Stimulation of airway myocytes by contractile agents such as acetylcholine (ACh) activates a Ca2+-activated Cl– current (IClCa) which may play a key role in calcium homeostasis of airway myocytes and hence in airway reactivity. The aim of the present study was to model IClCa in airway smooth muscle cells using a computerised model previously designed for simulation of cardiac myocyte functioning. Modelling was based on a simple resistor-battery permeation model combined with multiple binding site activation by calcium. In order to (...) validate the model, a combination of equations, used to mimic [Ca2+]i response to ACh stimulation, were incorporated into the model. The results indicate that the model developed in this article accounts for experimental recordings and electrophysiological characteristics of this current in airway smooth muscle cells, with parameter values consistent with those calculated from experimental data. Such a model may thus be used to predict IClCa functioning, though additional experimental data from airway myocytes would be useful to more accurately determine some parameter values of the model. (shrink)
The African Philosophy Reader, Second Edition , is a substantially revised and greatly enhanced collection of writings on African philosophy. Editors P.H. Coetzee and A.P.J. Roux have brought together thirty-seven philosophers, thirty-three of whom are black Africans, to present the most current philosophical discussions. Divided into eight sections, each with introductory essays, the selections offer rich and detailed insights into a diverse multinational philosophical landscape. Revealed in this pathbreaking work is the way in which traditional philosophical issues related to (...) ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology, for instance, take on specific forms in Africa's postcolonial struggles. Much of its moral, political, and social philosophy is concerned with the turbulent processes of embracing modern identities while protecting ancient cultures. (shrink)
Abstract Ecological communities around the world are under threat while a consensus theory of community structure remains elusive. In the last decade ecologists have struggled with two seemingly opposing theories: niche-based theory that explains diversity with species’ differences and the neutral theory of biodiversity that claims that much of the diversity we observe can be explained without explicitly invoking species’ differences. Although ecologists are increasingly attempting to reconcile these two theories, there is still much resistance against the neutral theory of (...) biodiversity. Here we argue that the dispute between the two theories is a classic example of the dichotomy between philosophical perspectives, realism and instrumentalism. Realism is associated with specific, small-scale and detailed explanations, whereas instrumentalism is linked to general, large-scale, but less precise accounts. Recognizing this will help ecologists get both niche-based and neutral theories in perspective as useful tools for understanding biodiversity patterns. Content Type Journal Article Category Regular Article Pages 1-15 DOI 10.1007/s10441-012-9144-6 Authors Paul L. Wennekes, Community and Conservation Ecology Group, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands James Rosindell, Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Rampal S. Etienne, Community and Conservation Ecology Group, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342. (shrink)
Goffi and Roux are interested in what makes some thought experiments work, while others do not work. They do not attempt to draw an a priori line between two types of thought experiments, but rather ask the following question: inasmuch as thought experiments are arguments, and notwithstanding the fact that some of them might involve the contemplation of an imaginary scenario, how is it that some of them work, while others do not? Taking inspiration from a counterfactual thought experiment (...) presented by Nicholas Rescher, they treat thought experiments as argumentative procedures resembling tests of consistency, which invite the experimenter to seek the weakest link in her body of beliefs. Equipped with this method, they examine two well-known successful thought experiments (Galileo’s two bodies strapped together, and Thomson’s violinist) and discuss Mach’s notion of thought experiments. Thus they reach the hypothesis that successful thought experiments respect the three following conditions: they do not deal with things, but with beliefs; they mobilise a set of beliefs shared by the interlocutors; and this set of beliefs has a hierarchical structure. Using once again examples written at different periods and taken from various disciplines (Descartes’ receding bodies, Aristotle’s weaving shuttles), Goffi and Roux argue that each of those conditions is individually necessary for a thought experiment to work. They finally conclude on the limits and consequences of their approach. (shrink)
Roux begins by exploring the texts in which the origins of the scientific notion of thought experiments are usually said to be found. Her general claim is simple: the emergence of the notion of thought experiments relies on a succession of misunderstandings and omissions. She then examines, in a more systematic perspective, the three characteristics of the broad category of thought experiments nowadays in circulation: thought experiments are counterfactual, they involve a concrete scenario and they have a well-delimited cognitive (...) intention. Her aim in exploring these characteristics is twofold. Firstly, it is to show that each of these characteristics, considered individually, may be taken in a more or less strict sense, and consequently to explain the proliferation of thought experiments. Secondly, it is to suggest that the recent debates on thought experiments might have arisen because these three characteristics are not easily conciliated when they are considered together. Finally, in a third and last section, the nine essays of the introduced book are presented. (shrink)
During the seventeenth century there were different ways of opposing the new mechanical philosophy and the old Aristotelian philosophy. Remarkably enough, one of this way succeeded in becoming stable beyond the moment of its formulation, one according to which Descartes would be the benchmark by which the works of other natural philosophers of the seventeenth century fall either on the side of the old or the new. I consequently examine the French debate where this representation emerges, a debate that took (...) place along with the development of a Cartesian propaganda in the 1660s and the ensuing official condemnations of the philosophy of Descartes, which was said to constitute a danger for the mystery of Eucharist. But these condemnations pronounced in the name of theology, as numerous and radical as they were, were not considered to be sufficient. They were assisted by numerous polemical works, the audience of which were learned companies of courteous honnêtes gens, and the object of which was to defend a certain way of proceeding in natural philosophy. I consequently concentrate on two correlated questions, the question of what kind of ontological entities are necessary for the establishment of a good physics, and the correlated question of what norms should be adopted in natural philosophy. I show quite systematically that the criticisms of Cartesian philosophers by the Oratorian Jean-Baptiste de La Grange, the bishop Pierre-Daniel Huet, and various Jesuits, Ignace Pardies, Antoine Rochon, Louis Le Valois, Gabriel Daniel, René Rapin, and Honoré Fabri respond to the mockeries of Gérauld de Cordemoy, Jacques Rohault, Louis de La Forge, Bernard Lamy, Nicolas Malebranche or Antoine Arnauld concerning the scholastic entities. Not only do I contrast their philosophical arguments concerning ontological entities and the norms to be respected in physics, but also their ways of defining the philosophical enterprise and its public. (shrink)
Thought experiments being central to contemporary philosophy and science, the following questions were asked in recent literature. What is their definition? Are they heuristic devices, arguments, paradoxes? Are they comparable to real experiments? Do intuition and conceivability intervene? Equally imaginative thought experiments are found in ancient, medieval, and Renaissance texts. Paying attention to prime historical examples of thought experiments, we show that historical perspectives help answer these general questions.
There seems to be a proliferation of prizes and rankings for ethical business over the past decade. Our principal aims in this article are twofold: to initiate an academic discussion of the epistemic and normative stakes in business-ethics competitions; and to help organizers of such competitions to think through some of these issues and the design options for dealing with them. We have been able to find no substantive literature — academic or otherwise — that addresses either of these two (...) broad topics and audiences. Our modest aim, therefore, is to suggest an agenda of issues, and to begin to explore and analyse some of the possible arguments for and against various philosophical or practical solutions. Part I explores the challenges facing a prize-organizing committee, including problems derived from what Rawls calls the "fact of pluralism" in democratic societies (reasonable people will always disagree over some basic values, including those relevant to evaluating business practices), and epistemic issues about how we can justify qualitative judgments on the basis of incomplete quantitative data. We also try to identify risks and opportunity costs for ethics-prize granters. In Part II we spell out (a) a range of design options and (b) some advice about how any particular prize-awarding committee might select among these options to best achieve its goals (which typically involve highlighting and publicizing best practices for ethical business). (shrink)
La référence au cartésianisme est constante dans les travaux contemporains de philosophie de l’esprit et de sciences cognitives. Sa fonction n’est pas de fournir une exégèse historique de Descartes ; elle est plutôt de dégager certains aspects de la conception cartésienne de l’esprit, ceux qui informeraient encore la recherche philosophique et scientifique actuelle, et qu’il resterait à dépasser. Ainsi l’adjectif cartésien n’est-il pas seulement utilisé pour faire directement référence à Descartes, mais aussi pour désigner les théories et les approches modernes (...) de l’esprit qui, tout en rompant avec le cartésianisme sur plusieurs points, auraient néanmoins hérité d’importantes erreurs cartésiennes. On remarquera en outre que dans cette logique, l’adjectif cartésien revêt un sens essentiellement critique. Et pour la plupart des théoriciens contemporains en effet, le cartésianisme est bien l’ennemi à combattre. La présente contribution se propose de dresser un portrait de cet ennemi, à partir de quelques-uns des usages qui sont faits de la notion de cartésianisme en philosophie de l’esprit et en sciences cognitives. Cette analyse, qui ne prétend pas à l’exhaustivité, nous permettra de faire apparaître les raisons et les enjeux de la référence à la figure cartésienne dans les réflexions des deux champs mentionnés. (shrink)
The anonymous author of the Syriac Liber Graduum never mentions his theological opponents. The article analyses a few examples taken from his biblical exegesis and from his most typical theological concepts and shows that these peculiar features are better explained as a hidden polemic against Marcionism, thus casting new light on the nature of the Liber Graduum and providing new data for the study of Syriac Marcionism.
According to a grand narrative that long ago ceased to be told, there was a seventeenth century Scientific Revolution, during which a few heroes conquered nature thanks to mathematics. This grand narrative began with the exhibition of quantitative laws that these heroes, Galileo and Newton for example, had disclosed: the law of falling bodies, according to which the speed of a falling body is proportional to the square of the time that has elapsed since the beginning of its fall; the (...) law of gravitation, according to which two bodies are attracted to one another in proportion to the sum of their masses and in inverse proportion to the square of the distance separating them -- according to his own preferences, each narrator added one or two quantitative laws of this kind. The essential feature was not so much the examples that were chosen, but, rather, the more or less explicit theses that accompanied them. First, mathematization would be taken as the criterion for distinguishing between a qualitative Aristotelian philosophy and the new quantitative physics. Secondly, mathematization was founded on the metaphysical conviction that the world was created pondere, numero et mensura, or that the ultimate components of natural things are triangles, circles, and other geometrical objects. This metaphysical conviction had two immediate consequences: that all the phenomena of nature can be in principle submitted to mathematics and that mathematical language is transparent; it is the language of nature itself and has simply to be picked up at the surface of phenomena. Finally, it goes without saying that, from a social point of view, the evolution of the sciences was apprehended through what has been aptly called the 'relay runner model,' according to which science progresses as a result of individual discoveries. Grand narratives such as this are perhaps simply fictions doomed to ruin as soon as they are clearly expressed. In any case, the very assumption on which this grand narrative relies can be brought into question: even in the canonical domain of mechanics, the relevant epistemological units crucial to understanding the dynamics of the Scientific Revolution are perhaps not a few laws of motion, but a complex set of problems embodied in mundane objects. Moreover, each of the theses just mentioned was actually challenged during the long period of historiographical reappraisal, out of which we have probably not yet stepped. Against the sharp distinction between a qualitative Aristotelian philosophy and the new quantitative physics, numerous studies insist that Rome wasn't built in a day, so to speak. Since Antiquity, there have always been mixed sciences; the emergence of pre-classical mechanics depends on both medieval treatises and the practical challenges met by Renaissance engineers. It is indeed true that, for Aristotle, mathematics merely captures the superficial properties of things, but the Aristotelianisms were many during the Renaissance and the Early Modern period, with some of them being compatible with the introduction of mathematics in natural philosophy. In addition, the gap between the alleged program of mathematizing nature and its effective realization was underlined as most natural phenomena actually escaped mathematization; at best they were enrolled in what Thomas Kuhn began to rehabilitate under the appellation of the 'Baconian sciences,' i.e., empirical investigations aiming at establishing isolated facts, without relating them to any overarching theory. Hence, mathematization of nature cannot pretend to capture a historical fact: at most, it expresses an indeterminate task for generations to come. On top of these first two considerations, and against the thesis of the neutrality of the mathematical language, it was urged that mathematics is not 'only a language' and that, exactly as other symbolic means or cognitive tools, it has its own constraints. For example, it has been thoroughly explained that the Euclidean theory of proportions both guides and frustrates the Galilean analysis of motion; its shortages were particularly clear with respect to the expression of continuity, which is crucial in the case of motion. Consequently, when calculus was invented and applied to the analysis of motion, it was not a transposition that left things as they stood. Even more clearly than in the case of a translation from one natural language to another, the shift from one symbolic language to another entails that certain possibilities are opened while others are closed. The cognitive constraints imposed by established mathematical theories, as seen in the theory of proportions or calculus, were not the only ones to be studied in relation to mathematization. Certain schemes dependent on the grammar of natural languages, e.g., the scheme of contrariety, or certain symbolic means of representation, e.g. geometrical diagrams and numerical tables, were also subject to such scrutiny. Lastly, it was insisted that, even if we concede the existence of scientific geniuses, mathematics is largely produced by intellectual communities and embedded within social practices. More attention was consequently paid to the forms of communication in given mathematical networks, or to the teaching of the discipline in, for example, Jesuit colleges and universities. The set of mathematical practices specific to specialized craftsmen, highly-qualified experts and engineers began to be studied in its own right. All these reflections may have helped us change our perspectives on the question of mathematization. It seems, however, that they were instead set aside, both because of a general distrust towards sweeping narratives that are always subject to the suspicion that they overlook the unyielding complexity of real history, and because of a shift in our interests. The more obscure and idiosyncratic they are, an alchemist, a patron of the sciences or a lunatic collector is nowadays honored in journals of the history of sciences. As for the general issues involved in the question of mathematization, they are rejected as obsolete, or reserved for specialized journals in the history of mathematics. Consequently, before presenting the essays of this fascicle, I would like to say a few words in favor of a renewed study of the forms of mathematization in the history of the early sciences. (shrink)
Cet article étudie le rapport particulier établi par Plotin entre deux notions, l’antilêpsis et la phantasia, pour penser la prise de conscience par l’âme de certains «objets» et de certaines activités. Car celle-ci pose un problème que Plotin a formulé clairement, à la fin du traité 10 (V, 1), sans lui trouver encore de solution absolument satisfaisante. Si l’antilêpsis a besoin de la phantasia pour s’exercer, peut-il en être de même pour les activités supérieures de l’âme dont elle voudrait prendre (...) conscience, puisque la phantasia se rattache à la sensation dont elle est issue ? La question est alors de savoir si les réalités supérieures échappent à toute conscience ou si cette dernière peut les saisir, au moins sous la forme qui lui est propre. On cherchera ici à exposer les aspects principaux de ce problème, mais surtout, à partir de textes tirés des traités 27 (IV, 3) et 46 (I, 4), à saisir la solution que Plotin lui apporte. (shrink)
In the history of the scientific revolution, Descartes is often considered as the mechanical philosopher par excellence, and opposed as such to the founder of mechanical science, that is to say, Galileo: this cliché is not without foundation, but it must not make us forget that Descartes was himself a practitioner of mechanical science. In the article "Cartesian Mechanics" I detail the meaning and reach of "mechanics" in the Cartesian corpus, and do so in three steps. 1. I begin by (...) explaining the genesis of the thesis which states that there is no difference between the physical and the mechanical; this thesis is so famous that it is often imagined that it is constituted in Descartes's first writings. But we can in fact show that the first works of Descartes and Beeckman arise from a "physico-mathematical" practice which does not necessarily imply a complete reworking of traditional physics, even if it might have favored the Cartesian ambition for a physics as certain as geometry; it was only in the late 1630s that Descartes began to systematically affirm the identity of physics and mechanics, or of "rules of motion", of "laws of Nature" and of "laws of mechanics". I then analyze the consequences of this affirmation. 2. In the second part of this article I provide a step-by-step commentary of the response proposed by Descartes in a letter to Mersenne in July 1638 to the question raised by Beaugrand's Geostatice (...) dissertatio mathematica (1636), that is to say the question of whether a body weighs more when it is farther from the center of Earth than when it is close. Compared with other texts of the Cartesian corpus, this sample of mechanics has been little analyzed (to my knowledge, the only analyses are those of P. Duhem, P. Costabel, A. Gabbey and D. Garber). This text is nonetheless extremely interesting: Descartes responds to the geostatic question in turn in terms of physics, then mathematics; even more interesting, the examination of the details of his procedures allows us to confront Cartesian statics to other writings, whether those of Guidobaldo del Monte, Galileo, Stevin, Mersenne or Roberval. 3. In the third and final section, I analyze the reasons that lead Descartes to exclude velocity from his statics, I examine the difficulties that his explanation of gravity created for statics, and conclude with the confrontation between mechanical philosophy and mechanical science in the case of Descartes. (shrink)
In this paper, we employ Extended Cognition as a background for a series of thought experiments about privacy and common used information technology devices. Laptops and smart phones are now widely used devices, but current privacy standards do not adequately address the relationship between the owners of these devices and the information stored on them. Law enforcement treats laptops and smart phones are potential sources of information about criminal activity, but this treatment ignores the use of smart devices as extensions (...) of users’ cognitive capability. In Philosophy of Mind, Extended Cognition is a metaphysical theory about the relationship between consciousness or cognitive activity and various external tools or aids that agents employ in the service of cognition. Supporters of Extended Cognition argue that mental activity must be understood as taking place both within the brain and by way of tools such as a logician’s pen and paper, a mathematician’s calculator, or a writer’s word processing program. While Extended Cognition does not have universal support among philosophers of mind, the theory nevertheless describes how agents interact with their “smart devices.” We explore the the implications of taking Extended Cognition seriously with regard to privacy concerns by way of a series of thought experiments. By comparing the differences in expectations of privacy between a citizen and the government, between an employee of a corporate firm, and between citizens alone, we show that expectations of privacy and injury are significantly affected by taking the cognitive role of smart devices into account. (shrink)
The natural based view of the firm using Hart (1995) is applied to firm responses in the Carbon Disclose Project (CDP) database. A large cross sectional sample(n=573) of North American and European firms is divided into 3 categories of proactivity to the climate change issue using 8 indicators of four resource domains. Results are presented along geographic and size dimensions.
Although atypical change detection processes have been highlighted in the auditory modality in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), little is known about these processes in the visual modality. The aim of the present study was therefore to investigate visual change detection in adults with ASD, taking into account the salience of change , in order to determine whether this ability is affected in this disorder. Thirteen adults with ASD and 13 controls were presented with a passive visual three stimuli oddball paradigm. (...) The findings revealed atypical visual change processing in ASD. Whereas controls displayed a vMMN in response to deviant and a novelty P3 in response to novel stimuli, patients with ASD displayed a novelty P3 in response to both deviant and novel stimuli. These results thus suggested atypical orientation of attention towards unattended minor changes in ASD that might contribute to the intolerance of change. (shrink)
The dynamic properties of amorphous polymers were investigated during long-term ageing by means of high resolution low-frequency mechanical spectroscopy. Two polymers are considered in this work, namely atactic polystyrene and quenched amorphous poly(ethylene naphthalate). It is shown that during ageing at temperatures higher than that of secondary relaxation, but lower than that of the primary one (if tested at 1?Hz), the strength of the secondary relaxation first increases and then decreases for long ageing times. This phenomenon is explained on the (...) basis of the concepts of the heterogeneous cohesion of the amorphous network at the nanometric scale and the cooperation of molecular motions responsible for the secondary relaxations. (shrink)
Albert Memmi a réalisé une œuvre complexe et importante tant sur le plan littéraire que sur le plan philosophique et sociologique. Dans le cadre de cette contribution à l’hommage rendu à son œuvre philosophique, j’ai choisi de développer la méthode et quelques concepts importants tels que la judéité, le racisme, l’hétérophobie et le laïcisme. Memmi a été un précurseur sur ces questions et son approche est originale. Il est reconnu comme une des figures incontournables de la lutte anticoloniale et antiraciste. (...) Le portrait du colonisé est un des ouvrages importants qui a marqué la période de la décolonisation. Il est toujours une référence pour les peuples qui revendiquent leur autonomie et pour les pays confrontés à la question de la décolonisation et de ses conséquences. On a récemment redécouvert cet ouvrage à l’occasion de la sortie, en 2004, de l’essai Portrait du décolonisé arabo-musulman et de quelques autres. En France, le débat public généré par le principe de la laïcité dans la république puis par l’adoption d’une loi mémorielle sur les bienfaits de la colonisation ont contribué à faire émerger une mobilisation sociale sur les sujets sensibles du postcolonialisme. Le Mouvement des Indigènes de la République, créé en 2005, cite Le portrait du colonisé et Le racisme parmi d’autres ouvrages sur la colonisation, le postcolonialisme et le racisme. Enfin dans un ouvrage récent consacré au postcolonialisme, l’historien Yvan Gastaut considère que “sa pensée iconoclaste et complexe a toujours été à l’avant-garde des problèmes contemporains.”  . (shrink)
Mes réflexions sur Meyerson et les mathématiques ont pour origine trois questions : 1) Une idée reçue est que, des trois synthèses de Meyerson -- Identité et réalité, De l'explication dans les sciences et Du cheminement de la pensée -- , seule la dernière analyse les mathématiques, en elles-mêmes aussi bien que dans leurs rapports avec la pensée. La première question est donc de déterminer si cette idée reçue est correcte ou bien si l'on peut trouver dans les deux autres (...) ouvrages des indications significatives sur le statut des mathématiques et sur leur fonction dans une théorie de la connaissance. 2) La deuxième question consiste à examiner une autre idée reçue, cautionnée cette fois par Meyerson. À plusieurs reprises, ce dernier a déclaré qu'il avait répété la même chose dans tous ses ouvrages : les outils conceptuels seraient restés identiques, mais appliqués à des objets ou dans des domaines divers, de la physique quantique à la pensée primitive. Il s'agit dans ce cas de savoir si cette déclaration est fondée, ou bien plutôt si l'on doit, par-delà l'identité des termes, souligner l'existence de différences de signification ou d'application telles que l'identité des outils conceptuels en devient problématique. 3) Meyerson s'est trouvé confronté à un ensemble d'épistémologues que, reprenant une expression de Léon Brunschvicg, il qualifie d'idéalistes mathématiques, d'un côté l'école de Marbourg avec Ernst Cassirer, Paul Natorp et Hermann Cohen, de l'autre, Gaston Milhaud, mais surtout Brunschvicg lui-même . S'il s'avère qu'il y a des thèses sur les mathématiques ailleurs que dans Du cheminement de la pensée, et qu'il y a certains infléchissements d'un lieu à l'autre de son œuvre, on peut se demander dans quelle mesure les critiques adressées à l'idéalisme mathématique ont évolué. Dans cet article, j'analyse les trois synthèses de Meyerson avec ces trois questions en arrière-plan : je ne les examine pas explicitement l'une après l'autre, ni a fortiori dans un ordre prédéterminé, mais plutôt de biais et au fur et à mesure qu'elles interviennent. (shrink)
The present paper is dedicated to the use of enriched discretization schemes in the context of digital image correlation. The aim is to capture and evaluate strong or weak discontinuities of a displacement field directly from digital images. An analysis of different enrichment performances is provided. Two examples of strain localization illustrate the discussion.