Time-domain astronomy has come of age with astronomers now able to monitor the sky at high cadence, both across the electromagnetic spectrum and using neutrinos and gravitational waves. The advent of new observing facilities permits new science, but the ever-increasing throughput of facilities demands efficient communication of coincident detections and better subsequent coordination among the scientific community so as to turn detections into scientific discoveries. To discuss the revolution occurring in our ability to monitor the Universe and the challenges it (...) brings, on 25–26 April 2012, a group of scientists from observational and theoretical teams studying transients met with representatives of the major international transient observing facilities at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, UK. This immediately followed the Royal Society Discussion Meeting ‘New windows on transients across the Universe’ held in London. Here, we present a summary of the Kavli meeting at which the participants discussed the science goals common to the transient astronomy community and analysed how to better meet the challenges ahead as ever more powerful observational facilities come on stream. (shrink)
Given the numerous parallels between the archaeological and paleontological records, it is not surprising to find a considerable fit between macroevolutionary approaches and methods used in biology – for example, cladistics and clade-diversity measures – and some of those that have long been used in archaeology – for example, seriation. Key, however, is recognizing that this methodological congruence is illusory in terms of how evolution has traditionally been viewed in biology and archaeology. (Published Online November 9 2006).
Substantial progress has been made in developing treatments that reduce the risk of fractures in osteoporosis. However, available treatments are only partially effective, they are not widely used, and there is need to search for more effective means of fracture prevention. Currently known effective means of reducing fractures were found using randomized placebo-controlled trials. The use of placebo controls in clinical trials has been a subject of significant controversy in recent years. The Declaration of Helsinki revision of October 2000 caused (...) great concern among clinical investigators about the future use of placebo controls if known effective therapeutic agents are available. A working group of ethicists, clinical trial design experts, and clinical investigators examined the current state of knowledge of osteoporosis treatment and trials. They concluded that if placebo controls put subjects at substantial risk of serious outcomes, they are not ethically permissible. Placebo controls in osteoporosis trials with fracture as the measured outcome are permissible only under narrowly defined conditions. Placebo controls may be used if competent, well-informed patients refuse approved therapies for sound reasons, there is a reasonable basis for substantial disagreement or lack of consensus among professionals about whether approved treatments are better than placebos, or subjects are refractory to known effective agents. Active control trials are permissible and desirable if they can be designed and conducted in ways that overcome the interpretive difficulties often associated with such trials. (shrink)
We report on the deliberations of an interdisciplinary group of experts in science, law, and philosophy who convened to discuss novel ethical and policy challenges in stem cell research. In this report we discuss the ethical and policy implications of safety concerns in the transition from basic laboratory research to clinical applications of cell-based therapies derived from stem cells. Although many features of this transition from lab to clinic are common to other therapies, three aspects of stem cell biology pose (...) unique challenges. First, tension regarding the use of human embryos may complicate the scientific development of safe and effective cell lines. Second, because human stem cells were not developed in the laboratory until 1998, few safety questions relating to human applications have been addressed in animal research. Third, preclinical and clinical testing of biologic agents, particularly those as inherently complex as mammalian cells, present formidable challenges, such as the need to develop suitable standardized assays and the difficulty of selecting appropriate patient populations for early phase trials. We recommend that scientists, policy makers, and the public discuss these issues responsibly, and further, that a national advisory committee to oversee human trials of cell therapies be established. **NB we did not reccommend a NAC, we think it might be appropriate**. (shrink)
In Connectionism and the Philosophy of Psychology, Horgan and Tienson (1996) argue that cognitive processes, pace classicism, are not governed by exceptionless, representation-level rules; they are instead the work of defeasible cognitive tendencies subserved by the non-linear dynamics of the brains neural networks. Many theorists are sympathetic with the dynamical characterisation of connectionism and the general (re)conception of cognition that it affords. But in all the excitement surrounding the connectionist revolution in cognitive science, it has largely gone unnoticed that connectionism (...) adds to the traditional focus on computational processes, a new focus one on the vehicles of mental representation, on the entities that carry content through the mind. Indeed, if Horgan and Tiensons dynamical characterisation of connectionism is on the right track, then so intimate is the relationship between computational processes and representational vehicles, that connectionist cognitive science is committed to a resemblance theory of mental content. (shrink)
John Rawls’s political liberalism and its ideal of public reason are tremendously influential in contemporary political philosophy and in constitutional law as well. Many, perhaps even most, liberals are Rawlsians of one stripe or another. This is problematic, because most liberals also support the redefinition of civil marriage to include same-sex unions, and as I show, Rawls’s political liberalism actually prohibits same- sex marriage. Recently in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, however, California’s northern federal district court reinterpreted the traditional rational basis review (...) in terms of liberal neutrality akin to Rawls’s “public reason,” and overturned Proposition 8 and established same-sex marriage. (This reinterpretation was amplified in the 9th Circuit Court’s decision upholding the district court on appeal in Perry v. Brown.) But on its own grounds Perry should have drawn the opposite conclusion. This is because all the available arguments for recognizing same-sex unions as civil marriages stem from controversial comprehensive doctrines about the good, and this violates the ideal of public reason; yet there remains a publicly reasonable argument for traditional marriage, which I sketch here. In the course of my argument I develop Rawls’s politically liberal account of the family by drawing upon work by J. David Velleman and H. L. A. Hart, and discuss the implications of this account for political theory and constitutional law. (shrink)
If stem cell-based therapies are developed, we will likely confront a difficult problem of justice: for biological reasons alone, the new therapies might benefit only a limited range of patients. In fact, they might benefit primarily white Americans, thereby exacerbating long-standing differences in health and health care.
We propose using a bi-axial map as a heuristic for categorizing different dynamics involved in the relationship between quality and popularity. The east–west axis represents the degree to which an agent’s decision is influenced by those of other agents. This ranges from the extreme western edge, where an agent learns individually (no outside influence), to the extreme eastern edge, where an agent is influenced by a large number of other agents. The vertical axis represents how easy or difficult it is (...) for an agent to discern the relative quality of available choices. When a case study is located on the map, it becomes easier to select the range of tools to use for understanding and predicting the relation between quality and popularity. (shrink)
Henri J. Renard, S. J.: a sketch, by J. P. Jelinek.--The good as undefinable, by M. Childress.--Gottlieb Söhngen's sacramental doctrine on the mass, by J. F. Clarkson.--Christ's eucharistic action and history, by B. J. Cooke.--Objective reality of human ideas: Descartes and Suarez, by T. J. Cronin.--A medieval commentator on some Aristotelian educational themes, by J. W. Donohue.--God as sole cause of existence, by M. Holloway.--Knowledge, commitment, and the real, by R. O. Johann.--John Locke and sense realism, by H. R. Klocker.--The (...) being of nonbeing in Plato's Sophist, by Q. Lauer.--Ethics and verification, by R. McInerny.--Analogy and the fourth way, by J. J. O'Brien.--Love and being, by W. L. Rossner.--Complexity in human knowledge: its basis in form/matter composition, by E. L. Rousseau.--Toward a more dynamic understanding of substance and relation, by J. M. Somerville.--The origin of participant and of participated perfections in Proclus' Elements of theology, by L. Sweeney. (shrink)
To assess O'Brien & Opie's connectionist vehicle theory of consciousness, (1) it is not enough to point to the methodological weakness of certain experiments (dichotic listening, etc.). Successful cognitive theories postulating explicit unconscious representations have to be taken into account as well. (2) The distinction between vehicle and process theories cannot be drawn in the way envisaged by the authors because a representation's explicitness depends not only on its structural but also on its processing properties. (3) The stability of (...) an activation vector is not very suitable for implementing the explicitness of a representation. (shrink)