Like every major new technology, genetic engineering is affecting the hopes and fears of many people. The risks involved are perceived differently by different groups. One group regards genetic engineering as a simple extension of older techniques with no special risks, e.g. traditional breeding. This conservative denial of special risks is confronted with a different kind of conservatism from a group which, in the name of the preservation of nature, opposes any kind of genetic engineering. A third group, rooted in (...) the liberal tradition, is prepared to accept the risks of genetic engineering as long as they are outweighed by prospective benefits. The liberal as well as the two conservative approaches, however, face serious difficulties in trying to develop a sound ethical argument concerning genetic engineering. In order to avoid these difficulties, an ethical approach focused on paradigmatic examples of good and evil is proposed. Such examples constitute rules of moral description, much as standards of measurement constitute rules of physical description. These rules are elaborated and interpreted in processes of social learning. In the present state of development of genetic engineering, such social learning requires appropriate institutional procedures. (shrink)
Werner Jaeger's highly-acclaimed work treats paideia, the shaping of Greek character, as the basis for study of Hellenism as a whole, to explain the interaction between the historical process by which Greek character was formed and the intellectual process by which they constructed their ideal of the human personality. -/- .
Abstract: This essay explores recent trends and major issues related to gay and lesbian philosophy in ethics (including issues concerning the morality of homosexuality, the natural function of sex, and outing and coming out); religion (covering past and present debates about the status of homosexuality and how biblical and qur'anic passages have been interpreted by both sides of the debate); the law (especially a discussion of the debates surrounding sodomy laws, same-sex marriage and its impact on transsexuals, and whether the (...) law should be used to enforce morality); scientific research into the origins of homosexuality (including discussion of arguments against such research); and metaphysics (especially the question of whether homosexuality is socially constructed during particular times and in particular cultures, or whether sexual orientation is an essential trait cutting across times and cultures). (shrink)
David Lewis has proposed an analysis of lawhood in terms of membership of a system of regularities optimizing simplicity and strength in information content. This article studies his proposal against the broader background of the project of Humean supervenience. In particular, I claim that, in Lewis's account of lawhood, his intuition about small deviations from a given law in nearby worlds (in order to avoid backtracking and epiphenomena) leads to the conclusion that laws do not support (certain) counterfactuals and do (...) not bestow nomic necessity on (certain) facts induced by these laws. Support of counterfactuals and nomic necessity, however, are widely held to be important aspects of the concept of lawhood. In my view, therefore, it is not possible to abandon these criteria in any satisfactory analysis of the notion of laws of nature. In a final section, I suggest that the whole project of Humean supervenience is misleading. It does not sufficiently take notice of the important role that reasoning about contrary-to-fact situations plays in modern scientific practice. (shrink)
This article reviews the use of implantable radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags in humans, focusing on the VeriChip (VeriChip Corporation, Delray Beach, FL) and the associated VeriMed patient identification system. In addition, various nonmedical applications for implanted RFID tags in humans have been proposed. The technology offers important health and nonhealth benefits, but raises ethical concerns, including privacy and the potential for coercive implantation of RFID tags in individuals. A national discussion is needed to identify the limits of acceptable use of (...) implantable RFID tags in humans before their use becomes widespread and it becomes too late to prevent misuse of this useful but ethically problematic technology. (shrink)
Inductive probabilistic reasoning is understood as the application of inference patterns that use statistical background information to assign (subjective) probabilities to single events. The simplest such inference pattern is direct inference: from “70% of As are Bs” and “a is an A” infer that a is a B with probability 0.7. Direct inference is generalized by Jeffrey’s rule and the principle of cross-entropy minimization. To adequately formalize inductive probabilistic reasoning is an interesting topic for artificial intelligence, as an autonomous system (...) acting in a complex environment may have to base its actions on a probabilistic model of its environment, and the probabilities needed to form this model can often be obtained by combining statistical background information with particular observations made, i.e., by inductive probabilistic reasoning. In this paper a formal framework for inductive probabilistic reasoning is developed: syntactically it consists of an extension of the language of first-order predicate logic that allows to express statements about both statistical and subjective probabilities. Semantics for this representation language are developed that give rise to two distinct entailment relations: a relation ⊨ that models strict, probabilistically valid, inferences, and a relation that models inductive probabilistic inferences. The inductive entailment relation is obtained by implementing cross-entropy minimization in a preferred model semantics. A main objective of our approach is to ensure that for both entailment relations complete proof systems exist. This is achieved by allowing probability distributions in our semantic models that use non-standard probability values. A number of results are presented that show that in several important aspects the resulting logic behaves just like a logic based on real-valued probabilities alone. (shrink)
The positive operator (valued) measures (POMs) allow one to generalize the notion of observable beyond the traditional one based on projection valued measures (PVMs). Here, we argue that this generalized conception of observable enables a consistent notion of unsharp reality and with it a concept of joint properties. A property manifests itself as an element of unsharp reality by its power, or tendency, of becoming actual or actualizing a specific measurement outcome, where this tendency of actualization is quantified by the (...) associated quantum probability. The resulting single-case interpretation of probability as a degree of reality will be explained in detail and its role in addressing the tensions between quantum and classical accounts of the physical world will be elucidated. It will be shown that potentiality can be viewed as a causal agency that evolves in a well-defined way. (shrink)
In his recent book, The Empirical Stance (2002), Bas van Fraassen elaborates on earlier suggestions of a religious view that has striking parallels withhis constructive empiricism. A particularly salient feature consists in the way in which he keeps a critical distance from theoretical formulations both in scienceand religion, thus preferring a mystical approach to religious experience. As an alternative, I suggest a view based on mediation by the word, both in the structureof reality and the encounter between persons. Without falling (...) prey to rationalist illusions, such an approach allows for true human knowledge as embedded intranscendent Wisdom. It implies a more radical break with the Enlightenment ideal of neutral and universal knowledge than van Fraassen’s program, as he stillmaintains a kind of immanent grounding of knowledge in the form of direct, unmediated experience, in spite of his rejection of classical foundationalism. Wecan thus overcome the antithetical ring that characterizes his notion of rationality understood as bridled irrationality and escape relativism without forgetting thelessons that we have learned from the collapse of positivism—lessons to which van Fraassen rightly draws our attention. (shrink)
This study examined the hypothesis that religiosity would be differentially related to six types of adolescent prosocial behaviour, and that these relations would be mediated by the prosocial value of kindness. Self?report data were collected from 142 high school students (63 per cent female; 91 per cent White; M age?=?16.8, S?=?.80). Religiosity was a significant positive predictor of kindness, as well as compliant, anonymous and altruistic prosocial behaviour, but not public, dire and emotional prosocial behaviour. Associations between religiosity and both (...) compliant and altruistic prosocial behaviours were mediated by kindness. Direct and indirect paths were found between religiosity and anonymous prosocial behaviour. Thus, partial support was found for the mediational hypothesis. Discussion focused on the utility of distinguishing among different types of prosocial behaviours and on the role of religion and values in promoting moral education. (shrink)
My discussion is concerned with how symbolic power constitutively structures our very identities in relation to one another and at the bodily level of lived experience. Although many accounts of the self and of subjectivity as socially situated have difficulties in their explanations of agency, Zaners work suggests a basis upon which the selfs independence from others can be understood. His phenomenology of embodied subjectivity explains how the emerging self presupposes presence with others. At the same time, however, co-presence also (...) reveals the selfs distinct perspective and capacity for circumstantial possibilizing, that is to say, actualizing another possible than the actual. My aim is to examine critically the intersections between Zaners phenomenology and other theoretical accounts of the socially situated self. I also show how Zaners work contributes to these discussions a way of understanding the possibility of agency that is rooted in embodied experience. (shrink)
Recent years have seen a surge in accounts motivated by information theory that consider language production to be partially driven by a preference for communicative efficiency. Evidence from discourse production (i.e., production beyond the sentence level) has been argued to suggest that speakers distribute information across discourse so as to hold the conditional per-word entropy associated with each word constant, which would facilitate efficient information transfer (Genzel & Charniak, 2002). This hypothesis implies that the conditional (contextualized) probabilities of linguistic units (...) affect speakers’ preferences during production. Here, we extend this work in two ways. First, we explore how preceding cues are integrated into contextualized probabilities, a question which so far has received little to no attention. Specifically, we investigate how a cue's maximal informativity about upcoming words (the cue's effectiveness) decays as a function of the cue's recency. Based on properties of linguistic discourses as well as properties of human memory, we analytically derive a model of cue effectiveness decay and evaluate it against cross-linguistic data from 12 languages. Second, we relate the information theoretic accounts of discourse production to well-established mechanistic (activation-based) accounts: We relate contextualized probability distributions over words to their relative activation in a lexical network given preceding discourse. (shrink)
This study provides evidence for implicit learning in syntactic comprehension. By reanalyzing data from a syntactic priming experiment (Thothathiri & Snedeker, 2008), we find that the error signal associated with a syntactic prime influences comprehenders' subsequent syntactic expectations. This follows directly from error-based implicit learning accounts of syntactic priming, but it is unexpected under accounts that consider syntactic priming a consequence of temporary increases in base-level activation. More generally, the results raise questions about the principles underlying the maintenance of implicit (...) statistical knowledge relevant to language processing, and about possible functional motivations for syntactic priming. (shrink)
Previous research has identified two moral orientations in people's reasoning about moral dilemmas: an orientation to rights, fairness, and justice and another based on care, compassion and concern for others and the self. To investigate the association of political violence and ethnic conflict with children's preferred moral orientation, two studies were conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first with 10-12-year-olds and the second with 6-8- and 9-11-year-olds. In the first study, children's solutions to dilemmas involving animal characters were most likely (...) to reflect an orientation to care and concern rather than to justice and fairness. In the second study, children who responded to stories involving humans were even more likely to offer solutions from the care perspective than those who heard stories about animals. No consistent gender differences were observed. These results were generally similar to those from North American samples; however, the content of Bosnian children's responses also reflected their experiences with displacement and their concerns about the role of physical power in conflict resolution. (shrink)
It is often assumed that contemporary physics is more hospitable to divine action (and human freedom) than classical mechanics. The article criticizes this assumption on the grounds of both physics and theology. Most currently discussed models of divine action do not challenge the physicalist assumption that physics provides a true and complete description of nature’s causal web. Thus they resemble physicalism-plus-God. Taking up suggestions from Herman Dooyeweerd and Henri Blocher, I propose an alternative framework for divine action in the world. (...) It takes creation as the starting-point to understand the world and leads to a non-reductionist, multidimensional picture of reality. (shrink)
The most influential physicist of the 20th century considered his scientific activity to be a contribution to ,,cosmic religion". Starting from his own writings, the article presents Einstein's religious views and questions the extent to which his pantheistic convictions can provide the necessary foundations for human knowledge and action. German Der bedeutendste Physiker des 20. Jahrhunderts fasste seine wissenschaftliche Tätigkeit als Beitrag zur ,,kosmischen Religion auf. Der Artikel zeichnet die Religionsauffassung Einsteins an Hand von Originaltexten nach und fragt, inwieweit seine (...) weitgehend pantheistisch geprägten Überzeugungen menschliches Wissen und Handeln begründen können. (shrink)
There are three concerns regarding Rachlin's altruism model. First, proximal causal mechanisms such as those identified by cognitive neuroscientists and behavioral neuropharmacologists are not emphasized. Second, there is a lack of clear testable hypotheses. And third, extreme forms of altruism are emphasized rather than common forms. We focus on an overarching theme – proximal mechanisms of individual differences in altruism.
" The project of Greek culture in its heroic period was the creation of the perfect state-a goal that seemed within reach in the Athens of the fifth century B.C. But with the fall of Athens that prospect evaporated, and the result, which ...
Unification grammars are known to be Turing-equivalent; given a grammar G and a word w, it is undecidable whether w L(G). In order to ensure decidability, several constraints on grammars, commonly known as off-line parsability (OLP), were suggested, such that the recognition problem is decidable for grammars which satisfy OLP. An open question is whether it is decidable if a given grammar satisfies OLP. In this paper we investigate various definitions of OLP and discuss their interrelations, proving that some of (...) the OLP variants are indeed undecidable. We then present a novel, decidable OLP constraint which is more liberal than the existing decidable ones. (shrink)