Can biological information aid predictions of
misconduct? That is the question of BioPrediction. The idea is not to
replace psychological and sociological studies but to supplement them
with new information from structural and functional brain scans,
genetics, hormone analyses, and other biological sources. Contemporary
statistical engines can use all of this information together to generate
predictions of future delinquency and crime. In educational and other
social contexts, biomarkers might aid in identification of 'high risk'
children - perhaps at a pre-symptomatic stage - who will benefit from
early interventions. In forensic contexts, biomarkers could inform
predictions of criminal behaviour - including violence and sex crimes -
to be taken into account in sentencing, parole, probation, and detention
decisions. Biomarkers could also be used in addiction treatment
programs to guide treatment and predict relapse, and in psychiatric
contexts to predict risk of harm to self and others as prerequisites for
release from a mental institution. These possibilities clearly raise a
host of ethical and legal issues, including concerns about privacy,
intervention and due process. All of this will be discussed by leading
clinicians, social scientists, neuroscientists, lawyers, and ethicists
at a workshop on May 8-9 in Washington, D.C. Revised papers from this
workshop will be published in a collection.
First, I wanted to apologize to those of you who have had difficulties commenting during the past few days. It seems there have been some glitches on Typepad's end. They seemed to be worked out at this point, but if you continue to have problems, let me know and I will contact Typepad to see if I can get the issue resolved. Just please include information concerning your browser since the problems are often browser-specific.
Second, I wanted to thank everyone once again for their active participation thus far. I, for one, have been positively delighted with how active the blog has been since we launched it a few weeks ago. So, please keep up the hard work. Our goal is to have regular posts by a wide variety of contributors so that readers always have several interesting and active posts to choose from. So, drop by often and comment frequently!
Third, I wanted to remind everyone that while sustained and engaging debate is the life blood of both this blog as well as philosophy more generally, we all need to ensure that our comments are not unduly snarky or personalized. As many of you know, I am as challenged as anyone else when it comes to the temptation to ratchet up the rhetoric! :) However, adopting an uncharitable tone tends to shed more heat than light. As such, I wanted to gently remind everyone to be on their best behavior. Neither I nor the other contributors want to moderate/censor posts or comments that are philosophically interesting yet unprofessional or uncharitable. But, we are committing to doing so in the name of the greater good of the blog. At the end of the day, we are trying to foster a community of ideas here on Flickers of Freedom not a grounds for battling or belittling others. Just a thought...
Say that a certain term is taken as primitive in a dialectical context if it is supposed in that context that sentences involving that term can't or needn't be given a definition that doesn't invoke the term in question (or a synonym thereof).
For metaphysicians debating the nature of material objects, 'part' is often taken as primitive in this sense. Sentences of the form 'x is a part of y' (or some variant) are considered to be at the bedrock of theorizing, and then other mereological terms are defined in terms of parthood. Sentences of the form 'x is a proper part of y', for example, are not primitive, since they can be defined as follows: 'x is a part of y and x is not identical to y'. ('Identical' is also taken as primitive in this context.) And so on.
Informally, the primitive terms of a debate are those terms with respect to which the question "What do you mean by *that*?" can only be answered by an incredulous stare. If you don't know what I mean by that, then we can't even have this conversation. Other candidate philosophical primitives: 'good', 'right', 'thing', and 'true'.
Peter van Inwagen, in this paper, seems to suggest that 'able' is one of our primitive terms.
Tim O'Connor, in this paper, is explicit about taking 'brings about' (or 'produces') as a primitive term to be used in understanding agent-causation.
2) What are our primitive principles?
Say that a certain principle is taken as primitive in a dialectical context if it is presumed in that context to be evidently true and either can't or needn't be argued for.
Perhaps the claim that knowledge is factive has the status of an epistemological primitive principle in most dialectical contexts. In metaphysics, maybe we can include as primitive the claim that things could have been different.
Informally, primitive principles in a certain context can be used as the engines behind reductio ad absurdum arguments: if your metaphysical picture entails necessitarianism, then it's back to the drawing board. Or, closer to home, if your view of moral responsibility entails that dogs can deserve the death penalty, then it's back to the drawing board.
Perhaps what's behind these questions is a curiosity about how much those who theorize about free will and moral responsibility actually agree about. Do we have starting points? And how well can we articulate them?
I organized an
invited session on Classical Compatibilism for the 2010 Pacific APA.
Unfortunately there is a boycott of the conference hotel – not a strike, but a
boycott – and we decided to move to the 2010 Off-Site Pacific Meeting, at the
University of San Francisco. Please spread the word.
Greetings! First, I want to thank everyone for participating on Flickers of Freedom during the past two weeks. Since we launched the blog, there have already been 3500 page visits and nearly 8000 page views! So, I humbly think we are off to a great start. Hopefully, we can sustain this momentum moving forward. Second, I wanted to let contributors know that the new default setting when creating a post is the "draft" mode. So, you will need to make sure to "publish" your post once it is ready for mass consumption. Third, I wanted to ask contributors to make sure not to post new substantive posts until the prior substantive post has had enough time to start winding down. Four to five days should usually be sufficient--though this will obviously vary from post to post. For instance, while all three of the first substantive posts have produced interesting and illuminating comment threads, it may have been better had each post enjoyed a few more days in the cyber-spot light! Of course, updates, conference announcements, etc. are fair game for posting whenever you see fit. Finally, I wanted to let everyone know that in the coming months we will be featuring several guest-bloggers. These guest-bloggers will be either (a) researchers in philosophy and cognate fields who usually don't have the time or interest to be full-time contributors but who are nevertheless interested in posting for a month, or (b) graduate students who are working on agency-related issues. If you are interested in being a guest contributor, please email me. We won't usually have more than one guest-blogger at a time, so this could be a nice opportunity to test the blogging waters while also providing you with a forum for your ideas.
OK, that's it for now I suppose. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. In the meantime, happy blogging!
The latest issue of Ideas y Valores is dedicated to "Free Will, Determinism and Moral Responsibility." It contains articles written by Frankfurt, Kane, Moya, Vargas, Hoyos, Timpe, Haji, Patarrayo, Pereboom, and Betzler. Furthermore, the journal is open access, and the contents can be accessed here.
The old Action Theory Page that I created ten years ago, and have neglected for the past five years, is finally being retired. In its place is a new and better website created by Constantine Sandis and me.
The new site is simply called Philosophy of Action and is devoted to all things related to action and agency (including free will). Some parts are nearly complete while others will be worked on for some time to come (e.g., the bibliography). Of course, the entire site will be a constant work in progress Please give the site a visit and feel free to offer either Constantine or me any suggestions on how we can improve it. Also, please feel free to send us any announcements about conferences (including calls for papers), special issues of journals, etc.
Many years ago at the Garden of Forking Paths, Neil Levy
would joke (at least, I think he was joking) that he was an compatibilist about
moral responsibility on Mondays and Thursdays and a skeptic the rest of the
week.Lately, I’ve wondered whether this
is a reasonable position to adopt.Can
it be justified to shift back and forth on the question of whether agents can
be morally responsible for their behavior?
Here’s why it might be:
1.We decide what MR theory to accept by employing
something like wide reflective equilibrium.Fischer and Ravizza are explicit
about their use of WRE, but it seems that all theories are implicitly committed
to this methodology for justification.
2.We have conflicting intuitions about the
all-important TNR principle.On a
general level, it seems inappropriate to blame agents for actions caused by
factors that trace back beyond the agent’s control. And generalization or manipulation strategies
like the 4-case or zygote arguments provide more intuitive support for the
principle..On the other hand, it also seems intuitively inappropriate
not to blame offenders who meet
compatibilist conditions.This is
especially true in concrete cases, real life cases, and especially cases where
we know the offended parties.