Although the term “commodification” is sometimes criticized as imprecise or overused, in fact it has a complex philosophical ancestry and can never be used too much because the phenomena that it describes are still gaining ground. The issues that commodification raises in relation to reproductive technologies include whether it is wrong to commodify human tissues generally and gametes particularly, and whether the person as subject and the person as object can be distinguished in modern biomedicine. This chapter examines three areas in which commodification is a serious concern for important reproductive technologies: the sale of eggs for in vitro fertilization and research, the banking of umbilical cord blood, and the use of gestational surrogates both domestically and internationally. In each example, the commodification of women’s reproductive labor is masked by the manner in which “the lady vanishes” under a gift model, ignoring the true economic value of their labor and opening up the possibility of exploitation by commercial interests.
John B. Davis
This article characterizes the Homo economicus conception in terms of three linked properties that are central to it as an atomist conception. On the standard view, individuals: have exogenous preferences; interact only (or almost only) in an indirect manner with one another through the price mechanism; and are unaffected in these two respects by the aggregate effects of their interaction with one another. The new research programs differ in how objectionable they find each of these properties, as befits their different commitments to synchronic or diachronic forms of explanation. Furthermore, this article reviews the role of synchronic and diachronic types of explanations in the possible emergence of a new general research program, discusses embedded individual microfoundations for that general program, and closes with speculations regarding the role of thinking about individuals in a future synthesis of the new research programs.
Robin O. Andreasen
This article focuses on ethical issues of biomedical research. The ethical concerns raised maintain that potential benefits outweigh potential harms. The benefit is that collecting and reporting race data will help pharmacologists gain a better understanding of health, disease, and response to drug treatment. This, in turn, may help to eliminate many racial disparities in health outcomes. While there are some legitimate concerns associated with the use of race in medicine, these problems can be overcome. Answers to questions about the origins of racial variation in health outcomes are likely to vary from disease to disease and is likely to involve interactions among multiple environmental and social factors. The question of whether genetic factors are likely to play an important role in explaining race—associated health differences is largely unanswered—and can be answered only by future research.
This article investigates the empirical evidence and normative implications of cooperation and reciprocity. It pays attention to forging connections with issues in normative political philosophy concerning the role of reciprocity in cooperative behavior and in the sense of justice. A disagreement between Brian Barry and Allan Gibbard about the relationship between different theories of justice and the motivations underlying them is presented. It is shown that the features of reciprocators presented point to a normative possibility—a conception of justice based on reciprocity—that is distinct both from what emerges from the interactions of purely self-interested players (justice as mutual advantage [JMA]) and conceptions which rely on ideals of unconditional altruism and impartiality (justice as impartiality [JI]). Positive reciprocity involves returning a benefit for a benefit or providing a benefit in expectation of a benefit. Justice as reciprocity (JR) represents a recognizable and apparently coherent ideal of justice that is fairly widely shared.
This article discusses the thesis that human intelligence in evolutionary history led from the need to meet the needs of social interactions. The evolution of human coordination capacities was not simply a single ascent up one complexity gradient. Social intelligence hypotheses are intended as accounts of the early coevolution of sociality and intelligence that facilitated team reasoning in small family bands. A major application of global game theory has been to speculative crises in financial markets. Self-construction decreases the loss of private information in imitation cascades. Primates and other social animals are equipped by basic and nonmysterious biological devices and behavioral dispositions to coordinate, at least in the statistical sense relevant to the selection of mixed strategies without backward induction. But capacities for easy coordination are potential barriers to specialization of labor and to efficient exploitation of private information.
This article, which defines the relation between sociobiology and other kinds of evolutionary account, and between meme-based versions and population-level learning accounts, also tries to sharpen the understanding of the promises of cultural evolutionary theories. Charles Darwin's synthesis does not always place natural selection in the foreground. One very specific source of skepticism is directed at the use some cultural evolutionists make of the meme concept. Theories of cultural evolution need not, and often do not, support the meme concept. A casual reading of the meme concept might lead one to think that cultural evolutionary theories cast humans in a passive role. Developmental systems theory may present the most likely site for a full reconciliation between social anthropology and cultural evolutionary theory.
This article argues that strong “descriptive-causal generalizations” are in fact quite common, at least compared to the standard belief of approximately zero. The philosophy of the special sciences has a great deal to present to those interested in empirical laws and strong generalizations in the social sciences. Social scientists do find and make strong, and empirically supported, causal generalizations. Descriptive-causal generalizations and perfect predictors are in fact the same phenomenon. It will be very hard to defeat the descriptive-causal generalizations using standard statistical strategies. A descriptive-causal generalization sometimes receives the name “empirical law.” The democratic peace is one of the most famous descriptive-causal generalizations in political science. The term “empirical law” indicates that there are multiple dimensions which scientists use to assess generalizations.
Daniel M. Hausman
This article is concerned with the role of quantitative and consequentialist considerations in the evaluation of policies within departments of government. It concentrates on the difficulties of within-department consequentialist policy evaluation itself, in the realistic case in which it is subsumed in a pluralist method of evaluation. It is possible to do health policy without a measure of population health, though it is not possible to do it well. Health economists take themselves to be measuring the bearing of health states on well-being. The article then addresses five arguments in defense of evaluating health states by measuring people's preferences among health states. Individuals' preferences are not evidence as to the true value of health states. Consequentialist considerations play an important role in policy evaluation. It is very difficult to implement restricted consequentialist policy assessment.
This article deals mainly with disagreements that are internal to the evolutionary program. It introduces some theoretical concepts from the theory of games and evolutionary biology, focusing in particular on dilemmas of cooperation. The coordination and bargaining games are covered. The evolutionary approaches based on evolutionarily stable strategies, kin selection, assortativity, and reciprocity have dominated the theoretical literature for the last three decades. The Nash bargaining solution can be very unjust in asymmetric games, so evolutionary game theory loses some of its appeal in these contexts. Bargaining appears to reflect the balance of power and seems to be affected by local norms of fairness. Strong reciprocity theorists have argued that reciprocal motives are robust enough to be represented as social preferences governing individual behavior across a variety of decision tasks. Strong reciprocity models indicate that cooperation may survive even when some of these constraints are relaxed.
Werner Güth and Hartmut Kliemt
The originally Hobbesian ideal of twentieth-century neoclassical economics as a discipline that studies human interaction “more geometrico” as a scenery of interactive rational decision making is rejected. “Explaining” overt behavior as (if it were) the equilibrium outcome of opportunity seeking rational choices is impossible if the requirement of approximate truth of the explanans is upheld. Stylized accounts of some central experiments (prisoner’s dilemma, ultimatum, dictator, impunity games, double oral auctions) show why this is so and illustrate basic contributions of experimental economics in an exemplary manner. A somewhat detailed account of an experiment concerning “equity” shows the explanatory potential and “workings” of experimental economics and how its findings can contribute to traditional philosophical and psychological discussions. Why the Humean “attempt to introduce the experimental method of reasoning into moral subjects” must remain incomplete until experimental economics and experimental psychology become fully complementary research strategies is indicated as well.
James F. Woodward
This article surveys some of the philosophical issues raised by recent experimental work on so-called social preferences. More broadly, its focus is on experimental explorations of the conditions under which people behave co-operatively or in a prosocial way or, alternatively, fail to do so. These experiments raise a number of fascinating methodological and interpretive issues that are of central importance both to economics and to social and political philosophy. It is commonly claimed that the experiments demonstrate that (at least some) people not only have selfish preferences concerning their own material payoffs, but that they also have preferences concerning the well-being of others—that is, social preferences. Moreover, the contention is not just that some subjects have such social preferences, but that these can have large and systematic effects on behavior, both in the experiments under discussion and in real life contexts outside the laboratory.
The aim of this article is to make explicit the kinds of arguments provided for evidence and explanations of the causes of growth, while paying some attention to the complexities and differences in interpretation of the models and data at issue. While its examples focus on growth, the practices described here are common and not peculiar to work on growth. Along the way, this article discusses such deep issues as the probability foundations of econometrics, the place of non-statistical evidence, conceptions of economics as a separate science, and complex kinds of causality. The issues are big and hard ones, thus they are not assessed completely. However, at the end this article tries to give a clearer understanding of two important research traditions in economics and their relation to issues in the philosophy of science.
This chapter offers an account of the contemporary economist's model of human agency in a market setting and of the ways in which individual choices are related to collective behavior in the market place. It also sketches the ways in which the model has been adapted to accommodate decision making in non-market environments. It builds on the model to offer an account of the ethical foundations of modern economics. Although welfare economics is thought to be insensitive to the language of rights, this article shows that contemporary economists have incorporated rights in their ethics. It describes the way ideas of human rights and human goods can be and have been subsumed by economists under an overarching notion of human well-being. Furthermore, it draws a distinction between the “constituents” and “determinants” of well-being. Whereas ethicists are temperamentally drawn to the constituents, economists study the determinants.
This article emphasizes various ways in which the connection of relationships has been framed conceptually over the course of Western philosophy by Plato, Aristotle, and more recently by contemporary philosophers of science. This discussion cites examples with the help of cases taken from contemporary genetics that have significant social ramifications: eugenics, the Human Genome Project, the tractability of genes, behavioral genetics, pharmacogenetics, and the development of “ethnic drugs.” There are continuities between the eugenics of the past and the human genetics of today. Theoretical knowledge in genetics provides justification for practical interventions directed at the level of the genome. Recent research in genomics and the development of “ethnic drugs” provides a case study for analyzing the ways in which theoretical and practical considerations intersect and moral and social values are implicated in molecular biology. The goal is to begin to develop an improved conceptual framework for understanding genes and society.
Mechanistic Social Probability: How Individual Choices and Varying Circumstances Produce Stable Social Patterns
This article investigates a philosophical hypothesis about the nature of (some) probabilities encountered in social sciences, and also explains how to use a new interpretation of probability, far flung frequency (FFF) mechanistic probability, to central cases in social sciences. Probabilities in error terms can reflect both methodological and social probabilities. Some well-known interpretations of probability are then highlighted. “Mechanistic probability” interpretations depend on the same causal structure, but there is no established term for such interpretations at present. Furthermore, the article reviews the core concepts of mechanistic probability using the idea of a wheel of fortune. The wheel of fortune is called a causal map device. The evidence for FFF mechanistic probability in social contexts is not as strong as one would like. It should be taken seriously as an account of the kind of probability to which many claims in social sciences implicitly refer.
This article, which takes a fresh look at micro–macro relations in the social sciences from the point of view of the mechanistic account of explanation, introduces the distinction between causal and constitutive explanation. It then discusses the intentional fundamentalism, and challenges the idea that intentional explanations have a privileged position in the social sciences. A mechanism-based explanation describes the causal process selectively. The properties of social networks serve both as the explananda and the explanantia in sociology. Knowledge of the causal mechanisms is vital in the justification of historical causal claims. The intentional attitudes of individuals are also important in most mechanism-based explanations of social phenomena. It is important to pay closer attention to how real macro social facts figure in social scientific theories and explanations.
The new models of culture have opened different possibilities for the explanation of action, and they present interesting challenges to the familiar ways of understanding agency. In this article, the Boasian model and the functionalist model of culture are elaborated. The neo-Boasian model, the epidemiological model, and practice theory can map the contemporary literature. Practice theory tries to split the difference between theories that treat social structures as the primary determinant of action and those which prioritize individual choices. With respect to the structure-and-agency issue, both epidemiological models and practice theories have something analogous to structure, even if they have dispensed with a conception of culture/society as a system of rules. Contemporary models of culture are a fertile ground for redeveloping the epistemological and metaphysical issues of the social sciences.
Eric Racine and Veljko Dubljević
This article reviews different points of interest in neuroethics. These are exemplified by the three broad areas of neuroscience research—neuroimaging, neuropharmacology, and neurostimulation—and the major ethical questions with which they are associated. It considers primary research in neuroscience, ethics, and philosophy and identifies some important questions meriting further attention, primarily in the context of healthcare but also beyond, in the broad areas of education, business, and the military. A heavily debated trend, that of the enhancement use of neuropharmaceuticals and neurostimulation devices, is also discussed, especially in relationship to cognitive enhancement and neuroethics. In addition, emerging forms of neurostimulation are considered with respect to effectiveness and ethics.
Sara Goering and Eran Klein
Neurotechnologies under development are often explicitly justified in terms of the advantages they will provide to disabled people. Thus, it would seem important to know what disabled people want from current and future iterations of these technologies and how they experience the functional barriers the technologies are meant to address. Ensuring that disabled people want what is designed requires attention to “end user” needs and values. The paradigmatic form of end user input in device design focuses on device acceptability, usually happens late in the development process, and is oriented to economic viability. But seeking out and taking seriously the perspectives of disabled people (potential end users) should be grounded at least in part by considerations of justice, including both distribution and recognition.
This article describes some of the ways in which brute behavioral norms can feature as explananda. Explanation in terms of norms-as-rules is not far removed from explanation that turns on individual psychology. There are three very general ways in which one might initially think to understand talk of rules—three kinds of things that one might think could serve the functional role envisioned—but only one is really promising on informed reflection. The issues of tolerance of difference, sharing across difference, and yet sufficient similarity to constrain of behavior are closely linked to issues that concerned Ludwig Wittgenstein. Bicchieri's talk of rules being known to exist is probably an infelicitously glorified formulation. An account of causal explanations in the special sciences advanced by James Woodward is described. Accounting for the social preferences is most daunting in the case of social norms.