Many biological investigations are organized around a small group of species, often referred to as “model organisms”, such as the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The terms “model” and “modeling” also occur in biology in association with mathematical and mechanistic theorizing, as in the Lotka-Volterra model of predator-prey dynamics. What is the relation between theoretical models and model organisms? Are these models in the same sense? We offer an account on which the two practices are shown to have different epistemic characters. (...) Theoretical modeling is grounded in explicit and known analogies between model and target. By contrast, inferences from model organisms are empirical extrapolations. Often such extrapolation is based on shared ancestry, sometimes in conjunction with other empirical information. One implication is that such inferences are unique to biology, whereas theoretical models are common across many disciplines. We close by discussing the diversity of uses to which model organisms are put, suggesting how these relate to our overall account. (shrink)
The present paper outlines the main points of Heidegger’s philosophical program starting from his early lectures of Freiburg. This program is founded in two fundamental questions. On the one hand, a thematic question: the phenomenon of life and its different forms of manifestation and apprehension. On the other hand, an eminently methodological question, namely the question of how it is possible to access in a correct manner to the primary sphere of life. This last issue conducts the young Heidegger to (...) a first and deep questioning of Husserl’s reflexive phenomenology that ends up in his hermeneutic turn of phenomenology. (shrink)
This paper examines the debate around the headscarf in France with the view to critically examining two central arguments put forward by the Stasi Commission for the restriction of the headscarf in French public schools—that the headscarf imperiled public order and that it jeopardized neutrality in the public sphere. In the case of the first argument, this paper argues that France did not meet the threshold requirement necessary to curtail religious rights in public schools. In the case of the second (...) argument, this paper insists that neutrality in the pulic sphere has always involved some accommodation of religious groups in society and should include the headscarf in public schools. The paper argues that the decision to ban the headscarf is ultimately a controversy about French identity and the values on which the French community is built. (shrink)
The most important medieval treaty concerning the theory of music is De institutione Musica by Boethius. In this work, he presented an idea of musica mundana, which had been a predominant metaphysical conception of music until 14th century, when it was criticized by Johannes de Grocheo. Nevertheless, some aspects of Boethian doctrine were repeated even in 16th century by some theorists (Gaffurius, Jerzy Liban).
In 1967, American biologist Adrian Wenner (1928-) launched an extensive challenge to Karl von Frisch's (1886-1982) theory that bees communicate to each other the direction and distance of food sources by a symbolic dance language. Wenner and various collaborators argued that bees locate foods solely by odors. Although the dispute had largely run its course by 1973 -- von Frisch was awarded a Nobel Prize, while Wenner withdrew from active bee research -- it offers us a rare window into (...) mid-twentieth century discussions about animals, language, and cognition. Historians, sociologists, and scientists have commented on the debate and its outcome, but none has seriously questioned why von Frisch and Wenner pursued such different explanations of the bees' dances. In this paper, I explore von Frisch and Wenner's differing visions of animals and their behaviors and show how these contributed to their respective positions. Von Frisch's early-twentieth-century training in experimental physiology disposed him to focus on individual animals, their abilities, and their behaviors' evolutionary significance. Wenner, by contrast, was trained in mathematics and statistics and the Schneirla school of behavior. He viewed the bees' behaviors probabilistically with an eye toward the entire hive and its surroundings and ultimately explained them in terms of simple stimulus--response conditioning. Finally, while the debate was resolved in von Frisch's favor, he neither waged nor won the battle by himself. Instead, I show that practitioners, whose agendas ranged from the nascent fields of sociobiology to cognitive ethology, took up the cause of the communicating bees. (shrink)
In this commentary on Adrian Johnston's paper, “Drive Between Brain and Subject: An Immanent Critique of Lacanian Neuropsychoanalysis,” I consider whether his attempt to develop a materialist ground for psychoanalysis can avoid versions of reductionism and verificationism that would threaten any autonomy psychoanalysis might have as a science.
I give a response to Adrian Wüthrich’s critical review of my analysis of the Higgs mechanism, in which I try to clarify some possible misunderstandings. I concede that, as Wüthrich points out, many physicists see the Higgs mechanism as the roll-over from a symmetrical potential in the initial Lagrangian to a symmetry-breaking potential, while my former analysis had basically focused on the gauge-invariant transformation of the initial Lagrangian into the intended form. My main contention, however, still is that neither (...) Higgs story has (as yet) much explanatory power. (shrink)
Defining sustainability is a tricky endeavor. While Adrian Parr’s Hijacking Sustainability does not contribute a clear definition of the term, it does provide a series of interesting and useful examples to illustrate some of the difficulties and inconsistencies of applying so-called sustainable ideals to a capitalist infrastructure. While the concept behind Parr’s work is intriguing, the book itself, which focuses on the nature, construction, and impact of sustainability culture, is verbose, convoluted, and difficult.
Jonathan Rosenbaum _Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons_ Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004 ISBN 0-8018-7840-3 hb xxi + 445 pp. _Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia_ Edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum and Adrian Martin London: British Film Institute, 2003 ISBN 0851709834 hb; 0851709842 pb 224 pp. Jonathan Rosenbaum _Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Films We Can See_ London: Wallflower Press, 2002 ISBN 1-903364-23-X pb 192 pp.
Hugh Everett III died of a heart attack in July 1982 at the age of 51. Almost 26 years later, a New York Times obituary for his PhD advisor, John Wheeler, mentioned him and Richard Feynman as Wheeler’s most prominent students. Everett’s PhD thesis on the relative state formulation of quantum mechanics, later known as the “Many Worlds Interpretation”, was published (in its edited form) in 1957, and later (in its original, unedited form) in 1973, and since then has given (...) rise to one of the most radical schools of thought in the foundations of quantum theory. Several years ago two conferences held in Oxford and in the Perimeter Institute celebrated the occasion of 50 years to the first publication of Everett’s thesis. The book Many worlds? grew out from contributions to these conferences, but, as its editors emphasize, it is more than mere conference proceedings. Instead, an attempt was made to assemble an impressive collection of papers which together illustrate the promise of the many worlds interpretation and the obstacles it faces. 23 papers divided into six sections follow an introduction by Simon Saunders, one of Oxford’s fiercest Everettians. The first four sections cover two thorny issues that have been flagged by contemporary opponents to the many worlds interpretation, namely, the problem of ontology and the problem of probability, while the fifth discusses alternatives to Everett such as Bohmian mechanics and information–theoretic approaches to quantum theory. The sixth section seems to be a wild card, hosting several papers unrelated to each other, including one of the most interesting contributions to this volume on the history of Everett’s thesis and his (some may say all too) short academic career. Each section concludes with transcripts of the discussion session that took place after the talks, thus giving an additional emphasis to the points of contention. Apart from general comments on the volume, in what follows I would like to concentrate on few papers I found especially illuminating. Start with ontology.. (shrink)
The first use of the term “information” to describe the content of nervous impulse occurs in Edgar Adrian's The Basis of Sensation (1928). What concept of information does Adrian appeal to, and how can it be situated in relation to contemporary philosophical accounts of the notion of information in biology? The answer requires an explication of Adrian's use and an evaluation of its situation in relation to contemporary accounts of semantic information. I suggest that Adrian's concept (...) of information can be to derive a concept of arbitrariness or semioticity in representation. This in turn provides one way of resolving some of the challenges that confront recent attempts in the philosophy of biology to restrict the notion of information to those causal connections that can in some sense be referred to as arbitrary or semiotic. (shrink)