This paper argues for subsuming the question of open data within a larger question of information justice, with the immediate aim being to establish the need for rather than the principles of such a theory. I show that there are several problems of justice that emerge as a consequence of opening data to full public accessibility, and are generally a consequence of the failure of the open data movement to understand the constructed nature of data. I examine three such problems: (...) the embedding of social privilege in datasets as the data is constructed, the differential capabilities of data users, and the norms that data systems impose through their function as disciplinary systems. In each case I show that open data has the quite real potential to exacerbate rather than alleviate injustices. This necessitates a theory of information justice. I briefly suggest two complementary directions in which such a theory might be developed: one defining a set of moral inquiries that can be used to evaluate the justness of data practices, and another exploring the practices and structures that a social movement promoting information justice might pursue. (shrink)
This article defends a new model of personal privacy. Privacy should be understood as demarcating culturally defined aspects of an individual's life in which he or she is granted immunity from the judgment of others. Such an analysis is preferable to either of the two favorite models of privacy in the current literature. The judgment of others model preserves all of the insights of the liberty and information models of privacy, But avoids the obvious problems and counterexamples. In addition, This (...) model allows us to better see the normative importance of privacy. A final section discusses the notion of sexual privacy in connection to the proposed model. (shrink)
Humanely Killed? Jeff Johnson St. Catherine University, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Standard philosophical approaches to the issue of eating animals who are thought to have been humanely killed typically turn on decisions around the issue of moral status or on weighing benefits and harms of killing. Rather than pursuing these lines of inquiry, I bring out circumstances that have gotten lost in thinking we can take moral cover under the idea that farmed animals are killed humanely. In thinking about whether farmed (...) animals have been killed humanely, we are asked to focus on the whether the deaths of these animals are painful. But much more is involved when we attend to other cases in which animals are thought to have been killed humanely. In view of these discrepancies, I argue that it is much more difficult than we might suppose to take moral cover under the idea that farmed animals can be killed humanely. (shrink)
Natural theology is still practiced as though substantive theological conclusions can be derived by a quasi-deductive process. Perhaps relevant "evidence" may lead to interesting theological conclusions -- the fact of natural evil, or the cosmic fine-tuning we hear about in contemporary cosmology, both cry out for theological explanation. I remain a skeptic, however, about the value of "a priori" methods in natural theology. The case study in this short discussion is the well known attempt to establish the logical incoherence of (...) the divine command theory of moral objectivity. If skeptics can make good on this charge, they will have gone a long way toward undercutting a central tenant of western theism. I will argue, however, that the case against theologically based moral absolutism is not as simple as showing some internal paradox or logical tension. (shrink)
Philosophical theists argue with great ingenuity and sophistication that there is excellent evidence in support of the existence of the God of western theism. Philosophical atheists argue with equal skill that the evidence is negative. Both sides can't be right. But, this seems to imply that one camp is guilty of serious epistemological error. I explore in this essay a way of understanding good theological evidence that mitigates charges of intellectual error or blindness. According to a position that Rowe calls (...) friendly atheism, the atheist can argue that the relevant evidence supports his or her view, but that theists are rationally justified in believing that God exists in spite of the intense suffering that manifest in this world. I will argue that friendly atheism, and more generally friendly natural theology, when articulated in more detail, and with great care, represents an important metaphilosophical insight about use of evidence in theological contexts. (shrink)
Putnam's internal realism entails the simultaneous rejection of metaphysical realism and (anything goes or total or cultural) relativism. Putnam argues, in some places, that relativism is self-contradictory, and in others, that it is self-refuting. This paper attempts the exegetical task of explicating these challenging arguments, and the critical task of suggesting that a full-blown epistemological relativism may be capable of surviving the Putnam attack.
The paper traces the role of German women into the chemistry profession from 1925 to 1945, examining their relative numbers and experience in higher education, in academic and industrial careers as well as in professional organizations such as the Verein Deutscher Chemikerinnen. The paper examines the effect of the 1930s Depression, National Socialism, and World War II on women chemists, considering both general trends as well as the experiences and achievements of several individual women in a variety of situations. Finally, (...) it considers the longterm consequences of these developments, such as the Nazi expulsion of Jewish women, destruction of womenâs organizations and devaluing of womenâs achievements, in limiting the recognition and participation of German women chemists after 1945. (shrink)
In these pages I resurrect a dispute that has, sadly I think, now gone by the wayside in current thinking about knowledge, among other things. I mean the dispute that we find Wittgenstein entertaining in certain sections of _On Certainty_ and the dispute that led John Searle to argue that there is such a thing as the assertion fallacy. The dispute turns on what lessons we can draw from the fact that in certain examples it would be fishy or odd (...) or puzzling to say that we know. One party in the dispute, I’ll call them "saying philosophers", has it that those examples in which it would be odd to say we know aren’t examples of knowledge or of knowing. The other party, I’ll call them "meaning philosophers", agrees about the oddity but insists that the examples are still obviously examples of knowledge or of knowing and that what we say in those examples, fishy or not, is still true. I investigate this disagreement and to try and make some headway in providing support for the saying philosophers. (shrink)
Anthropologists tell us that every known culture has had something that we would recognize as religion, and that this has been true for at least 50,000 years. The best explanation for this is a genetic predisposition for religious sympathy and practice, hard-wired into the human brain by the forces of natural selection; it is part of our basic human nature. We can therefore treat religion as a natural kind--similar to gold or water--and attempt to articulate this neurobiological essence in everyday (...) language. Such an articulation would yield an empirically driven definition of religion. (shrink)
This article argues that the testimony of mystics provides an interesting potential source of evidence for theism. The model of inference to the best explanation is utilized to analyze and assess mystics' testimony. It is argued that the evidential value of the reports from mystics, both within the theistic tradition and from without, ultimately proves weak.
Grice is often taken to have delivered a decisive blow against the tendency on the part of ordinary language philosophers to suspect that the presence of particular circumstances is requisite for philosophically interesting expressions to be in order, even to make sense, when deployed in particular cases. Grice’s attack has three parts. He argues that the presence of those particular circumstances isn’t bound up with the meaning of the expressions in question—the suggestion that those circumstances are present is merely a (...) “conversational implicature”. He offers examples designed to show that utterances of the expressions at issue may be true or false even when the circumstances alleged to be requisite are nowhere to be found. And he identifies what he sees as a collection of rules of conversation the violation of which accounts for the oddity attending those expressions uttered in the absence of the circumstances in question. Here I try to show that each of these parts of Grice’s attack against the ordinary language philosophers fails and that Grice’s blow isn’t decisive at all. (shrink)
Philosophical theists argue with great ingenuity and sophistication that there is excellent evidence insupport of the existence of the God of western theism. Philosophical atheists argue with equal skill that theevidence is negative. Both sides can't be right. But, this seems to imply that one camp is guilty of seriousepistemological error. I explore in this essay a way of understanding good theological evidence thatmitigates charges of intellectual error or blindness. According to a position that Rowe calls friendlyatheism, the atheist can (...) argue that the relevant evidence supports his or her view, but that theists arerationally justified in believing that God exists in spite of the intense suffering that manifest in this world. Iwill argue that friendly atheism, and more generally friendly natural theology, when articulated in more detail, and with great care, represents an important metaphilosophical insight about use of evidence in theological contexts. (shrink)
SummaryThis paper's primary goal is to compare the personalities, values, and influence of August Wilhelm Hofmann and Emil Fischer as exemplars and acknowledged leaders of successive generations of the German chemical profession and as scientists sharing a 19th-century liberal, internationalist outlook from the German wars of unification in the 1860s to Fischer's death in 1919 in the aftermath of German defeat in World War I. The paper will consider the influence of Hofmann and Fischer on the shaping of national scientific (...) institutions in Germany, from founding of the German Chemical Society in 1867 to the first institutes of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society founded in 1911, their academic leadership in other areas including the shaping of a successful academic-industrial symbiosis in organic chemistry, and finally their response to war as a force disruptive of scientific internationalism. All of these developments posed serious dilemmas, exacerbated by emerging strains of nationalism and anti-Semitism in German society. Whereas Hofmann's lifework came to a relatively successful end in 1892, Fischer was not so fortunate, as the war brought him heavy responsibilities and terrible personal losses, but with no German victory and no peace of reconciliation – a bleak end for Fischer and the 19th-century liberal ideals that had inspired him. (shrink)
This paper describes the approach that Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility uses to advise and influence government policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels. It analyzes why CPSR - a relatively small organization - has enjoyed a fair amount of success in influencing policy. It also describes a recurring pattern that applies to CPSR's involvement in policymaking, using as an example CPSR's involvement in policymaking on the Calling Number Identification telephone service. An appendix lists situations in which CPSR has (...) directly advised policymakers. (shrink)