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Philip J. Nickel
Eindhoven University of Technology
  1.  47
    Moral Uncertainty in Technomoral Change: Bridging the Explanatory Gap.Philip J. Nickel, Olya Kudina & Ibo van de Poel - manuscript
    This paper explores the role of moral uncertainty in explaining the morally disruptive character of new technologies. We argue that existing accounts of technomoral change do not fully explain its disruptiveness. This explanatory gap can be bridged by examining the epistemic dimensions of technomoral change, focusing on moral uncertainty and inquiry. To develop this account, we examine three historical cases: the introduction of the early pregnancy test, the contraception pill, and brain death. The resulting account highlights what we call “differential (...)
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  2.  91
    Being Pragmatic About Trust.Philip J. Nickel - 2017 - In Paul Faulkner & Thomas Simpson (eds.), The Philosophy of Trust. Oxford University Press. pp. 195-213.
    Trust should be able to explain cooperation, and its failure should help explain the emergence of cooperation-enabling institutions. This proposed methodological constraint on theorizing about trust, when satisfied, can then be used to differentiate theories of trust with some being able to explain cooperation more generally and effectively than others. Unrestricted views of trust, which take trust to be no more than the disposition to rely on others, fare well compared to restrictive views, which require the trusting person to have (...)
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  3.  42
    Disruptive Innovation and Moral Uncertainty.Philip J. Nickel - forthcoming - NanoEthics: Studies in New and Emerging Technologies.
    This paper develops a philosophical account of moral disruption. According to Robert Baker (2013), moral disruption is a process in which technological innovations undermine established moral norms without clearly leading to a new set of norms. Here I analyze this process in terms of moral uncertainty, formulating a philosophical account with two variants. On the Harm Account, such uncertainty is always harmful because it blocks our knowledge of our own and others’ moral obligations. On the Qualified Harm Account, there is (...)
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  4.  98
    Assurance Views of Testimony.Philip J. Nickel - 2019 - In P. J. Graham M. Fricker (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology. pp. 96-102.
    Assurance theories of testimony attempt to explain what is distinctive about testimony as a form of epistemic warrant or justification. The most characteristic assurance theories hold that a distinctive subclass of assertion (acts of “telling”) involves a real commitment given by the speaker to the listener, somewhat like a promise to the effect that what is asserted is true. This chapter sympathetically explains what is attractive about such theories: instead of treating testimony as essentially similar to any other kind of (...)
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  5.  39
    Trust in Medicine.Philip J. Nickel & Lily Frank - 2020 - In Judith Simon (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Trust and Philosophy.
    In this chapter, we consider ethical and philosophical aspects of trust in the practice of medicine. We focus on trust within the patient-physician relationship, trust and professionalism, and trust in Western (allopathic) institutions of medicine and medical research. Philosophical approaches to trust contain important insights into medicine as an ethical and social practice. In what follows we explain several philosophical approaches and discuss their strengths and weaknesses in this context. We also highlight some relevant empirical work in the section on (...)
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  6. On Testimony and Transmission.J. Adam Carter & Philip J. Nickel - 2014 - Episteme 11 (2):145-155.
    Jennifer Lackey’s case “Creationist Teacher,” in which students acquire knowledge of evolutionary theory from a teacher who does not herself believe the theory, has been discussed widely as a counterexample to so-called transmission theories of testimonial knowledge and justification. The case purports to show that a speaker need not herself have knowledge or justification in order to enable listeners to acquire knowledge or justification from her assertion. The original case has been criticized on the ground that it does not really (...)
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  7.  19
    Disruptive Innovation and Moral Uncertainty.Philip J. Nickel - forthcoming - NanoEthics:1-11.
    This paper develops a philosophical account of moral disruption. According to Robert Baker, moral disruption is a process in which technological innovations undermine established moral norms without clearly leading to a new set of norms. Here I analyze this process in terms of moral uncertainty, formulating a philosophical account with two variants. On the harm account, such uncertainty is always harmful because it blocks our knowledge of our own and others’ moral obligations. On the qualified harm account, there is no (...)
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  8.  17
    Trust in Engineering.Philip J. Nickel - forthcoming - In Diane Michelfelder & Neelke Doorn (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Engineering. Routledge. pp. 494-505.
    Engineers are traditionally regarded as trustworthy professionals who meet exacting standards. In this chapter I begin by explicating our trust relationship towards engineers, arguing that it is a linear but indirect relationship in which engineers “stand behind” the artifacts and technological systems that we rely on directly. The chapter goes on to explain how this relationship has become more complex as engineers have taken on two additional aims: the aim of social engineering to create and steer trust between people, and (...)
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  9. Trust in Technological Systems.Philip J. Nickel - 2013 - In M. J. de Vries, S. O. Hansson & A. W. M. Meijers (eds.), Norms in technology: Philosophy of Engineering and Technology, Vol. 9. Springer.
    Technology is a practically indispensible means for satisfying one’s basic interests in all central areas of human life including nutrition, habitation, health care, entertainment, transportation, and social interaction. It is impossible for any one person, even a well-trained scientist or engineer, to know enough about how technology works in these different areas to make a calculated choice about whether to rely on the vast majority of the technologies she/he in fact relies upon. Yet, there are substantial risks, uncertainties, and unforeseen (...)
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  10.  51
    Sound Trust and the Ethics of Telecare.Sander A. Voerman & Philip J. Nickel - 2017 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 42 (1):33-49.
    The adoption of web-based telecare services has raised multifarious ethical concerns, but a traditional principle-based approach provides limited insight into how these concerns might be addressed and what, if anything, makes them problematic. We take an alternative approach, diagnosing some of the main concerns as arising from a core phenomenon of shifting trust relations that come about when the physician plays a less central role in the delivery of care, and new actors and entities are introduced. Correspondingly, we propose an (...)
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  11. Risk and Trust.Philip J. Nickel & Krist Vaesen - 2012 - In Sabine Roeser, Rafaela Hillerbrand, Martin Peterson & Per Sandin (eds.), Handbook of Risk Theory. Springer.
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  12.  95
    Testimonial Entitlement, Norms of Assertion and Privacy.Philip J. Nickel - 2013 - Episteme 10 (2):207-217.
    According to assurance views of testimonial justification, in virtue of the act of testifying a speaker provides an assurance of the truth of what she asserts to the addressee. This assurance provides a special justificatory force and a distinctive normative status to the addressee. It is thought to explain certain asymmetries between addressees and other unintended hearers (bystanders and eavesdroppers), such as the phenomenon that the addressee has a right to blame the speaker for conveying a falsehood but unintended hearers (...)
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  13.  85
    Ownership and Commodifiability of Synthetic and Natural Organs.Philip J. Nickel - manuscript
    The arrival of synthetic organs may mean we need to reconsider principles of ownership of such items. One possible ownership criterion is the boundary between the organ’s being outside or inside the body. What is outside of my body, even if it is a natural organ made of my cells, may belong to a company or research institution. Yet when it is placed in me, it belongs to me. In the future, we should also keep an eye on how the (...)
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  14.  63
    Artificial Speech and Its Authors.Philip J. Nickel - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (4):489-502.
    Some of the systems used in natural language generation (NLG), a branch of applied computational linguistics, have the capacity to create or assemble somewhat original messages adapted to new contexts. In this paper, taking Bernard Williams’ account of assertion by machines as a starting point, I argue that NLG systems meet the criteria for being speech actants to a substantial degree. They are capable of authoring original messages, and can even simulate illocutionary force and speaker meaning. Background intelligence embedded in (...)
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