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Comments for Practical Ethics

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Last Build Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:38:40 +0000


Comment on 2017 Annual Uehiro Lectures in Practical Ethics: Audio Recordings Now Available by Kelsey

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:38:40 +0000

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Comment on Guest Post: The Real Problem With Human Head Transplantation by maureen doyle

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 15:47:47 +0000

The head is actually the recipient of a full body transplant. To the doctor who picks up the head and places it on the larger bit that's laying still, it seems like a head transplant. To the person or monkey who wakes up, it is a foreign body that has been grafted to itself.

Comment on Video Series: Is AI Racist? Can We Trust it? Interview with Prof. Colin Gavaghan by Keith Tayler

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 20:11:25 +0000

We should perhaps not be too surprised that AI is only repeating the issues that were raised during the 19th century with the use of probability and statistics. If the advocates of AI (inc. some so-called ethicists) were to read Dicken’s Hard Times, Marx’s Des Capital, papers of Francis Galton, etc. they might realise this is not a new problem. Ethicists like Colin Gavaghan and Mercedes-Benz are completely wrong if they think automated vehicles (AV) should be able to prioritise the occupants of the vehicle over pedestrians. If you are in a two tone lump of metal it is you and your passengers that must take the ‘hit’. Sorry, but that is the way it is and if anyone does not understand that they should not be making decisions about AVs. This is a completely false issue but a major problem for AI because AVs must be programmed to stay on the road. They do not have the ‘option’ to crash into a tree because they are closed domain systems, i.e. they cannot correctly identify objects off the road. The problem of AV ethics is a trolley problem because the AVs, like all AI systems, are closed domains systems, i.e. they are effectively moving on rails. Again, we should perhaps not be too surprised how easily ethicists and others have allowed their thinking to be railroaded down this ethical dead end by the AI advocates. But let us get it straight, the AV control problem is being treated as a trolley problem because of the limitations of the AI technology and the unethical belief by Mercedes that their rich customers should be able to kill pedestrians and other road users. Ethicists and philosophers of technology should not allow their thinking to be limited by machine intelligence and capitalism.

Comment on Paddington Bear and the Evangelicals by Charles Foster

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 08:10:44 +0000

VoiceOfReason: Many thanks for your comments. You are quite right to observe that I make assertions about normative issues without giving arguments to back up those assertions. I happen to think, for instance, that xenophobia and racism are wrong and that communitarianism is preferable to atomism. Justification of those positions requires a great deal of philosophical work. In relation to communitarianism I have tried to do that work in several books and many articles, and far better thinkers than I am have done so far more thoroughly and far more convincingly. But this post was nothing whatever to do with the reasons for my positions. No blog post could satisfactorily set out those reasons. Thus I entirely agree with you when you say: ' do not win the battle of ideas, you do not make a clear argument why you are more ethical...' I wasn't trying to do anything of the kind. Nor was the post, as you suggest it was, an '...attempt at a movie review'. The post simply sought to make one tentative suggestion and to draw attention to one fact. (a) The suggestion: Part of the appeal of the movie to predominantly secular audiences is the appeal of the Christian mythos as that mythos is articulated by historical Christianity. (b) The fact: one of the main purportedly Christian constituencies would frown at the movie. I think that (a) and (b) are at least interesting.

Comment on Pedophilia and Child Sexual Abuse Are Two Different Things — Confusing Them is Harmful to Children by VoiceOfReason

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 00:22:38 +0000

It is quite curious how statutory rape laws and ages of consent differ across the world. In one country, sex with a 14 year old is perfectly legal, in another sex with a 20 year old not. Are we saying 14 yr olds from Canada are more mature and better able to consent than a 20 yr old who just happens to live elsewhere? The history behind ages of consent is a fascinating one and has nothing whatsoever to do with the wellbeing of children, being driven by several competing interest groups. Unfortunately, there are no global ethical guidelines and there are unlikely to ever be any except having 18 thrust upon countries that have a lower age of consent which could be argued to infringe on the sexual freedoms of those under 18 (though a Romeo and Juliet clause can assuage some of those fears). In some US states, it may be legal to have sex with an 18 yr old but you would be a registered child sex offender if she sent you a naked picture. I am not sure how sexting is supposed to be riskier than actual sex but that just goes to illustrate how ridiculous people are about sexual ethics.

Comment on In Defence of Impulsivity by VoiceOfReason

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 00:13:55 +0000

I am in total agreement. The idea of increasing something as core to our humanity as our impulse control raises the spectre of the grandfather's axe paradox. How much can we improve our impulse control before we cease to be or feel human? How much of our humanity is tied up in moments of excess and folly? And what function does impulsiveness have? It is easy to dismiss it without a second thought but if you look at situations of imperfect information that require quick decision making, impulse is what gives us the risk takers who out on a limb and win big, empowering humanity with new achievements and discoveries. I dread to think how a stock market devoid of impulsiveness would operate. Impulsiveness and risk-taking can have big rewards or big costs but it seems in this day and age we only focus on the negative and conveniently forget we would be giving up the positives as well. And without the highs and lows of impulsiveness and its good and bad outcomes, would we still be men or just machines going about calculated lives, living but not alive?

Comment on Paddington Bear and the Evangelicals by VoiceOfReason

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 00:05:39 +0000

I must admit I had stopped visiting this site for quite a whilst and am sorely disappointed by what I return to find. I thought this was a place for serious thought and discussions about ethics. Instead, I find a shallow attempt at a movie review driven more by personal bias and imperviousness to ideological diversity than by any ethical arguments. This reductio ad absurdum of identity politics is more fitting of tv talking head on a poorly researched 'news' show or a tumblr rant than a site dedicated to the discussion of ethics and the promotion of intelligent debate about it. I am not white, or religious, I am not from the Bible Belt neither did I vote for Trump, being an African and not an American citizen. Sadly I have to bring these things up because whilst they should not matter a damn in a discussion of ideas, your article makes it clear you dismiss people based on identity and were I a white evangelical, you would prejudge me and not really judge any ideas I espoused on their merits. Projecting negative stereotypes and making ethical judgements without evidence based on race, gender or religion is no less bad and no less stupid when the people you look down on are white, evangelical men. Who is the right thinking world? What makes them right thinking the others wrong thinking? Has that been settled conclusively with a clear, proven argument? Isn't rightness normative and subjective for the most part? Paddington's communitarianism sounds like consequentialist utilitarianism which is by no means the only ethical system one can live by and which faces the threat of becoming a dangerously interventionist afront to liberty, whilst ultimately still relying on subjective judgements of utility and what is best for the community that the 'wise' would impose on others. "We’re reminded in every frame that 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump – thereby sacrificing any authority that they might have had to give the world ethical advice. (By their votes have we known them)." As an African, I know full well what you guys mean when you say there is a right and wrong person to vote for in a democracy. You mean it is a democracy if we all think as you want us to and we are fools or worse, evil if we have ideological and other differences that make us vote for whoever we would prefer above the choice you the 'wise' believe is best for all of us. It is funny to see you doing it to your own countrymen for once though, not to us 'backward' people. And yet, you do not win the battle of ideas, you do not make a clear argument why you are more ethical, why Trump is so unethical and hardest of all, why it is just to discount and disparage people for a democratic choice if you also argue that democracy is in and of itself virtuous. There is a logical inconsistency there and a surprising inability to realise you advocate tyranny under your ideological compatriots as more ethical than the freedom for a majority to choose to do something you do not agree with, all without showing that your position that you would impose on others is in any way superior or that it's alleged morality would be enough to justify unethical imposition.

Comment on Pedophilia and Child Sexual Abuse Are Two Different Things — Confusing Them is Harmful to Children by Mari

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:51:15 +0000

Thank you so much for this clarification. I really wish people would understand the difference.

Comment on Pedophilia and Child Sexual Abuse Are Two Different Things — Confusing Them is Harmful to Children by Linguistic Frame Machines

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 13:14:13 +0000

Alternatively, we could just respect the consent principle and not confuse consensual sex with "assault", "abuse", "molestation" or "rape". There is absolutely nothing wrong with consensual sex at age 14, whether with an adult or not. Legality is a different matter.

Comment on Pedophilia and Child Sexual Abuse Are Two Different Things — Confusing Them is Harmful to Children by Agehemewop

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 12:48:39 +0000

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