We have synthesized a 582,970-base pair Mycoplasma genitalium genome. This synthetic genome, named M. genitalium JCVI-1.0, contains all the genes of wild-type M. genitalium G37 except MG408, which was disrupted by an antibiotic marker to block pathogenicity and to allow for selection. To identify the genome as synthetic, we inserted "watermarks" at intergenic sites known to tolerate transposon insertions. Overlapping "cassettes" of 5 to 7 kilobases (kb), assembled from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, were joined by in vitro recombination to produce intermediate (...) assemblies of approximately 24 kb, 72 kb ("1/8 genome"), and 144 kb ("1/4 genome"), which were all cloned as bacterial artificial chromosomes in Escherichia coli. Most of these intermediate clones were sequenced, and clones of all four 1/4 genomes with the correct sequence were identified. The complete synthetic genome was assembled by transformation-associated recombination cloning in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, then isolated and sequenced. A clone with the correct sequence was identified. The methods described here will be generally useful for constructing large DNA molecules from chemically synthesized pieces and also from combinations of natural and synthetic DNA segments. 10.1126/science.1151721. (shrink)
An edited version of a semi-autobiographical piece that Terence Hutchison wrote in 2001?2003, shortly before his death, in which he reflected on the methodological developments in which he had been involved, centred on the London School of Economics, in the 1930s. It explains very clearly the context out of which his own work arose. Particular attention is paid to the work of Lionel Robbins, Frank Knight and the philosopher Felix Kaufmann.
Discussions of the Tylenol and Exxon Valdez cases found in textbooks, public relations scholarship, and news coverage are assessed to understand the meanings that practitioners, educators, critics, and journalists have attributed to those events. The essay objects to a central claim made by critics who say these cases set standards for ethical behavior in public relations. This claim, according to us, mistakes moral drama for ethical deliberation.
This paper argues against a standard view that all deterministic and conservative classical mechanical systems are time-reversible, by asking how the temporal evolution of a system modulates parametric imprecision (either ontological or epistemic). It notes that well-behaved systems (e.g. inertial motion) can possess a dynamics which is unstable enough to fail at reversing uncertainties—even though exact values are reliably reversed. A limited (but significant) source of irreversibility is thus displayed in classical mechanics, closely analogous the lack of predictability revealed by (...) unstable chaotic systems. (shrink)
This paper rejects a traditional epistemic interpretation of conditional probability. Suppose some chance process produces outcomes X, Y,..., with probabilities P(X), P(Y),... If later observation reveals that outcome Y has in fact been achieved, then the probability of outcome X cannot normally be revised to P(X|Y) ['P&Y)/P(Y)]. This can only be done in exceptional circumstances - when more than just knowledge of Y-ness has been attained. The primary reason for this is that the weight of a piece of evidence varies (...) with the means by which it is provided, so knowledge of Y-ness does not have uniform impact on the probability of X. A better updating of the probability of X is provided by P(X|Y*), where Y* is not an outcome of the chance process being observed, but the sentence 'the outcome Y has been observed', an 'outcome' of the subsequent observation process. This alternative formula is widely endorsed in practice, but not well recognized in theory, where the oversight has generated some unsatisfactory consequences. (shrink)
For over two centuries since the first emergence of modern political economy, right down to the early decade of the 20th century, there were leading or important economists, who were also leading or important philosophers: Locke, Hume, Smith, J.S. Mill, Jevons, and Sidgwick and the Keynes's are a few obvious examples. The essential philosophical and methodological problems of the subject could be, and were, authoritatively addressed. And inspite of profound and lasting methodological disagreements, a relatively broad, workable, mainstream consensus, particularly (...) in the Anglophone world, was more or less adequately maintained among the comparatively very small number cultivating the subject. The state of affairs has been profoundly shattered, roughly in the last two-thirds of this century.The huge increase in numbers has brought the rise of departmental barriers, accompanied by a narrow ?professionalism? among mainstream economists, which rejects philosophical and methodological clarity as outside their intellectual responsibilities. A second part of this paper will discuss what kinds of philosophical-methodological problems economists should address. (shrink)
We consider here an important family of conditional bets, those that proceed to settlement if and only if some agreed evidence is received that a condition has been met. Despite an opinion widespread in the literature, we observe that when the evidence is strong enough to generate certainty as to whether the condition has been met or not, using traditional conditional probabilities for such bets will NOT preserve a gambler from having a synchronic Dutch Book imposed upon him. On the (...) contrary (I show) the gambler can be Dutch-Booked if his betting ratios ever depart from a rather different probability, one that involves the probability of the agreed evidence being provided. We note furthermore that this same alternative probability assessment is necessary if the evidence is weaker (i.e. if it fails to provide knowledge whether or not the condition has been met.) By contrast, some of the (rather different) probability assessments proposed by Jeffrey, precisely for such situations, still expose the gambler to a Dutch-Book. (shrink)
The paper is a reminiscence of T.W. Hutchison by way of a retrospective view of our debate over the relationship between the ideas of Karl Popper, F. A. Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises on methodology. Our dispute was part of a larger debate over the relevance of Popper's thought for economic methodology. Its place within the larger debate is also explored.
An introduction to the last article on which TerenceHutchison worked, now published under the title, ?A formative decade: methodological controversy in the 1930s?, explaining what is known about its writing, and a brief summary of such biographical information and information about his work as is necessary to understand its significance.
The methodological debate between Frank Knight and Terence Hutchison is usually framed in terms of the philosophical debates between positivism and intuitionism, or between empirical knowledge and theoretical knowledge. Hutchison's argument was, after all, a defense of the need for empirically-based economic knowledge, using the justificatory framework provided by logical positivism, and Knight was widely known for his defense of the understanding of economic theory often associated with Lionel Robbins. But the dispute between Knight and Hutchison was (...) much more than a battle over the epistemological status of economics' basic postulates. For Knight, Hutchison's positivism posed risks for the discussion at the heart of liberal democracy. Hutchison, also, aimed his methodological criticism of economic theory at a similar target: the economic objectives of all societies would be achieved sooner if planners were guided by an empirical economic science. (shrink)
TerenceHutchison's 1938 essay has been variously interpreted as introducing positivism, ultra?empiricism and Popperian falsificationism into economics. This paper argues that such interpretations are unfair and inaccurate. Moreover, they distract from his central message. The paper is divided into three main sections. The first seeks to demonstrate the extent to which Hutchison's essay differs from these previous interpretations. The second argues that Hutchison's central concern was to highlight and demonstrate the inadequacies of the traditional deductive method (...) of ?classical? economics. The third contends that Hutchison is best interpreted as following in a long line of British empiricists and outlines some features of the ?empirical?inductive? approach that he supports. (shrink)
Hutchison's 1938 essay has been variously interpreted as introducing positivism, ultra-empiricism and Popperian falsificationism to economics. Yet his apparent inconsistency in maintaining all of these positions seems to have gone unnoticed in the literature. Previously I have criticized attempts to characterize Hutchison as a positivist or ultra-empiricist. In this article I argue that Klappholz and Agassi failed to support their claim that Hutchison introduced Popper's criterion to economics. That is, this paper deals with this specific question, rather (...) than the wider one of whether or not Hutchison introduced Popperian falsificationism to economics. Yet the two issues are closely connected and so the latter question is briefly discussed. To the extent that the paper succeeds, it may help to resolve the inconsistency problem. For now it is possible that Hutchison in 1938 developed his own original and consistent position. The task of substantiating such a view by providing a positive account of his methodology is one for the future. (shrink)
The pigeonholing of Hutchison's methodology as positivist, ultra-empiricist or Popperian has militated against a full appreciation of his more complex position. In this as-verbatim-as-possible account of an afternoon's discussion with Hutchison, it is the directly personal manner in which we gain insights, rather than simply the insights themselves, that we hope will help towards a re-assessment. We learn of his non-positivist view that economics is an empirical-historical discipline distinct from the natural sciences; and his rejection of Popper's view (...) that prediction in economics can and should be based on laws like the law of gravity. We hear of his wariness of relying on the hypothetico-deductivist methods of Popper and later positivists in a subject such as economics, and his support instead for the methodological views of Jacob Viner and the inductive methods associated with the historically and institutionally detailed approaches of Cliffe Leslie, Wesley Clair Mitchell and Henry Phelps Brown. (shrink)
Hutchison's 1938 essay has been mainly interpreted as introducing positivism and ultra-empiricism into economics. Such interpretations misrepresent his position. While he clearly drew on logical positivism, his methodology stems from a more moderate form of empiricism. However the issue at stake is not the exact degree of Hutchison's empiricism, but rather the extent to which such negative labelling has trivialised his position and distracted attention from the main concern of his 1938 essay. This was to mount a sustained (...) and systematic criticism of the traditional abstract-deductive method in economics. In its place Hutchison sought to promote a more empirical, inductive approach. The paper is concerned with demonstrating the extent to which Machlup failed to provide evidence of Hutchison's ultra-empiricism. It thereby seeks to clear the way towards a reappraisal of Hutchison's methodology and towards a reappraisal of its relevance in our post-positivist era. (shrink)
The person arguably most responsible for the view of Hutchison as the positivist who introduced positivism into economics was Frank Knight. I argue that Knight in 1940 failed to demonstrate that Hutchison was a positivist, at least in the narrow logical positivist sense of the term. By questioning Knight's charge, I aim to challenge the conventional wisdom that identifies ?Hutchison? with ?positivism?. The paper is then a first step in the argument that positivism, even in 1938, (...) played only an inessential role in a consistent methodological position that Hutchison developed alongside his work in the history of economic thought. (shrink)
The paper aims to establish that Terence Hutchison’s argument in The Politics and Philosophy of Economics (1981) to the effect that the young F.A. Hayek maintained a methodological position markedly similar to that of Ludwig von Mises fails to establish the relevant conclusion. The first problem with Hutchison’s argument is that it is not clear exactly what conclusion he meant to establish with regard to the methodological views of the two paragons of 20th century Austrian economics. Mises (in)famously (...) maintained a rather extreme methodological apriorism. However, Hutchison’s argument does not support the claim that Hayek was ever an apriorist of the Misesian variety. The concept of a priori knowledge that emerges from Hayek’s epistemology – specifically the epistemology implied by Hayek’s work in theoretical psychology – is the direct opposite of Mises’ treatment of a priori knowledge. Simply stated, Hayek conceived of a priori knowledge as fallible and relative, while Mises considered a priori knowledge to be infallible and absolute. Thus, it cannot be maintained – if, indeed, Hutchison meant to establish – that Hayek was a Misesian apriorist during the years in question. What’s more, the paper shows that Hutchison’s argument does not support a weaker interpretation of the relevant conclusion. There are alternative interpretations of the evidence adduced by Hutchison that are both more charitable and more in line with Hayek’s epistemology that undermine Hutchison’s conclusion. (shrink)