Van den Belt recently examined the notion that synthetic biology and the creation of ‘artificial’ organisms are examples of scientists ‘playing God’. Here I respond to some of the issues he raises, including some of his comments on my previous discussions of the value of the term ‘life’ as a scientific concept.
The present discussion of sociobiological approaches to ethnic nepotism takes Pierre van den Berghe ʼs theory as a starting point. Two points, which have not been addressed in former analyses, are considered to be of particular importance. It is argued that the behavioral mechanism of ethnic nepotism—as understood by van den Berghe—cannot explain ethnic boundaries and attitudes. In addition, I show that van den Bergheʼs central premise concerning ethnic nepotism is in contradiction to Hamiltonʼs formula, the essential principle of kin (...) selection theory. It is further discussed how other approaches that make reference to ethnic nepotism are related to van den Bergheʼs account and its problems. I conclude with remarks on the evolutionary explanation of ethnic phenomena. (shrink)
We revisit the characterization of the Shapley value by van den Brink (Int J Game Theory, 2001, 30:309–319) via efficiency, the Null player axiom, and some fairness axiom. In particular, we show that this characterization also works within certain classes of TU games, including the classes of superadditive and of convex games. Further, we advocate some differential version of the marginality axiom (Young, Int J Game Theory, 1985, 14: 65–72), which turns out to be equivalent to the van den Brink (...) fairness axiom on large classes of games. (shrink)
We use a new construction of an o-minimal structure, due to Lipshitz and Robinson, to answer a question of van den Dries regarding the relationship between arbitrary o-minimal expansions of real closed fields and structures over the real numbers. We write a first order sentence which is true in the Lipshitz-Robinson structure but fails in any possible interpretation over the field of real numbers.
The meaning of sustainability is the subject of intense debate among environmental and resource economists. Perhaps no other issue separates more clearly the traditional economic view from the views of most natural scientists. The debate currently focuses on the substitutability between the economy and the environment or between “natural capital” and “manufactured capital”—a debate captured in terms of weak versus strong sustainability. In this article, we examine the various interpretations of these concepts. We conclude that natural science and economic perspectives (...) on sustainability are inconsistent. The market-based Hartwick-Solow “weak sustainability” approach is far removed from both the ecosystem-based “Holling sustainability” and the “strong sustainability” approach of Daly and others. Each of these sustainability criteria implies a specific valuation approach, and thus an ethical position, to support monetary indicators of sustainability such as a green or sustainable Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The conflict between “weak sustainability” and “strong sustainability” is more evident in the context of centralized than decentralized decision making. In particular, firms selling “services” instead of material goods and regarding the latter as “capital” leads to decisions more or less consistent with either type of sustainability. Finally, we discuss the implications of global sustainability for such open systems as regions and countries. Open systems have not been dealt with systematically for any of the sustainability criteria. (shrink)
L. van den Dries proved that the theory of n-valued rings has a model companion. We show here that this result is still true when the valuation rings are required to satisfy given inclusion relations (we restrict ourselves to the case of residual characteristic zero).