Let us suppose we have a treatment and we want to find out if it works. Call this treatment drug X. While we have observational data that it works—that is, patients say it works or, that it appears to work given certain tests—observational data can be misleading. As Edzard Ernst writes:
Whenever a patient or a group of patients receive a medical treatment and subsequently experience improvements, we automatically assume that the improvement was caused by the intervention. This logical fallacy can be very misleading […] Of course, it could be the treatment—but there are many other possibilities as well. Continue reading
One of the arguments against military humanitarian intervention (or wars or invasions justified on similar grounds, viz., averting harm) is that given how much such actions cost, those resources could be better used to alleviate more harm elsewhere. Against such arguments it could be suggested that humanitarian intervention stops wrongdoing and so, while we might be able to alleviate more harm elsewhere, the fact that the harm is the result of wrongdoing makes it more important. Such arguments are something I’ve been discussing with people over the past week so thought I may set them out here.
The Welfare State: who should pay for the transportation of a rich person’s child to and from school?
Suppose you have a child with special educational needs. Suppose the only school that could meet your child’s needs (as set out by their Statement of Special Educational Needs) was over an hour away (as can often happen). It falls under your local authority’s duties, who agree that they cannot provide a school within your area, to pay for transport for your child along with the essential carer who understand your child’s needs. Finally, suppose you’re very well off: should you pay for that transportation service?
Are human rights natural or conventional? That is, does one possess human rights in virtue of being a member of the human race, or, do these rights only come into existence only once they have been written in by some sovereign body? This question was at the heart of Michael Boylan’s St. Cross Seminar, ‘Natural Human Rights’, given on Thursday 27th November (spoiler alert, he sides with the former in both cases!). The seminar explored the central argument in Boylan’s recently published book, Natural Human Rights: A Theory. In it, he argues that one can “bridge the fact/value chasm to create binding positive duties that recognize fundamental human rights claims.” Boylan covered a lot of material during his talk, and so in what follows I shall focus on the positive arguments made in order to get a feel for the substantial element of the seminar. You can find a recording of the talk here.