Elisabeth Blum and Paul Richard Blum, both Loyola University Maryland, jointly published: Giordano Bruno: Spaccio della bestia trionfante / Austreibung des triumphierenden Tieres, a translation form the Italian into German with introduction and extensive commentary at Meiner Verlag in Hamburg (Germany) 2009. ISBN: 978-3-7873-1805-6.
Abstract Many apparently complex mechanisms in biology, especially in embryology and molecular biology, can be explained easily by reasoning at the level of the “efficient cause” of the observed phenomenology: the mechanism can then be explained by a simple geometrical argument or a variational principle, leading to the solution of an optimization problem, for example, via the co-existence of a minimization and a maximization problem (a min–max principle). Passing from a microscopic (or cellular) level (optimal min–max solution of the simple (...) mechanistic system) to the macroscopic level often involves an averaging effect (linked to the repetition of a large number of such microscopic systems with possible random choice of the parameters of each of them) that gives birth to a global functional feature (e.g. at the tissue level). We will illustrate these general principles by building in four different domains of application “a minima” models and showing the main properties of their solutions: (1) extraction of a minimal RNA structure functioning as the first “peptidic machine,” a kind of ancestral ribosome; (2) study of a genetic regulatory network of Drosophila centred on Engrailed gene and expressing successively two genes inside a limit cycle; (3) study of a genetic network regulating neural activity and proliferation in mammals; and (4) study of a simple geometric model of epiboly in zebrafish. Content Type Journal Article Category Regular Article Pages 1-17 DOI 10.1007/s10441-012-9146-4 Authors L. Almeida, AGIM, FRE CNRS 3405, Faculty of Medicine of Grenoble, University J. Fourier, 38 700 La Tronche, France J. Demongeot, AGIM, FRE CNRS 3405, Faculty of Medicine of Grenoble, University J. Fourier, 38 700 La Tronche, France Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342. (shrink)
Giordano Bruno's notorious public death in 1600, at the hands of the Inquisition in Rome, marked the transition from Renaissance philosophy to the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century. In his philosophical works he addressed such delicate issues as the role of Christ as mediator and the distinction, in human beings, between soul and matter. This volume presents new translations of Cause, Principle and Unity, in which he challenges Aristotelian accounts of causality and spells out the implications of Copernicanism (...) for a new theory of an infinite universe, and of two essays on magic, On Magic and A General Account of Bonding, in which he interprets earlier theories about magical events in the light of the unusual powers of natural phenomena. (shrink)
The itinerant Neoplatonic scholar Giordano Bruno (1548–1600), one of the most fascinating figures of the Renaissance, was burned at the stake for heresy by the Inquisition in Rome on Ash Wednesday in 1600. The primary evidence against him was the book Spaccio de la bestia trionfante , a daring indictment of the church that abounded in references to classical Greek mythology, Egyptian religion (especially the worship of Isis), Hermeticism, magic, and astrology. The author of more than sixty works on (...) mathematics, science, ethics, philosophy, metaphysics, the art of memory, and esoteric mysticism, Bruno had a profound impact on Western thought. (shrink)
There is an intriguing recent effort to develop a valid cosmological argument on the basis of quite minimal assumptions.1 Indeed, the basis of the new cosmological argument is so slight that it is likely to make even a conscientious theist suspicious – to say nothing of our vigilant atheists. In Section 1 we present the background assumptions and central premises of the new cosmological argument. We are sympathetic to the conclusion that there necessarily exists an intelligent and powerful creator of (...) the actual universe, but we show in Section 2 that the new cosmological argument cannot establish this claim. Speciﬁcally, we show by reductio ad absurdum that the new argument is unsound, and that every plausibly modiﬁed version of the argument is also unsound.2 We close our discussion with a diagnosis of what went wrong in the new cosmological argument. Our conclusion is that this intriguing new argument promises considerably more than it can show. (shrink)
Perhaps the greatest impediment to a viable libertarianism is the provision of a satisfactory explanation of how actions that are undetermined by an agent''s character can still be under the control of, or up to, the agent. The luck problem has been most assiduously examined by Robert Kane who supplies a detailed account of how this problem can be resolved. Although Kane''s theory is innovative, insightful, and more resourceful than most of his critics believe, it ultimately cannot account for the (...) type of control that moral responsibility and (ultimate) agency legitimately require. (shrink)
Williams (1970) argues that our intuitions about personal identity vary depending on how a given thought experiment is framed. Some frames lead us to think that persistence of self requires persistence of one's psychological characteristics; other frames lead us to think that the self persists even after the loss of one's distinctive psychological characteristics. The current paper takes an empirical approach to these issues. We find that framing does affect whether or not people judge that persistence of psychological characteristics is (...) required for persistence of self. Open-ended, abstract questions about what is required for survival tend to elicit responses that appeal to the importance of psychological characteristics. This emphasis on psychological characteristics is largely preserved even when participants are exposed to a concrete case that yields conflicting intuitions over whether memory must be preserved in order for a person to persist. Insofar as our philosophical theory of personal identity should be based on our intuitions, the results provide some support for the view that psychological characteristics really are critical for persistence of self. (shrink)
Critics of functionalism about the mind often rely on the intuition that collectivities cannot be conscious in motivating their positions. In this paper, we consider the merits of appealing to the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity. We demonstrate that collective mentality is not an affront to commonsense, and we report evidence that demonstrates that the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity is, to some extent, culturally specific rather (...) than universally held. This being the case, we argue that mere appeal to the intuitive implausibility of collective consciousness does not offer any genuine insight into the nature of mentality in general, nor the nature of consciousness in particular. (shrink)
Property-identical divine-command theory (PDCT) is the view that being obligatory is identical to being commanded by God in just the way that being water is identical to being H2O. If these identity statements are true, then they express necessary a posteriori truths. PDCT has been defended in Robert M. Adams (1987) and William Alston (1990). More recently Mark C. Murphy (2002) has argued that property-identical divine-command theory is inconsistent with two well-known and well-received theses: the free-command thesis and the supervenience (...) thesis. I show that Murphy's argument is vitiated by mistaken assumptions about the substitutivity of metaphysical identicals in contexts of supervenience. The free-command thesis and the supervenience thesis therefore pose no serious threat to PDCT. (Published Online August 11 2004). (shrink)
Sceptical theists--e.g., William Alston and Michael Bergmann--have claimed that considerations concerning human cognitive limitations are alone sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil. We argue that, if the considerations deployed by sceptical theists are sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil, then those considerations are also sufficient to undermine inferences that play a crucial role in ordinary moral reasoning. If cogent, our argument suffices to discredit sceptical theist responses to evidential arguments from evil.
Standard dyadic deontic logic (as well as standard deontic logic) has recently come under attack by moral philosophers who maintain that the axioms of standard dyadic deontic logic are biased against moral theories which generate moral conflicts. Since moral theories which generate conflicts are at least logically tenable, it is argued, standard dyadic deontic logic should be modified so that the set of logically possible moral theories includes those which generate such conflicts. I argue that (1) there are only certain (...) types of moral conflicts which are interesting, and which have worried moral theorists, (2) the modification of standard dyadic deontic logic along the lines suggested by those who defend the possibility of moral conflicts makes possible only uninteresting types of moral conflicts, and (3) the general strategy of piecemeal modification standard dyadic deontic logic is misguided: the possibility of interesting moral conflicts cannot be achieved in that way. (shrink)
Pain, suffering and positive emotions in patients in vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) and minimally conscious states (MCS) pose clinical and ethical challenges. Clinically, we evaluate behavioural responses after painful stimulation and also emotionally-contingent behaviours (e.g., smiling). Using stimuli with emotional valence, neuroimaging and electrophysiology technologies can detect subclinical remnants of preserved capacities for pain which might influence decisions about treatment limitation. To date, no data exist as to how healthcare providers think about end-of-life options (e.g., withdrawal of artificial nutrition (...) and hydration) in the presence or absence of pain in non-communicative patients. Here, we aimed to better clarify this issue by re-analyzing previously published data on pain perception (Prog Brain Res 2009 177, 329–38) and end-of-life decisions (J Neurol 2010 258, 1058–65) in patients with disorders of consciousness. In a sample of 2259 European healthcare professionals we found that, for VS/UWS more respondents agreed with treatment withdrawal when they considered that VS/UWS patients did not feel pain (77%) as compared to those who thought VS/UWS did feel pain (59%). This interaction was influenced by religiosity and professional background. For MCS, end-of-life attitudes were not influenced by opinions on pain perception. Within a contemporary ethical context we discuss (1) the evolving scientific understandings of pain perception and their relationship to existing clinical and ethical guidelines; (2) the discrepancies of attitudes within (and between) healthcare providers and their consequences for treatment approaches, and (3) the implicit but complex relationship between pain perception and attitudes toward life-sustaining treatments. (shrink)
Atheistic arguments from improvability -- Rational choice and no best world -- On evil's vague necessity -- The problem of no maximum evil -- On the logic of imperfection -- Supervenience, divine freedom, and absolute orderings -- Vague eschatology -- Theistic modal realism, multiverses, and hyperspace.
After more than three centuries, Molyneux's question continues to challenge our understanding of cognition and perceptual systems. Locke, the original recipient of the question, approached it as a theoretical exercise relevant to long-standing philosophical issues, such as nativism, the possibility of common sensibles, and the empiricism-rationalism debate. However, philosophers were quick to adopt the experimentalist's stance as soon as they became aware of recoveries from congenital blindness through ophtalmic surgery. Such recoveries were widely reported to support empiricist positions, suggesting that (...) the question had found its empirical answer. Contrary to this common view, we argue that studies of patients recovering from early blindness through surgery cannot provide an answer. In fact, because of the very nature of such ophtalmological interventions it is impossible to test the question in the empirical conditions outlined by Molyneux. Thus we propose that Molyneux's question be treated as an early thought experiment of a specific kind. Although thought experiments of this kind cannot be turned into actual experimental conditions, they provide a conceptual restructuring of theories. Such restructuring in turn leads to new predictions that can then be tested by normal experiments. In accord with this interpretation, we show that Molyneux's question can be analyzed into a hierarchy of specific questions about vision in its phenomenal and sensory-motor components. Some of these questions do lead to actual experimental conditions that could be studied empirically. (shrink)
Recent work in moral theory includes an intriguing new argument that the vagueness of moral properties, together with two well-known and well-received metaethical principles, entails the incredible conclusion that it is impossible to be moral. I show that the argument equivocates between “it is true that A and B are morally indistinguishable” and “it is not false that A and B are morally indistinguishable.” As expected the argument is interesting but unsound. It is therefore not impossible to be moral.Les travaux (...) récents en théorie morale comprennent un nouvel argument intrigant voulant que le caractère vague des propriétés morales, joint à deux principes métaéthiques bien connus et généralement admis, entraîne une conclusion incroyable, soit qu’il est impossible d’être moral. Je montre que cet argument entretient l’équivoque entre «il est vrai que A et B sont moralement impossibles à distinguer» et «il n’est pas faux que A et B soient moralement impossibles à distinguer». Comme on s’y attendait, l’argument est intéressant mais mal fondé. Il n’est donc pas impossible d’être moral. (shrink)
Montaigne, no "De l'art de conferer", discute critérios que permitem distinguir os homens segundo suas capacidades (suffisances). A "maneira" de discursar ocupa o centro desta questão e entre suas qualidades se destaca a "ordem", que nos é apresentada, sobretudo, a partir dos desvios da "tolice" (sottise) e "obstinação" (opiniastreté), símbolos do dogmatismo e de uma errônea lide com os saberes que se apoiam na memória. Procura-se mostrar que a ordem se funda na assimilação e penetração do julgamento nas matérias que (...) garantem o nexo necessário para o desenvolvimento adequado da conversação (conference). Montaigne, in "De l'art de conferer", discusses the criteria to distinguish men according to their capabilities (suffisances). The "manner" of discussing is central to this issue and among its qualities "order" distinguishes itself. The "order" is presented to us by the exposition of its deviations: foolishness ("sottise") and obstinacy ("opiniastreté"). These inadequacies represent both dogmatism and an erroneous way of using knowledge based on memory. We intend to show how order is founded on a kind of judgment which assimilates and penetrates matters and subjects - being it the only way to assure the necessary connection to adequately develop the conversation ("conference"). (shrink)
The celebrated free-will defence was designed to show that the ideal-world thesis presents no challenge to theism. The ideal-world thesis states that, in any world in which God exists, He can actualize a world containing moral good and no moral evil. I consider an intriguing two-stage argument that Michael Bergmann advances for the free-will defence, and show that the argument provides atheologians with no reason to abandon the ideal-world thesis. I show next that the existence of worlds in which every (...) essence is transworld untrustworthy provides atheologians with no better reason to abandon the ideal-world thesis. I conclude that neither the free-will defence nor Bergmann's revised free-will defence is a convincing response to the atheological challenge. (Published Online February 17 2004). (shrink)
On the basis of arguments showing that none of the most influential analyses of Moore's paradox yields a successful resolution of the problem, a new analysis of it is offered. It is argued that, in attempting to render verdicts of either inconsistency or self-contradiction or self-refutation, those analyses have all failed to satisfactorily explain why a Moore-paradoxical proposition is such that it cannot be rationally believed. According to the proposed solution put forward here, a Moore-paradoxical proposition is one for which (...) the believer can have no non-overridden evidence. The arguments for this claim make use of some of Peter Klein's views on epistemic defeasibility. It is further suggested that this proposal may have important meta-epistemological implications. (shrink)
In his most recent version of the evidential argument from evil, William Rowe argues that the observation of no outweighing goods for certain evils constitutes significant evidence against theism. I show that the new evidential argument cannot challenge theism unless it is also reasonable to believe that no good we know of justifies God in permitting any evil at all. Since the new evidential argument provides no reason at all to believe that God is not justified in permitting any existing (...) evil, I conclude that Rowe's argument presents no evidential challenge to theism. (shrink)
This research examines the association between attitudes on cheating and cognitive moral development. In this research, we use Rest's (1979a) Defining Issues Test, the Attitudes on Honesty Scale (Authors) and Academic Integrity Index (Authors); the last two are adaptations of the DIT. A total of 220 students from three universities participated in the study (66 psychology majors and 154 business majors). The data indicate that 66.4 percent of the students reported that they cheated in high school, college, or both high (...) school and college. Psychology majors scored higher than business majors on both the Defining Issues Test (Rest, 1979a) and the Attitudes on Honesty Scale (AHS, Authors). Using factor analysis, we found significant associations between students' ratings of the importance considerations present in the three cheating scenarios and their estimates of whether cheating would occur (i.e., the Academic Integrity Index). Finally, using logistic regression, we found that the scores on the Attitudes on Honesty Scale and Academic Integrity Index associate with the self-reported cheating behavior of college students. (shrink)
Suppose it is a reasonable assumption that there is no possible world that is overall highest in value. Some theists have found in thatassumption a basis for actualizing a less-than-best world. Some atheists have found in that assumption a basis for actualizing no world at all. I present a dynamic choice model for the problem and describe the rationality assumptions necessary to generate a rational choice problem for an ideally rational agent. I show that at least one of the rationality (...) assumptions—the Rational Perfection Principle—is invalid in the relevant sorts of models. I conclude that the existence of no best world presents no rational choice problem for ideally rational agents. (shrink)
Working on the assumption that ideas are embedded in socio-technical arrangements which actualize them, this essay sheds light on the way the Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC) achieves the Lisbon strategic goal: to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world . Rather than framing the issue in utilitarian terms, it focuses attention on quantified indicators, comparable statistics and common targets resulting from the increasing practice of intergovernmental benchmarking, in order to tackle the following questions: how does (...) the OMC go about co-ordinating Member States through the benchmarking of national policies? And to what extent does this managerial device impact the path of European construction? Beyond the ideological and discursive construction of the competitive imperative, this technology of government transforms it into an indefinite discipline (Foucault) which constantly urges decision-makers to hit the top of the charts. This contribution thus argues that the practice of intergovernmental benchmarking is far from being neutral in purpose and effect. On the contrary, it lays the foundation for building a competitive Europe which unites Member States through competition. (shrink)
Forsyth’s (1980) Ethics Position Questionnaire and Hunt et al.’s (1989) Corporate Ethical Value Questionnaire are used to examine the ethical ideologies of senior managers from organizations listed in the Australian Stock Exchange. The results indicate how corporate ethical values, religion, gender, and age are related to the idealism and relativism of senior Australian managers. After discussing the results, limitations of the study are offered. Finally, managerial implications are provided and recommendations for future research are given.
Those of us who have followed Fred Dretske's lead with regard to epistemic closure and its impact on skepticism have been half-wrong for the last four decades. But those who have opposed our Dretskean stance, contextualists in particular, have been just wrong. We have been half-right. Dretske rightly claimed that epistemic status is not closed under logical implication. Unlike the Dretskean cases, the new counterexamples to closure offered here render every form of contextualist pro-closure maneuvering useless. But there is a (...) way of going wrong under Dretske's lead. As the paper argues, Cartesian skepticism thrives on closure failure in a way that is yet to be acknowledged in the literature. The skeptic can make do with principles which are weaker than the familiar closure principles. But I will further claim that this is only a momentary reprieve for the skeptic. As it turns out, one of the weaker principles on which a skeptical modus tollens must rest can be shown false. (shrink)
Philosophical discussions of Molyneux's problem within contemporary philosophy of mind tend to characterize the problem as primarily concerned with the role innately known principles, amodal spatial concepts, and rational cognitive faculties play in our perceptual lives. Indeed, for broadly similar reasons, rationalists have generally advocated an affirmative answer, while empiricists have generally advocated a negative one, to the question Molyneux posed after presenting his famous thought experiment. This historical characterization of the dialectic, however, somewhat obscures the role Molyneux's problem has (...) played in spawning debates within the empiricist tradition. Fortunately, the differences between various empiricist accounts have been widely recognized and discussed among historians of philosophy working on the topic. The focus of the present essay is to develop an interpretation of John Locke's views on Molyneux's problem that best coheres with his other views on human understanding as well as with the predominant scientific opinion about the nature of perception during the period in which he lived. (shrink)
It is argued, on the basis of new counterexamples, that neither knowledge nor epistemic justification (or epistemic rationality ) can reasonably be thought to be closed under logical implication. The argument includes an attempt to reconcile the fundamental intuitions of the opposing parties in the debate.
This work is part of a wider investigation into lattice-structured algebras and associated dual representations obtained via the methodology of canonical extensions. To this end, here we study lattices, not necessarily distributive, with negation operations. We consider equational classes of lattices equipped with a negation operation ¬ which is dually self-adjoint (the pair (¬,¬) is a Galois connection) and other axioms are added so as to give classes of lattices in which the negation is De Morgan, orthonegation, antilogism, pseudocomplementation or (...) weak pseudocomplementation. These classes are shown to be canonical and dual relational structures are given in a generalized Kripke-style. The fact that the negation is dually self-adjoint plays an important role here, as it implies that it sends arbitrary joins to meets and that will allow us to define the dual structures in a uniform way. (shrink)
William Rowe has argued that if there is an infinite sequence of improving worlds then an essentially perfectly good being must actualize some world in the sequence and must not actualize any world in the sequence. Since that is impossible, there exist no perfectly good beings. I show that Rowe's argument assumes that the concept of a maximally great being is incoherent. Since we are given no reason to believe that the concept of a maximally great being is incoherent we (...) have no reason to believe Rowe's Argument from Improvability is sound. (shrink)
In a recent article in Philo I critique William Rowe’s new evidential argument from evil. Richard Carrier claims I advance an argument for theism in that article and proposes a counterexample to that argument. I show that Carrier’s counterexample fails for reasons that are fairly obvious. I then offer help. The best chance for a counterexample to the argument I offer comes from the possibility of cryptid creatures. But it is not difficult to show that counterexamples from cryptic creatures also (...) fail. I conclude that these critical observations present no interesting problem for the defeat of Rowe’s new argument. (shrink)
Michael Martin introduces a non-Humean conception of miracles according to which miracles are events that need not violate a law of nature and are brought about by the exercise of a possibly non-theistic, supernatural power. Call those m-miracles. I consider Martin’s argument that the occurrence of an m-miracle would not confirm the existence of God. Martin presents an interesting argument, but it does not establish that m-miracles would not confirm the existence God. I argue that, on the contrary, it is (...) quite reasonable to conclude that Martin’s m-miracles provide at least some confirmation for the hypothesis that God exists. (shrink)
Ted Sider’s Proportionality of Justice condition requires that any two moral agents instantiating nearly the same moral state be treated in nearly the same way. I provide a countermodel in supervaluation semantics to the proportionality of justice condition. It is possible that moral agents S and S' are in nearly the same moral state, S' is beyond all redemption and S is not. It is consistent with perfect justice then that moral agents that are not beyond redemption go determinately to (...) heaven and moral agents that are beyond all redemption go determinately to hell. I conclude that moral agents that are in nearly the same moral state may be treated in very unequal ways. (shrink)