We argue that Dienes & Perner's (D&P's) proposal needs to specify independent criteria when a subject explicitly represents factuality. This task is complicated by the fact that people typically “tacitly” believe that each of their beliefs is a fact. This problem does not arise for comparative evidence on monkeys, for they presumably lack the capacity to represent factuality explicitly. D&P suggest that explicit visual processing and declarative memory depend on explicit representations of factuality, whereas the analogous implicit processes do not (...) require such representations. Many of the implicit/explicit findings are also found in monkeys, however, and D&P's account needs to explain this striking parallel. (shrink)
In 1961, Ernst Mayr published a highly influential article on the nature of causation in biology, in which he distinguished between proximate and ultimate causes. Mayr argued that proximate causes (e.g. physiological factors) and ultimate causes (e.g. natural selection) addressed distinct ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions and were not competing alternatives. That distinction retains explanatory value today. However, the adoption of Mayr’s heuristic led to the widespread belief that ontogenetic processes are irrelevant to evolutionary questions, a belief that has (1) hindered (...) progress within evolutionary biology, (2) forged divisions between evolutionary biology and adjacent disciplines and (3) obstructed several contemporary debates in biology. Here we expand on our earlier (Laland et al. in Science 334:1512–1516, 2011) argument that Mayr’s dichotomous formulation has now run its useful course, and that evolutionary biology would be better served by a concept of reciprocal causation, in which causation is perceived to cycle through biological systems recursively. We further suggest that a newer evolutionary synthesis is unlikely to emerge without this change in thinking about causation. (shrink)
There is increasing evidence for epigenetically mediated transgenerational inheritance across taxa. However, the evolutionary implications of such alternative mechanisms of inheritance remain unclear. Herein, we show that epigenetic mechanisms can serve two fundamentally different functions in transgenerational inheritance: (i) selection-based effects, which carry adaptive information in virtue of selection over many generations of reliable transmission; and (ii) detection-based effects, which are a transgenerational form of adaptive phenotypic plasticity. The two functions interact differently with a third form of epigenetic information transmission, (...) namely information about cell state transmitted for somatic cell heredity in multicellular organisms. Selection-based epigenetic information is more likely to conflict with somatic cell inheritance than is detection-based epigenetic information. Consequently, the evolutionary implications of epigenetic mechanisms are different for unicellular and multicellular organisms, which underscores the conceptual and empirical importance of distinguishing between these two different forms of transgenerational epigenetic effect. (shrink)
We are grateful to the commentators for taking the time to respond to our article. Too many interesting and important points have been raised for us to tackle them all in this response, and so in the below we have sought to draw out the major themes. These include problems with both the term ‘ultimate causation’ and the proximate-ultimate causation dichotomy more generally, clarification of the meaning of reciprocal causation, discussion of issues related to the nature of development and phenotypic (...) plasticity and their roles in evolution, and consideration of the need for an extended evolutionary synthesis. (shrink)
The efforts of the European Commission to create a European Research Area in the field of biotechnology are accompanied by a growing demand for an ethical discourse. Cultural differences between the European Union's member states create a vital need to improve bioethical information structures in Europe so as to foster European bioethics discourses and to cope with ethical pluralism. Responding to the need for an increased European contribution to the international discussion on ethics in medicine and biotechnology, some of Europe's (...) leading bioethics institutions have joined forces to establish the international network EURETHNET . 18 partners from nine European countries agreed to develop an information network and knowledge base in the field of ethics in medicine and biotechnology. This short communication displays the aims, scope and realisation of the network. (shrink)
Individuals are often restricted to indirect cues when assessing the mate value of a potential partner. Females of some species have been shown to copy each other’s choice; in other words, the probability of a female choosing a particular male increases if he has already been chosen by other females. Recently it has been suggested that mate-choice copying could be an important aspect of human mate choice as well. We tested one of the hypotheses, the so-called wedding ring effect—that women (...) would prefer men who are already engaged or married—in a series of live interactions between men and women. The results show that women do not find men signaling engagement, or being perceived as having a partner, more attractive or higher in socioeconomic status. Furthermore, signs of engagement did not influence the women’s reported willingness to engage in short-term or long-term relationships with the men. Thus, this study casts doubt on some simplified theories of human mate-choice copying, and alternative, more complex scenarios are outlined and discussed. (shrink)
: This paper deals with Claudia Card's important contributions to a theory of evil that steps out from traditional models of thinking about this problem (theodicies, metaphysical theories, etc.). Instead, our author seeks to explore important elements from other theorists (such as Kant and Nietzsche) in order to build up her ideas of what she calls the "atrocity paradigm." This critical essay focuses mainly in the spaces where Card's conclusions need to rethink the limits and constraints of her theory.
This paper deals with Claudia Card's important contributions to a theory of evil that steps out from traditional models of thinking about this problem (theodicies, metaphysical theories, etc.). Instead, our author seeks to explore important elements from other theorists (such as Kant and Nietzsche) in order to build up her ideas of what she calls the "atrocity paradigm." This critical essay focuses mainly in the spaces where Card's conclusions need to rethink the limits and constraints of her theory.
In The Atrocity Paradigm, Claudia Card suggests we forgiveness as a potentially valuable exercise of a victim's moral powers. Yet Card never makes explicit just what 'moral powers' are, or how to understand their grounding or scope. I draw out unacknowledged implications of her framework: namely, that others than the primary victim may forgive, and -- conversely -- that some victims may find themselves morally dis-empowered. Furthermore, talk of "moral powers" allows us to appropriately acknowledge the value of refusals (...) to forgive and the issue of "forgivable" evils, in ways that talk of forgiveness as a duty or virtue cannot. (shrink)
The context of international health research involving human subjects, and this should appear obvious, is the human community. As such, basic questions of how human beings should be treated by other human beings, particularly in situations of unequal power – e.g., in the form of control, choice, or opportunity – lay at the foundations of related ethical discourse when ethics are discussed at all. I trace a narrative that follows upon a recent revision process of international guidelines for biomedical research (...) involving human subjects. I focus in particular upon the issue of a standard of care. In the second section, I draw upon philosophers John Rawls, Claudia Card, and Allen Buchanan to discuss concerns regarding the 'least advantaged members of society' in the context of global inequality. The paper includes reflections upon pedagogy in courses focused upon international health research involving human subjects. (shrink)
This paper draws on Claudia Card’s discussions of moral luck to consider the complicated moral life of people—described as pessimists—who accept the heavy knowledge of the predictability of the bad moral luck of oppression. The potential threat to ethics posed by this knowledge can be overcome by the pessimist whose resistance to oppression, even in the absence of hope, expresses a sense of still having a ‘‘claim’’ on flourishing despite its unattainability under oppression.
: I briefly reprise a few themes of my bookMoral Understandingsin order to address some questions about responsibility and justification. I argue for a thoroughly situated and naturalized view of moral justification that warns us not to take moral universalism too easily at face value. I also argue for the significance of reports of experience, among other kinds of empirical evidence, in testing the habitability of moral forms of life.