus magnum Pan, two terms are rather prominent, namely heelal and kristal. These signifiers not only reflect important themes, but also two friendships which began around 1900, namely with prominent astronomer and marxist Anton Pannekoek and with Ada Prins, the first woman in the Netherlands who acquired a PhD in chemistry, specialised in liquid crystal research. Whereas Ada Prins is mostly remembered as one of Gorter’s secret lovers, she was first and foremost his educated guide into the complex and enigmatic world of twentieth-century chemistry research. Liquid crystal chemistry became an important source of inspiration for Gorter’s work and the main objective of this paper is to demonstrate her influence on Gorter’s Pan as a scientific poem After presenting the two heroes of this paper, and their work in poetry and chemistry respectively, I will analyse the role of liquid crystals in Herman Gorter’s Pan, highlighting important connections with Ada Prins’ research into liquid crystal chemistry. (shrink)
This is an unpublished conference paper for the 3rd Annual Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues conference at Oriel College, Oxford University, Thursday 8th – Saturday 10th January 2015. These papers are works in progress and should not be cited without author’s prior permission.
About the book: This is the first text of its kind to deal exclusively with applied social work ethics. It focuses on an eclectic mix of difficult moral questions or issues encountered in much modern day practice. It is therefore not theoretically driven with some practical elements attached, but is instead is a practice-based book, where any theory introduced is linked to tangible practice situations. It is also thought-provoking, controversial in parts and always engaging.