Randomization is the “gold standard” design for clinical research trials and is accepted as the best way to reduce bias. Although some controversy remains over this matter, we believe equipoise is the fundamental ethical requirement for conducting a randomized clinical trial. Despite much attention to the ethics of randomization, the moral psychology of this study design has not been explored. This article analyzes the ethical tensions that arise from conducting these studies and examines the moral psychology of this design from (...) the perspectives of physician-investigators and patient-subjects. We conclude with a discussion of the practical implications of this analysis. (shrink)
BACKGROUND: Researchers have a moral responsibility to offer to return research results to participants, but the needs and attitudes of parents and adolescents with cancer in paediatric oncology regarding the issue are relatively unknown.OBJECTIVES: To explore the needs of potential research participants or their guardians with respect to the offer of a return of research results. METHODS: A questionnaire was used in a focus group and in telephone interviews with eight adolescents and 12 parents of children with cancer. The participants (...) were asked to respond to the questions and to comment on the inclusiveness of the questionnaire.RESULTS: The majority of participants (18 of 20) wished to receive research results. Two somewhat unexpected findings are described. First, all participants in the present study felt that it was the primary responsibility of the participant to retain contact with the researchers for the purpose of obtaining research results. Second, few participants (n=2) indicated that the Internet would be a satisfactory way of transmitting these results. One-half of the participants wished to have face-to-face communication of results.CONCLUSIONS: These results provide preliminary guidance for the return of research results to participants and validate the use of the questionnaire in a larger study of this issue. (shrink)
DISCUSSIONS OF THE ONTOLOGICAL STATUS of Plato’s forms too often take for granted that immanence and transcendence are opposed to each other: if the forms are in instances then they are not separate from them, while if the forms are separate then they are not in instances. This assumption is sometimes associated with the theory that there is a change in Plato’s thought between the early or Socratic dialogues, in which forms are regarded as immanent, and the middle dialogues and (...) Timaeus, in which they are seen as separate. I will argue, however, that immanence and transcendence are not opposed but that, on the contrary, the former implies the latter. That is to say, precisely in that the forms are present in their instances, they are ipso facto also separate from them in all the senses which Plato claims. The idea of sensibles as images of the forms, in turn, is an expression not of transcendence alone, but rather of the conjunction of immanence and transcendence: the paradigm is at once transcendent to and immanent in the image. The movement from the early to the middle dialogues, then, is not the rejection of one position and the adoption of another, but simply the express articulation of what was implicit in the original position. Thus we find, not a fundamental change in Plato’s thought from one period to another, but a single consistent and coherent theory of forms which is developed throughout these dialogues. (shrink)
In 1987, George Soros introduced his concepts of reflexivity and fallibility and has further developed and applied these concepts over subsequent decades. This paper attempts to build on Soros's framework, provide his concepts with a more precise definition, and put them in the context of recent thinking on complex adaptive systems. The paper proposes that systems can be classified along a ‘spectrum of complexity’ and that under specific conditions not only social systems but also natural and artificial systems can be (...) considered ‘complex reflexive.’ The epistemological challenges associated with scientifically understanding a phenomenon stem not from whether its domain is social, natural, or artificial, but where it falls along this spectrum. Reflexive systems present particular challenges; however, evolutionary model-dependent realism provides a bridge between Soros and Popper and a potential path forward for economics. (shrink)
This paper defends Plotinus’ reading of Sophist 248e-249d as an expression of the togetherness or unity-in-duality of intellect and intelligible being. Throughout the dialogues Plato consistently presents knowledge as a togetherness of knower and known, expressing this through the myth of recollection and through metaphors of grasping, eating, and sexual union. He indicates that an intelligible paradigm is in the thought that apprehends it, and regularly regards the forms not as extrinsic “objects” but as the contents of living intelligence. A (...) meticulous reading of Sophist 248e-249d shows that the “motion” attributed to intelligible being is not temporal change but the activity of intellectual apprehension. Aristotle’s doctrines of knowledge as identity of intellect and the intelligible, and of divine intellect as thinking itself, are therefore in continuity with Plato, and Plotinus’ doctrine of intellect and being is continuous with both Plato and Aristotle. (shrink)
The United States, along with other nations and international organizations, has developed an elaborate system of ethical norms and legal rules to govern biomedical research using human subjects. These policies govern research that might provide direct health benefits to participants and research in which there is no prospect for participant health benefits. There has been little discussion, however, about how well these rules would apply to research designed to improve participants’ capabilities or characteristics beyond the goal of good health. When (...) mentioned at all in the literature, this so-called enhancement research, as opposed to research aimed at diagnosing, preventing, curing, or treating illnesses or medical conditions, is usually dismissed without explanation. (shrink)
This project is, in part, motivated by my contention that one cannot adequately answer the question regarding the proper justification for human rights until one has answered the metaphysical question regarding the fundamental nature of human rights and the ontological question regarding the proper status of human rights. I offer a sustained analysis of metaphysical, ontological, and justificatory questions regarding human rights with the purpose of illustrating the point that theories that fail to engage in such analyses are inadequate. In (...) particular, this essay argues that Michael Ignatieff’s theory of human rights, as articulated in Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, is philosophically inadequate because it fails to connect his justificatory arguments for human rights with metaphysical and ontological conceptions of and arguments for human rights. (shrink)
Abstract: Karl Jaspers describes The Axial Period (800-200 BCE) as a world-historical turning point in the spiritual evolution of the human species, characterized by the rise of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Pythagoreanism, and the Hebrew prophets, without precisely identifying what defines this world-historical period. What defines The Axial Period, I argue with Jaspers, is the sublimation of sacrifice, through which the sacrificial killing of domestic animals, characteristic of primitive religions, is sublimated into the self-sacrificial disciplines of prayer, meditation, and asceticism. This sublimation (...) of sacrifice involves a curiously duplicitous gesture, through which the sacred violence of primitive sacrifice is simultaneously sublimated into the self-sacrificial disciplines of the Western Indo-European religions, and demoted to the strictly physical violence of modern warfare, stripped of its sacred origins. I argue, against Jaspers, that there is no world-historical discontinuity between primitive and modern sacrifice, but rather a continuous trajectory of the sublimation of sacrifice in Western Indo-European cultures. The Brahminic sacred texts, the Rig Veda and the Brahmanas, for example, describe a sophisticated sacrificial ritualism that more effectively sublimates sacrificial violence than do Western European modern cultures, in which un-sacrificial violence continues to escalate, to challenge the survival of the contemporary world. (shrink)
Abstract: Giorgio Agamben's recent works have been preoccupied with a certain obscure passage from St. Paul's 'Second Epistle to the Thessalonians,' which describes the portentous events that must occur before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ can take place---specifically, the appearance of a 'man of lawlessness' (the Antichrist?) and the exposure of who or what is currently restraining the 'man of lawlessness' from being exposed as the Antichrist: a mysterious agency called the 'katechon.' In 'The Mystery of Evil: Benedict XVI (...) and the End of Days,' this obscure passage is connected with the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI through certain equally obscure references to the fourth century theologian, Tyconius, although the precise connection between these apocalyptic events and their mysterious agents remains obscure. This review attempts to shed some critical light upon this cryptic subject, both by considering the world-historical context of St. Paul's epistle, and by asking what role these apocalyptic figures play in Agamben's political theology. But, to begin with, the review also asks: Who, really, is the Antichrist? a scarcely rhetorical question that demands a sardonic answer. Although various candidates from contemporary politics are proposed, the review finally argues that the Antichrist and the katechon are not specific individuals or worldly institutions, but rather refer to world-historical trends within Western European Christian civilization itself that have resulted in what Friedrich Nietzsche called 'the devaluation of all higher values' and 'the desecration of the Christian moral world-view': an apocalyptic turn of events which Nietzsche equally sardonically referred to in 'The Antichrist.'. (shrink)
Resnik presents a position in the philosophy of mathematics that combines realism, naturalism, and structuralism. The book is well written and, much to Resnik’s credit, it does not rely on sophisticated mathematics to make its philosophical points. Part 1, “Problems and Positions,” explains Resnik’s mathematical realism, argues that indispensability arguments provide a justification for it, and provides cogent criticism of antirealist alternatives that try to undermine such arguments. Part 2, “.
A review of Francoise Laruelle's General Theory of Victims, which places Laruelle's theory in the context of post-colonial theories of the subaltern subject after Gayatri Spivak and Edward Said. The review questions whether Laruelle's General Theory of Victims really allows the so-called victims to speak for themselves, or simply represents another attempt by Western (French?) intellectuals to speak to/through the victims, for their own political and theoretical purposes.
Peter Sloterdijk's 'In the Shadow of Mt. Sinai' and Alain Badiou's 'Our Wounds Are Not So Recent' represent distinctly different attempts to come to grips with the conflict between the West (the US, the UK, France) and the Muslim world after the September 11th attacks. Although Sloterdijk finds the source of conflict in the religious zealotry of the Abrahamic religions, while Badiou blames the multinational capitalist system for drating a disaffected underclass, the two complementary perspectives work together to make this (...) ongoing conflict intelligible, if not, finally, to stop the war on terrorism. (shrink)
Though scholars of political science and moral philosophy have long analyzed the justifications for and against waging war as well as the ethics of warfare itself, the problem of _ending_ wars has received less attention. In the first book to apply just war theory to this phase of conflict, Eric Patterson presents a three-part view of justice in end-of-war settings involving order, justice, and reconciliation. Patterson’s case studies range from successful applications of _jus post bellum,_ such as the U.S. (...) Civil War or Kosovo, to challenges such as present-day Iraq. (shrink)
A review of Giorgio Agamben's The Use of Bodies that considers Agamben's Homo Sacer series as a contribution to Post-Marxist political theory, and attempts to place Agamben's politial theology in the context of 1970s Italian radical politics. The review also poses the question whether Agamben's anarchist/aestheticist theory is a helpful contribution to political praxis in the contemporary period of the global hegemony of multinational military-industrial technocratic capitalism.
In this paper, I offer substantial philosophical and pragmatic analyses of slavery, apprenticeships, and segregation in the United States and British West Indies. I do so to illustrate the extent to which American and British philosophy, politics, law, and economics were entwined with the oppression of African-Americans and African-Caribbeans. I argue that, as the institution of slavery collapsed and abolitionists began calling for reparations, judges and politicians ignored the claims of abolitionists and thereby perverted justice. As a result, we now (...) have the debts of slavery, apprenticeships, and segregation to settle. I conclude that as long as we fail to settle these debts we are complicit in allowing their perversions of justice to continue. For this reason, I argue in favor of granting reparations to African-Americans and African-Caribbeans. (shrink)
Kostas Axelos' 'Introduction to a Future Way of Thought' attempts to bring together two strong thinkers often thought to represent diametrically opposed political traditions: Martin Heidegger and Karl Marx. This review considers this attempt as a result of Axelos' political background, as a Greek communist revolutionary who emigrated to France and came into contact with Postwar French Heideggerian thought. Axeols then helped to establish the Heideggerian Marxism characteristic of the influential journal, Arguments.
In this paper we compare the propositional logic of Frege’s Grundgesetze der Arithmetik to modern propositional systems, and show that Frege does not have a separable propositional logic, definable in terms of primitives of Grundgesetze, that corresponds to modern formulations of the logic of “not”, “and”, “or”, and “if…then…”. Along the way we prove a number of novel results about the system of propositional logic found in Grundgesetze, and the broader system obtained by including identity. In particular, we show that (...) the propositional connectives that are definable in terms of Frege’s horizontal, negation, and conditional are exactly the connectives that fuse with the horizontal, and we show that the logical operators that are definable in terms of the horizontal, negation, the conditional, and identity are exactly the operators that are invariant with respect to permutations on the domain that leave the truth-values fixed. We conclude with some general observations regarding how Frege understood his logic, and how this understanding differs from modern views. (shrink)
Fifteen years after the September 11th terror attacks, the United States still exists in a state of exception or state of emergency, in which the executive branch claims extraordinary powers to carry out bombing strikes or drone attacks in foreign nations and to engage in surveillance against its citizens outside the boundaries of international and constitutional law. This blog-piece argues for a restoration of the constitutional limiuts on sovereign executive powers and a cessation of the war on terrorism.
This essay takes up Luke’s invitation to follow the roads Jesus walked and the roads his followers traveled by exploring the literary and theological functions of movement, travel, hospitality, and place in Luke-Acts. These texts can help shape an imagination and communal identity that sees other communities as partners in faithful discernment, not as foreign threats or strange folks one must merely tolerate. In this way, “a gospel on the move” shapes an imagination of welcome, wonder, and embrace when it (...) comes to migrants, immigrants, and other “people on the move.”. (shrink)
The distinction between persons and things reflects the opposition between reason and nature that is characteristic of modern thought: persons are constituted by rationality, self-consciousness, free will, and moral agency; things are taken to be merely natural or material beings, devoid of reason and the products of entirely mechanistic forces. Persons, as ends in themselves, alone deserve moral consideration; things (including all plants and animals) deserve no moral consideration. Accordingly in much modern thought, nature, including the human body, becomes a (...) mere object to be manipulated for human use. This paper challenges this narrowly anthropocentric idea by outlining a view, grounded in classical philosophical and Christian thought, called the “analogy of personhood.” This view offers a hierarchical but non-dichotomous approach to reality that rejects any radical opposition between reason and nature. The philosophical basis of this approach is developed as found in Aristotle, Plotinus, Proclus, and finally, the Christian Neoplatonist Pseudo-Dionysius. (shrink)
Recent continental philosophy often seeks to retrieve Neoplatonic transcendence, or the Good, while ignoring the place of intellect in classical and medieval Neoplatonism. Instead, it attempts to articulate an encounter with radical transcendence in the immediacy of temporality, individuality, and affectivity.On the assumption that there is no intellectual intuition (Kant), intellectual consciousness is reduced to ratiocination and is taken to be “poor in intuition” (Marion). In this context, the present paper expounds Plotinus’ phenomenology of intellectual experience to show how intellect, (...) for Plotinus, is rather the richest mode of intuition, coinciding with the intelligible content of reality. This content, however, cannot be ultimate, but is the manifestation and apprehension of the transcendent Good as the condition of intelligibility. The Good, therefore, can be encountered only through the ascent to intellectual apprehension, and the visionof the Good is a transcendent moment within the intellectual apprehension of being, not a repudiation of or alternative to it. (shrink)
Epistemological realism is the view that it is logically and nomologically possible for a person to have a warrant for believing in a scientific theory. Anti-realism is the negation of this position. Kukla asks if there are any arguments that would rationally compel us to become realists or anti-realists. His conclusion is depressing: the conflict is an irreproachable irreconcilability. It is irreproachable because neither side has made an error of logic or fact in reaching their opinions and it is irreconcilable (...) since there are no facts that can or should persuade a person to switch from belief in one to belief in the other. The failure to produce any completely successful argument combined with the fact that there has been a generation of intensive arguments about realism suggests that we should be prepared for the debate to end in stalemate. (shrink)
Aramaic and Hebrew Inscriptions from Mt. Gerizim and Samaria between Antiochus III and Antiochus IV Epiphanes. By Jan Dušek. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, vol. 54. Leiden: Brill, 2012. Pp. xviii + 200, illus. $135.