Some virtues are chiefly about increasing one's domain, striking out into the unknown, and bursting the bounds that confine us. Other virtues are about accepting limits and thriving within them. David McPherson's worthwhile book is an extended exploration of the latter, with an emphasis on reverence, humility, gratitude, contentment, moderation, loyalty, and neighbourliness. Appealing to these ‘limiting virtues’, as he calls them, McPherson defends a panoply of normative conclusions in ethics, politics, and economics. For instance, by appealing to reverence, he argues there are absolute prohibitions we must respect no matter the stakes; by appealing to humility, that utopian ambitions in the political sphere are unacceptable; by appealing to patriotism, that it is better to be a citizen of a particular somewhere rather than a citizen of the world; and by appealing to gratitude, that all of us, regardless of religion, should embrace something like the Jewish practice of Sabbath.
David Benatar argues that one important consideration in favour of anti-natalism is based on the fact that all humans lack cosmic meaning; we will never transcend space and time such that we will have an impact on the entire universe, forever. Instead of denying Benatar’s claim that we lack cosmic meaning, Thaddeus Metz recently argues that our lack of cosmic meaning is not that significant because we ought not to regret lacking a good that we could not have in the first place. He explains the principle behind this idea in modal terms: “the closer the world in which one could access a benefit, the more reasonable are attitudes such as sadness, disappointment, regret when does not acquire it.” I argue that this principle faces a serious counterexample in the form of death. The possible worlds in which one doesn’t die are incredibly distant. Yet, it is appropriate to express deep sadness, disappointment, and regret at the fact that one must inevitably face death. Metz is wrong that we shouldn’t regret lacking a good unavailable to us in the first place. His criticism of Benatar therefore fails. While it might be objected that immortality is not good, my basic point still stands when considering the fact that our lives are not significantly longer. Benatar’s claims about the significance of our lack of cosmic meaning might not be true, but not for the reasons suggested by Metz.
Background and purpose: The thalamus is a key brain hub that is globally connected to many cortical regions. Previous work highlights thalamic contributions to multiple cognitive functions, but few studies have measured thalamic volume changes or cognitive correlates. This study investigates associations between thalamic volumes and post-stroke cognitive function. Methods: Participants with non-thalamic brain infarcts (3-42 months) underwent MRI and cognitive testing. Focal infarcts and thalami were traced manually. In cases with bilateral infarcts, the side of the primary infarct volume defined the hemisphere involved. Brain parcellation and volumetrics were extracted using a standardized and previously validated neuroimaging pipeline. Age and gender-matched healthy controls provided normal comparative thalamic volumes. Thalamic atrophy was considered when the volume exceeded 2 standard deviations greater than the controls. Results: Thalamic volumes ipsilateral to the infarct in stroke patients (n=55) were smaller than left (4.4 ± 1.4 vs. 5.4 ± 0.5 cc, p < 0.001) and right (4.4 ± 1.4 vs. 5.5 ± 0.6 cc, p < 0.001) thalamic volumes in the controls. After controlling for head-size and global brain atrophy, infarct volume independently correlated with ipsilateral thalamic volume (β= -0.069, p=0.024). Left thalamic atrophy correlated significantly with poorer cognitive performance (β = 4.177, p = 0.008), after controlling for demographics and infarct volumes. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the remote effect of infarction on ipsilateral thalamic volume is associated with global post-stroke cognitive impairment.
Deke Caiñas Gould (2021) argues that the possibility of future non‐human‐like minds who are not harmed by coming into existence poses a challenge to David Benatar's well‐known Asymmetry Argument for anti‐natalism. Since the good of these future minds has the potential to outweigh the current harms of human existence, they can be appealed to in order to justify procreation. I argue that Gould's argument rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of Benatar's argument. According to the Asymmetry Argument, if a person experiences any harm at all, then bringing them into existence is unjustified. It does not depend upon on‐balance judgments about the relative harms and benefits of existence. It therefore remains impermissible to procreate right now in our world, regardless of the prospect of future humans contributing to the successful development of beings who are not harmed by existence. I conclude by addressing two alternate readings of Gould, which, for the sake of argument, permit such on‐balance judgments, and show why they fail to rescue his case. Benatar's Asymmetry Argument might be unsound, but not for any reason identified by Gould.
Elderly patients and their families are concerned about the patients' cognitive abilities, and cognitive screening is an efficient diagnostic tool, as long as clinicians administer the screens in a standardized manner and interpret the screen results accurately. The following brief summary reviews commonly used screening instruments and provides information about how to interpret screening test results. It concludes by showing how cognitive screening fits into a four-step process (Education, Screening, Follow-up, and Referral) of how to respond to patients with cognitive concerns.
In The Axiological Status of Theism and Other Worldviews (2020), I defend the Complete Understanding Argument for anti-theism, which says that God’s existence makes the world worse with respect to our ability to understand it. In a recent article, Roberto Di Ceglie offers three objections to my argument. I seek to rescue my argument by showing (1) that understanding can come in degrees; (2) that I’m not a consequentialist about the value of understanding; and (3) that my argument is consistent with God providing us with sufficient knowledge of important spiritual matters. Di Ceglie’s objections point to future areas for fruitful exploration but do not defeat my argument.
This chapter introduces the reader to David Benatar’s Misanthropic Argument for anti-natalism. Benatar argues that procreation is impermissible because of the vast harm that individuals who are created will cause. However, if circumstances changed and that harm could be greatly reduced or eliminated, then procreation could become permissible. According to Benatar the chances of this happening are incredibly slim. Benatar focuses on the harm to three main groups in that of the harm that humans cause other humans, non-human animals, and nature. Throughout history, humans have probably been most cruel to each other and this continues to be the case today. Furthermore, the CO2 emissions per individual per year is unsustainable for the health of the planet. Every year billions of non-human animals suffer painful deaths at the hands of humans. Benatar concludes that all of this amounts to a strong cumulative case against procreation on misanthropic grounds.
This chapter concludes the book. I examine whether I have merely made an observation about African Communitarianism or have posed a serious challenge to the rationality of it. I conclude that because I hold African Communitarianism and anti-natalism are consistent with each other that it is not really up to me how to interpret the consequences of the connection I make in this book. Rather, it is up to the African Communitarian to decide whether they will accept that their view entails anti-natalism. If they don’t, then they will need to respond to the arguments I offer in Chap. 4. I conclude by pointing to some promising future directions in the form of more interaction between specific ethical theories, including non-Western theories, and the arguments for anti-natalism.
This chapter focuses on explicating African Communitarianism to the Western reader who may be unfamiliar with it. The normative conception of personhood says that the focus of morality ought to be on developing one’s character. This is accomplished by exercising other-regarding virtues in the context of the community. Relational accounts hold that morality is primarily about fostering harmonious and friendly relationships within the community. Life force approaches claim that everything, both animate and inanimate objects, are imbued with an imperceptible energy. Morality is primarily about protecting and promoting one’s life force which is accomplished in the context of community. All three of these interpretations of African communitarianism, and indigenous African worldviews more generally, say that procreation is almost always all-things considered permissible. Indeed, marriage and having children is much closer to an obligation than it is optional, with individuals who remain single and childless well into adulthood being viewed with suspicion.
This is the master chapter of the book where I defend the claim that any plausible version of African Communitarianism entails anti-natalism on misanthropic grounds. I do this by showing that all understandings of African Communitarianism clearly hold that the harm that humans cause each other is morally weighty. I then turn my attention to addressing the objection that African Communitarianism is unduly anthropocentric such that humans can only have indirect moral duties to non-human animals and nature. This implies that non-human animals and nature are not intrinsically valuable such that harm to them only matters inasmuch as it also harms humans. I respond by showing that while this objection may apply to certain versions of African Communitarianism, that there are indeed multiple versions of it that affirm the intrinsic value of both non-human animals and nature. I conclude by showing that while these considerations demonstrate that those who endorse African Communitarianism ought to accept Benatar’s Misanthropic Argument for Anti-Natalism, in some sense they also establish novel support for anti-natalism on misanthropic grounds.
The liturgical nature of the Catholic Church emphasises the gathering of God’s people for public worship. Covid-19 restrictions on public events resulted in a shift to online worship. The effect of moving to the virtual space has challenged the Church to embrace a new type of gathering online. The move from physical to virtual worship has consequences for both participation and identity. The pandemic’s long-term impact is still unknown. Already it has changed both membership prayer and practices.
Roughly put, the axiology of theism asks whether God's existence would be good, bad, or neutral. Thus far the literature has focused on comparing theism as represented by ‘Western monotheism’ to atheism as represented by ‘metaphysical naturalism’. Furthermore, the comparison has focused on comparing the actual world to a nearby epistemically possible world. I begin by surveying the literature comparing the value of such worlds before turning to explore a recent view offered by Klaas J. Kraay which expands the comparison between theism and atheism to include all of modal space (2021). Global, wide modal space pro‐theism is the view that the entirety of modal space containing every possible world is better on theism than on atheism. One reason for holding this view is that God's existence logically entails that there is no gratuitous evil in every single possible world. I object that one potential downside of this view is that theists now have to explain how God's existence is compatible with all of the evil throughout modal space instead of just the evil in our own world. I conclude by pointing to a number of ways the current literature could be expanded, including adding different worldviews to the comparison class.
Rhetorical functions of media are outlined in the Platonic and Biblical traditions and applied to 2019ʹs “Pachamama” YouTube iconoclepsis (“image-stealing”) controversy. Where post-Enlightenment theory brackets or dismisses spiritual communication, pre-modern frames offer clear heuristics and vocabulary for interpreting mediated religious protest. In reaction to a culture of sophistic manipulation, Plato envisioned ideals approached via cooperative dialectic. Psychogogy, leading souls, requires artists and orators adapting true, beautiful, and good ideals for people in their care. Plato uses a pharmacological metaphor to show how art and public discourse can harm and diminish, or heal and restore, spiritual wellbeing, and social eudaimonia. In contrast to Plato, the Biblical tradition cedes invention to God, whose message is shared with passion and urgency to guide people away from evil toward flourishing. The culmination of prophetic communication is the Incarnation: Jesus gives humanity direct contact with divine truth and light, and upon His resurrection the Holy Spirit inspires missionary outreach. Today YouTube activists engage power dynamics within sacred space and imagery to attempt Church reforms.
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