Lloyd (2009) contends that climate models are confirmed by various instances of fit between their output and observational data. The present paper argues that what these instances of fit might confirm are not climate models themselves, but rather hypotheses about the adequacy of climate models for particular purposes. This required shift in thinking—from confirming climate models to confirming their adequacy-for-purpose—may sound trivial, but it is shown to complicate the evaluation of climate models considerably, both in principle and in practice.
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)
Whether in characterizing Catharine MacKinnon's theory of gender as itself pornographic or in identifying liberalism as unable to make good on its promises, Wendy Brown pursues a central question: how does a sense of woundedness become the basis for a sense of identity? Brown argues that efforts to outlaw hate speech and pornography powerfully legitimize the state: such apparently well-intentioned attempts harm victims further by portraying them as so helpless as to be in continuing need of governmental protection. "Whether (...) one is dealing with the state, the Mafia, parents, pimps, police, or husbands," writes Brown, "the heavy price of institutionalized protection is always a measure of dependence and agreement to abide by the protector's rules." True democracy, she insists, requires sharing power, not regulation by it; freedom, not protection.Refusing any facile identification with one political position or another, Brown applies her argument to a panoply of topics, from the basis of litigiousness in political life to the appearance on the academic Left of themes of revenge and a thwarted will to power. These and other provocations in contemporary political thought and political life provide an occasion for rethinking the value of several of the last two centuries' most compelling theoretical critiques of modern political life, including the positions of Nietzsche, Marx, Weber, and Foucault. (shrink)
Tolerance is generally regarded as an unqualified achievement of the modern West. Emerging in early modern Europe to defuse violent religious conflict and reduce persecution, tolerance today is hailed as a key to decreasing conflict across a wide range of other dividing lines-- cultural, racial, ethnic, and sexual. But, as political theorist Wendy Brown argues in Regulating Aversion, tolerance also has dark and troubling undercurrents. Dislike, disapproval, and regulation lurk at the heart of tolerance. To tolerate is not to (...) affirm but to conditionally allow what is unwanted or deviant. And, although presented as an alternative to violence, tolerance can play a part in justifying violence--dramatically so in the war in Iraq and the War on Terror. Wielded, especially since 9/11, as a way of distinguishing a civilized West from a barbaric Islam, tolerance is paradoxically underwriting Western imperialism. Brown's analysis of the history and contemporary life of tolerance reveals it in a startlingly unfamiliar guise. Heavy with norms and consolidating the dominance of the powerful, tolerance sustains the abjection of the tolerated and equates the intolerant with the barbaric. Examining the operation of tolerance in contexts as different as the War on Terror, campaigns for gay rights, and the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance, Brown traces the operation of tolerance in contemporary struggles over identity, citizenship, and civilization. (shrink)
'Is politics gendered? Wendy Brown things so, and argues for this point with elegance, imagination and pungent phrases. Brown's book is challenging, provocative and...original; it does force us to question the degree to which gender controls our politics.'-THE REVIEW OF POLITICS.
Wendy Donner contends here that recent commentators on John Stuart Mill's thought have focused on his notions of right and obligation and have not paid as much attention to his notion of the good. Mill, she maintains, rejects the quantitative hedonism of Bentham's philosophy in favor of an expanded qualitative version. In this book she provides an account of his complex views of the good and the ways in which these views unify his moral and political thought.
Sustainability is concerned with the impact of present actions on the ecosystems, societies, and environments of the future. Such concerns should be reflected in the strategic planning of sustainable corporations. Strategic intentions of this nature are operationalized through the adoption of a long-term focus and a more inclusive set of responsibilities focusing on ethical practices, employees, environment, and customers. A central hypothesis, that we test in this paper is that companies which attend to this set of responsibilities under the term (...) superior sustainable practices, have higher financial performance compared to those that do not engage in such practices. The target population of this study consists of the top 100 sustainable global companies in 2008 which have been selected from a universe of 3,000 firms from the developed countries and emerging markets. We find significant higher mean sales growth, return on assets, profit before taxation, and cash flows from operations in some activity sectors of the sample companies compared to the control companies over the period of 2006–2010. Furthermore, our findings show that the higher financial performance of sustainable companies has increased and been sustained over the sample. Notwithstanding sample limitation, causal evidence reported in this paper suggests that, there is bi-directional relationship between corporate social responsibilities practices and corporate financial performance. (shrink)
Adapting Wittgenstein's concept of the human species as 'a ceremonial animal', Wendy James discusses in a readable and lively style the conceptual ordering of space, time, and rhythm; the mutualities of language, consciousness, ritual and religious practice; the dialectics of gender and generation; power, war, and peace; and large-scale modern social formations such as the city and the nation. The Foreword is by Michael J. Lambek, Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto.
Neoliberalism and neoconservatism are two distinct political rationalities in the contemporary United States. They have few overlapping formal characteristics, and even appear contradictory in many respects. Yet they converge not only in the current presidential administration but also in their de-democratizing effects. Their respective devaluation of political liberty, equality, substantive citizenship, and the rule of law in favor of governance according to market criteria on the one side, and valorization of state power for putatively moral ends on the other, undermines (...) both the culture and institutions of constitutional democracy. Above all, the two rationalities work symbiotically to produce a subject relatively indifferent to veracity and accountability in government and to political freedom and equality among the citizenry. (shrink)
This review of Wendy Brown’s Undoing the Demos considers the claim that contemporary processes of neoliberalism are damaging the core principles of democracy. It is argued that Brown is right to follow Foucault in defining neoliberalism as a form of political rationality, but that core arguments of the book could be developed further through attention to the following points: the operation of neoliberal politics and practices outside of the US context; the position of Austrian thought within the history of (...) neoliberal reason; the problematic status of homo economicus within neoliberal thought; why the ‘soft power’ of neoliberalism has proved so effective; and how a Marxist theory of capital might be developed alongside Foucauldian critique of neoliberalism. (shrink)
Once a term used primarily by moral philosophers, “moral distress” is increasingly used by health professionals to name experiences of frustration and failure in fulfilling moral obligations inherent to their fiduciary relationship with the public. Although such challenges have always been present, as has discord regarding the right thing to do in particular situations, there is a radical change in the degree and intensity of moral distress being expressed. Has the plight of professionals in healthcare practice changed? “Plight” encompasses not (...) only the act of pledging, but that of predicament and peril. The author claims that health professionals are increasingly put in peril by healthcare reform that undermines their efficacy and jeopardizes ethical engagement with those in their care. The re-engineering of healthcare to give precedence to corporate and commercial values and strategies of commodification, service rationing, streamlining, and measuring of “efficiency,” is literally demoralizing health professionals. Healthcare practice needs to be grounded in a capacity for compassion and empathy, as is evident in standards of practice and codes of ethics, and in the understanding of what it means to be a professional. Such grounding allows for humane response to the availability of unprecedented advances in biotechnological treatments, for genuine dialogue and the raising of difficult, necessary ethical questions, and for the mutual support of health professionals themselves. If healthcare environments are not understood as moral communities but rather as simulated marketplaces, then health professionals’ moral agency is diminished and their vulnerability to moral distress is exacerbated. Research in moral distress and relational ethics is used to support this claim. (shrink)
Recent calls for retraction of a large body of Chinese transplant research and of Dr Jiankui He’s gene editing research has led to renewed interest in the question of publication, retraction and use of unethical biomedical research. In Part 1 of this paper, we briefly review the now well-established consequentialist and deontological arguments for and against the use of unethical research. We argue that, while there are potentially compelling justifications for use under some circumstances, these justifications fail when unethical practices (...) are ongoing—as in the case of research involving transplantations in which organs have been procured unethically from executed prisoners. Use of such research displays a lack of respect and concern for the victims and undermines efforts to deter unethical practices. Such use also creates moral taint and renders those who use the research complicit in continuing harm. In Part 2, we distinguish three dimensions of ‘non-use’ of unethical research: non-use of published unethical research, non-publication, and retraction and argue that all three types of non-use should be upheld in the case of Chinese transplant research. Publishers have responsibilities to not publish contemporary unethical biomedical research, and where this has occurred, to retract publications. Failure to retract the papers implicitly condones the research, while uptake of the research through citations rewards researchers and ongoing circulation of the data in the literature facilitates subsequent use by researchers, policymakers and clinicians. (shrink)
We critically engage two traditional views of scientific data and outline a novel philosophical view that we call the pragmatic-representational view of data. On the PR view, data are representations that are the product of a process of inquiry, and they should be evaluated in terms of their adequacy or fitness for particular purposes. Some important implications of the PR view for data assessment, related to misrepresentation, context-sensitivity, and complementary use, are highlighted. The PR view provides insight into the common (...) but little-discussed practices of iteratively reusing and repurposing data, which result in many datasets’ having a phylogeny—an origin and complex evolutionary history—that is relevant to their evaluation and future use. We relate these insights to the open-data and data-rescue movements, and highlight several future avenues of research that build on the PR view of data. (shrink)
A number of recent discussions comparing computer simulation and traditional experimentation have focused on the significance of “materiality.” I challenge several claims emerging from this work and suggest that computer simulation studies are material experiments in a straightforward sense. After discussing some of the implications of this material status for the epistemology of computer simulation, I consider the extent to which materiality (in a particular sense) is important when it comes to making justified inferences about target systems on the basis (...) of experimental results. (shrink)
Across the Euro-Atlantic world, political leaders have been mobilizing their bases with nativism, racism, xenophobia, and paeans to “traditional values,” in brazen bids for electoral support. How are we to understand this move to the mainstream of political policies and platforms that lurked only on the far fringes through most of the postwar era? Does it herald a new wave of authoritarianism? Is liberal democracy itself in crisis? In this volume, three distinguished scholars draw on critical theory to address our (...) current predicament. Wendy Brown, Peter E. Gordon, and Max Pensky share a conviction that critical theory retains the power to illuminate the forces producing the current political constellation as well as possible paths away from it. Brown explains how “freedom” has become a rallying cry for manifestly un-emancipatory movements; Gordon dismantles the idea that fascism is rooted in the susceptible psychology of individual citizens and reflects instead on the broader cultural and historical circumstances that lend it force; and Pensky brings together the unlikely pair of Tocqueville and Adorno to explore how democracies can buckle under internal pressure. These incisive essays do not seek to smooth over the irrationality of the contemporary world, and they do not offer the false comforts of an easy return to liberal democratic values. Rather, the three authors draw on their deep engagements with nineteenth–and twentieth–century thought to investigate the historical and political contradictions that have brought about this moment, offering fiery and urgent responses to the demands of the day. (shrink)
Does it transform conflicts into productive tensions, or does it perpetuate underlying power relations? To what extent does tolerance hide its involvement with power and act as a form of depoliticization?
Loi recently proposed a libertarian right to direct to consumer genetic testing — independent of autonomy or utility—reflecting Cohen’s work on self-ownership and Hohfeld’s model of jural relations. Cohen’s model of libertarianism dealt principally with self-ownership of the physical body. Although Loi adequately accounts for the physical properties of DNA, DNA is also an informational substrate, highly conserved within families. Information about the genome of relatives of the person undergoing testing may be extrapolated without requiring direct engagement with their personal (...) physical copy of the genome, triggering rights and interests of relatives that may differ from the rights and interests of others, that is, individual consumers, testing providers and regulators. Loi argued that regulatory interference with exercise of the right required justification, whereas prima facie exercise of the right did not. Justification of regulatory interference could include ‘conflict with other people’s rights’, ‘aggressive’ use of the genome and ‘harming others’. Harms potentially experienced by relatives as a result of the individual’s exercise of a right to test include breach of genetic privacy, violation of their right to determine when, and if, they undertake genetic testing and discrimination. Such harms may justify regulatory intervention, in the event they are recognised; motives driving ‘aggressive’ use of the genome may also be relevant. Each of the above criteria requires clarification, as potential redundancies and tensions exist between them, with different implications affecting different groups of rights holders. (shrink)
Experiences of moral distress encountered in psychiatric practice were explored in a hermeneutic phenomenological study. Moral distress is the state experienced when moral choices and actions are thwarted by constraints. Psychiatrists describe struggling ‘to do the right thing’ for individual patients within a societal system that places unrealistic demands on psychiatric expertise. Certainty on the part of the psychiatrist is an expectation when judgments of dangerousness and/or the need for coercive treatments are made. This assumption, however, ignores the uncertainty and (...) complexity of reality. Society entrusts psychiatrists to care for and treat those among its most vulnerable members: persons deemed to have a severely diminished capacity for autonomy due to a mental disorder. Simultaneously, psychiatrists are held accountable by society for the protection of the public. Moral distress arose for psychiatrists in their efforts to fulfill both roles. They described an ‘outsider/insider’ status and the ways in which they attempted to cope with moral distress. (shrink)
This article identifies conditions under which robust predictive modeling results have special epistemic significance---related to truth, confidence, and security---and considers whether those conditions hold in the context of present-day climate modeling. The findings are disappointing. When today’s climate models agree that an interesting hypothesis about future climate change is true, it cannot be inferred---via the arguments considered here anyway---that the hypothesis is likely to be true or that scientists’ confidence in the hypothesis should be significantly increased or that a claim (...) to have evidence for the hypothesis is now more secure. (shrink)
Adapting Wittgenstein's concept of the human species as 'a ceremonial animal', Wendy James writes vividly and readably. Her new overview advocates a clear line of argument: that the concept of social form is a primary key to anthropology and the human sciences as a whole. Weaving memorable ethnographic examples into her text, James brings together carefully selected historical sources as well as references to current ideas in neighbouring disciplines such as archaeology, paleoanthropology, genetics, art and material culture, ethnomusicology, urban (...) and development studies, politics, economics, psychology, and religious studies. She shows the relevance of anthropology to pressing world issues such as migration, humanitarian politics, the new reproductive technologies, and religious fundamentalism. Wendy James's engaging style will appeal to specialist and non-specialist alike. The Foreword is written by Michael J. Lambek, Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto. (shrink)
The moral distress of psychologists working in psychiatric and mental health care settings was explored in an interdisciplinary, hermeneutic phenomenological study situated at the University of Alberta, Canada. Moral distress is the state experienced when moral choices and actions are thwarted by constraints. Psychologists described specific incidents in which they felt their integrity had been compromised by such factors as institutional and interinstitutional demands, team conflicts, and interdisciplinary disputes. They described dealing with the resulting moral distress by such means as (...) silence, taking a stance, acting secretively, sustaining themselves through work with clients, seeking support from colleagues, and exiting. Recognizing moral distress can lead to a significant shift in the way we perceive moral choices and understand the moral context of practice. (shrink)
On one hand, Chinese consumers are well known for conspicuous consumption and the adoption of luxury products and named brands. On the other hand, they also have a bad reputation for buying counterfeit products. Their simultaneous preferences for two contrasting types of product present a paradox that has not been addressed in the literature. This study attempts to present an explanation of this paradox by examining the effects of traditional Chinese cultural values and consumer values on consumers' deontological judgment of (...) pirated CDs and the amount of social benefits they perceive they gain from them. We interviewed 300 Hong Kong Chinese consumers, and found that face consciousness increased materialism and risk aversion, thereby producing a favorable deontological judgment of pirated CDs. Face consciousness also has a direct effect on the amount of social benefits perceived in pirated CDs. Both favorable deontological judgment and perceived social benefits contributed to a strong intention to buy pirated CDs. The results are discussed in a cultural perspective. (shrink)
To study Earth’s climate, scientists now use a variety of computer simulation models. These models disagree in some of their assumptions about the climate system, yet they are used together as complementary resources for investigating future climatic change. This paper examines and defends this use of incompatible models. I argue that climate model pluralism results both from uncertainty concerning how to best represent the climate system and from difficulties faced in evaluating the relative merits of complex models. I describe how (...) incompatible climate models are used together in ‘multi-model ensembles’ and explain why this practice is reasonable, given scientists’ inability to identify a ‘best’ model for predicting future climate. Finally, I characterize climate model pluralism as involving both an ontic competitive pluralism and a pragmatic integrative pluralism. (shrink)
_Eros for the Other_ takes up the problem of how truth claims and ethical norms can survive the increasingly radical recognition of the historical, cultural, pluralistic, and often ideological character of human experience. Sharing with postmodernism a suspicion of totalizing forms of knowledge and practice, Wendy Farley parts with postmodernism in defending the possibility of truth and ethics. Arguing that reality occurs in the concrete existence of actual beings, she develops an interpretation of the nature of knowledge as an (...) eros for the other—as an openness to the distinctive beauties and fragilities of other creatures. Employing Plato, Levinas, Hannah Arendt, Iris Murdoch, Anne Carson, and representatives of Continental philosophy and feminist theory, _Eros for the Other _constructs an original argument for the interdependence of truth, ethics, and pluralism. Through dialogues with Western thought and its critics an original vision emerges of the way reason discerns reality, experiences beauty, and lives compassionately in the midst of the plurality of concrete, historical existence. (shrink)
Here lies the vocation of those who preserve our understanding of past theories, who sharpen our sense of the subtle, complex interplay between political experience and thought, and who preserve our memory of the agonizing efforts of intellect to restate the possibilities and threats posed by political dilemmas of the past. —Sheldon S. Wolin, “Political Theory as a Vocation”In the same way in which the great transformation of the first industrial revolution destroyed the social and political structures as well as (...) the legal categories of the ancien regime, terms such as sovereignty, right, nation, people, democracy, and general will by now refer to a reality that no longer has anything to do with what these concepts used to designate—and those who continue to use these concepts uncritically literally do not know what they are talking about. —Giorgio Agamben, Means without Ends: Notes on PoliticsLooking obliquely at the edges of things, where they come together with other things, can tell you as much about them, often, as can looking at them directly, intently, straight on. —Clifford Geertz, “The Near East in the Far East”. (shrink)
This article reviews empirical and conceptual material from two distinct research traditions: on the science-technology relation and on industrial innovation. It aims both to shed new light on an old debate—the distinction between scientific and technological knowledge—and to refine our conceptualizations of the knowledge used by companies in the course of research and development leading to innovation. On the basis of three empirical studies, a composite categorization of different types of knowledge used in innovation is proposed, as part of a (...) broader framework encompassing two further taxonomic dimensions. It is hoped that this typology and framework might provide useful research tools in furthering our understanding of the knowledge transfers and transformations that occur in the course of innovation. It could also prove useful for organizations and groups facing difficult strategic choices about technology. (shrink)
Overdiagnosis refers to diagnosis that does not benefit patients because the diagnosed condition is not a harmful disease in those individuals. Overdiagnosis has been identified as a problem in cancer screening, diseases such as chronic kidney disease and diabetes, and a range of mental illnesses including depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In this paper, we describe overdiagnosis, investigate reasons why it occurs, and propose two different types. Misclassification overdiagnosis arises because the diagnostic threshold for the disease in question has (...) been set at a level where many people without harmful disease are nonetheless diagnosed. We illustrate misclassification overdiagnosis using the example of chronic kidney disease. Misclassification occurs in diseases diagnosed using biomarkers or based on patient reported phenomena. Maldetection overdiagnosis arises because, at the time the diagnosis is made and despite the presence of a 'gold standard' diagnostic test, it is not possible to discriminate between harmful and non-harmful cases of the index disease. We illustrate maldetection overdiagnosis using the example of thyroid cancer. While there is some overlap between misclassification and maldetection overdiagnosis, this conceptual analysis helps to clarify the phenomenon of overdiagnosis and is a necessary first step in developing strategies to address the problem. (shrink)