Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monthly Picks

On the first day of each month, I will be posting about new papers I've found interesting in Philosophy or Library & Information Science. I'll try to make sure at least one is accessible to everyone.

Dahan, Y. (2011). Privatization, school choice and educational equality. Law and Ethics of Human Rights, 5(2), 307-334.
[link] freely accessible, for those willing and able to fill in personal and institutional information

Parkinson, C., Sinnott-Armstrong, W., Koralus, P.E., Mendelovici, A., McGreer, V., Wheatley, T. (2011). Is morality unified? Evidence that distinct neural systems underlie moral judgments of harm, dishonesty, and disgust. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(10), 3162-3180.
[link] freely accessible

Nolan, D. (2011). Why historians (and everyone else) should care about counterfactuals. Philosophical Studies, forthcoming.

Winget, M. A. (2011). Videogame preservation and massively multiplayer online role-playing games: A review of the literature. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(10), 1869–1883

Papers I especially wanted to read but couldn't access

Bourne, K. (2011). Commanding and controlling protest crowds. Critical Horizons, 12(2), 189-210.

Ginn, S., Price, A., Rayner, L., Owen, G.S., Hayes, R.D., Hotopf, M., Lee, W. (2011) Senior doctors' opinions of rational suicide. Journal of Medical Ethics, forthcoming.


  1. I don't understand the interest in that neuro-ethics paper.

    It's supposed to imply that moral judgment is done by several distinct systems in the brain. Yet the authors themselves note that they could find no relation between the moral judgment and neural activity ("Also, judgment confidence (high vs. low) was not a significant predictor of brain activity within any system, with the exception of Disgust"). It appears that the experimental set-up is incapable of recording the moral judgment - it only records the emotions associated with it. It doesn't even indicate whether these cause the moral judgment, or accompany it, or are caused by it!

    The so-called "moral" scenarios were carefully designed to elicit only one emotion (Disgusting, Harmful, or Dishonest); presumably, they also selected for the "(morally) wrong" answer. The so-called "neutral" scenarios were carefully designed to avoid any of these emotions (and be "not wrong"). So the real difference between them is that "moral" scenarios involve one emotion, and "neutral" ones involve none. From the get-go the "experiment" is geared up to reveal that each moral scenario is tied to a specific emotion - and lo and behold, it finds just that!

    All that the article finds is, basically, that the arousal of these three emotions is associated with different parts of the brain.

    It is not a very telling paper, I'm afraid. The conclusions are far ahead of the evidence.


  2. I can send you a copy of the journal of medical ethics paper if you like.

  3. I read it. I was not impressed. The above was a "review", of sorts.