Is it permissible to use a human embryo in stem cell research, or in general as a means for benefit of others? Acknowledging each embryo as an object of moral concern, Louis M.Guenin argues that it is morally permissible to decline intrauterine transfer of an embryo formed outside the body, and that from this permission and the duty of beneficence, there follows a consensus justification for using donated embryos in service of humanitarian ends. He then proceeds to show how this (...) justification commands assent even within moral and religious views commonly thought to oppose embryo use. Beneath his moral reasoning lies a carefully constructed metaphysical foundation incorporating accounts of the ontology of development, embryos, and species. He also incisively discusses nonreprocloning, reprocloning, ectogenesis, and related scientific frontiers. This compelling philosophical study will interest all concerned to understand virtue and obligation in the relief of suffering. (shrink)
Engaging a listener’s trust imposes moral demands upon a presenter in respect of truthtelling and completeness. An agent lies by an utterance that satisfies what are herein defined as signal and mendacity conditions; an agent deceives when, in satisfaction of those conditions, the agent’s utterances contribute to a false belief or thwart a true one. I advert to how we may fool ourselves in observation and in the perception of our originality. Communication with others depends upon a convention or practice (...) of presumed nonuniversal truthfulness. In support of an asserted duty of nondeceptiveness, I offer a reconciliation of pertinent Kantian passages, a sketch of arguments within utilitarianism, contractarianism, and other views, and an account arguing for application of that duty to assertions, implicatures, omissions, equivocation, prevarication, and sophistry insofar as they affect listeners’ doxastic states. For scholarship, this duty is exceptionless. I describe the kernel of intellectual honesty as a virtuous disposition such that when presented with an incentive to deceive, the agent will not deceive. Intellectual honesty delivers candor when it counts. I contrast this with complementary virtues and the surpassing virtue of ingenuousness. An account is given of the connection between intellectual honesty and an influential physical model of integrity. (shrink)
The rationale of patents on transgenic organisms leads to the startling notion of the human qua infringement. The moral reasons by which we may tenably reject such notion are not conclusive as to human life forms outside the body. A close look at recombinant DNA experimentation reveals ingenious processes, but not entities that the body lacks. Except for artificial genes, the genes of biotechnology are found on chromosomes, albeit nonconsecutively, and their uninterrupted transcripts appear in messenger RNA. An enhanced form (...) of protection for ingenious processes, the human methods patent, is proposed and defended as a replacement for product patents. The proposed patent would pertain to biotechnology manufacturing and genetic intervention in somatic and germ cells. A counterpart could govern nonhuman life forms. It is argued that compulsory licensing protections should be a condition of such patent. Contrary to the conservative assumption that statutory sobriquets suffice, the reckoning of what qualifies as a patentable ingenious process will continue to require systematic scientific guidance. (shrink)
Two utilitarian defenses, traceable to Bentham and Mill, arecommonly offered for patents. It is contended that patents induce innovation, and thatpatents induce disclosure of innovation. Patents on some or all of the human genomepose particular challenges for these defenses. In the first instance, patents on nucleotidesequences entail the perverse notion of human reproduction qua infringement. In the second place, when such patents are available (as is presently the case), the two defenses involve a counterfactual claim, viz., that if there were (...) no such patents, biotechnological progress would wane. Even if these challenges are met, concerns about respect for humanity generate opposition to property interests in compounds manipulated outside the human body but significantly homologous to compounds found in humans. This stance about things human might appear to commit the fallacy of division. In a dialogue between a Kantian and a utilitarian, arguments for and against property interests in the human genome are presented. (shrink)
Recent public hearings on misconduct charges belie the conjecture that due process will perforce defeat informed scientific reasoning. One notable case that reviewed an obtuse description of experimental methods displays some of the subtleties of differentiating carelessness from intent to deceive. There the decision of a studious nonscientist panel managed to reach sensible conclusions despite conflicting expert testimony. The significance of such a result may be to suggest that to curtail due process would be both objectionable and unproductive.
A theory of justice for the basic structure of society may constrain though not directly govern colleges. The principle of "equal opportunity" commonly applied to jobs either does or does not apply to varsity opportunities. If it applies, it interdicts sex discrimination but, one fallacious argument notwithstanding, it states no obligation to expend resources on new teams. If it does not apply, an analogue of Rawls's difference principle may appropriately constrain inequalities between the sexes. In either case the preferences of (...) a majority of the sex affected by any inequality are pivotal in fashioning any tenable distributive policy. Those preferences are neglected by a government policy that assimilates equal opportunity to equality of (i) the ratio of male:female varsity athletes and (ii) the ratio of male:female students. It is argued that such policy rests on affirming the consequent. Its effects include misallocations of resources and overvaluation of athletics. It is argued that what should approximately be equal is competitive access, the ratio of available positions to aspirants, for each sex. Two versions of a principle of equal competitive access are proposed, the recommended one of which pertains to teams whose net consumption of resources is positive. (shrink)
The phenomenon of misconduct in scientific research illustrates how great can be the social damage of not knowing the incidence of a malady. Many urgings about such phenomenon have predicated views about the extent of institutional and governmental vigilance on observers' differing surmises about how frequently misconduct occurs. Such is the measurement error of extant data about incidence1 that one can venture little more than the deliberately imprecise conclusion that “misconduct is neither common nor rare.”.
“Any bad settlement,” the wise patent litigator Elmer S. Albritton once observed, “is better than a good lawsuit.” Given the notorious strain of court proceedings and the recognition that settlement does not always prove attainable, a popular movement has recently arisen in favor of “alternative dispute resolution” . Indeed it has seemed to many who have participated as committee members, witnesses, or respondents in scientific misconduct cases that there ought to be some method of resolving such matters that is less (...) vexing than traditional adjudication. (shrink)
Set theoretic formulation of Arrow's theorem, viewedin light of a taxonomy of transitive relations,serves to unmask the theorem's understatedgenerality. Under the impress of the independenceof irrelevant alternatives, the antipode of ceteris paribus reasoning, a purported compilerfunction either breaches some other rationalitypremise or produces the effet Condorcet. Types of cycles, each the seeming handiwork of avirtual voter disdaining transitivity, arerigorously defined. Arrow's theorem erects adilemma between cyclic indecision anddictatorship. Maneuvers responsive theretoare explicable in set theoretic terms. None ofthese gambits rival in (...) simplicity the unassistedescape of strict linear orderings, which, by virtueof the Arrow–Sen reflexivity premise, are notcaptured by the theorem. Yet these are therelations among whose n-tuples the effetCondorcet is most frequent. A generalization andstronger theorem encompasses these and all otherlinear orderings and total tierings. Revisions tothe Arrow–Sen definitions of `choice set' and`rationalization' similarly enable one to generalizeSen's demonstration that some rational choicefunction always exists. Similarly may onegeneralize Debreu's theorems establishing conditionsunder which a binary relation may be represented bya continuous real-valued order homomorphism. (shrink)