Health-promoting nudges have been put into practice by different agents, in different contexts and with different aims. This article formulates a set of criteria that enables a thorough ethical evaluation of such nudges. As such, it bridges the gap between the abstract, theoretical debates among academics and the actual behavioral interventions being implemented in practice. The criteria are derived from arguments against nudges, which allegedly disrespect nudgees, as these would impose values on nudgees and/or violate their rationality and autonomy. Instead (...) of interpreting these objections as knock-down arguments, I take them as expressing legitimate worries that can often be addressed. I analyze six prototypical nudge cases, such as Google’s rearrangement of fridges and the use of defaults in organ donation registration. I show how the ethical criteria listed are satisfied by most—but not all—nudges in most—but not all—circumstances. (shrink)
What limits should there be on the areas of life that are governed by market forces? For many years, no one seriously defended the buying and selling votes for political elections. In recent years, however, this situation has changed, with a number of authors defending the permissibility of vote markets. One popular objection to such markets is that they would lead to a tyranny of wealth, where the poor are politically dominated by the rich. In a recent paper, Taylor :313–328, (...) 2017. doi: 10.1007/s11158-016-9327-0) has argued that this objection can be avoided if certain restrictions are placed on vote markets. In this paper we will argue that this attempt to rebut an argument against vote markets is unsuccessful. Either vote markets secure their purported benefits but then they inevitably lead to a tyranny of wealth, or they are restricted so heavily that they lack the features that have been claimed to make vote markets attractive in the first place. Using Taylor’s proposal as a test case, we make the more general claim that vote markets cannot avoid the tyranny of wealth objection and bring about their supposed benefits at the same time. (shrink)
Nudges have been criticized for working ‘in the dark’, influencing people without their full awareness. To assess whether this property renders nudging an illegitimate policy tool in liberal democracies, we argue that in scrutinizing nudge transparency, we should adequately divide our focus between nudging techniques, the nudgers employing them, and the nudgees subjected to them. We develop an account of what it means for nudgees to be ‘watchful’, a disposition that enables them to resist and circumvent nudges. We argue that (...) such ‘watchfulness’ should be cultivated if we want to implement nudges in legitimate, accountable, and democratic ways. (shrink)
One of the most pervasive criticisms of nudges has been the claim that they violate, undermine or decrease people’s autonomy. This claim, however, is seldom backed up by an explicit and detailed conception of autonomy. In this paper, we aim to do three things. First, we want to clear up some conceptual confusion by distinguishing the different conceptions used by Cass Sunstein and his critics in order to get clear on how they conceive of autonomy. Second, we want to add (...) to the existing discussion by distinguishing between ‘autonomy’ as the ability to set your own ends and ‘autocracy’ as the ability to actually realize those ends. This will allow for a more careful ethical evaluation of specific nudge interventions. Third, we will introduce the idea of ‘perimeters of autonomy’ in an attempt to provide a realistic account of personal autonomy and we will argue that it can alleviate most of the worries about nudging being autonomy-undermining. (shrink)
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. It is a leading cause of cervical cancer in women but the virus is increasingly being linked to several other cancers in men and women alike. Since the introduction of safe and effective but also expensive vaccines, many developed countries have implemented selective vaccination programs for girls. Some however argue that these programs should be expanded to include boys, since (1) HPV constitutes non-negligible health risks for boys as (...) well and (2) protected boys will indirectly also protect girls. In this paper we approach this discussion from an ethical perspective. First, on which moral grounds can one justify not reimbursing vaccination for the male sex? We develop an ethical framework to evaluate selective vaccination programs and conclude that, in the case of HPV, efficiency needs to be balanced against non-stigmatization, non-discrimination and justice. Second, if vaccination programs were to be expanded to boys as well, do the latter then also have a moral duty to become immunized? Two arguments in favor of such a moral duty are well known in vaccination ethics: the duty not to harm others and to contribute to the public good of public health. However, we argue that these are not particularly convincing in the context of HPV. In contrast, we believe a third, more powerful but also more controversial argument is possible. In our view, the sexual mode of transmission of HPV constitutes an additional reason to believe that boys in fact may have a moral obligation to accept vaccination. (shrink)
Positive economic models aim to provide truthful explanations of significant economic phenomena. While the notion of ‘preferences’ figures prominently in micro-economic models, it suffers from a remarkable lack of conceptual clarity and rigor. After distinguishing narrow homo economicus models from broader ones and rehearsing the criticisms both have met, I go into the most promising attempt to date at addressing them, developed by Hausman. However, his definition of preferences as ‘total comparative evaluations’, I argue, plays into the general disregard that (...) economists have for human psychology. My alternative definition of preferences as ‘overall comparative evaluations’ – and hence as one of the many factors that influence people’s behavior – allows for more adequate causal explanations of people’s dutiful, committed, and norm-guided actions. Against Hausman but in agreement with Sen, it also allows for counterpreferential choice. (shrink)
The secret ballot is considered a central feature of free and fair elections all over the world. While the reasons to uphold it seem to be overwhelming, we argue that the secret ballot is only second-best at best and that a modified version of open voting might prove to be more democratic. Instead of denying the various problems and difficulties that an open system might encounter, we want to offer a genuine proposal that can avoid these numerous pitfalls. After rehearsing (...) the various arguments pro and contra open voting, we draw attention to the role of shame, which has been neglected by both sides in the debate. While shame plays a pivotal role in the democratic argument pro open voting, it also brings out new problems that tell against opening up the vote. This means that, if we want to draw on the democratic potential of open voting, we will have to find a system that minimizes the undesirable effects of shame. In the third and final section, we will formulate a concrete proposal of open voting that we believe is more democratic than the current secret ballot and is able to avoid potential worries. Even if this proves to be highly speculative, it serves as an invitation for further empirical research. (shrink)
In this paper, we want to analyze conceptually whether and when merely using economic discourse – talking money – can crowd out people's positive attitudes towards environmental goods and their reasons to protect them. We concentrate on the specific case of market-based or monetary valuation as an instance of ‘commodification in discourse’ and argue that it can have the same moral problems as real commodification. We aim to bring together insights from philosophy, ethics, economics and psychology to argue that there (...) are good reasons to think about how and when to apply MV in environmental cases. On the basis of this interdisciplinary analysis and in order to promote further empirical research, we develop four empirically falsifiable hypotheses. Commodification in discourse can bring about real commodification. MV can have framing and crowding effects on those who come into contact with it. Intrinsic motivation is more robust than extrinsic motivation and leads less to freeriding. MV's framing and crowding effects can decrease environmental protection. (shrink)
The renowned paradox of voting arises when one tries to explain the decision to go out and vote in an exclusively instrumental framework. Instead of postulating that voters always derive utility from the act of voting, I want to search for the reasons that underlie the absence or presence of a preference for voting. In my noninstrumental account of expressive rationality, citizens want to express who they are and what they care about. Whether or not one votes therefore depends on (...) the force of one’s commitments to principles, norms, ideologies or particular persons. This has been confirmed by empirical research showing that citizens vote because they feel they have to, not because they like doing so. Complementing instrumental rationality, this concept of expressive rationality gives a fuller, deeper and more adequate view of the way citizens make political decisions, thereby solving the paradox of voting. (shrink)
Even though more than half of all citizens in the world are currently able to exercise the right to elect their leaders, many of them choose not to vote. This article considers the role of compulsory voting in order to enhance the democratic values of political participation and equality. Raising turnout considerably, it is an effective instrument to motivate citizens to express their voice in public life, thereby ensuring that their concerns will be heeded. Opponents of compulsory voting, however, argue (...) that it is undesirable because it violates the value of personal liberty and drags uninterested citizens to the polls. This article tries to rebut these arguments and challenge their underlying concept of democracy. As compulsory voting sends the message that every vote matters, it is able to restore rather than harm democracy and its values. (shrink)
Observations from the Point of View of the Relationship between Economy and EthicsThe main goal of this review is not to discuss the different lectures one by one in order of appearance. In my opinion, it will be much more interesting to analyze the symposium thematically. First, I will discuss the way in which the problem of external debt as such has been presented. Secondly, I will focus on the different points of view from which the problem has been discussed. (...) Finally, I will reflect on the different arguments that have been formulated.The problem of external debt as such was presented by Prof. Garcia . He provided a detailed factual analysis of the problem, well illustrated and presented in its different aspects. Via official figures he showed the implications of external debt for the Third World countries as well as for the First World countries. What are the economic implications for both parties? For HIPC countries, the amount of total debt is situated between 200 and 300 percent of their annual export value and between 3 and 6 times their total annual GNP. For First World countries on the other hand, the cost of debt cancellation is equal to 1/6 of the UK military budget, to one-year's expenditure on cinema in the USA, or to one-year's expenditure on chocolate in the UK.On the social level he points to the following: nowadays, payments by the southern countries, corresponding to the external debt, are four times the official development aid sent by the northern countries. As a result of these payments, public expenditure on basic goods and services for the poorest population of the world is dramatically reduced. From a political point of view this means that the poorest and most excluded people of the world are paying the price for contracted loans about which they did not have anything to say. These were decisions made by the elites and most of the time guided by bad management or even by corruption. The poorest people have never benefited from these decisions, but at present they are undergoing the consequences of the debt. Garcia also shows that the problem of external debt in the South is not a matter of private, commercial affairs, but a matter of the public sector and of social justice. This means that debts are an issue of international politics and debt reduction a matter of international political willingness. (shrink)
In the previous issue of Ethical Perspectives David Heyd defends the permissibility of sex selection for non-medical reasons. He tries to show that there is nothing inherently wrong with this practice and that allowing it does not lead to undesirable consequences. There are several difficulties with his analysis, but the main objection is that it ultimately relies on a crude form of utilitarianism. Along with some critical comments on his article, we provide ethical arguments in support of the intuitive condemnation (...) of sex selection for non-medical reasons. (shrink)
This article focuses on the difficult issue of what exactly goes on when an individual tolerates something. It focuses on the problem of why an individual would ever choose to allow for some practice that he deerns unacceptable while having the power to do something about it. After distinguishing between different attitudes , this article argues that individuals can have various reasons for deciding to tolerate what they deern wrong. As such, we defend a broad conception of tolerance, which goes (...) against the grain of recent literature in which tolerance is generally understood as a virtue. (shrink)
Nietzsche has often been interpreted as criticizing Buddhism for its pessimistic nihilism, since it supposedly aims at the otherworldly goal of nirvanaand the extinction of suffering. This article tries to adjust this view by focusing on the aspects of Buddhism of which Nietzsche implicitly or explicitly approves. It also relates these to some striking similarities between their views of the world, the individual, life in general and how to deal with it. This article shows that Nietzsche, in his criticism of (...) Buddhism as he interpreted it, comes strikingly close to actual Buddhist doctrines on metaphysics, personal identity and morality. (shrink)
This article focuses on the explanations of human cooperation that dominate the fields of psychology, philosophy, economics and other social sciences. It argues that these accounts all frame cooperation in egoistic terms and thus cannot solve the evolutionary puzzle of strong reciprocity, defined as a propensity to cooperate with others similarly disposed and to punish others who violate norms, even at a personal cost and without any prospect of present or future rewards. This article shows that strong reciprocity accounts for (...) the uniquely high levels of human cooperation and is best explained by referring to the important role of culture in natural selection. In the end, it aims to analyze the implications of these insights for the interdisciplinary aim of understanding the sources of cooperation. (shrink)
James Buchanan, one of the founders of Public Choice theory, applies the conceptual apparatus of economics to the public domain. This article investigates which assumptions are crucial to Buchanan’s project, concentrating on methodological individualism and the Homo Economicus model. It shows that Buchanan from time to time moves away from these economic concepts, though only in minor ways. The article also focuses on Buchanan’s normative emphasis on the role of institutions in coordinating self-interested individual actions in mutually beneficial ways. Criticizing (...) Buchanan’s analysis, the paper argues that a broader view of the individual and of the role of institutions is necessary in a theory of constitutional choice. (shrink)
Public-health measures are very effective and efficient means of improving health, yet public health is either neglected by the literature or fraught with unease, mainly due to the combination of the aggregate-distributive tension with the element of compulsion.The author argues that this unease can be decreased by 1) a pluralist-holistic view of health, situating the normative value of health in its effect on well-being, incorporating both the objective and subjective source of the value of health; and 2) by a rich (...) concept of reciprocity.This article supports Martha Nussbaum’s critique of social-contract thinking for placing too much weight on the scale of normal functioning and productive reciprocity, as well as Sen’s distinction between well-being and agency freedom.To reach an adequate understanding of the value and goal of public health within the general setting of health care, a pluralist conception of health, well-being and reciprocity is necessary. (shrink)
This article defends the use of narratives about morally exemplary individuals in moral education and appraises the role that ‘nudge’ strategies can play in combination with such an appeal to exemplars. It presents a general conception of the aims of moral education and explains how the proposed combination of both moral strategies serves these aims. An important aim of moral education is to make the ethical perspective of the subject—the person being educated—more structured, more salient and therefore more ‘navigable’. This (...) article argues why and how moral exemplars and nudge strategies are crucial aids in this respect. It gives an empirically grounded account of how the emotion of admiration can be triggered most effectively by a thoughtful presentation of narratives about moral exemplars. It also answers possible objections and concludes that a combined appeal to exemplars and nudges provides a neglected but valuable resource for moral education. (shrink)
Henry Sidgwick has gone down in the history of philosophy as both the great, classical utilitarian moral theorist who authored The Methods of Ethics, and an outstanding exemplar of intellectual honesty and integrity, one whose personal virtues were inseparable from his philosophical strengths and method. Yet this construction of Sidgwick the philosopher has been based on a too limited understanding of Sidgwick's casuistry and leading practical ethical concerns. As his friendship with John Addington Symonds reveals, Sidgwick was deeply entangled in (...) an effort to negotiate the proper spheres of the public and private, not only in philosophical and religious matters, but also with respect to explosive questions of sexuality – particularly same sex actions and identities, as celebrated by Symonds and other champions of Oxford Hellenism and Whitmania. His willingness to mislead the public about such issues suggests that Sidgwick's utilitarian casuistry was rather more complex and esoteric than has been recognized. (shrink)
Unbelievable Errors defends an error theory about all normative judgements: not just moral judgements, but also judgements about reasons for action, judgements about reasons for belief, and instrumental normative judgements. This theory states that normative judgements are beliefs that ascribe normative properties, but that normative properties do not exist. It therefore entails that all normative judgements are false. -/- Bart Streumer also argues, however, that we cannot believe this error theory. This may seem to be a problem for the (...) theory. But he argues that it makes this error theory more likely to be true, since it undermines objections to the theory and it makes it harder to reject the arguments for the theory. -/- He then sketches how certain other philosophical theories can be defended in a similar way. He concludes that to make philosophical progress, we need to make a sharp distinction between a theory's truth and our ability to believe it. (shrink)
Gricean pragmatics. Saying vs. implicating ; Discourse and cooperation ; Conversational implicatures ; Generalised vs. particularised ; Cancellability ; Gricean reasoning and the pragmatics of what is said -- The standard recipe for Q-implicatures. The standard recipe ; Inference to the best explanation ; Weak implicatures and competence ; Relevance ; Conclusion -- Scalar implicatures. Horn scales and the generative view ; Implicatures and downward entailing environments ; Disjunction : exclusivity and ignorance ; Conclusion -- Psychological plausibility. Charges of psychological (...) inadequacy ; Logical complexity ; Abduction ; Incremental processing ; The intentional stance ; Alternatives ; Conclusion -- Nonce inference or defaults?. True defaults ; Strong defaultism ; Weak defaultism ; Contextualism ; Conclusion -- Intentions, alternatives, and free choice. Free choice ; Problems with the standard recipe ; Intentions first ; Free choice explained ; Comparing alternatives ; Two flavours of Q-implicature ; Conclusion -- Embedded implicatures : the problems. The problems ; Varieties of conventionalism ; Against conventionalism ; Conclusion -- Embedded implicatures : a Gricean approach. Disjunction ; Belief reports ; Factives and other presupposition inducers ; Indefinites ; Contrastive construals and lexical pragmatics ; Conclusion. (shrink)
In this volume, Geurts takes discourse representation theory (DRT), and turns it into a unified account of anaphora and presupposition, which he applies not only to the standard problem cases but also to the interpretation of modal expressions, attitude reports, and proper names. The resulting theory, for all its simplicity, is without doubt the most comprehensive of its kind to date. The central idea underlying Geurts' 'binding theory' of presupposition is that anaphora is just a special case of presupposition projection. (...) But this is only one of the ways in which the concept of presupposition is taken beyond its traditional limits. Geurts shows, furthermore, that presupposition projection is crucially involved in several phenomena that are not usually viewed in presuppositional terms, such as modal subordination, de re readings of attitude reports, and rigid designation. While making his case for DRT and the binding theory, Geurts also presents an incisive analysis of what is probably still the most influential account of presupposition, viz. the satisfaction theory, demonstrating that there are fundamental problems not only with this theory but with the very framework in which it is couched. (shrink)
According to the error theory, normative judgements are beliefs that ascribe normative properties, even though such properties do not exist. In this paper, I argue that we cannot believe the error theory, and that this means that there is no reason for us to believe this theory. It may be thought that this is a problem for the error theory, but I argue that it is not. Instead, I argue, our inability to believe the error theory undermines many objections that (...) have been made to this theory. (shrink)
What is property, and why does our species happen to have it? In The Property Species, the economist Bart Wilson explores how we acquire, perceive, and know the custom of property, and why this might be relevant to social scientists, philosophers, and legal scholars for understanding how property works in the twenty-first century.
We show that a first category homogeneous zero-dimensional Borel set X can be embedded in as an ideal on ω if and only if X is homeomorphic to X × X if and only if X is Wadge-equivalent to X × X. Furthermore, we determine the Wadge classes of such X, thus giving a complete picture of the possible descriptive complexity of Borel ideals on ω. We also discuss the connection with ideals of compact sets.
Many philosophers claim that it cannot be the case that a person ought to perform an action if this person cannot perform this action. However, most of these philosophers do not give arguments for the truth of this claim. In this paper, I argue that it is plausible to interpret this claim in such a way that it is entailed by the claim that there cannot be a reason for a person to perform an action if it is impossible that (...) this person will perform this action. I then give three arguments for the truth of the latter claim, which are also arguments for the truth of the former claim as I interpret it. (shrink)
A colorful history of utilitarianism told through the lives and ideas of Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and its other founders In The Happiness Philosophers, Bart Schultz tells the colorful story of the lives and legacies of the founders of utilitarianism—one of the most influential yet misunderstood and maligned philosophies of the past two centuries. Best known for arguing that "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong," utilitarianism was developed (...) by the radical philosophers, critics, and social reformers William Godwin, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart and Harriet Taylor Mill, and Henry Sidgwick. Together, they had a profound influence on nineteenth-century reforms, in areas ranging from law, politics, and economics to morals, education, and women's rights. Their work transformed life in ways we take for granted today. Bentham even advocated the decriminalization of same-sex acts, decades before the cause was taken up by other activists. As Bertrand Russell wrote about Bentham in the late 1920s, "There can be no doubt that nine-tenths of the people living in England in the latter part of last century were happier than they would have been if he had never lived." Yet in part because of its misleading name and the caricatures popularized by figures as varied as Dickens, Marx, and Foucault, utilitarianism is sometimes still dismissed as cold, calculating, inhuman, and simplistic. By revealing the fascinating human sides of the remarkable pioneers of utilitarianism, The Happiness Philosophers provides a richer understanding and appreciation of their philosophical and political perspectives—one that also helps explain why utilitarianism is experiencing a renaissance today and is again being used to tackle some of the world's most serious problems. (shrink)
Many philosophers argue that the error theory should be rejected because it is incompatible with standard deontic logic and semantics. We argue that such formal objections to the theory fail. Our discussion has two upshots. First, it increases the dialectical weight that must be borne by objections to the error theory that target its content rather than its form. Second, it shows that standard deontic logic and semantics should be revised.
Frank Jackson has argued that, given plausible claims about supervenience, descriptive predicates and property identity, there are no irreducibly normative properties. Philosophers who think that there are such properties have made several objections to this argument. In this paper, I argue that all of these objections fail. I conclude that Jackson's argument shows that there are no irreducibly normative properties.
Abstract: The Gricean theory of conversational implicature has always been plagued by data suggesting that what would seem to be conversational inferences may occur within the scope of operators like believe , for example; which for bona fide implicatures should be an impossibility. Concentrating my attention on scalar implicatures, I argue that, for the most part, such observations can be accounted for within a Gricean framework, and without resorting to local pragmatic inferences of any kin d. However, there remains a (...) small class of marked cases that cannot be treated as conversational implicatures, and they do require a local mode of pragmatic interpretation. (shrink)
In this article we examine the effectiveness of consent in data protection legislation. We argue that the current legal framework for consent, which has its basis in the idea of autonomous authorisation, does not work in practice. In practice the legal requirements for consent lead to ‘consent desensitisation’, undermining privacy protection and trust in data processing. In particular we argue that stricter legal requirements for giving and obtaining consent as proposed in the European Data protection regulation will further weaken the (...) effectiveness of the consent mechanism. Building on Miller and Wertheimer’s ‘Fair Transaction’ model of consent we will examine alternatives to explicit consent. (shrink)
This is an attempt at reviving Kneale's version of the description theory of names, which says that a proper name is synonymous with a definite description of the form ‘the individual named so-and-so’. To begin with, I adduce a wide range of observations to show that names and overt definites are alike in all relevant respects. I then turn to Kripke's main objection against Kneale's proposal, and endeavour to refute it. In the remainder of the paper I elaborate on Kneale's (...) analysis, adopting a theory of presupposition proposed by van der Sandt. (shrink)