Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Intoxicated Consent and Intoxicated Responsibility: Is there a paradox?

Once upon a time, I used to teach criminal law. For me, the most challenging section of the course was invariably the section on sexual offences. Some students would find the subject uncomfortable, perhaps even traumatising. Others, though interested and engaged, would find it difficult to articulate their thoughts in a precise way. There would be occasionally awkward discussions about the nature of sexual consent and responsibility, as well as contentious debates about the gendered assumptions that continue to underlie the law.Every year, I would teach tutorial classes in which students were asked to consider the correct legal approach to real and hypothetical cases of sexual assault and rape. Every year, I found that one kind of hypothetical case would generate the most heated discussion, with the debate usually (though not always) breaking down along gendered lines.The case would be posed by one of the students (I don’t believe I ever brought it up). The case would involve a man and a woman, both of whom were heavily, but voluntarily, intoxicated. The man and woman would then engage in some kind of sexual* touching. This could be penetrative or not; the exact form did not matter too much to the hypothetical (though see the discussion of this issue below). If it were penetrative, it would be assumed that the man had penetrated the woman. The question would then be posed: was there a legally chargeable sexual assault or rape?This hypothetical would generate heated [More]

The Methods of Bioethics: An Essay in Meta-Bioethics

2019.08.21 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews John McMillan, The Methods of Bioethics: An Essay in Meta-Bioethics, Oxford University Press, 2018, 186pp., $60.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780199603756. Reviewed by Thomas V. Cunningham, Kaiser Permanente Southern California Bioethics Program Bioethics is ripe for an investigation into its methods. The boundaries of the field are multiple and blurred, its central problems contested, and its theories and methods are frequently underdeveloped. So, John McMillan's book is a timely one. It positions itself as a pithy exploration of the methodological failings of bioethics and an expert explication of its core philosophical-methodological foundations. Were it able to accomplish this, the book would be an important addition to the field, making for an accessible introduction for an advanced undergraduate or graduate course or a useful reference text for professionals coming to bioethics from medicine, nursing, law, or other vocations. Unfortunately, this book overpromises and underperforms, so I would not recommend it for these audiences. Although it sets... Read [More]

Schechter from WUSTL to Indiana

Elizabeth Schecter, previously in the Department of Philosophy and the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program at Washington University in St. Louis, is now associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University, Bloomington. Professor Schechter works on psychological unity and its connection to questions about personal identity, self-knowledge, the unity of consciousness, the nature of belief, and related matters. Her book, Self-Consciousness and ‘Split’ Brains: The Mind’s I, came out last year. You can learn more about her work here. The post Schechter from WUSTL to Indiana appeared first on Daily [More]

Mental Illness & Gun Violence

It seems a matter of common sense to think that a mass shooter must have “something wrong” with them. Well-adjusted, moral people do not engage in mass murder. But are mass shooters mentally ill? Mental illness is a medical matter, not a matter for common sense pop psychology to resolve. Looked at in strict medical [More]

What Do We Know? A Quantum Perspective

Nowhere does science meet philosophy more profoundly than in quantum physics. Intellectual excitement, and sometimes also frustration, is tangible in the thriving debates about what our best physics is telling us about the world. Much publicised conceptions of the 'many worlds' and 'pilot waves' of quantum physics represent radically different ways of making sense of the theoretical framework that revolutionised 20th century science, and there is no shortage of alternative ideas. It is undeniable that central notions of quantum theory — superposition, entanglement, spin, and the like — capture strange features of the physical world. But which features exactly? Many old controversies surrounding this question are still fiercely debated, fuelled by often unacknowledged presuppositions that are as much philosophical as they are scientific. The unabating uncertainty about what exactly quantum physics is telling us about the world also raises an important issue about the very nature of [More]