… Read the rest
By my estimate, the majority of people who begin reading this are already of the opinion that philosophy is little more than a tedious form of mental masturbation, and worse, almost entirely useless. My response: I must sadly agree. On the other hand, I only concede under the assumption we are speaking about 98% of the philosophy you learn in school and that most supposed “philosophers” choose to focus on. Therefore, if you think philosophy sucks and has little bearing on anything real, I don’t blame you. However, do read on as I would like to explain how it has been hijacked over the last 50 years. In particular, the modern connotation of the word “philosophy” seems to largely exclude it’s most useful facet: ethical philosophy, or as I refer to it, personal philosophy.
Below is a brief history on the progression of my thought processes and how I came to give a shit about any of this:
I can remember back to when I first began to have thoughts of depth. My parents moved us out of state between fourth and fifth grade, so not only was I friendless, but also suddenly in the lowest grade at a brand new school. Before that, I had lots of friends and mindless social interactions, but unlike the elementary grades, middle school was full of cliques.
Tag Archives | Ethics
This post originally appeared on Philosophical Disquisitions on August 12, 2014 by John Danaher.
Debate about the merits of enhancement tends to be pretty binary. There are some — generally called bioconservatives — who are opposed to it; and others — transhumanists, libertarians and the like — who embrace it wholeheartedly. Is there any hope for an intermediate approach? One that doesn’t fall into the extremes of reactionary reject or uncritical endorsement?
Probably. Indeed, a careful reading of many pro- and anti-enhancement writers suggests that they are not, always and everywhere, in favour or against the use of enhancement. But to sustain the intermediate approach, we need some framework for deciding when enhancement is permissible and when it is not. In their paper, “Who Should Enhance? Conceptual and Normative Dimensions of Cognitive Enhancement”, Filippo Santoni di Sio, Philip Robichaud and Nicole Vincent try to provide one such framework.… Read the rest
Traditional contemporary animal rights issues are mostly founded on an assumption that we have solid definitions of what constitutes a “human” and what constitutes an “animal”. What if our definitions of these terms are called into question? What does the animal rights issue look like if we construct our ideas about humanity and animality in different ways? Are our lines dividing humanity and animality solidly drawn, or can they bleed and bend, perhaps be drawn in completely different ways?
Philosophy professor and author of Zoographies Matthew Calarco approaches animal rights from a standpoint of continental philosophy: if our definitions of what a “human” is and what an “animal” is are not firmly set, then our consideration of animal rights, if not all of ethics, can enter entirely different areas the current dialog excludes.
… Read the rest
1) Why do you think is important to employ continental philosophy for the animal question?
Many car manufacturers are projecting that by 2025 most cars will operate on driveless systems. How can such systems be designed to accommodate the complicatedness of ethical and moral reasoning? Just like choosing the color of a car, ethics can become a commodified feature in autonomous vehicles that one can buy, change, and repurchase, depending on personal taste. Three distinct algorithms have been created - each adhering to a specific ethical principle/behaviour set-up - and embedded into driverless virtual cars that are operating in a simulated environment, where they will be confronted with ethical dilemmas.
Nathaniel Rich writes for the New York Times Magazine that “bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it’s going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad.”
… Read the rest
The first time Ben Novak saw a passenger pigeon, he fell to his knees and remained in that position, speechless, for 20 minutes. He was 16. At 13, Novak vowed to devote his life to resurrecting extinct animals. At 14, he saw a photograph of a passenger pigeon in an Audubon Society book and “fell in love.” But he didn’t know that the Science Museum of Minnesota, which he was then visiting with a summer program for North Dakotan high-school students, had them in their collection. He was shocked when he came across a cabinet containing two stuffed pigeons, a male and a female, mounted in lifelike poses. He was overcome by awe, sadness and the birds’ physical beauty: their bright auburn breasts, slate-gray backs and the dusting of iridescence around their napes that, depending on the light and angle, appeared purple, fuchsia or green.
The benefits of these techniques can prevent suffering, but imagine futures literally written in DNA before birth. All it would take is an ethical hop, and lots of money.
… Read the rest
Sometime in the not-too-distant future, Marie and Antonio Freeman step into a doctor’s office to design their next child.
“Your extracted eggs, Marie, have been fertilized with Antonio’s sperm,” the doctor says. “After screening we’re left with, as you see, two healthy boys and two very healthy girls.”
A monitor displays what looks like soap bubbles that bumped into each other on a green background.
“Naturally, no critical predispositions to any of the major heritable diseases,” the doctor says. “All that remains is to select the most compatible candidate. We might as well start with gender—have you given it any thought?”
“We would want Vincent to have a brother, you know, to play with,” Marie says, referring to her first child.
… Read the rest
The Fox sci-fi buddy cop show Almost Human episode on sexbots inspired me to revisit the ethics of sexbots. While the advanced, human-like models of the show are still things of fiction, there is already considerable research and development devoted to creating sexbots. As such, it seems well worth considering the ethical issues involving sexbots real and fictional.
At this time, sexbots are clearly mere objects—while often made to look like humans, they do not have the qualities that would make them even person-like. As such, ethical concerns involving these sexbots would not involve concerns about wrongs done to such objects—presumably they cannot be wronged. One potentially interesting way to approach the matter of sexbots is to make use of Kant’s discussion of ethics and animals.
In his ethical theory Kant makes it quite clear that animals are means rather than ends.
I spring an entirely unplanned question on fighting philosopher Daniele Bolelli (“On the Warrior’s Path”, “50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know: Religion”): How can we all strive toward not being assholes? What develops is an interesting conversation on empathy, jealousy, violence, and the philosophical nature of good and evil.
The Institute on Medicine as a Profession’s press release, below, summarizes the report “Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror” that is causing a massive stir in the media. Let’s hope it ends up affecting policy…
… Read the rest
New York, NY — An independent panel of military, ethics, medical, public health, and legal experts today charged that U.S. military and intelligence agencies directed doctors and psychologists working in U.S. military detention centers to violate standard ethical principles and medical standards to avoid infliction of harm. The Task Force on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers (see attached) concludes that since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense (DoD) and CIA improperly demanded that U.S. military and intelligence agency health professionals collaborate in intelligence gathering and security practices in a way that inflicted severe harm on detainees in U.S.
I can’t say this seems any less or more ethical than smacking the bejeezus out of the things with shoes or spraying them with chemicals…
… Read the rest
RoboRoach #12 and its brethren are billed as a do-it-yourself neuroscience experiment that allows students to create their own “cyborg” insects. The roach was the main feature of the TEDx talk by Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo, co-founders of an educational company called Backyard Brains. After a summer Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to let them hone their insect creation, the pair used the Detroit presentation to show it off and announce that starting in November, the company will, for $99, begin shipping live cockroaches across the nation, accompanied by a microelectronic hardware and surgical kits geared toward students as young as 10 years old.
That news, however, hasn’t been greeted warmly by everyone. Gage and Marzullo, both trained as neuroscientists and engineers, say that the purpose of the project is to spur a “neuro-revolution” by inspiring more kids to join the fields when they grow up, but some critics say the project is sending the wrong message.