Our recent paper reported that 43% of reviewer comment sets shared with authors contained at least one unprofessional comment or an incomplete, inaccurate of unsubstantiated critique. Publication of this work sparked an online conversation surrounding professionalism in peer review. We collected and analyzed these social media comments as they offered real-time responses to our work and provided insight into the views held by commenters and potential peer-reviewers that would be difficult to quantify using existing empirical tools. Overall, 75% of comments (...) were positive, of which 59% were supportive and 16% shared similar personal experiences. However, a subset of negative comments emerged, that provided potential insight into the reasons underlying unprofessional comments were made during the peer-review process. These comments were classified into three main themes: forced niceness will adversely impact the peer-review process and allow for publication of poor-quality science ; dismissing comments as not offensive to another person because they were not deemed personally offensive to the reader ; and authors brought unprofessional comments upon themselves as they submitted substandard work. Here, we argue against these themes as justifications for directing unprofessional comments towards authors during the peer review process. We argue that it is possible to be both critical and professional, and that no author deserves to be the recipient of demeaning ad hominem attacks regardless of supposed provocation. Suggesting otherwise only serves to propagate a toxic culture within peer review. While we previously postulated that establishing a peer-reviewer code of conduct could help improve the peer-review system, we now posit that priority should be given to repairing the negative cultural zeitgeist that exists in peer-review. (shrink)
BackgroundThe process of peer-review in academia has attracted criticism surrounding issues of bias, fairness, and professionalism; however, frequency of occurrence of such comments is unknown.MethodsWe evaluated 1491 sets of reviewer comments from the fields of “Ecology and Evolution” and “Behavioural Medicine,” of which 920 were retrieved from the online review repository Publons and 571 were obtained from six early career investigators. Comment sets were coded for the occurrence of “unprofessional comments” and “incomplete, inaccurate or unsubstantiated critiques” using an a-prior rubric (...) based on our published research. Results are presented as absolute numbers and percentages.ResultsOverall, 12% of comment sets included at least one unprofessional comment towards the author or their work, and 41% contained incomplete, inaccurate of unsubstantiated critiques.ConclusionsThe large number of unprofessional comments, and IIUCs observed could heighten psychological distress among investigators, particularly those at an early stage in their career. We suggest that development and adherence to a universally agreed upon reviewer code of conduct is necessary to improve the quality and professional experience of peer review. (shrink)
This essay argues that Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner represents in its imagery a tension within Coleridge prior to his conversion to Anglicanism. Specifically, the poem’s treatment of institutional sacraments argues for their apparent inefficacy, at least from the Mariner’s vantage point. The sacramental idea upheld by a High Church view would suggest that particular earthly institutions, such as Holy Communion or matrimony, could function as actual and not merely symbolic vehicles of divine grace. The Rime, however, displays a (...) protagonist whose hopes for such possibilities are repeatedly disappointed. Consequently, Coleridge’s poem depicts the terrors of a cosmos in which the activities of divine grace are removed from and inaccessible to human intelligibility and choice. (shrink)
Some stories of moral exemplars motivate us to emulate their admirable attitudes and behaviors, but why do some exemplars motivate us more than others? We systematically studied how motivation to emulate is influenced by the similarity between a reader and an exemplar in social or cultural background (Relatability) and how personally costly or demanding the exemplar’s actions are (Attainability). Study 1 found that university students reported more inspiration and related feelings after reading true stories about the good deeds of a (...) recent fellow alum, compared to a famous moral exemplar from decades past. Study 2A developed a battery of short moral exemplar stories that more systematically varied Relatability and Attainability, along with a set of non-moral exemplar stories for comparison. Studies 2B and 2C examined the path from the story type to relatively low stakes altruism (donating to charity and intentions to volunteer) through perceived attainability and relatability, as well as elevation and pleasantness. Together, our studies suggest that it is primarily the relatability of the moral exemplars, not the attainability of their actions, that inspires more prosocial motivation, at least regarding acts that help others at a relatively low cost to oneself. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant is strict about the limits of self-knowledge: our inner sense gives us only appearances, never the reality, of ourselves. Kant may seem to begin his inquiries with an uncritical conception of cognitive limits, but in Kant and the Subject of Critique, Avery Goldman argues that, even for Kant, a reflective act must take place before any judgment occurs. Building on Kant’s metaphysics, which uses the soul, the world, and God as regulative principles, Goldman demonstrates how Kant can (...) open doors to reflection, analysis, language, sensibility, and understanding. By establishing a regulative self, Goldman offers a way to bring unity to the subject through Kant’s seemingly circular reasoning, allowing for critique and, ultimately, knowledge. (shrink)
Territorial disputes have defined modern politics, but political theorists and philosophers have said little about how to resolve such disputes fairly. Is it even possible to do so? If historical attachments or divine promises are decisive, it may not be. More significant than these largely subjective claims are the ways in which people interact with land over time. Building from this insight, Avery Kolers evaluates existing political theories and develops an attractive alternative. He presents a novel link between political (...) legitimacy and environmental stewardship, and applies these ideas in an extended and balanced discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The result is the first systematic normative theory of territory, and an impressive example of applied philosophy. In addition to political theorists and philosophers, scholars and students of sociology, international relations, and human geography will find this book rewarding, as will anyone with wider interests in territory and justice. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that bioethics is in crisis and that it will not have a future unless it begins to embrace a more Socratic approach to its leading assumptions. The absence of a critical and sceptical spirit has resulted in little more than a dominant ideology. I focus on three key issues. First, that too often bioethics collapses into medical ethics. Second, that medical ethics itself is beset by a lack of self-reflection that I characterize here as a (...) commitment to three dogmas. Third, I offer a more positive perspective by suggesting how bioethics may benefit from looking towards public health ethics as a new source of inspiration and direction. (shrink)
The burgeoning science of ethics has produced a trend toward pessimism. Ordinary moral thought and action, we’re told, are profoundly influenced by arbitrary factors and ultimately driven by unreasoned feelings. This book counters the current orthodoxy on its own terms by carefully engaging with the empirical literature. The resulting view, optimistic rationalism, shows the pervasive role played by reason, and ultimately defuses sweeping debunking arguments in ethics. The science does suggest that moral knowledge and virtue don’t come easily. However, despite (...) the heavy influence of automatic and unconscious processes that have been shaped by evolutionary pressures, we needn’t reject ordinary moral psychology as fundamentally flawed or in need of serious repair. Reason can be corrupted in ethics just as in other domains, but a special pessimism about morality in particular is unwarranted. Moral judgment and motivation are fundamentally rational enterprises not beholden to the passions. (shrink)
It has often been suggested that people’s ordinary capacities for understanding the world make use of much the same methods one might find in a formal scientific investigation. A series of recent experimental results offer a challenge to this widely-held view, suggesting that people’s moral judgments can actually influence the intuitions they hold both in folk psychology and in causal cognition. The present target article distinguishes two basic approaches to explaining such effects. One approach would be to say that the (...) relevant competencies are entirely non-moral but that some additional factor (conversational pragmatics, performance error, etc.) then interferes and allows people’s moral judgments to affect their intuitions. Another approach would be to say that moral considerations truly do figure in workings of the competencies themselves. It is argued that the data available now favor the second of these approaches over the first. (shrink)
Closure for justification is the claim that thinkers are justified in believing the logical consequences of their justified beliefs, at least when those consequences are competently deduced. Many have found this principle to be very plausible. Even more attractive is the special case of Closure known as Single-Premise Closure. In this paper, I present a challenge to Single-Premise Closure. The challenge is based on the phenomenon of rational self-doubt – it can be rational to be less than fully confident in (...) one's beliefs and patterns of reasoning. In rough outline, the argument is as follows: Consider a thinker who deduces a conclusion from a justified initial premise via an incredibly long sequence of small competent deductions. Surely, such a thinker should suspect that he has made a mistake somewhere. And surely, given this, he should not believe the conclusion of the deduction even though he has a justified belief in the initial premise. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is a new interdisciplinary field that uses methods normally associated with psychology to investigate questions normally associated with philosophy. The present review focuses on research in experimental philosophy on four central questions. First, why is it that people's moral judgments appear to influence their intuitions about seemingly nonmoral questions? Second, do people think that moral questions have objective answers, or do they see morality as fundamentally relative? Third, do people believe in free will, and do they see free (...) will as compatible with determinism? Fourth, how do people determine whether an entity is conscious? (shrink)
From ancient times to the present, the discovery and presentation of new proofs of previously established theorems has been a salient feature of mathematical practice. Why? What purposes are served by such endeavors? And how do mathematicians judge whether two proofs of the same theorem are essentially different? Consideration of such questions illuminates the roles that proofs play in the validation and communication of mathematical knowledge and raises issues that have yet to be resolved by mathematical logicians. The Appendix, in (...) which several proofs of the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic are compared, provides a miniature case study. (shrink)
It has been standard philosophical practice in analytic philosophy to employ intuitions generated in response to thought-experiments as evidence in the evaluation of philosophical claims. In part as a response to this practice, an exciting new movement—experimental philosophy—has recently emerged. This movement is unified behind both a common methodology and a common aim: the application of methods of experimental psychology to the study of the nature of intuitions. In this paper, we will introduce two different views concerning the relationship that (...) holds between experimental philosophy and the future of standard philosophical practice (what we call, the proper foundation view and the restrictionist view), discuss some of the more interesting and important results obtained by proponents of both views, and examine the pressure these results put on analytic philosophers to reform standard philosophical practice. We will also defend experimental philosophy from some recent objections, suggest future directions for work in experimental philosophy, and suggest what future lines of epistemological response might be available to those wishing to defend analytic epistemology from the challenges posed by experimental philosophy. (shrink)
What exactly is it that makes someone a parent? Many people hold that parenthood is grounded, in the first instance, in the natural derivation of one person's genetic constitution from the genetic constitutions of others. We refer to this view as "Geneticism". In Part I we distinguish three forms of geneticism on the basis of whether they hold that direct genetic derivation is sufficient, necessary, or both sufficient and necessary, for parenthood. Parts two through four examine three arguments for geneticism: (...) the property argument, the causal argument, and the parity argument. We conclude that none of these arguments succeeds. (shrink)
We investigate the value of persons. Our primary goal is to chart a path from equal and extreme value to infinite value. We advance two arguments. Each argument offers a reason to think that equal and extreme value are best accounted for if we are infinitely valuable. We then raise some difficult but fruitful questions about the possible grounds or sources of our infinite value, if we indeed have such value.
This book argues that this powerful technique permits the social sciences to meet an explanation, in which one 'grows' the phenomenon of interest in an artificial society of interacting agents: heterogeneous, boundedly rational actors.
Raanan Gillon is a noted defender of the four principles approach to healthcare ethics. His general position has always been that these principles are to be considered to be both universal and prima facie in nature. In recent work, however, he has made two claims that seem to present difficulties for this view. His first claim is that one of these four principles, respect for autonomy, has a special position in relation to the others: he holds that it is first (...) among equals. We argue that this claim makes little sense if the principles are to retain their prima facie nature. His second claim is that cultural variation can play an independent normative role in the construction of our moral judgments. This, he argues, enables us to occupy a middle ground between what he sees as the twin pitfalls of moral relativism and moral imperialism. We argue that there is no such middle ground, and while Gillon ultimately seems committed to relativism, it is some form of moral imperialism that will provide the only satisfactory construal of the four principles as prima facie universal moral principles. (shrink)
Substance has been a leading idea in the history of Western philosophy. _Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosenkrantz_ explain the nature and existence of individual substances, including both living things and inanimate objects. Specifically written for students new to this important and often complex subject, _Substance_ provides both the historical and contemporary overview of the debate. Great Philosophers of the past, such as Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Locke, and Berkeley were profoundly interested in the concept of substance. And, the authors (...) argue, a belief in the existence of substances is an integral part of our everyday world view. But what constitutes substance? Was Aristotle right to suggest that artefacts like tables and ships don't really exist? _Substance: Its Nature and Existence_ is one of the first non-technical, accessible guides to this central problem and will be of great use to students of metaphysics and philosophy. (shrink)
The extensive involvement of nonconscious processes in human behaviour has led some to suggest that consciousness is much less important for the control of action than we might think. In this article I push against this trend, developing an understanding of conscious control that is sensitive to our best models of overt action control. Further, I assess the cogency of various zombie challenges—challenges that seek to demote the importance of conscious control for human agency. I argue that though nonconscious contributions (...) to action control are evidently robust, these challenges are overblown. (shrink)
Bioethical work on solidarity has yielded an array of divergent conceptions. But what do these accounts add to normative bioethics? What is solidarity’s distinctive social normative role? Prainsack and Buyx suggest that solidarity be understood as the ‘putty’ of justice. I argue here that the putty metaphor is deeply insightful and—when spelled out in detail—successfully explicates solidarity’s social normative function. Unfortunately, Prainsack and Buyx’s own account cannot play this role. I propose instead that the putty metaphor supports a conception of (...) solidarity as equity. This proposal enables us to answer whether and when we should act in solidarity, and with whom, while also capturing the putty metaphor and hence answering a basic question: what is solidarity for? (shrink)
Advocates of the use of intuitions in philosophy argue that they are treated as evidence because they are evidential. Their opponents agree that they are treated as evidence, but argue that they should not be so used, since they are the wrong kinds of things. In contrast to both, we argue that, despite appearances, intuitions are not treated as evidence in philosophy whether or not they should be. Our positive account is that intuitions are a subclass of inclinations to believe. (...) Our thesis explains why intuitions play a role in persuasion and inquiry, without conceding that they are evidential. The account also makes predictions about the structure of intuitions that are confirmed by independent arguments. (shrink)
This article aims to provide a consistent explication of the doctrine of Divine Simplicity. To achieve this end, a re-construal of the doctrine is made within an "aspectival trope-theoretic" metaphysical framework, which will ultimately enable the doctrine to be elucidated in a consistent manner, and the Plantingian objections raised against it will be shown to be unproblematic.
Our interest in this paper is to drive a wedge of contention between two different programs that fall under the umbrella of “experimental philosophy”. In particular, we argue that experimental philosophy’s “negative program” presents almost as significant a challenge to its “positive program” as it does to more traditional analytic philosophy.
Recognising and responding to injustices that benefit us is a pervasive problem of contemporary life, and arguably a mark of moral seriousness in anyone who presumes to take moral stands at all. In response, a number of authors have defended the view that such benefits normally bring with them prima facie obligations of compensation. This ‘wrongful-benefits’ approach has considerable intuitive plausibility, much of it founded in the financial metaphor that gives it an appearance of precision. Yet while the compensation scenario (...) works reasonably well in one-off cases such as receiving stolen property, it yields incoherent results when facing ongoing structural injustices. In such cases ‘innocence’ is ambiguous and our status as beneficiaries and victims is complex. In contrast, solidarity — understood as a principle of equity requiring that we side with the least well off — provides a better account of duties to respond to structural injustice. In solidarity the agent follows the lead of organised out-groups and defers to their judgment about collective actions to overcome injustice. Solidarity leads us to support the organised group that suffers from the greatest inequity. Solidarity does not use a financial metaphor and thus it neither requires full disgorgement, nor absolves us of further action when we reach the point of net-zero benefit. Rather, solidarity is a principal means for ordinary citizens to promote equity by affirming the equal status of the victims, and to atone for having benefited from injustice, whether they did so willingly or otherwise. (shrink)
Rising sea levels may sink entire countries. Individualistic solutions to this climate catastrophe, such as those proposed by Meisels and Risse, are inadequate on both Kantian and Lockean criteria. This article concurs with Cara Nine's recent argument that such ‘ecological refugee states’ are entitled to territorial remedies. But Nine's proposal, founded on Locke's ‘sufficiency’ proviso and Nozick's famous application of it to waterholes in the desert, is instructively incorrect. Careful consideration of the distinction between land and territory, and of the (...) structure of Proviso arguments, supports a new theory of how territorial claims can be positive‐sum — how the amount of territory can increase even as the land base remains constant or decreases. This normative conception of territory as the ratio of justice to land use provides a better foundation for a political solution to the problem of ecological refugee states and also generates deeper insight into the nature of territory itself. The article thus contributes not only to our thinking about redress for ecological refugees, but also to the burgeoning literatures on territory and on the Lockean Provisos. (shrink)
I here defend the thesis that the best life is the life that one plays as a game—specifically, a ‘Suitsian’ game that meets the definition proposed in The Grasshopper by Bernard Suits. Even more specifically, it is a nested, open, role-playing game where the life’s quality as a game partly depends on there being no more people than players. To defend this thesis I refute two powerful challenges to it, one from Thomas Hurka (2006) and another from within The Grasshopper (...) itself. In the process, I offer a new interpretation of that enigmatic and challenging book. (shrink)
Recently, a number of theorists (MacFarlane (2003, 2011), Egan et al. (2005), Egan (2007), Stephenson (2007a,b)) have argued that an adequate semantics and pragmatics for epistemic modals calls for some technical notion of relativist truth and/or relativist content. Much of this work has relied on an empirical thesis about speaker judgments, namely that competent speakers tend to judge a present-tense bare epistemic possibility claim true only if the prejacent is compatible with their information. Relativists have in particular appealed to judgments (...) elicited in so-called eavesdropping and retraction cases to support this empirical thesis. But opposing theorists have denied the judgments, and at present there is no consensus in the literature about how the speaker judgments in fact pattern. Consequently there is little agreement on what exactly a semantics and pragmatics for epistemic modals should predict about the pattern of judgments in these cases. Further theorizing requires greater clarity on the data to be explained. To clarify the data, we subjected eavesdropping and retraction cases to experimental evaluation. Our data provide evidence against the claim that competent speakers tend to judge a present-tense bare epistemic possibility claim true only if the prejacent is compatible with their information. Theories designed to predict this result are accordingly undermined. (shrink)
Singer and Dawson point out that two arguments against abortion, that the embryo is entitled to protection because from fertilization it is (1) a human being or (2) a potential human being, are also used by opponents of embryo experimentation. They focus on the second argument, evaluating the notion of potentiality as it applies to gametes, to the unimplanted embryo, to the implanted developing embryo, and to the embryo created by in vitro fertilization (IVF). They argue that there is (...) a crucial distinction between natural reproduction, in which all that is needed for the embryo to have a prospect of reaching its potential is for those involved to refrain from stopping it, and IVF, in which the embryo cannot develop into a person without a deliberate human act. Reproductive techniques necessitate our rethinking of established views about potentiality, and how it should be applied to the embryo in a laboratory. (KIE abstract). (shrink)
Accounts of solidarity typically defend it in teleological or loyalty terms, justifying it by invoking its goal of promoting justice or its expression of support for a shared community. Such solidarity seems to be a moral option rather than an obligation. In contrast, A Moral Theory of Solidarity develops a deontological theory grounded in equity. With extended reflection on the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the US Civil Rights movement, Kolers defines solidarity as political action on others' terms. Unlike (...) mere alliances and coalitions, solidarity involves a disposition to defer to others' judgment about the best course of action. Such deference overrides individual conscience. Yet such deference is dangerous; a core challenge is then to determine when deference becomes appropriate.Kolers defends defernce to those who suffer gravest inequity. Such deference constitutes equitable treatment, in three senses: it is Kantian equity, expressing each person's equal status; it is Aristotelian equity, correcting general rules for particular cases; and deference is 'being an equitable person,' sharing others' fate rather than seizing advantages that they are denied. Treating others equitably is a perfect duty; hence solidarity with victims of inequity is a perfect duty. Further, since equity is valuable in itself, irrespective of any other goal it might promote, such solidarity is intrinsically valuable, not merely instrumentally valuable. Solidarity is then not about promoting justice, but about treating people justly. A Moral Theory of Solidarity engages carefully with recent work on equity in the Kantian and Aristotelian traditions, as well as the demandingness of moral duties, collective action, and unjust benefits, and is a major contribution to a field of growing interest. (shrink)
Rising sea levels may sink entire countries. Individualistic solutions to this climate catastrophe, such as those proposed by Meisels and Risse, are inadequate on both Kantian and Lockean criteria. This article concurs with Cara Nine's recent argument that such ‘ecological refugee states’ are entitled to territorial remedies. But Nine's proposal, founded on Locke's ‘sufficiency’ proviso and Nozick's famous application of it to waterholes in the desert, is instructively incorrect. Careful consideration of the distinction between land and territory, and of the (...) structure of Proviso arguments, supports a new theory of how territorial claims can be positive-sum — how the amount of territory can increase even as the land base remains constant or decreases. This normative conception of territory as the ratio of justice to land use provides a better foundation for a political solution to the problem of ecological refugee states and also generates deeper insight into the nature of territory itself. The article thus contributes not only to our thinking about redress for ecological refugees, but also to the burgeoning literatures on territory and on the Lockean Provisos. (shrink)
Imagination plays a rich epistemic role in our cognitive lives. For example, if I want to learn whether my luggage will fit into the overhead compartment on a plane, I might imagine trying to fit it into the overhead compartment and form a justified belief on the basis of this imagining. But what explains the fact that imagination has the power to justify beliefs, and what is the structure of imaginative justification? In this paper, I answer these questions by arguing (...) that imaginings manifest an epistemic status: they are epistemically evaluable as justified or unjustified. This epistemic status grounds their ability to justify beliefs, and they accrue this status in virtue of being based on evidence. Thus, imaginings are best understood as justified justifiers. I argue for this view by way of showing how it offers a satisfying explanation of certain key features of imaginative justification that would otherwise be puzzling. I also argue that imaginings exhibit a number of markers of the basing relation, which further motivates the view that imaginings can be based on evidence. The arguments in this paper have theoretically fruitful implications not only for the epistemology of imagination, but for accounts of reasoning and epistemic normativity more generally. (shrink)
Shepard has argued that a universal law should govern generalization across different domains of perception and cognition, as well as across organisms from different species or even different planets. Starting with some basic assumptions about natural kinds, he derived an exponential decay function as the form of the universal generalization gradient, which accords strikingly well with a wide range of empirical data. However, his original formulation applied only to the ideal case of generalization from a single encountered stimulus to a (...) single novel stimulus, and for stimuli that can be represented as points in a continuous metric psychological space. Here we recast Shepard's theory in a more general Bayesian framework and show how this naturally extends his approach to the more realistic situation of generalizing from multiple consequential stimuli with arbitrary representational structure. Our framework also subsumes a version of Tversky's set-theoretic model of similarity, which is conventionally thought of as the primary alternative to Shepard's continuous metric space model of similarity and generalization. This unification allows us not only to draw deep parallels between the set-theoretic and spatial approaches, but also to significantly advance the explanatory power of set-theoretic models. Key Words: additive clustering; Bayesian inference; categorization; concept learning; contrast model; features; generalization; psychological space; similarity. (shrink)