In this paper, I will take advantage of the controversy on the legitimacy of adaptationism in evolutionary biology to further investigate the nature of adaptationistic thinking, or biological explanations in general. To this end, first I will look at the famous and provocative criticism made by Gould and Lewontin (1979) against then-prevalent adaptationism --- a research strategy for accounting for the origin of traits of organisms seemingly adapted to the environment by appealing primarily to natural selection. Then I will consider (...) its counterarguments put forward by Dennett (1995), one of the proponents of adaptationism, in order toscrutinize the intrinsically hypothetical character of adaptationistic thinking. By amplifying Dennett’s points, I will finally reach the conclusion that there are two senses --- objective and subjective --- in which adaptationistic thinking is said to be hypothetical, which nonetheless do not prevent it from qualifying as scientific practice. In the process, I will also gain an insight into the sense in which the theory of natural selection is said to be mechanistic, as a spin-off. (shrink)
As of 2009, the number of donors in Japan is the lowest among developed countries. On July 13, 2009, Japan's Organ Transplant Law was revised for the first time in 12 years. The revised and old laws differ greatly on four primary points: the definition of death, age requirements for donors, requirements for brain-death determination and organ extraction, and the appropriateness of priority transplants for relatives.In the four months of deliberations in the National Diet before the new law was established, (...) various arguments regarding brain death and organ transplantation were offered. An amazing variety of opinions continue to be offered, even after more than 40 years have elapsed since the first heart organ transplant in Japan. Some are of the opinion that with the passage of the revised law, Japan will finally become capable of performing transplants according to global standards. Contrarily, there are assertions that organ transplants from brain-dead donors are unacceptable because they result in organs being taken from living human beings.Considering the current conditions, we will organize and introduce the arguments for and against organ transplants from brain-dead donors in contemporary Japan. Subsequently, we will discuss the primary arguments against organ transplants from brain-dead donors from the perspective of contemporary Japanese views on life and death. After introducing the recent view that brain death should not be regarded as equivalent to the death of a human being, we would like to probe the deeply-rooted views on life and death upon which it is based. (shrink)
A placebo is a substance or intervention believed to be inactive, but is administered by the healthcare professional as if it was an active medication. Unlike standard treatments, clinical use of placebo usually involves deception and is therefore ethically problematic. Our attitudes toward the clinical use of placebo, which inevitably includes deception or withholding information, have a tremendous effect on our practice regarding truth-telling and informed consent. A casual attitude towards it weakens the current practice based on shared decision-making and (...) mutual trust between patients and healthcare professionals. Issues concerning the clinical use of placebo are thus intimately related to patient-provider relationships, the public's trust in medicine, and medical education. A review of recent survey studies suggests that the clinical use of placebo appears to be fairly well accepted among healthcare professionals and is common in clinical settings in various countries. However, we think that an ethical discussion is urgently needed because of its controversial nature. If judged to be ethically wrong, the practice should end. In the present paper, we discuss the ethicality of the clinical use of placebo with deception and argue against it, concluding that it is unethical and should be banned. We will show that most arguments in favor of the clinical use of placebo can be refuted and are therefore incorrect or weak. These arguments will be presented and examined individually. Finally, we will briefly consider issues relevant to the clinical use of placebo without deception. (shrink)
Prof. Matsumoto Shirō and his colleague, Prof. Hakamaya Noriaki, have together produced a number of lengthy essays on a theme called hihan bukkyō (批判仏教), in English, "Critical Buddhism."1 At the core of their project is the conviction that the concepts of tathāgatagarbha and innate enlightenment (本覺思想) are alien to Buddhism, due to the fact that those concepts imply a belief in a hypostasized self--a type of atman, which Buddhism originally and distinctively sought to refute through the conceptual framework of (...) pratītya-samutpāda (dependent origination). (shrink)
Sentences like (1a)-(1d) have attracted the attention of a number of authors (Jackendoff 1990, Matsumoto 1996, Talmy 1996, Gawron 2005). Each has both an event reading and a stative reading. For example, on what I’ll call the event reading of sentence (1a), a body of fog beginning in the vicinity of the pier moves pointwards, and on the other, stative reading, which I’ll call an extent reading, the mass of fog sits over the entire region between pier and point. (...) The event reading entails movement. The extent reading entails extension, the occupation of a region of space. Similarly, there is a reading of (1b) describing a crack-widening event, as well as a reading describing the dimensions of the crack, increasing in width along an axis extending from the north tower to the gate; and readings of (c) and (d) describing movement events as well as readings describing the conﬁguration of the storm front and the snow respectively. (shrink)
Background The current debate about medical futility is mostly driven by theoretical and personal perspectives and there is a lack of empirical data to document experts and public attitudes towards medical futility. Methods To examine the attitudes of the Japanese experts in the fields relevant to medical futility a questionnaire survey was conducted among the members of the Japan Association for Bioethics. A total number of 108 questionnaires returned filled in, giving a response rate of 50.9%. Among the respondents 62% (...) were healthcare professionals (HCPs) and 37% were non-healthcare professionals (Non-HCPs). Results The majority of respondents (67.6 %) believed that a physician's refusal to provide or continue a treatment on the ground of futility judgment could never be morally justified but 22.2% approved such refusal with conditions. In the case of physiologically futile care, three-quarters believed that a physician should inform the patient/family of his futility judgment and it would be the patient who could decide what should be done next, based on his/her value judgment. However more than 10% said that a physician should ask about a patient's value and goals, but the final decision was left to the doctor not the patient. There was no statistically significant difference between HCPs and Non-HCPs (p = 0.676). Of respondents 67.6% believed that practical guidelines set up by the health authority would be helpful in futility judgment. Conclusion The results show that there is no support for the physicians' unilateral decision- making on futile care. This survey highlights medical futility as an emerging issue in Japanese healthcare and emphasizes on the need for public discussion and policy development. (shrink)
• Spatial predicates with both State and Event Readings (Anderson 1977, Jackendoﬀ 1990, Talmy 1985, Matsumoto 1996) (1) The fog extended from London toward Paris. (Call the state reading an extent reading) • Basic properties to be accounted for..
Background The purpose of this study is to explore laypersons' attitudes toward the use of archived (existing) materials such as medical records and biological samples and to compare them with the attitudes of physicians who are involved in medical research. Methods Three focus group interviews were conducted, in which seven Japanese male members of the general public, seven female members of the general public and seven physicians participated. Results It was revealed that the lay public expressed diverse attitudes towards the (...) use of archived information and samples without informed consent. Protecting a subject's privacy, maintaining confidentiality, and communicating the outcomes of studies to research subjects were regarded as essential preconditions if researchers were to have access to archived information and samples used for research without the specific informed consent of the subjects who provided the material. Although participating physicians thought that some kind of prior permission from subjects was desirable, they pointed out the difficulties involved in obtaining individual informed consent in each case. Conclusions The present preliminary study indicates that the lay public and medical professionals may have different attitudes towards the use of archived information and samples without specific informed consent. This hypothesis, however, is derived from our focus groups interviews, and requires validation through research using a larger sample. (shrink)
Recent social theory has identified various institutional forces operating at a global level promoting novel trends towards “individualization”, “reflexive self-identity” and “new individualism” (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 2001; Giddens, 1991, 1992; Elliott and Lemert, 2009, 2009a). This article develops an exploratory overview of the theory of new individualism with reference to Japanese sociologies of self specifically and contemporary Japanese society more generally. Detailing the large-scale societal shift in Japan from traditional forms of identity-construction (based on a citizenship model of social order) (...) to post-traditional forms of identity-construction (promoted by globalization and neoliberal policies), the article distinguishes between four discourses of the self in post-war Japanese society: the age of the ideal; the age of the dream; the age of fiction; and, the age of fragmentation. Moreover, the article examines the Japanese employment system and the emergence of new individualist employment, as well as considering the emotional impacts of a rise in suicides in contemporary Japan. The argument is that the new individualist thesis can contribute to a sociological understanding of recent social transformations in Japan. However, situating new individualism in the context of Japan also highlights significant tensions in processes of new individualism, tensions between individual initiatives and institutional pressures. (shrink)
Background Evidence concerning how Japanese physicians think and behave in specific clinical situations that involve withholding or withdrawal of medical interventions for end-of-life or frail elderly patients is yet insufficient. Methods To analyze decisions and actions concerning the withholding/withdrawal of life-support care by Japanese physicians, we conducted cross-sectional web-based internet survey presenting three scenarios involving an elderly comatose patient following a severe stroke. Volunteer physicians were recruited for the survey through mailing lists and medical journals. The respondents answered questions concerning (...) attitudes and behaviors regarding decision-making for the withholding/withdrawal of life-support care, namely, the initiation/withdrawal of tube feeding and respirator attachment. Results Of the 304 responses analyzed, a majority felt that tube feeding should be initiated in these scenarios. Only 18% felt that a respirator should be attached when the patient had severe pneumonia and respiratory failure. Over half the respondents felt that tube feeding should not be withdrawn when the coma extended beyond 6 months. Only 11% responded that they actually withdrew tube feeding. Half the respondents perceived tube feeding in such a patient as a "life-sustaining treatment," whereas the other half disagreed. Physicians seeking clinical ethics consultation supported the withdrawal of tube feeding (OR, 6.4; 95% CI, 2.5–16.3; P < 0.001). Conclusion Physicians tend to harbor greater negative attitudes toward the withdrawal of life-support care than its withholding. On the other hand, they favor withholding invasive life-sustaining treatments such as the attachment of a respirator over less invasive and long-term treatments such as tube feeding. Discrepancies were demonstrated between attitudes and actual behaviors. Physicians may need systematic support for appropriate decision-making for end-of-life care. (shrink)
BackgroundA baby hatch called the “Stork’s Cradle” has been in place at Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto City, Japan, since May 10, 2007. Babyklappes were first established in Germany in 2000, and there are currently more than 90 locations. Attitudes regarding baby hatches are divided in Japan and neither opinions for nor against baby hatches have thus far been overwhelming. To consider the appropriateness of baby hatches, we present and examine the validity of each major objection to establishing baby hatches.DiscussionThere are (...) various objections to baby hatches as follows: It violates a child’s right to know the identity of his or her biological parents by allowing anonymous birth; it neglects fulfillment of the biological parents’ basic obligation to raise their child and its very availability induces abandonment of infants; some people abuse it for very selfish reasons; it cannot save babies’ lives; the rights of one parent can be ignored if the other surrenders a child without his or her consent; it puts a baby in medical jeopardy; and it has no clear legal basis. The authors would argue that there are many plausible refutations for each objection mainly based on priority of child’s right to life, pregnant women’s vulnerability and necessity of anonymity, social responsibility to protect and raise children, differences between dropping a child off at a baby hatch and child neglect, limited function of social childcare center, inevitability of abuse by a minority of people, necessary distinction between outcomes that occur only because baby hatches exist and those that occur regardless of their existence, important local direct and upmost measures for women in trouble, and difference between ambiguous legality and illegality.SummaryWe argue that a certain number of baby hatches should continue to be established as a last resort, in a form that can maintain anonymity if the parent dropping the child off so desires. It should be supported if it is initiated with good intentions; if the maximum possible effort is made at said facility to protect the interests, rights, and safety of the child; and if no clear evidence of harm exists. (shrink)
We provide necessary and sufficient conditions for a dynamically consistent agent always to prefer more informative signals (in single-agent problems). These conditions do not imply recursivity, reduction or independence. We provide a simple definition of dynamically consistent behavior, and we discuss whether an intrinsic information lover (say, an anxious person) is likely to be dynamically consistent.
Semantic studies on diagrammatic notations (Barwise & Etchemendy, ; Shimojima, ; Stenning & Lemon, ) have revealed that the “non-deductive,” “emergent,” or “perceptual” effects of diagrams (Chandrasekaran, Kurup, Banerjee, Josephson, & Winkler, ; Kulpa, ; Larkin & Simon, ; Lindsay, ) are all rooted in the exploitation of spatial constraints on graphical structures. Thus, theoretically, this process is a key factor in inference with diagrams, explaining the frequently observed reduction of inferential load. The purpose of this study was to examine (...) the empirical basis for this theoretical suggestion, focusing on the reality of the constraint-exploitation strategy in actual practices of diagrammatic reasoning. Eye movements were recorded while participants used simple position diagrams to solve three- or four-term transitive inference problems. Our experiments revealed that the participants could exploit spatial constraints on graphical structures even when (a) they were not in the position of actually manipulating diagrams, (b) the semantic rule for the provided diagrams did not match their preferences, and (c) the constraint-exploitation strategy invited a partly adverse effect. These findings indicate that the hypothesized process is in fact robust, with the potential to broadly account for the inferential advantage of diagrams. (shrink)