I should like to offer my greatest thanks to Paul Griffiths for providing the opportunity for this exchange, and to commentators Gillian Brown, Steven Fuller, Stefan Linquist, and Erika Milam for their generous and thought-provoking comments. I shall do my best in this space to respond to some of their concerns.
Neural devices have the capacity to enable users to regain abilities lost due to disease or injury – for instance, a deep brain stimulator (DBS) that allows a person with Parkinson’s disease to regain the ability to fluently perform movements or a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) that enables a person with spinal cord injury to control a robotic arm. While users recognize and appreciate the technologies’ capacity to maintain or restore their capabilities, the neuroethics literature is replete with examples of (...) concerns expressed about agentive capacities: A perceived lack of control over the movement of a robotic arm might result in an altered sense of feeling responsible for that movement. Clinicians or researchers being able to record and access detailed information of a person’s brain might raise privacy concerns. A disconnect between previous, current, and future understandings of the self might result in a sense of alienation. The ability to receive and interpret sensory feedback might change whether someone trusts the implanted device or themselves. Inquiries into the nature of these concerns and how to mitigate them has produced scholarship that often emphasizes one issue – responsibility, privacy, authenticity, or trust – selectively. However, we believe that examining these ethical dimensions separately fails to capture a key aspect of the experience of living with a neural device. In exploring their interrelations, we argue that their mutual significance for neuroethical research can be adequately captured if they are described under a unified heading of agency. On these grounds, we propose an “Agency Map” which brings together the diverse neuroethical dimensions and their interrelations into a comprehensive framework. With this, we offer a theoretically-grounded approach to understanding how these various dimensions are interwoven in an individual’s experience of agency. (shrink)
Implantable neurotechnology devices such as Brain Computer Interfaces and Deep Brain Stimulators are an increasing part of treating or exploring potential treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders. While only a few devices are approved, many promising prospects for future devices are under investigation. The decision to participate in a clinical trial can be challenging, given a variety of risks to be taken into consideration. During the consent process, prospective participants might lack the language to consider those risks, feel unprepared, or (...) simply not know what questions to ask. One tool to help empower participants to play a more active role during the consent process is a Question Prompt List. QPLs are communication tools that can prompt participants and patients to articulate potential concerns. They offer a structured list of disease, treatment, or research intervention-specific questions that research participants can use as support for question asking. While QPLs have been studied as tools for improving the consent process during cancer treatment, in this paper, we suggest they would be helpful in neurotechnology research, and offer an example of a QPL as a template for an informed consent tool in neurotechnology device trials. (shrink)
George Spencer Brown, a polymath and author of Laws of Form, brought together mathematics, electronics, engineering and philosophy to form an unlikely bond. This book investigates Design with the NOR, the title of the yet unpublished 1961 typescript by Spencer Brown. The typescript formed through the author's experiences as technical engineer and developer of a new form of switching algebra for Mullard Equipment LTD., a British manufacturer of electronic components. Related essays contextualise the typescript drawing on a variety (...) of backgrounds from mathematics and engineering to philosophy and sociology. (shrink)
On the 24th June 2015, Feminist Legal Studies and the London School of Economics Law Department hosted an afternoon event with Professor Wendy Brown, Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science, University of California. Professor Brown kindly agreed to discuss her scholarship on feminist theory, and its relationship to both the law and neoliberalism. The event included an interview by Dr Katie Cruz and a Q&A session, which are presented here in an edited version of the transcript. (...) Sumi Madhock, Professor of Gender Studies, LSE chaired the interview and discussion and introduced Professor Brown’s work. Katie Cruz asked Wendy Brown to reflect upon topics that span her scholarship and activism, including the state of critical, feminist, and Left approaches to rights, neoliberalism, despair and utopianism, and the future of feminist theory and practice in the context of neoliberalism and current debates about intersectionality. Participants in the discussion asked questions on a wide range of issues, including the limits of feminist engagement with law as a tool for social change, the dominance of neoliberalism, imperialist feminism, Islamophobia, secularism, and our attachment to the figure of homo politicus. (shrink)
This paper focuses on Confucian formulations of personhood and the implications they may have for bioethics and medical practice. We discuss how an appreciation of the Confucian concept of personhood can provide insights into the practice of informed consent and, in particular, the role of family members and physicians in medical decision-making in societies influenced by Confucian culture. We suggest that Western notions of informed consent appear ethically misguided when viewed from a Confucian perspective.
The starting point of this essay is the logical and political objection that Plato made against poetry, as well as the lack of distinction that he specified as the origin of its dangerousness, and which modernity converted into the condition of possibility of certain egalitarian forms of sensible experience and material life. I will then look at the function that the historical rearticulation of Platonic idealism has fulfilled from Romanticism to the present day in the age-old dispute between philosophy and (...) poetry, paying particular attention to the different readings of Hölderlin and Mallarmé carried out by Benjamin, Lacoue-Labarthe, and Agamben as symbols of the disfiguration of poetry. I will analyze the tension between sense and sound as the founder of an irreducible territory that opens a potentiality indicative of its political force. Lastly, I will turn to Michel Foucault’s The Government of Self and Others to analyze the function of messianism and parrhesia in the contemporary characterization of political poetry and its conflicts with the truth-telling of philosophy. (shrink)
Existing whistle-blowing models rely on “cold” economic calculations and cost-benefit analyses to explain the judgments and actions of potential whistle-blowers. I argue that “hot” cognitions – value conflict and emotions – should be added to these models. I propose a model of the whistle-blowing decision process that highlights the reciprocal influence of “hot” and “cold” cognitions and advocate research that explores how value conflict and emotions inform reporting decisions. I draw on the cognitive appraisal approach to emotions and on the (...) social-functional value pluralism model to generate propositions. (shrink)
Women and men are biologically and reproductively dissimilar. This sexual distinctiveness gives rise to a “sexual asymmetry”—the fundamental reality that the potential consequences of sexual intercourse are far more immediate and serious for women than for men. Advocates of contraception and abortion sought to cure sexual asymmetry by decoupling sex from procreation, relieving women from the consequences of sex, and thus equalizing the sexual experiences of men and women. But efforts to suppress or reject biological difference have not relieved women (...) of the consequences of sex and the vulnerabilities of pregnancy, even as they have further relieved men. Although secular feminist responses to biological difference have served to exacerbate sexual asymmetry, Catholic teaching on abortion, sex, and marriage—even contraception—provides an authentically pro-woman cultural response. (shrink)
In this chapter I will present, in a general way, Millikan's biosemantic theory of the phenomenon of intentionality. For this purpose, the text will take the following path. First, I will present the problem of intentionality and an overview of the dominant theories of intentional content during the twentieth century and part of the twenty-first century. Then, I will present a general version of Millikan's biosemantic theory, appearing in 1984, which will allow us to see what the relevance and originality (...) of his proposal consists in. Finally, in keeping with one of the central purposes of Las filósofas que nos formaron, I will share a brief interview that Millikan very kindly agreed to give for this publication, in which she tells us some non-theoretical aspects of her history as a philosopher. (shrink)
Wie ist das diskursfähige Subjekt im Sinne Habermas zu denken? Unter welchen Bedingungen und Modalitäten entwickelt das Subjekt seine Diskursfähigkeit? Erika Edelmayer arbeitet die Denkfigur des diskursfähigen Subjekts aus der Grundlegung der soziologischen Theorie als „Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns“ heraus. Sie untersucht, was Diskursfähigkeit im Rahmen einer deliberativ verstandenen Demokratie bedeutet und zeigt die Konsequenzen auf, die sich daraus für die Pädagogik ergeben.
In Philosophy, it is well known that of the total faculty population, the proportion of women is significantly lower than men. This disproportion is odd for a discipline within the humanities; these numbers seem more compatible with what is found in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers. These proportions are in turn a product of the low female presence that exists from the previous levels of academic training in philosophy. What happens in the case of the philosophy student body? For (...) example, the report presented by BeeBee and Saul (2011), on women in philosophy in the United Kingdom, in the period 2008 and 2009, points out that in the first degrees of academic training, in the bachelor's degree, women occupy 45% of the student population, in the master's degree 38% and in the doctorate 35%. Thus, "it is notable that there is a reduction in the proportion of women from the bachelor's degree to the doctorate [...]. This has as a consequence that at the professional level women holding positions as professors represent only 19%" (BeeBee & Saul, 2011, p. 11). Recently, Torres González (2018), based on European Union studies, points out that in Spain, with respect to gender disparity in students, "the data yield as a result masculinized studies, where, contrary to what happens in the branch of the humanities to which it [philosophy] belongs, males outnumber females by 28 percentage points" (2018, p. 328). This disparity is reflected in philosophy at the professional level, "the indicators of vertical segregation show a reinforced glass ceiling, which presents one of the worst data of hierarchical discrimination in the university: the percentage of female professors in philosophy is 12% compared to 21% of female professors in higher education" (Idem). Although it is a fact that there are fewer women than men studying philosophy and, therefore, fewer women than men working professionally in this discipline, we do not yet have possible explanations for this phenomenon of gender disparity in the student body in philosophy. In some cases, even if the number of women entering the philosophy degree program is already low, the number of women graduating is even lower, which indicates that there is attrition along the way; the initial numbers of women entering the program tend to decrease by the time they graduate. Thus we come to the question that is the subject of this paper: What causes female students to drop out of the philosophy program? In this article we answer this question from the philosophy of science and supported by local empirical data, so we do not give a complete or even less exhaustive answer. We review two explanatory models that purport to answer the question of why there are fewer women in philosophy, both formatively and professionally. These are the Different Voices Model (DVM) and the Perfect Storm Model (PSM); we opt for the latter and give reasons for it. Regarding the empirical aspect of our research, our source of statistical data belongs to the undergraduate program in philosophy at the Facultad de Estudios Superiores Acatlán-UNAM, Mexico (FES Acatlán), obtained in the framework of the SWIP-Analytic Mexico workshops. Our analysis of these data shows that even when female students have better GPAs than male students and take fewer subjects while enrolled, female students graduate less than male students in the FES Acatlan degree program. (shrink)
Physical Relativity explores the nature of the distinction at the heart of Einstein's 1905 formulation of his special theory of relativity: that between kinematics and dynamics. Einstein himself became increasingly uncomfortable with this distinction, and with the limitations of what he called the 'principle theory' approach inspired by the logic of thermodynamics. A handful of physicists and philosophers have over the last century likewise expressed doubts about Einstein's treatment of the relativistic behaviour of rigid bodies and clocks in motion in (...) the kinematical part of his great paper, and suggested that the dynamical understanding of length contraction and time dilation intimated by the immediate precursors of Einstein is more fundamental. Harvey Brown both examines and extends these arguments, after giving a careful analysis of key features of the pre-history of relativity theory. He argues furthermore that the geometrization of the theory by Minkowski in 1908 brought illumination, but not a causal explanation of relativistic effects. Finally, Brown tries to show that the dynamical interpretation of special relativity defended in the book is consistent with the role this theory must play as a limiting case of Einstein's 1915 theory of gravity: the general theory of relativity.Appearing in the centennial year of Einstein's celebrated paper on special relativity, Physical Relativity is an unusual, critical examination of the way Einstein formulated his theory. It also examines in detail certain specific historical and conceptual issues that have long given rise to debate in both special and general relativity theory, such as the conventionality of simultaneity, the principle of general covariance, and the consistency or otherwise of the special theory with quantum mechanics. Harvey Brown' s new interpretation of relativity theory will interest anyone working on these central topics in modern physics. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that descriptive information associated with concepts plays a relevant role in the performance of different cognitive tasks, as suggested by Descriptivist Theories of Concepts (DTC). However, I argue that it does not follow that such information determines the extension of concepts, as also suggested by DTC. In support of these claims, I present an analysis of empirical evidence offered by cases of semantic dementia. According to this interpretation of such evidence, the information associated with concepts (...) is part of the cognitive content of concepts. It is involved in different cognitive tasks, but such evidence does not support the thesis that it is possible to determine the intentional content, i.e., the extension of a concept from the cognitive content, since to do so would face the objection of ignorance. (shrink)
Scottish philosopher Thomas Brown held the chair of moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He was distinguished for his work in the philosophy of mind and causation, and was a founder member of the Edinburgh Review. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, controversy arose over John Leslie being appointed to the chair of mathematics at the university. City ministers opposed him because he defended Hume's view of causation, which was seen as being incompatible with the existence of (...) God. In 1805 Brown wrote a pamphlet, Observations on the Nature and Tendency of the Doctrine of Mr. Hume Concerning the Relation of Cause and Effect, which among other things aimed to show that Hume's theory was compatible with belief in God. This book, first published in 1818, is the third edition of that original pamphlet, which grew to become a thorough examination of the philosophy of causation. (shrink)
Bias infects the algorithms that wield increasing control over our lives. Predictive policing systems overestimate crime in communities of color; hiring algorithms dock qualified female candidates; and facial recognition software struggles to recognize dark-skinned faces. Algorithmic bias has received significant attention. Algorithmic neutrality, in contrast, has been largely neglected. Algorithmic neutrality is my topic. I take up three questions. What is algorithmic neutrality? Is algorithmic neutrality possible? When we have algorithmic neutrality in mind, what can we learn about algorithmic bias? (...) To answer these questions in concrete terms, I work with a case study: search engines. Drawing on work about neutrality in science, I say that a search engine is neutral only if certain values—like political ideologies or the financial interests of the search engine operator—play no role in how the search engine ranks pages. Search neutrality, I argue, is impossible. Its impossibility seems to threaten the significance of search bias: if no search engine is neutral, then every search engine is biased. To defuse this threat, I distinguish two forms of bias—failing-on-its-own-terms bias and exogenous-values bias. This distinction allows us to make sense of search bias, and capture its normative complexion, despite the impossibility of neutrality. (shrink)
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently upheld United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York Judge's denial of petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus. The Court held that it was not objectively unreasonable for the Appellate Division to conclude, in light of clearly established federal law as expressed by the Supreme Court of the United States, that a New York statute providing for the recommitment of specific defendants who plead not (...) responsible by reason of mental disease or defect under a mere “preponderance of the evidence” standard does not violate either due process or the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (shrink)
This book deals with the impact of the Reformation debate in Germany on the most prominent intellectual movement of the time: humanism Although it is true that humanism influenced the course of the Reformation, says Erika Rummel, the dynamics of the relationship are better described by saying that humanism was co-opted, perhaps even exploited, in the religious debate.
Jean-François Lyotard is generally acknowledged as the theoretical spokesperson for postmodernism. In 1979, his seminal work _The Postmodern Condition_ challenged the presumption and orientation of modern political philosophy. In particular, Lyotard repudiated the notion of grand narratives and promoted a postmodern acceptance of difference and variety and a skepticism towards unifying metatheories. Yet _The Postmodern Condition_ is just one work by a prolific author whose life and work involved close theoretical engagement with Kant, Hegel and Marx and who played a (...) prominent role in the events in Paris of May 1968. This study combines a careful reading of Lyotard's texts with a critical review of his theoretical ploys to demonstrate the incapacity of theory. Lyotard's variety of styles, ranging from the incandescent _Libidinal Economy_ to the economical lucidity of _The Differend_, are recognized as posing questions for those who defend the rationality of the _status quo_ and for those who undertake general critiques of society. In this book, Gary Browning takes issue with Lyotard's approach to Hegel and Marx and his generalized notion of social development as proceeding according to a one-dimensional, instrumentalist logic. Nevertheless, Lyotard is shown to be a disturbing theorist who challenged the assumptions of classic theorists of modernity as well as opposing mainstream attitudes prevalent in contemporary political theory. (shrink)
I want to see the concert, but I don’t want to take the long drive. Both of these desire ascriptions are true, even though I believe I’ll see the concert if and only if I take the drive.Yet they, and strongly conflicting desire ascriptions more generally, are predicted incompatible by the standard semantics, given two standard constraints. There are two proposed solutions. I argue that both face problems because they misunderstand how what we believe influences what we desire. I then (...) sketch my own solution: a coarse-worlds semantics that captures the extent to which belief influences desire. My semantics models what I call some-things-considered desire. Considering what the concert would be like, but ignoring the drive, I want to see the concert; considering what the drive would be like, but ignoring the concert, I don’t want to take the drive. (shrink)
In his book Philosophy of Right Hegel has criticized Kant´s moral philosophy negatively, labeling it as an “empty formalism”. As a matter of fact, Kantian concepts such as good will, categorical imperative and duty are rejected by Hegel because he considers them formal, empty and unilateral. In spite of this, by means of a scrutiny of Hegel’s argument it can be thought that such a criticism is only based upon Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Moral. Therefore, Hegel has a (...) partial interpretation of Kant’s moral philosophy. To show this, I will first present the three concepts at issue, then I will expose Hegel’s critic to these concepts, and finally I will show some other elements in Kantian moral philosophy that allow us to reconsider Hegel’s critic. This is done in order to show that Kant’s moral philosophy is neither empty nor unilateral, despite being formal, like Hegel’s thought. (shrink)