To assess ethics pedagogy in science and engineering, we developed a new tool called the Engineering and Science Issues Test. ESIT measures moral judgment in a manner similar to the Defining Issues Test, second edition, but is built around technical dilemmas in science and engineering. We used a quasi-experimental approach with pre- and post-tests, and we compared the results to those of a control group with no overt ethics instruction. Our findings are that several stand-alone classes showed a significant improvement (...) compared to the control group when the metric includes multiple stages of moral development. We also found that the written test had a higher response rate and sensitivity to pedagogy than the electronic version. We do not find significant differences on pre- test scores with respect to age, education level, gender or political leanings, but we do on whether subjects were native English speakers. We did not find significant differences on pre- test scores based on whether subjects had previous ethics instruction; this could suggest a lack of a long-term effect from the instruction. (shrink)
The literature on self-driving cars and ethics continues to grow. Yet much of it focuses on ethical complexities emerging from an individual vehicle. That is an important but insufficient step towards determining how the technology will impact human lives and society more generally. What must complement ongoing discussions is a broader, system level of analysis that engages with the interactions and effects that these cars will have on one another and on the socio-technical systems in which they are embedded. To (...) bring the conversation of self-driving cars to the system level, we make use of two traffic scenarios which highlight some of the complexities that designers, policymakers, and others should consider related to the technology. We then describe three approaches that could be used to address such complexities and their associated shortcomings. We conclude by bringing attention to the “Moral Responsibility for Computing Artifacts: The Rules”, a framework that can provide insight into how to approach ethical issues related to self-driving cars. (shrink)
As an empirical inquiry into the nature of meaning, semantics must rely on data. Unfortunately, the primary data to which philosophers and linguists have traditionally appealed—judgments on the truth and falsity of sentences—have long been known to vary widely between competent speakers in a number of interesting cases. The present article constitutes an experiment in how to obtain some more consistent data for the enterprise of semantics. Specifically, it argues from some widely accepted Gricean premises to the conclusion that judgments (...) on lying are semantically relevant. It then endeavors to show how, assuming the relevance of such judgments, we can use them to generate a useful, widely acceptable test for semantic content. (shrink)
Robots are becoming an increasingly pervasive feature of our personal lives. As a result, there is growing importance placed on examining what constitutes appropriate behavior when they interact with human beings. In this paper, we discuss whether companion robots should be permitted to “nudge” their human users in the direction of being “more ethical”. More specifically, we use Rawlsian principles of justice to illustrate how robots might nurture “socially just” tendencies in their human counterparts. Designing technological artifacts in such a (...) way to influence human behavior is already well-established but merely because the practice is commonplace does not necessarily resolve the ethical issues associated with its implementation. (shrink)
This manuscript describes a pilot study in ethics education employing a problem-based learning approach to the study of novel, complex, ethically fraught, unavoidably public, and unavoidably divisive policy problems, called “fractious problems,” in bioscience and biotechnology. Diverse graduate and professional students from four US institutions and disciplines spanning science, engineering, humanities, social science, law, and medicine analyzed fractious problems employing “navigational skills” tailored to the distinctive features of these problems. The students presented their results to policymakers, stakeholders, experts, and members (...) of the public. This approach may provide a model for educating future bioscientists and bioengineers so that they can meaningfully contribute to the social understanding and resolution of challenging policy problems generated by their work. (shrink)
To assess ethics pedagogy in science and engineering, we developed a new tool called the Engineering and Science Issues Test (ESIT). ESIT measures moral judgment in a manner similar to the Defining Issues Test, second edition, but is built around technical dilemmas in science and engineering. We used a quasi-experimental approach with pre- and post-tests, and we compared the results to those of a control group with no overt ethics instruction. Our findings are that several (but not all) stand-alone classes (...) showed a significant improvement compared to the control group when the metric includes multiple stages of moral development. We also found that the written test had a higher response rate and sensitivity to pedagogy than the electronic version. We do not find significant differences on pre-test scores with respect to age, education level, gender or political leanings, but we do on whether subjects were native English speakers. We did not find significant differences on pre-test scores based on whether subjects had previous ethics instruction; this could suggest a lack of a long-term effect from the instruction. (shrink)
Recently, there has been an upsurge of attention focused on bias and its impact on specialized artificial intelligence applications. Allegations of racism and sexism have permeated the conversation as stories surface about search engines delivering job postings for well-paying technical jobs to men and not women, or providing arrest mugshots when keywords such as “black teenagers” are entered. Learning algorithms are evolving; they are often created from parsing through large datasets of online information while having truth labels bestowed on them (...) by crowd-sourced masses. These specialized AI algorithms have been liberated from the minds of researchers and startups, and released onto the public. Yet intelligent though they may be, these algorithms maintain some of the same biases that permeate society. They find patterns within datasets that reflect implicit biases and, in so doing, emphasize and reinforce these biases as global truth. This paper describes specific examples of how bias has infused itself into current AI and robotic systems, and how it may affect the future design of such systems. More specifically, we draw attention to how bias may affect the functioning of a robot peacekeeper, a self-driving car, and a medical robot. We conclude with an overview of measures that could be taken to mitigate or halt bias from permeating robotic technology. (shrink)
The crash of two 737 MAX passenger aircraft in late 2018 and early 2019, and subsequent grounding of the entire fleet of 737 MAX jets, turned a global spotlight on Boeing’s practices and culture. Explanations for the crashes include: design flaws within the MAX’s new flight control software system designed to prevent stalls; internal pressure to keep pace with Boeing’s chief competitor, Airbus; Boeing’s lack of transparency about the new software; and the lack of adequate monitoring of Boeing by the (...) FAA, especially during the certification of the MAX and following the first crash. While these and other factors have been the subject of numerous government reports and investigative journalism articles, little to date has been written on the ethical significance of the accidents, in particular the ethical responsibilities of the engineers at Boeing and the FAA involved in designing and certifying the MAX. Lessons learned from this case include the need to strengthen the voice of engineers within large organizations. There is also the need for greater involvement of professional engineering societies in ethics-related activities and for broader focus on moral courage in engineering ethics education. (shrink)
In “Demonstratives”, David Kaplan introduced a simple and remarkably robust semantics for indexicals. Unfortunately, Kaplan’s semantics is open to a number of apparent counterexamples, many of which involve recording devices. The classic case is the sentence “I am not here now” as recorded and played back on an answering machine. In this essay, I argue that the best way to accommodate these data is to conceive of recording technologies as introducing special, non-basic sorts of contexts, accompanied by non-basic conventions governing (...) the use of indexicals in those contexts. The idea is that recording devices allow us to use indexicals in new and innovative ways to coordinate on objects. And, given sufficient regularity in the use of indexicals on such devices, linguistic conventions will, over time, come to reflect this innovation. I consider several alternatives to this ‘character-shifting’ theory, but none is able to account for the data as well as the present proposal. Many face additional theoretical difficulties as well. I conclude by explaining how the character-shifting theory not only retains many of the virtues of Kaplan’s original semantics, but also coheres with a plausible view on the nature of semantic theorizing more generally. (shrink)
According to what is perhaps the dominant picture of reference, what a referential term refers to in a context is determined by what the speaker intends for her audience to identify as the referent. I argue that this sort of broadly Gricean view entails, counterintuitively, that it is impossible to knowingly use referential terms in ways that one expects or intends to be misunderstood. Then I sketch an alternative which can better account for such opaque uses of language, or what (...) I call “sneaky reference.” I close by reflecting on the ramifications of these arguments for the theory of meaning more broadly. (shrink)
An under-examined aspect of human–robot interaction that warrants further exploration is whether robots should be permitted to influence a user’s behavior for that person’s own good. Yet an even more controversial practice could be on the horizon, which is allowing a robot to “nudge” a user’s behavior for the good of society. In this article, we examine the feasibility of creating companion robots that would seek to nurture a user’s empathy toward other human beings. As more and more computing devices (...) subtly and overtly influence human behavior, it is important to draw attention to whether it would be ethically appropriate for roboticists to pursue this type of design pathway. Our primary focus is on whether a companion robot could encourage humans to perform charitable acts; this design possibility illustrates the range of socially just actions that a robot could potentially elicit from a user and what the associated ethical concerns may be. (shrink)
This dissertation sets out to answer the question ''What fixes the semantic values of context-sensitive referential terms—like names, demonstratives, and pronouns—in context?'' I argue that it is the speaker's intentions that play this role, as constrained by the conventions governing the use of particular sorts of referential terms. These conventions serve to filter the speaker's intentions for just those which meet these constraints on use, leaving only these filtered-for intentions as semantically relevant. By considering a wide range of cases, including (...) many involving confused and deceptive speakers, I argue that this 'constraint theory' provides a better account of linguistic reference than does any extant alternative, whether intentionalist or non-intentionalist. Along the way, I argue that semantics cannot depend on the reactions of idealized listeners, that speaker meaning is far less clear, and helpful, a notion than it is standardly taken to be, and that speakers needn't aim to be cooperative in order to fix the meaning of their terms in context. (shrink)
As a committee of the National Academy of Engineering recognized, ethics education should foster the ability of students to analyze complex decision situations and ill-structured problems. Building on the NAE’s insights, we report about an innovative teaching approach that has two main features: first, it places the emphasis on deliberation and on self-directed, problem-based learning in small groups of students; and second, it focuses on understanding ill-structured problems. The first innovation is motivated by an abundance of scholarly research that supports (...) the value of deliberative learning practices. The second results from a critique of the traditional case-study approach in engineering ethics. A key problem with standard cases is that they are usually described in such a fashion that renders the ethical problem as being too obvious and simplistic. The practitioner, by contrast, may face problems that are ill-structured. In the collaborative learning environment described here, groups of students use interactive and web-based argument visualization software called “AGORA-net: Participate – Deliberate!”. The function of the software is to structure communication and problem solving in small groups. Students are confronted with the task of identifying possible stakeholder positions and reconstructing their legitimacy by constructing justifications for these positions in the form of graphically represented argument maps. The argument maps are then presented in class so that these stakeholder positions and their respective justifications become visible and can be brought into a reasoned dialogue. Argument mapping provides an opportunity for students to collaborate in teams and to develop critical thinking and argumentation skills. (shrink)
To generate explanatory theory, ecologists must wrestle with how to represent the extremely many, diverse causes behind phenomena in their domain. Early twentieth-century plant ecologists Frederic E. Clements and Henry A. Gleason provide a textbook example of different approaches to explaining vegetation, with Clements allegedly committed, despite abundant exceptions, to a law of vegetation, and Gleason denying the law in favor of less organized phenomena. However, examining Clements's approach to explanation reveals him not to be expressing a law, and instead (...) to be developing an explanatory structure without laws, capable of progressively integrating causal complexity. Moreover, Clements and Gleason largely agree on the causes of vegetation; but, since causal understanding here underdetermines representation, they differ on how to integrate recognized causes into general theory---that is, in their methodologies. Observers of the case may have mistakenly assumed that scientific representation across the disciplines typically aims at laws like Newton's, and that representations always reveal scientists' metaphysical commitments. Ironically, in the present case, this assumption seems to have been made even by observers who regard Clements as naı¨ve for his alleged commitment to an ecological law. (shrink)
The primary aim of this article is to identify ethical challenges relating to authorship in engineering fields. Professional organizations and journals do provide crucial guidance in this realm, but this cannot replace the need for frequent and diligent discussions in engineering research communities about what constitutes appropriate authorship practice. Engineering researchers should seek to identify and address issues such as who is entitled to be an author and whether publishing their research could potentially harm the public.
In this article, the authors examine whether and how robot caregivers can contribute to the welfare of children with various cognitive and physical impairments by expanding recreational opportunities for these children. The capabilities approach is used as a basis for informing the relevant discussion. Though important in its own right, having the opportunity to play is essential to the development of other capabilities central to human flourishing. Drawing from empirical studies, the authors show that the use of various types of (...) robots has already helped some children with impairments. Recognizing the potential ethical pitfalls of robot caregiver intervention, however, the authors examine these concerns and conclude that an appropriately designed robot caregiver has the potential to contribute positively to the development of the capability to play while also enhancing the ability of human caregivers to understand and interact with care recipients. (shrink)
Annotation. "This trim publication satisfies a much-felt need among teachers of Indian philosophy, who badly want introductions to the several systems of classical Indian thought such as Professor Deutsch provides."--Journal of Asian Studies.
In this chapter we discuss some of the central ethical issues specific to eating and harvesting fish. We survey recent research on fish intelligence and cognition and discuss possible considerations that are distinctive to questions about the ethics of eating fish as opposed to terrestrial and avian mammals. We conclude that those features that are distinctive to the harvesting and consumption of fish, including means of capture and the central role that fishing plays in many communities, do not suggest that (...) eating fish is less morally problematic than eating terrestrial of avian animals. (shrink)
A community, for ecologists, is a unit for discussing collections of organisms. It refers to collections of populations, which consist (by definition) of individuals of a single species. This is straightforward. But communities are unusual kinds of objects, if they are objects at all. They are collections consisting of other diverse, scattered, partly-autonomous, dynamic entities (that is, animals, plants, and other organisms). They often lack obvious boundaries or stable memberships, as their constituent populations not only change but also move in (...) and out of areas, and in and out of relationships with other populations. Familiar objects have identifiable boundaries, for example, and if communities do not, maybe they are not objects. Maybe they do not exist at all. The question this possibility suggests, of what criteria there might be for identifying communities, and for determining whether such communities exist at all, has long been discussed by ecologists. This essay addresses this question as it has recently been taken up by philosophers of science, by examining answers to it which appeared a century ago and which have framed the continuing discussion. (shrink)
Over-time variability characterizes not only individual-level emotions, but also group-level emotions, those that occur when people identify with social groups and appraise events in terms of their implications for those groups. We discuss theory and research regarding the role of emotions in intergroup contexts, focusing on their dynamic nature. We then describe new insights into the causes and consequences of emotional dynamics that flow from conceptualizing emotions as based in group membership, and conclude with research recommendations.
The term "fake news" ascended rapidly to prominence in 2016 and has become a fixture in academic and public discussions, as well as in political mud-slinging. In the flurry of discussion, the term has been applied so broadly as to threaten to render it meaningless. In an effort to rescue our ability to discuss—and combat—the underlying phenomenon that triggered the present use of the term, some philosophers have tried to characterize it more precisely. A common theme in this nascent philosophical (...) discussion is that contemporary fake news is not a new kind of phenomenon, but just the latest iteration of a broader kind of phenomenon that has played out in different ways across the history of human information-dissemination technologies. While we agree with this, we argue that newer sorts of fake news reveal substantial flaws in earlier understandings of this notion. In particular, we argue that no deceptive intentions are necessary for fake news to arise; rather, fake news arises when stories which were not produced via standard journalistic practice are treated as though they had been. Importantly, this revisionary understanding of fake news allows us to accommodate and understand the way that fake news is plausibly generated and spread in a contemporary setting, as much by non-human actors as by ordinary human beings. (shrink)
We consider a range of cases—both hypothetical and actual—in which agents apparently know how to \ but fail to believe that the way in which they in fact \ is a way for them to \. These “no-belief” cases present a prima facie problem for Intellectualism about knowledge-how. The problem is this: if knowledge-that entails belief, and if knowing how to \ just is knowing that some w is a way for one to \, then an agent cannot both know (...) how to \ and fail to believe that w, the way that she \s, is a way for her to \. We discuss a variety of ways in which Intellectualists might respond to this challenge and argue that, ultimately, this debate converges with another, seemingly distinct debate in contemporary epistemology: how to attribute belief in cases of conflict between an agent’s avowals and her behavior. No-belief cases, we argue, reveal how Intellectualism depends on the plausibility of positing something like “implicit beliefs”—which conflict with an agent’s avowed beliefs—in many cases of apparent knowledge-how. While there may be good reason to posit implicit beliefs elsewhere, we suggest that there are at least some grounds for thinking that these reasons fail to carry over to no-belief cases, thus applying new pressure to Intellectualism. (shrink)
Stojnić et al. (2013, 2017) argue that the reference of demonstratives is fixed without any contribution from the extra-linguistic context. On their `prominence/coherence' theory, the reference of a demonstrative expression depends only on its context-independent linguistic meaning. Here, we argue that Stojnić et al.’s striking claims can be maintained in only the thinnest technical sense. Instead of eliminating appeals to the extra-linguistic context, we show how the prominence/coherence theory merely suppresses them. Then we ask why one might be tempted to (...) try and offer such a view. Since we are rather sympathetic to the motivations we find, we close by sketching a more plausible alternative. (shrink)
The use of robotic workers is likely to continue to increase as time passes. Hence it is crucial to examine the types of effects this occurrence could have on employment patterns. Invariably, as new job opportunities emerge due to robotic innovations, others will be closed off. Further, the characteristics of the workforce in terms of age, education, and income could profoundly change as a result.
It is increasingly common for philosophers to rely on the notion of an idealised listener when explaining how the semantic values of context-sensitive expressions are determined. Some have identified the semantic values of such expressions, as used on particular occasions, with whatever an appropriately idealised listener would take them to be. Others have argued that, for something to count as the semantic value, an appropriately idealised listener should be able to recover it. Our aim here is to explore the range (...) of ways that such idealisation might be worked out, and then to argue that none of these results in a very plausible theory. We conclude by reflecting on what this negative result reveals about the nature of meaning and responsibility. (shrink)
Many scholars predict that the technology to modify unborn children genetically is on the horizon. According to supporters of genetic enhancement, allowing parents to select a child’s traits will enable him/her to experience a better life. Following their logic, the technology will not only increase our knowledge base and generate cures for genetic illness, but it may enable us to increase the intelligence, strength, and longevity of future generations as well. Yet it must be examined whether supporters of genetic enhancement, (...) especially libertarians, adequately appreciate the ethical hazards emerging from the technology, including whether its use might violate the harm principle. (shrink)
In response to Habgood-Coote (2019) and a growing number of scholars who argue that academics and journalists should stop talking about fake news and abandon the term, we argue that the reasons which have been offered for eschewing the term 'fake news' are not sufficient to justify such abandonment. Prima facie, then, we take ourselves and others to be justified in continuing to talk about fake news.
The complexity and heterogeneity of causes influencing ecology’s domain challenge its capacity to generate a general theory without exceptions, raising the question of whether ecology is capable, even in principle, of achieving the sort of theoretical success enjoyed by physics. Weber has argued that competition theory built around the Competitive Exclusion Principle (especially Tilman’s resource-competition model) offers an example of ecology identifying a law-like causal regularity. However, I suggest that as Weber presents it, the CEP is not yet a causal (...) regularity. Instead, I argue that the scientific understanding in Tilman’s theory takes a different form. The theory explains through a structure I call “channeling explanation” which does not depend on deduction from general laws, but rather builds on constraints and trade-offs represented in state-space. Recognizing this structure supports the more general point that ecology and other so-called special sciences can reveal novel theoretical approaches to philosophy of science when approached with openness to their uniqueness. (shrink)
What determines the meaning of a context-sensitive expression in a context? It is standardly assumed that, for a given expression type, there will be a unitary answer to this question; most of the literature on the subject involves arguments designed to show that one particular metasemantic proposal is superior to a specific set of alternatives. The task of the present essay will be to explore whether this is a warranted assumption, or whether the quest for the one true metasemantics might (...) be a Quixotic one. We argue that there are good reasons—much better than are commonly appreciated—for thinking the latter, but that there nevertheless remains significant scope for metasemantic theorizing. We conclude by outlining our preferred option, metasemantic pluralism. (shrink)
T. S. Eliot left Harvard during his third year of study in the department of philosophy and went to England. Forty-six years later he authorized the publication of his doctoral dissertation. Here we have a reprint of his sympathetic but not entirely uncritical study of the English idealist philosopher F. H. Bradley.
The third Earl of Shaftesbury was a pivotal figure in eighteenth-century thought and culture. Professor Klein 's study is the first to examine the extensive Shaftesbury manuscripts and offer an interpretation of his diverse writings as an attempt to comprehend contemporary society and politics and, in particular, to offer a legitimation for the new Whig political order established after 1688. As the focus of Shaftesbury's thinking was the idea of politeness, this study involves the first serious examination of the importance (...) of the idea of politeness in the eighteenth century for thinking about society and culture and organising cultural practices. Through politeness, Shaftesbury conceptualised a new kind of public and critical culture for Britain and Europe, and greatly influenced the philosophical and cultural models associated with the European Enlightenment. (shrink)
In recent years there has been an increasing awareness that a comprehensive understanding of language, cognitive and affective processes, and social and interpersonal phenomena cannot be achieved without understanding the ways these processes are grounded in bodily states. The term ‘embodiment’ captures the common denominator of these developments, which come from several disciplinary perspectives ranging from neuroscience, cognitive science, social psychology, and affective sciences. For the first time, this volume brings together these varied developments under one umbrella and furnishes a (...) comprehensive overview of this intellectual movement in the cognitive-behavioral sciences. (shrink)
This book will be of great interest to all students of Hinduism, students of both Eastern and Western philosophy, and spiritual seekers who wish to better understand this ancient Indian tradition of non-dualist thought.
Answering machines and other types of recording devices present prima facie problems for traditional theories of the meaning of indexicals. The present essay explores a range of semantic and pragmatic responses to these issues. Careful attention to the difficulties posed by recordings promises to help enlighten the boundaries between semantics and pragmatics more broadly.