Many philosophers have worried about what philosophy is. Often they have looked for answers by considering what it is that philosophers do. Given the diversity of topics and methods found in philosophy, however, we propose a different approach. In this article we consider the philosophical temperament, asking an alternative question: what are philosophers like? Our answer is that one important aspect of the philosophical temperament is that philosophers are especially reflective: they are less likely than their peers to embrace what (...) seems obvious without questioning it. This claim is supported by a study of more than 4,000 philosophers and non-philosophers, the results of which indicate that even when we control for overall education level, philosophers tend to be significantly more reflective than their peers. We then illustrate this tendency by considering what we know about the philosophizing of a few prominent philosophers. Recognizing this aspect of the philosophical temperament, it is natural to wonder how philosophers came to be this way: does philosophical training teach reflectivity or do more reflective people tend to gravitate to philosophy? We consider the limitations of our data with respect to this question and suggest that a longitudinal study be conducted. (shrink)
This paper responds to the commentaries from Stacy Carter and Alan Cribb. We pick up on two main themes in our response. First, we reflect on how the process of setting standards for empirical bioethics research entails drawing boundaries around what research counts as empirical bioethics research, and we discuss whether the standards agreed in the consensus process draw these boundaries correctly. Second, we expand on the discussion in the original paper of the role and significance of the concept of (...) ‘integrating’ empirical methods and ethical argument as a standard for research practice within empirical bioethics. (shrink)
In formal epistemology, we use mathematical methods to explore the questions of epistemology and rational choice. What can we know? What should we believe and how strongly? How should we act based on our beliefs and values? We begin by modelling phenomena like knowledge, belief, and desire using mathematical machinery, just as a biologist might model the fluctuations of a pair of competing populations, or a physicist might model the turbulence of a fluid passing through a small aperture. Then, we (...) explore, discover, and justify the laws governing those phenomena, using the precision that mathematical machinery affords. For example, we might represent a person by the strengths of their beliefs, and we might measure these using real numbers, which we call credences. Having done this, we might ask what the norms are that govern that person when we represent them in that way. How should those credences hang together? How should the credences change in response to evidence? And how should those credences guide the person’s actions? This is the approach of the first six chapters of this handbook. In the second half, we consider different representations—the set of propositions a person believes; their ranking of propositions by their plausibility. And in each case we ask again what the norms are that govern a person so represented. Or, we might represent them as having both credences and full beliefs, and then ask how those two representations should interact with one another. This handbook is incomplete, as such ventures often are. Formal epistemology is a much wider topic than we present here. One omission, for instance, is social epistemology, where we consider not only individual believers but also the epistemic aspects of their place in a social world. Michael Caie’s entry on doxastic logic touches on one part of this topic, but there is much more. Relatedly, there is no entry on epistemic logic, nor any on knowledge more generally. There are still more gaps. These omissions should not be taken as ideological choices. This material is missing, not because it is any less valuable or interesting, but because we v failed to secure it in time. Rather than delay publication further, we chose to go ahead with what is already a substantial collection. We anticipate a further volume in the future that will cover more ground. Why an open access handbook on this topic? A number of reasons. The topics covered here are large and complex and need the space allowed by the sort of 50 page treatment that many of the authors give. We also wanted to show that, using free and open software, one can overcome a major hurdle facing open access publishing, even on topics with complex typesetting needs. With the right software, one can produce attractive, clear publications at reasonably low cost. Indeed this handbook was created on a budget of exactly £0 (≈ $0). Our thanks to PhilPapers for serving as publisher, and to the authors: we are enormously grateful for the effort they put into their entries. (shrink)
Background There is growing interest in the use and incorporation of empirical data in bioethics research. Much of the recent focus has been on specific “empirical bioethics” methodologies, which attempt to integrate the empirical and the normative. Researchers in the field are, however, beginning to explore broader questions, including around acceptable standards of practice for undertaking such research. The framework: In this article, we further widen the focus to consider the overall shape of an empirical bioethics research project. We outline (...) a framework that identifies three key phases of such research, which are conveyed via a landscaping metaphor of Mapping-Framing-Shaping. First, the researcher maps the field of study, typically by undertaking literature reviews. Second, the researcher frames particular areas of the field of study, exploring these in depth, usually via qualitative research. Finally, the researcher seeks to shape the terrain by issuing recommendations that draw on the findings from the preceding phases. To qualify as empirical bioethics research, the researcher will utilise a methodology that seeks to bridge these different elements in order to arrive at normative recommendations. We illustrate the framework by citing examples of diverse projects which broadly adopt the three-phase framework. Amongst the strengths of the framework are its flexibility, since it does not prescribe any specific methods or particular bridging methodology. However, the framework might also have its limitations, not least because it appears particularly to capture projects that involve qualitative – as opposed to quantitative – research. Conclusions Despite its possible limitations, we offer the Mapping-Framing-Shaping framework in the hope that this will prove useful to those who are seeking to plan and undertake empirical bioethics research projects. (shrink)
We often learn the opinions of others without hearing the evidence on which they're based. The orthodox Bayesian response is to treat the reported opinion as evidence itself and update on it by conditionalizing. But sometimes this isn't feasible. In these situations, a simpler way of combining one's existing opinion with opinions reported by others would be useful, especially if it yields the same results as conditionalization. We will show that one method---upco, also known as multiplicative pooling---is specially suited to (...) this role when the opinions you wish to pool concern hypotheses about chances. The result has interesting consequences: it addresses the problem of disagreement between experts; and it sheds light on the social argument for the uniqueness thesis. (shrink)
Richard M. Hare (1919 - 2002) is usually acknowledged to be one of the major moral thinkers of the 20th century. After being a Japanese prisoner of war for most of World War II, he completed his education at Oxford, later joining the faculty and becoming a professor. In 1983 he moved to the University of Florida but still kept his ties with Oxford. He had many students, including Peter Singer. At a memorial service for Hare in 2002, Singer (...) ascribed to him three major achievements in moral philosophy, namely “restoring reason to moral argument, distinguishing intuitive and critical levels of moral thinking, and pioneering the development of practical or applied ethics”. (shrink)
How should your opinion change in light of an epistemic peer's? We show that the pooling rule known as “upco” is the unique answer satisfying some natural desiderata. If your revised opinion will impact your other views by Jeffrey conditionalization, then upco is the only standard pooling rule that ensures the order in which peers are consulted makes no difference. Popular alternatives like linear pooling, geometric pooling, and harmonic pooling cannot boast the same. In fact, no alternative can that possesses (...) four minimal properties these proposals all share. (shrink)
Much of our information comes to us indirectly, in the form of conclusions others have drawn from evidence they gathered. When we hear these conclusions, how can we modify our own opinions so as to gain the benefit of their evidence? In this paper we study the method known as geometric pooling. We consider two arguments in its favour, raising several objections to one, and proposing an amendment to the other.
BackgroundDuring the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, various professional ethical guidance was issued to (and for) health and social care professionals in England and Wales. Guidance can help to inform and support such professionals and their patients, clients and service users, but a plethora of guidance risked information overload, confusion, and inconsistency. MethodsDuring the early months of the pandemic, we undertook a rapid review, asking: what are the principles adopted by professional ethical guidance in England and Wales for dealing with (...) COVID-19? We undertook thematic content analysis of the 29 documents that met our inclusion criteria.ResultsThe 29 documents captured 13 overlapping principles: respect, fairness, minimising harm, reciprocity, proportionality, flexibility, working together, inclusiveness, communication, transparency, reasonableness, responsibility, and accountability.ConclusionsWe intend this attempt to collate and outline the prominent principles to be helpful, particularly, for healthcare practice during the COVID-19 pandemic and, hopefully, for future pandemic planning. We also offer some reflections on the guidance and the principles therein. After describing the principles, we reflect on some of the similarities and differences in the guidance, and the challenges associated not only with the specific guidance reviewed, but also with the nature and import of “professional ethical guidance”. (shrink)
Numerous academic studies and reports indicate that as many as half of all students cheat on exams. Cheating on exams undermines the central purpose of a university, corrupts the meaning of grades as a measure of subject matter mastery, and significantly harms honest students. Although instructors are aware that many students cheat and they clearly oppose the behavior, they do little to punish cheaters. Accusing, prosecuting and convicting cheaters are time intensive, stressful and potentially costly activities for which faculty members (...) receive few rewards. In this paper, we derive an equation to estimate the benefit that can be gained by a student who copies on a multiple choice exam. We then propose an exam design that not only eliminates the benefit, but also proportionately punishes cheaters, with little to no cost to instructors. Moreover, the exam system we propose can allow an instructor to determine, with a high degree of certainty, the odds that any student seated anywhere in the classroom cheated on any part of the exam. (shrink)
Jonathan Edwards and William James were preoccupied with religion, and both responded in print, and profoundly, to religious crises in their own cultures: Edwards wrote his Treatise on Religious Affections in response to the hysteria and factionalism spawned by the Great Awakening, and James his Varieties of Religious Experience in reaction to the crisis in faith afflicting his generation. Edwards in Religious Affections provides a model of emotional religion that is neither anti-intellectual nor fanatical, whereas James in Varieties reveals (...) that religion is intellectually respectable and occupies a rightful place in the economy of life. Though disagreeing as to the letter of religion, both agree as to its spirit. Both understand religion to be essentially experiential and emotional, though not excluding the intellect. They alike assign an important role to reason in the religious life. And, significantly, they concur that religion is ultimately validated by the behavior of its adherents. (shrink)
Bringing between two covers the most influential and accessible articles on Plato's Republic, this collection illuminates what is widely held to be the most important work of Western philosophy and political theory. It will be valuable not only to philosophers, but to political theorists, historians, classicists, literary scholars, and interested general readers.
In this chapter, we seek to offer a fresh perspective on whether or not doctors should be “licensed to kill”. As that phrase indicates, we metaphorically refer to the adventures of fictional spy James Bond, although we hope, in doing so, that readers will not think that we are belittling the serious topic with which the chapter is concerned. Having surveyed some of the familiar arguments for and against allowing medically-assisted dying, we advance a new proposal, which seeks to strike (...) a compromise between such arguments. Our exploratory model builds on an analogy with armed response police units as they operate in England, and specifically with situations in which such officers are found to have killed someone in the course of their duties. Rather than confer immunity prospectively (as proponents of assisted dying often seek) or deny immunity completely (as opponents insist), our policy would provide a potential retrospective excuse. (shrink)
This paper proposes a revision of our understanding of causation that is designed to address what Hartry Field has suggested is the central problem in the metaphysics of causation today: reconciling Bertrand Russell’s arguments that the concept of causation can play no role in the advanced sciences with Nancy Cartwright’s arguments that causal concepts are essential to a scientific understanding of the world. The paper shows that Russell’s main argument is, ironically, very similar to an argument that Cartwright has put (...) forward against the truth of universal laws of nature. The paper uses this insight to develop an account of causation that does justice to traditional views yet avoids the arguments of Russell. (shrink)
Dijkerman & de Haan (D&dH) propose a somatosensory perceptual pathway that informs a consciously accessible body image, and an action pathway that provides information to a body schema, which is not consciously accessible. We argue that the body schema may become accessible to consciousness in some circumstances, possibly resulting from cross talk, but that this may be detrimental to skilled movement production.
Founders of Thought offers introductions to three of the most influential intellects of classical antiquity: Plato, whose dialogues form the basis of the study of logic, metaphysics, and moral and political philosophy; Aristotle, polymath, tutor of Alexander the Great and "master of those who know"; and Augustine, the Christian convert who asked God to make him good, "but not yet." Brief, accessible, and written by outstanding scholars, these studies offer readers an introduction to the ideas and achievements of the thinkers (...) whose works are essential to a full understanding of western thought and culture. (shrink)
In an 1896 letter to Wilhelm Fliess, the first and primary confidante for his fledgling ideas, the young Sigmund Freud wrote: “I see that you are using the circuitous route of medicine to attain your first ideal, the physiological understanding of man, while I secretly nurse the hope of arriving by the same route at my own original objective, philosophy. For that was my original ambition, before I knew what I was intended to do in the world.”1 When philosophy is (...) mentioned in his later, published, writings, it will normally be an occasion for Freud to disavow any such connection with the enterprise of psychoanalysis, a repeated gesture of denial that naturally only goes to show how profound the relationship must really be. For many years now, Jonathan Lear has been one of the great mediators between the worlds of philosophy and psychoanalysis, showing us what they have to learn from each other, and what they have difficulty 1 accepting from each other. In these lectures he explores a connection between a stance toward oneself that is furthered in the psychoanalytic session, and a stance towards one‟s life to which Kierkegaard gives the name „irony‟. I will begin my remarks with some thoughts about the general picture of irony presented in Professor Lear‟s lectures, and its relation to certain philosophical claims for the role of what is variously called „critical reflection‟, „self-consciousness‟, or the metaphor of “stepping back” from some aspect of one‟s thought or engagement in the world. I will then focus on the idea of self-knowledge at play in the lectures and the role of something called „expression‟ in this context. (shrink)
The extant literature acknowledges social desirability response bias (SDRB) is a pervasive issue for research that uses survey data and proposes several approaches to mitigating the issue, including: self-administered questionnaires, indirect questioning, and direct measurement. The objective of this study is to provide empirical evidence related to the importance of controlling for SDRB and the efficacy of these approaches. Using a primary sample of 365 business majors, we find the most common methodologies used to control for SDRB, self-administered questionnaires and (...) indirect questions, are insufficient. A direct measure of SDRB remains significant when these approaches are used, and the exclusion of this measure affects the significance of other variables. Less than 5% of accounting-and-ethics research using survey data includes a direct control for SDRB. Our study provides empirical evidence on a methodological issue addressed in few existing studies. (shrink)