Wigner famously referred to the `unreasonable effectiveness' of mathematics in its application to science. Using Wigner's own application of grouptheory to nuclear physics, I hope to indicate that this effectiveness can be seen to be not so unreasonable if attention is paid to the various idealising moves undertaken. The overall framework for analysing this relationship between mathematics and physics is that of da Costa's partial structures programme.
This paper traces the origins of Eugene Wigner's pioneering application of grouptheory to quantum physics to his early work in chemistry and crystallography. In the early 1920s, crystallography was the only discipline in which symmetry groups were routinely used. Wigner's early training in chemistry, and his work in crystallography with Herman Mark and Karl Weissenberg at the Kaiser Wilhelm institute for fiber research in Berlin exposed him to conceptual tools which were absent from the pedagogy available to (...) physicists for many years to come. This both enabled and pushed him to apply the group theoretic approach to quantum physics. It took many years for the approach first introduced by Wigner in the 1920s – and whose reception by the physicists was initially problematical – to assume the pivotal place it now holds in physical theory and education. This is but one example that attests to the historic contribution made by the periphery in initiating new types of thought-perspectives and scientific careers. (shrink)
In this paper, we will prove the inevitable non-uniformity of two constructions from combinatorial grouptheory related to the word problem for finitely generated groups and the Higman—Neumann—Neumann Embedding Theorem.
There is currently much interest in bringing together the tradition of categorial grammar, and especially the Lambek calculus, with the recent paradigm of linear logic to which it has strong ties. One active research area is designing non-commutative versions of linear logic (Abrusci, 1995; Retoré, 1993) which can be sensitive to word order while retaining the hypothetical reasoning capabilities of standard (commutative) linear logic (Dalrymple et al., 1995). Some connections between the Lambek calculus and computations in groups have long been (...) known (van Benthem, 1986) but no serious attempt has been made to base a theory of linguistic processing solely on group structure. This paper presents such a model, and demonstrates the connection between linguistic processing and the classical algebraic notions of non-commutative free group, conjugacy, and group presentations. A grammar in this model, or G-grammar is a collection of lexical expressions which are products of logical forms, phonological forms, and inverses of those. Phrasal descriptions are obtained by forming products of lexical expressions and by cancelling contiguous elements which are inverses of each other. A G-grammar provides a symmetrical specification of the relation between a logical form and a phonological string that is neutral between parsing and generation modes. We show how the G-grammar can be oriented for each of the modes by reformulating the lexical expressions as rewriting rules adapted to parsing or generation, which then have strong decidability properties (inherent reversibility). We give examples showing the value of conjugacy for handling long-distance movement and quantifier scoping both in parsing and generation. The paper argues that by moving from the free monoid over a vocabulary V (standard in formal language theory) to the free group over V, deep affinities between linguistic phenomena and classical algebra come to the surface, and that the consequences of tapping the mathematical connections thus established can be considerable. (shrink)
In this article I summarize Friedrich Hayek’s cultural group selection theory and describe the evidence gathered by current cultural group selection theorists within the behavioral and social sciences supporting Hayek’s main assertions. I conclude with a few comments on Hayek and libertarianism.
Norman Daniels' and Daniel Callahan's recent work attempts to develop and deepen theories of justice in order to accommodate intergenerational moral issues. Elsewhere, I have argued that Callahan's arguments furnish inadequate support for the age rationing policy he accepts. This essay therefore examines Daniel's account of age rationing, together with the complex theory of age-group justice that buttresses it. Sections one and two trace the main features of Daniels' prudential lifespan approach. Section three calls into question the (...) class='Hi'>theory's conformity to liberal tenets. The next section attempts to show that the outcome of the prudential approach fails to match our considered judgments. The brief final section offers a broader perspective on the task of articulating a liberal theory of age-group justice. Keywords: elderly, age-group justice, biomedical model of disease, rationing, liberalism, distributive justice CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Inertial frames and Lorentz transformations have a preferred status in the special theory of relativity (STR). Lorentz transformations, in turn, embody Einstein's convention that the velocity of light is isotropic, a convention that is necessary for the establishment of a standard signal synchrony. If the preferred status of Lorentz transformations in STR is not due to some particular bias introduced by a convention on signal synchronism, but to the fact that the Lorentz transformation group is the symmetry (...) class='Hi'>group of the theory, then the signal synchronism is not a matter of convention but rather a matter of fact. In order to explore the conventionalist thesis, that within the frame of STR isotropy in the velocity of light and, hence, signal synchronism is a matter of convention, we need a generalized Lorentz transformation group that does not embody Einstein's isotropy convention, and upon which STR can be based. We present here a new approach to the resulting search for a generalized STR, which is well suited for establishing some well-known results of Winnie as well as some new results. (shrink)
Within much contemporary social ontology there is a particular methodology at work. This methodology takes as a starting point two or more asocial or atomic individuals. These individuals are taken to be perfectly functional agents, though outside of all social relations. Following this, combinations of these individuals are considered, to deduce what constitutes a social group. Here I will argue that theories which rely on this methodology are always circular, so long as they purport to describe the formation of (...) all social groups, as they must always presuppose a pre-existing collectivity. Such methodology also produces various distortions in our theories, such as voluntarism. I focus on the workings of Plural Subject Theory as laid out by Margaret Gilbert in On Social Facts (1989). I show that the formation of a plural subject always requires communication, and that communication always requires a pre-existing collectivity. i examine the elements within Plural Subject Theory which protect gilbert from these accusations of circularity, and argue against them. I finalise by suggesting that what Plural Subject Theory, and social ontology in general, requires as a theoretical starting point is not atomic individuals and their combinations, but rather combinations of already socialised or embedded individuals. (shrink)
The commentary is in general agreement with Roger Shepard's view of evolutionary internalization of certain procedural memories, but advocates the use of Lie groups to express the invariances of motion and color perception involved. For categorization, the dialectical pair is suggested. [Barlow; Hecht; Kubovy & Epstein; Schwartz; Shepard; Todorovic].
In this paper, I shall discuss the heuristic role of symmetry in the mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics. I shall first set out the scene in terms of Bas van Fraassen’s elegant presentation of how symmetry principles can be used as problem-solving devices (see van Fraassen  and ). I will then examine in what ways Hermann Weyl and John von Neumann have used symmetry principles in their work as a crucial problem-solving tool. Finally, I shall explore one consequence of (...) this situation to recent debates about structural realism (SR) and empiricism in physics (Worrall , Ladyman , and French ). (shrink)
Traditional moral theories help corporate decision-makers understand what position consumers, like Rose Cipollone, in Cipollone vs Liggett Group, will take against cigarette manufacturers who fail to warn of the dangers of smoking, conceal data about addiction and other dangers, from the public, as well as continue to neutralize the warnings on cigarettes by deceptive advertisements.
Proof Theory of Modal Logic is devoted to a thorough study of proof systems for modal logics, that is, logics of necessity, possibility, knowledge, belief, time, computations etc. It contains many new technical results and presentations of novel proof procedures. The volume is of immense importance for the interdisciplinary fields of logic, knowledge representation, and automated deduction.
Activity theory is an interdisciplinary approach to human sciences that originates in the cultural-historical psychology school, initiated by Vygotsky, Leont'ev, and Luria. It takes the object-oriented, artifact-mediated collective activity system as its unit of analysis, thus bridging the gulf between the individual subject and the societal structure. This volume is the first comprehensive presentation of contemporary work in activity theory, with 26 original chapters by authors from ten countries. In Part I of the book, central theoretical issues are (...) discussed from different points of view. Some topics addressed in this part are epistemology, methodology, and the relationship between biological and cultural factors. Part II is devoted to the acquisition and development of language - a theme that played a central role in the work of Vygotsky and Luria. This part includes a chapter that analyzes writing activity in Japanese classrooms, and an original case study of literacy skills of a man with cerebral palsy. Part III contains chapters on play, learning, and education, and part IV addresses the meaning of new technology and the development of work activities. The final part covers issues of therapy and addiction. (shrink)
The etiology of schizophrenia remains heavily contested despite extensive research, huge quantities of data, and heavy investment in time and material resources around the world. Not only is there little agreement about the causes of this most devastating of psychiatric conditions, but there is disagreement as to whether the condition exists at all as a coherent entity (Bentall 2006). Evolutionary theorists have had the added problem of explaining how a severe mental illness that causes a significant reproductive disadvantage can continue (...) to exist in human populations, where it is claimed to have a uniform prevalence across the world. Many Darwinian formulations have suggested various forms of tradeoffs where the .. (shrink)
This paper proposes a view uniformly extending expected utility calculations to both individual and group choice contexts. Three related cases illustrate the problems inherent in applying expected utility to group choices. However, these problems do not essentially depend upon the tact that more than one agent is involved. I devise a modified strategy allowing the application of expected utility calculations to these otherwise problematic cases. One case, however, apparently leads to contradiction. But recognizing the falsity of proposition (1) (...) below allows the resolution of the contradiction, and also allows my modified strategy to resolve otherwise paradoxical cases of group choice such as the Prisoners' Dilemma: -/- (1) lf an agent x knows options A and B are both available, and x knows that were he to do A he would be better off (in every respect) than were he to do B, then doing A is more rational for x than doing B. (shrink)
Contemporary feminist theory is at an impasse: the project of reformulating concepts of self and social identity is thwarted by an association between identity and oppression and victimhood. In Sacrificial Logics, Allison Weir proposes a way out of this impasse through a concept of identity which depends on accepting difference. Weir argues that the equation of identity with repression and domination links "relational" feminists like Nancy Chodorow, who equate self-identity with the repression of connection to others, and poststructuralist feminists (...) like Judith Butler, who view any identity as a repression of nonidentity and difference. Through readings of Chodorow, Butler, Jessica Benjamin, Luce Irigaray, Jacqueline Rose and Julia Kristeva, Weir analyzes the relation of theories of self-identity to theories of women's identity, social identity, the identity of meaning in language and feminist solidarity. Drawing particularly on the work of Julia Kristeva, she argues for a reformulation of self-identity as a capacity to participate in a social world, and sketches a model of a self-identity which depends on a capacity to accept nonidentity, difference and connections to others. (shrink)
This collection of essays analyzes relations of social inequality that appear to be logical extensions of a "natural order," and in the process demonstrates that a revitalized feminist anthropology of the 1990s has much to offer the field of feminist theory. Fashioned as a response to the lack of cultural analysis in feminist scholarship, the contributors question the category of gender within the inclusive context of the structural dynamics of inequality. They also examine how cultural identities, domains and institutions (...) affect our perception of gender in society. The first selection of essays addresses how ideas of family and kinship have fostered society's hierarchies and legitimized the status quo. In part two, the essays show how several dimensions of inequality are implicit in the construction of identities that are based upon ideas of social solidarity. Contributors: Susan McKinnon, University of Virginia; Kath Weston, Arizona State West; Rayna Rapp, New School for Social Research; Janet Dolgin, Hofstra University; Harriet Whitehead, Duke University; Carol Delaney, Stanford University; Brackette Williams, University of Arizona; Sylvia Yanagisako, Stanford University; Phyllis Chock, Catholic University; Sherry Ortner, University of Michigan; Anna Tsing, University of California, Santa Cruz. (shrink)
Recent developments in quantum theory have focused attention on fundamental questions, in particular on whether it might be necessary to modify quantum mechanics to reconcile quantum gravity and general relativity. This book is based on a conference held in Oxford in the spring of 1984 to discuss quantum gravity. It brings together contributors who examine different aspects of the problem, including the experimental support for quantum mechanics, its strange and apparently paradoxical features, its underlying philosophy, and possible modifications to (...) the theory. (shrink)
Are government restrictions on hate speech consistent with the priority of liberty? This relatively narrow policy question will serve as the starting point for a wider discussion of the use and abuse of nonideal theory in contemporary political philosophy, especially as practiced on the academic left. I begin by showing that hate speech (understood as group libel) can undermine fair equality of opportunity for historically-oppressed groups but that the priority of liberty seems to forbid its restriction. This tension (...) between free speech and equal opportunity creates a dilemma for liberal egalitarians. Nonideal theory apparently offers an escape from this dilemma, but after examining three versions of such an escape strategy, I conclude that none is possible: liberal egalitarians are indeed forced to choose between liberty and equality in this case and others. I finish the paper by examining its implications for other policy arenas, including markets in transplantable human organs and women’s reproductive services. (shrink)
In models of multi-level selection, the property of Darwinian fitness is attributed to entities at more than one level of the biological hierarchy, e.g. individuals and groups. However, the relation between individual and group fitness is a controversial matter. Theorists disagree about whether group fitness should always, or ever, be defined as total (or average) individual fitness. This paper tries to shed light on the issue by drawing on work in social choice theory, and pursuing an analogy (...) between fitness and utility. Social choice theorists have long been interested in the relation between individual and social utility, and have identified conditions under which social utility equals total (or average) individual utility. These ideas are used to shed light on the biological problem. (shrink)
Much apprehension has been expressed by philosophers about the method of renormalisation in quantum field theory, as it apparently requires illegitimate procedure of infinite cancellation. This has lead to various speculations, in particular in Teller (1989). We examine Teller's discussion of perturbative renormalisation of quantum fields, and show why it is inadequate. To really approach the matter one needs to understand the ideas and results of the renormalisation group, so we give a simple but comprehensive account of this (...) topic. With this in hand, we explain how renormalisation can and should be understood. One thing that is revealed is that apparently very successful theories such as quantum electro-dynamics cannot be universally true; resolving the tension between success and falsity leads to a picture in which any theory may be viewed as irreducibly phenomenological. We explain how, and argue that the support for this view is tenuous at best. (shrink)
We develop the theory of germs of generic functions in simple theories. Starting with an algebraic quadrangle (or other similar hypotheses), we obtain an "almost" generic group chunk, where the product is denned up to a bounded number of possible values. This is the first step towards the proof of the group configuration theorem for simple theories, which is completed in .
We show that if p is a real type which is almost internal in a formula φ in a simple theory, then there is a type p' interalgebraic with a finite tuple of realizations of p, which is generated over φ. Moreover, the group of elementary permutations of p' over all realizations of φ is type-definable.
In recent work, the authors have established the group configuration theorem for simple theories, as well as some of its main applications from geometric stability theory, such as the binding group theorem, or in the ω-categorical case, the characterization of the forking geometry of a finitely based non-trivial locally modular regular type as projective geometry over a finite field and the equivalence of pseudolinearity and local modularity. The proof necessitated an extension of the model-theoretic framework to include (...) almost hyperimaginaries, and the study of polygroups. (shrink)
There are many algorithm texts that provide lots of well-polished code and proofs of correctness. Instead, this book presents insights, notations, and analogies to help the novice describe and think about algorithms like an expert. By looking at both the big picture and easy step-by-step methods for developing algorithms, the author helps students avoid the common pitfalls. He stresses paradigms such as loop invariants and recursion to unify a huge range of algorithms into a few meta-algorithms. Part of the goal (...) is to teach the students to think abstractly. Without getting bogged with formal proofs, the book fosters a deeper understanding of how and why each algorithm works. These insights are presented in a slow and clear manner accessible to second- or third-year students of computer science, preparing them to find their own innovative ways to solve problems. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue that the latter group [of Non-Humeans] is correct. My argument focuses on practical deliberation and has two parts. I will discuss two different problems that arise for the Humean Theory and suggest that while taken individually each problem appears to have a solution, for each problem the solution Humeans offer precludes solving the other problem. I will suggest that to see these difficulties we must take seriously the thought that we can only (...) understand an agent’s reasons for her action by looking at her actual or possible practical deliberation. (shrink)
Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individuals that give a misleading impression of unity? This question is important, since the answer dictates how we should explain the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable on the model of individual agents. Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, to a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social (...) sciences. Christian List and Philip Pettit argue that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper approach to the social sciences, law, morality, and politics must take account of this fact. Unlike some earlier defences of group agency, their account is entirely unmysterious in character and, despite not being technically difficult, is grounded in cutting-edge work in social choice theory, economics, and philosophy. (shrink)
Foucault contra Habermas is an incisive examination of, and a comprehensive introduction to, the debate between Foucault and Habermas over the meaning of enlightenment and modernity. It reprises the key issues in the argument between critical theory and genealogy and is organised around three complementary themes: defining the context of the debate; examining the theoretical and conceptual tools used; and discussing the implications for politics and criticism. In a detailed reply to Habermas' Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, this volume explains (...) the difference between Habermas' philosophical practice (the transcendental critique) and Foucault's (the historical 'exercise'), between the analytics of truth and the politics of truth. Many of the most difficult arguments in the exchange are subject to a detailed critical analysis. This examination also includes discussion of the ethics of dialogue; the practice of criticism; the politics of recognition, and the function of civil society and democracy. Lucid and accessible - comprising the work of a diverse international and interdisciplinary group of scholars - Foucault contra Habermas will be essential reading for students of Social Theory; Politics; and Philosophy. (shrink)
This paper introduces a multi-modal polymorphic type theory to model epistemic processes characterized by trust, defined as a second-order relation affecting the communication process between sources and a receiver. In this language, a set of senders is expressed by a modal prioritized context, whereas the receiver is formulated in terms of a contextually derived modal judgement. Introduction and elimination rules for modalities are based on the polymorphism of terms in the language. This leads to a multi-modal non-homogeneous version of (...) a type theory, in which we show the embedding of the modal operators into standard group knowledge operators. (shrink)
We present a model for studying communities of epistemically interacting agents who update their belief states by averaging (in a specified way) the belief states of other agents in the community. The agents in our model have a rich belief state, involving multiple independent issues which are interrelated in such a way that they form a theory of the world. Our main goal is to calculate the probability for an agent to end up in an inconsistent belief state due (...) to updating (in the given way). To that end, an analytical expression is given and evaluated numerically, both exactly and using statistical sampling. It is shown that, under the assumptions of our model, an agent always has a probability of less than 2% of ending up in an inconsistent belief state. Moreover, this probability can be made arbitrarily small by increasing the number of independent issues the agents have to judge or by increasing the group size. A real-world situation to which this model applies is a group of experts participating in a Delphi-study. (shrink)
The “extended mind” thesis (Clark, 2008) has focused primarily on the interactions between single individuals and cognitive artifacts, resulting in a relative neglect of interactions between people. At the same time, the idea that groups can have cognitive properties of their own has gained new ascendancy in various fields concerned with collective behavior. My main goal in this paper is to propose an understanding of group cognition as an emergent form of socially distributed cognition. To that end, I first (...) clarify the relevant notions of cognition and emergence that are at play in the contemporary debate. I then apply our conceptual framework to recent developments in the theory of transactive memory systems (Wegner, 1986), arguing that the idea of group cognition is neither trivial nor shrouded in metaphysical mystery. (shrink)
Theories of group processes have been and are being applied usefully to natural situations. We review a selection of these theories and examine different types of applications and interventions to which they have led. We then offer a typology of application, five "stages" with examples. As theoretical application proceeds, issues of complexity, rules of correspondence, and competing social interests increase the difficulty of that work, yet the benefits are considerable for theoretical development.
Power is clearly a crucial concept for feminist theory. Insofar as feminists are interested in analyzing power, it is because they have an interest in understanding, critiquing, and ultimately challenging the multiple array of unjust power relations affecting women in contemporary Western societies, including sexism, racism, heterosexism, and class oppression.In The Power of Feminist Theory, Amy Allen diagnoses the inadequacies of previous feminist conceptions of power, and draws on the work of a diverse group of theorists of (...) power, including Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Hannah Arendt, in order to construct a new feminist conception of power. The conception of power developed in this book enables readers to theorize domination, resistance, and solidarity, and, perhaps more importantly, to do so in a way that illuminates the interrelatedness of these three modalities of power. (shrink)
This volume is about searching for fundamental theory in physics which has become somewhat elusive in recent decades. Like a group of blind men investigating an elephant, one physicist postulates the trunk as a hose, another a leg as a tree, the body a wall or barrier, the tail a rope and the ears as a fan. The organizers of the Vigier series symposia strongly believe cross polination by exploring many avenues of seemingly disparate research is key to (...) breakthrough discovery and solicited papers on all areas of physics deemed pertinent in Astrophysics, Cosmology, nuclear physics, quantum theory, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, vacuum field theory and topology. (shrink)
Explanations of how identity is constructed are fundamental to contemporary debates in feminism and social theory. In this important addition to the literature, Beverley Skeggs demonstrates that class needs to be featured more prominently in theoretical accounts of gender, identity, and power. Class has been marginalized in feminist and cultural theory and it has become increasingly difficult to teach, research, or speak about class. Formations of Class and Gender identifies the neglect of class issues in favor of gender (...) issues, and shows how class and gender must be fused together to produce an accurate representation of power relations in modern society. In a sustained examination of the production of knowledge, detailed ethnographic research is used to explain how ôrealö women modify and reformulate our understanding of class, subjectivity, and sexuality. A critical examination of cultural representationùinformed by recent feminist theory and the work of Pierre BourdieuùFormations of Class and Gender is an articulate demonstration of how to translate theory into practice. Engaged with theoretical and methodological issues, this will be the standard referenced ethnography on class and gender. It will be required reading for students and researchers in womenÆs studies and sociology. (shrink)
The concept of "practices"--whether of representation, of political or scientific traditions, or of organizational culture--is central to social theory. In this book, Stephen Turner presents the first analysis and critique of the idea of practice as it has developed in the various theoretical traditions of the social sciences and the humanities. Understood broadly as a tacit understanding "shared" by a group, the concept of a practice has a fatal difficulty, Turner argues: there is no plausible mechanism by which (...) a "practice" is transmitted or reproduced. The historical uses of the concept, from Durkheim to Kripke's version of Wittgenstein, provide examples of the contortions that thinkers have been forced into by this problem, and show the ultimate implausibility of the idea. Turner's conclusion sketches a picture of what happens when we do without the notion of a shared practice, and how this bears on social theory and philosophy. It explains why social theory cannot get beyond the stage of constructing fuzzy analogies, and why the standard constructions of the contemporary philosophical problem of relativism depend upon this defective notion. This first book-length critique of practice theory is sure to stir discussion and controversy in a wide range of fields, from philosophy and science studies to sociology, anthropology, literary studies, and political and legal theory. (shrink)
No matter what we do, however kind or generous our deeds may seem, a hidden motive of selfishness lurks--or so science has claimed for years. This book, whose publication promises to be a major scientific event, tells us differently. In Unto Others philosopher Elliott Sober and biologist David Sloan Wilson demonstrate once and for all that unselfish behavior is in fact an important feature of both biological and human nature. Their book provides a panoramic view of altruism throughout the animal (...) kingdom--from self-sacrificing parasites to insects that subsume themselves in the superorganism of a colony to the human capacity for selflessness--even as it explains the evolutionary sense of such behavior. (shrink)
The traditional requirements upon the waging of a just war are ostensibly independent, but in actual practice each tenet is subject ultimately to the interpretation of a legitimate authority, whose declaration becomes the necessary and sufficient condition. While just war theory presupposes that some acts are absolutely wrong, it also implies that the killing of innocents can be rendered permissible through human decree. Nations are conventionally delimited, and leaders are conventionally appointed. Any group of people could band together (...) to form a nation, and any person could, in principle, be appointed the leader of any nation. Because the just war approach assumes absolutism while implying relativism, the stance is paradoxical and hence rationally untenable. (shrink)
This paper begins with a critical part and concludes with a constructive part. First, with reference to a definition of liberalism and using immanent critique, I show deficiencies in the claims of four selfprofessed postliberals to have articulated non-liberal positions. Then, I argue that postliberal political theory consists in acknowledging that in political contexts some voluntary groups as such can be moral, not merely political, agents. Analysis of what moral autonomy is for persons as empirical (not noumenal) agents reveals (...) that that account can be transposed to some groups. A key common element among the four rejected positions is their emphasis on the normative authority of some practices as over against principles. My proposal congeals that normative emphasis on the social into group-moral authority. Recognition of some voluntary groups’ episodic moral authority over their members is non-liberal but not anti-liberal. (shrink)
Zoopolis offers a new agenda for the theory and practice of animal rights. Most animal rights theory focuses on the intrinsic capacities or interests of animals, and the moral status and moral rights that these intrinsic characteristics give rise to. Zoopolis shifts the debate from the realm of moral theory and applied ethics to the realm of political theory, focusing on the relational obligations that arise from the varied ways that animals relate to human societies and (...) institutions. Building on recent developments in the political theory of group-differentiated citizenship, Zoopolis introduces us to the genuine "political animal". It argues that different types of animals stand in different relationships to human political communities. Domesticated animals should be seen as full members of human-animal mixed communities, participating in the cooperative project of shared citizenship. Wilderness animals, by contrast, form their own sovereign communities entitled to protection against colonization, invasion, domination and other threats to self-determination. `Liminal' animals who are wild but live in the midst of human settlement (such as crows or raccoons) should be seen as "denizens", resident of our societies, but not fully included in rights and responsibilities of citizenship. To all of these animals we owe respect for their basic inviolable rights. But we inevitably and appropriately have very different relations with them, with different types of obligations. Humans and animals are inextricably bound in a complex web of relationships, and Zoopolis offers an original and profoundly affirmative vision of how to ground this complex web of relations on principles of justice and compassion. (shrink)
This paper intends to highlight the philosophical and ethical implications of cultural theory as initiated in the seventies by the British anthropologist, Mary Douglas. The first part will present cultural theory, mainly through her early works. We will particularly insist on the originality of this functionalist theory based on four interpersonal relationships patterns – defined according to grid and group dimensions – and their associated cultural biases, namely the egalitarian bias, the hierarchical, the insulated and the (...) individualist one. In the second part of our study, we will show that in each of these biases, people behave and perceive differently and we will concentrate on these differences regarding risk. Finally, we will focus on one essential implication of this theory, its conception of rationality. Indeed, cultural theory implies a framework of plural rationalities, which is of paramount importance if we consider its ethical consequences. We will try to lighten these and show how it might influence risk management. (shrink)
This paper is dealing with a contradiction in the theory and policy of minority rights: on the one hand the claims for such rights are justified by recognizing the value of the cultural identity of minority groups, on the other – the recognition of such a value implies an acceptance of a conservative and isolationist view onminority identities. Characterizing the latter view as essentialist I explore several alternatives for approaching the issue of minority rights in a different way and (...) finally I reach the conclusion that one more convincing method of identifying the cultural needs of minority groups and the rights necessary for satisfying these needs could be the technique of public deliberation. Its application for this purpose could make the negotiating of group-specific rights much more flexible and politically unproblematic than at present. (shrink)
‘‘Theoretical biology’’ is a surprisingly heter- ogeneous field, partly because it encompasses ‘‘doing the- ory’’ across disciplines as diverse as molecular biology, systematics, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Moreover, it is done in a stunning variety of different ways, using anything from formal analytical models to computer sim- ulations, from graphic representations to verbal arguments. In this essay I survey a number of aspects of what it means to do theoretical biology, and how they compare with the allegedly much more restricted (...) sense of theory in the physical sciences. I also tackle a recent trend toward the presentation of all-encompassing theories in the biological sciences, from general theories of ecology to a recent attempt to provide a conceptual framework for the entire set of biological disciplines. Finally, I discuss the roles played by philosophers of science in criticizing and shap- ing biological theorizing. (shrink)