EEG finds consciousness in people in vegetative state by using a simple bedside device. [H/T Dan Vecchio]. By reading the article, one can respond to various stimuli in the environment and by reading the brain, the patient is responding. From reading the article, it’s certainly an advancement in technology, but being the patient must be tortuous. Imagine that one is conscious but could not move nor respond to people “out there.” This seems worse than Locked-In Syndrome. Thankfully, the doctors are trying to fit the pieces together to help out these patients.
Awesome viewing of a murmuration of starlings. Very beautiful:
On PhilosTV, Simon May and Elizabeth Brake discuss marriage. Around 4:30, they talk about same-sex marriage in which both are in favor of based on political liberalism (meaning that the state is neutral when it comes to a conception of the human good). They consider objections to same-sex marriage and they both show that those objections don’t work. Around 13:00, May raises a concern on whether the public should give a positive recognition to same-sex couples in the same way we give opposite-sex couples, thereby giving up political liberalism as a foundation. Brake’s reply is that previous types of marriages have been considered wrong and it was unjust that the state did not intervene, and so the state can uphold a sense of justice while still remaining neutral. Also, one can still embrace a sense of care to same-sex couples without endorsing a conception of the human good. May brings up another possible objection at 17:06, why should the state remain neutral? Why can’t the state say that an activity is a moral good and so the state should endorse it? Brake’s reply is that everyone has different moral and religious views that if the state endorses a view, then it’s favoring one side of the human good. If so, the state is not treating the citizens as equals. Around 21:39, May brings up a concern that if the state should remain neutral, wouldn’t this mean that polygamy would be allowed? But polygamy has been traditionally been a patriarchal institution which doesn’t seem to benefit anyone. Brake replies that neutrality would hold that polygamy should be allowed. This would include polyandory, polyamory, or simply groups. One could visualize that they are all equal instead of one as the head of the marriage. To be neutral is to extend marriage to all groups. The state right now doesn’t make patriarchal marriage between two people, the same is said for group marriages as well. There are, after all, egalitarian group marriages. The typical argument from conservatives is, “If we allow same-sex marriage, then we must allow polygamy.” To which Brake replies, “of course.” This changes when it comes to children, however. Around 34:28, May brings up the argument that if the state should remain neutral when it comes to marriage, why does the state even need to get involved in marriage in the first place? Why does the state need to get in the marriage business? After all, there is no public recognition for making friends, so why marriage? Why have a law of marriage at all? Brake admits that this is a challenge and she brings up a lot of interesting authors and philosophers that bring up the same challenge that May brought up. However, some possible reasons why that state should still get involved in marriage is that the citizens prefer them. It is here that Brake brings up her solution: minimalmarriage: the state is required to support all sorts of relationships. This would include all sorts of groups, no matter the number, tribes, and even non-sexual friendships where they live together. It would give more entitlements to these type of relationships. At 45:40, May brings up an egoist argument, why should I care about these other type of caring relationships? And at 47:06, May asks if these other relationships are just as good as marriage? Does care need to be expanded out? If so, this doesn’t seem neutral. Brake replies using Rawls suggesting that there are primary goods and one of these (controversial) primary goods is the state making sure that you can live out your life in order for you to reach your conception of the good. One of these are caring relationships; that is, a caring relationship is a primary good. She relates it with self-esteem where being in a caring relationship reinforces a sense of value to oneself. The state can distribute the social bases for a caring relationship. Around 54:50, May brings up the issue of polygamy. Usually, polygamy is circumscribed around cultural practices which has significant meanings. If so, then it’s implicitly suggesting that this is more valuable than other forms of relationships. This could create an asymmetry within marriage. Brake’s reply that this could happen within monogamous marriage, thus that faces the same challenge. May replies that it’s not inherent within monogamy whereas it’s within polygamy because of the cultural practices. Overall, this was a great discussion and it has inspired me to read both May’s and Brake’s works.
I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project.
Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.