Recent Developments Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11673-010-9235-5 Authors John Coggon, University of Manchester Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, Institute for Science, Ethics, and Innovation, School of Law Manchester UK Cameron Stewart, University of Sydney Centre for Health Governance, Law and Ethics, Sydney Law School Sydney NSW 2006 Australia Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529 Journal Volume Volume 7 Journal Issue Volume 7, Number 2.
The Foundations of Mathematics (Stewart and Tall) is a horse of a different color. The writing is excellent and there is actually some useful mathematics. I definitely like this book."--The Bulletin of Mathematics Books.
This article is about the history of logic in Australia. Douglas Gasking (1911?1994) undertook to translate the logical terminology of John Anderson (1893?1962) into that of Ludwig Wittgenstein's (1921) Tractatus. At the time Gilbert Ryle (1900?1976), and more recently David Armstrong, recommended the result to students; but it is reasonable to have misgivings about Gasking as a guide to either Anderson or Wittgenstein. The historical interest of the debate Gasking initiated is that it yielded surprisingly little information about (...) Anderson's traditional (syllogistic or Aristotelian) logic and its relation to classical (first-order predicate or Russellian) logic, the ostensible topic; but the materials now exist to interpret Anderson's logic in classical logic, possibly as an algebra of classes. This would be of little interest to contemporary logicians, but it might shed some light on Anderson's philosophy. (shrink)
This essay examines the contrasting conceptualizations of reason in the thought of John Henry Newman and Andrew Martin Fairbairn in their articles published in The Contemporary Review in 1885. This essay articulates both Fairbairn’s charge of philosophical scepticism against Newman as well as Newman’s defense of his position and concomitantly details Fairbairn’s and Newman’s competing notions of the efficacy of reason to provide reliable knowledge of God. The positions of Fairbairn and Newman remain two of the most important perspectives (...) on the role of reason in the acquisition of knowledge about God in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Christian theology. (shrink)
Reflecting the trend over the last twenty years to examine more thoroughly the nature of love and sexuality within a philosophical context, this eclectic anthology presents numerous perspectives on sexual roles and norms, eroticism, pornography, feminism, prostitution, perversion, friendship, and familial love. Philosophical Perspectives on Sex and Love is the most up-to-date appraisal of these most fundamental and timeless of human attributes, featuring the work of thinkers from antiquity and the Middle Ages as well as the modern era. On the (...) subject of erotic love, Stewart offers insight from Plato's Symposium, as well as Solomon's more contemporary "The Virtue of (Erotic) Love". There are also reflections on "Sexual Perversion" from Nagel, and the editor himself explores "Moral Criticisms and the Social Meaning of Prostitution." From Graybosch we have "Parents, Children, and Friends", and David Hume opens a window onto the ethics of sexuality through his "Of Chastity and Modesty." Care has been taken to present different positions on the most controversial issues, and the vast majority of selections are offered in their entirety. Invaluable for courses in social philosophy, sexuality, social ethics, and feminism, no other volume can give students a more comprehensive discussion of love's countless dimensions. (shrink)
My occupation is applied research and - funding arrangements being the force which drives such work - I am working with feedlot cattle at the moment. I have to find out whether they are unduly stressed and, if so, how to relieve it; also how much and what type of shade they require, and what are acceptable criteria of animal welfare. Like most research scientists, I also have a personal hobbyhorse which I can weave into my work. It is that (...) stress affects the competence of an animal's immune system in subtle ways that have to do with its cognition. Alas, the plot thickens! (shrink)
The Australian Aborigines' environmental culture and the "double bind" approach used in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous are considered as a source for the generation of a new strategy for dealing with the ecological problems of our day. The strategy aims at achieving a negotiated outcome in issues of high societal risk related to waste management in the Hawkesbury region of Sydney, Australia.
I don't want your agreement! I think I would prefer your understanding. Your agreement would be useful in a workplace to achieve a task. But that is not a social system. We want to live together in mutual respect. Your agreement would take hold of me and threaten to devour my own being - just as my agreement would do to you. For we each bring forth our own world in our every present moment. No matter how convenient it may (...) seem to be, I cannot truly stand still - with you or anyone. (shrink)
What is the potential for improvements in the functioning of consciousness? The paper addresses this issue using global workspace theory. According to this model, the prime function of consciousness is to develop novel adaptive responses. Consciousness does this by putting together new combinations of knowledge, skills and other disparate resources that are recruited from throughout the brain. The paper's search for potential improvements in consciousness is aided by studies of a developmental transition that enhances functioning in whichever domain it occurs. (...) This transition involves a shift from the use of procedural (implicit) knowledge to declarative (explicit) knowledge. However, the potential of the transition to enhance functioning has not yet been realised to any extent in relation to consciousness itself. The paper assesses the potential for consciousness to use declarative knowledge to improve its own functioning and to thereby enhance human adaptability. A number of sources (including the practices of religious and contemplative traditions) are drawn on to investigate how this potential might be realised. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. What potential exists for improvements in the functioning of consciousness? The paper addresses this issue using global workspace theory. According to this model, the prime function of consciousness is to develop novel adaptive responses. Consciousness does this by putting together new combinations of knowledge, skills and other disparate resources that are recruited from throughout the brain. The paper's search for potential improvements in the functioning of consciousness draws on studies of the shift during human development from the use of (...) implicit knowledge to the use of explicit (declarative) knowledge. These studies show that the ability of consciousness to adapt a particular domain improves significantly as the transition to the use of declarative knowledge occurs in that domain. However, this potential for consciousness to enhance adaptability has not yet been realised to any extent in relation to consciousness itself. The paper assesses the potential for adaptability to be improved by the conscious adaptation of key processes that constitute consciousness. A number of sources (including the practices of religious and contemplative traditions) are drawn on to investigate how this potential might be realised. (shrink)
The evolution of life on Earth has produced an organism that is beginning to model and understand its own evolution and the possible future evolution of life in the universe. These models and associated evidence show that evolution on Earth has a trajectory. The scale over which living processes are organized cooperatively has increased progressively, as has its evolvability. Recent theoretical advances raise the possibility that this trajectory is itself part of a wider developmental process. According to these theories, the (...) developmental process has been shaped by a larger evolutionary process that involves the reproduction of universes. This evolutionary process has tuned the key parameters of the universe to increase the likelihood that life will emerge and develop to produce outcomes that are successful in the larger process (e.g. a key outcome may be to produce life and intelligence that intentionally reproduces the universe and tunes the parameters of ‘offspring’ universes). Theory suggests that when life emerges on a planet, it moves along this trajectory of its own accord. However, at a particular point evolution will continue to advance only if organisms emerge that decide to advance the evolutionary process intentionally. The organisms must be prepared to make this commitment even though the ultimate nature and destination of the process is uncertain, and may forever remain unknown. Organisms that complete this transition to intentional evolution will drive the further development of life and intelligence in the universe. Humanity’s increasing understanding of the evolution of life in the universe is rapidly bringing it to the threshold of this major evolutionary transition. (shrink)
The term “social cognition” can be construed in different ways. On the one hand, it can refer to the cognitive faculties involved in social activities, defined simply as situations where two or more individuals interact. On this view, social systems would consist of interactions between autonomous individuals; these interactions form higher-level autonomous domains not reducible to individual actions. A contrasting, alternative view is based on a much stronger theoretical definition of a truly social domain, which is always defined by a (...) set of structural norms; moreover, these social structures are not only a set of constraints, but actually constitute the possibility of enacting worlds that would just not exist without them. This view emphasises the heteronomy of individuals who abide by norms that are impersonal, culturally inherited and to a large extent independent of the individuals. Human beings are socialised through and through; consequently, all human cognition is social cognition. The article argues for this second position. Finally, it appears that fully blown autonomy actually requires heteronomy. It is the acceptance of the constraints of social structures that enables individuals to enter new realms of common meaningfulness. The emergence of social life marks a crucial step in the evolution of cognition; so that at some evolutionary point human cognition cannot but be social cognition. (shrink)
This article addresses the issue of objectivism vs constructivism in two areas,biology and cognitive science, which areintermediate between the natural sciences suchas physics (where objectivism is dominant) andthe human and social sciences (whereconstructivism is widespread). The issues inbiology and in cognitive science are intimatelyrelated; in each of these twin areas, the objectivism vs constructivism issue isinterestingly and rather evenly balanced; as aresult, this issue engenders two contrastingparadigms, each of which has substantialspecific scientific content. The neo-Darwinianparadigm in biology is closely resonant (...) withthe classical cognitivist paradigm in cognitivescience, and both of them are intrinsicallyobjectivist. The organismic paradigm inbiology, based on the concept of autopoiesis,is consonant with the paradigm of enaction incognitive science; the latter paradigms are bothprofoundly constructivist.In cognitive science, the objectivism vsconstructivism issue is internal to thescientific field itself and reflexivity isinescapable. At this level, strong ontologicalobjectivism is self-contradictory and thereforeuntenable. Radical constructivism isself-coherent; but it also rehabilitatesa weak form of objectivism as a pragmaticallyviable alternative. In conclusion, there is aneven-handed reciprocity between objectivistand constructivist perspectives. Finally, thearticle examines the consequences of thisconclusion for fields other than cognitivescience: biology; physics and the naturalsciences; and the human and social sciences. (shrink)
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)
The strategies of action employed by a human subject in order to perceive simple 2-D forms on the basis of tactile sensory feedback have been modelled by an explicit computer algorithm. The modelling process has been constrained and informed by the capacity of human subjects both to consciously describe their own strategies, and to apply explicit strategies; thus, the strategies effectively employed by the human subject have been influenced by the modelling process itself. On this basis, good qualitative and semi-quantitative (...) agreement has been achieved between the trajectories produced by a human subject, and the traces produced by a computer algorithm. The advantage of this reciprocal modelling option, besides facilitating agreement between the algorithm and the empirically observed trajectories, is that the theoretical model provides an explanation, and not just a description, of the active perception of the human subject. (shrink)
Postmodern claims for the lack of general coherence in social life and therefore in social research are merely a version of recurrent attempts to accept incoherence as adequate in explanations. Incoherence, however, is less sharply distinguished from the synthetic and generalizing theories that it is held to have replaced than its proponents and critics suppose. Generalizing approaches, in fact, were built around contradictions that contributed to their instability and facilitated postmodern fragmentation. In this paper we demonstrate the central contradictions in (...) social theory, showing their common occurrence in apparently opposed positions. Both postmodernism and what it seeks to replace are features of a conservative and unproductive social science. We trace the contradictory continuities through major modern schools of social theory in order to clear the ground for a progressive social science which accepts contradictions as problems that must be solved creatively in the practice of social research. (shrink)
Humans are able to construct mental representations and models of possible interactions with their environment. They can use these mental models to identify actions that will enable them to achieve their adaptive goals. But humans do not use this capacity to identify and implement the actions that would contribute most to the evolutionary success of humanity. In general, humans do not find motivation or satisfaction in doing so, no matter how effective such actions might be in evolutionary terms. From an (...) evolutionary perspective, this is a significant limitation in the psychological adaptability of humans. This paper sets out to identify the new psychological capacity that would be needed to overcome this limitation and how the new capacity might be acquired. Humans that develop this capacity will become self-evolving organisms - organisms that are able to adapt in whatever ways are necessary for future evolutionary success, largely unfettered by their biological and social past. (shrink)
The schematic concept of levels of causal interaction is applied to the relation between genetics and biology. The strength of classical formal genetics lies in its power to proceed directly from observations on an external phenotype, to inferences concerning the nature and properties of the fundamental genetic factors. Its weakness comes from the fact that by short-circuiting the causal chain leading from genotype to phenotype, it creates a divorce between genetics and biology. It is argued that in order to reestablish (...) an articulation of genetics and the biology of whole organisms, it will be necessary to study in detail the entire causal chain leading from a difference in a genetic factor to a difference in a corresponding phenotypic character. This proposal is illustrated by a consideration of multifactorial diseases, which appear to be due to strong interactions between a moderate number of distinct loci; the frequency of abnormal alleles at any given locus may be surprisingly high. (shrink)
Advance directives are useful ways to express one's wishes about end of life care, but even now most people have not completed one of the documents. David Doukas and William Reichel strongly encourage planning for end of life care. Although Planning for Uncertainty is at times fairly abstract for the general reader, it does provide useful background and practical steps.
The violation of the Bell inequality means that measurement-results in the two wings of the experiment cannot be screened off from one another, in the sense of Reichenbach. But does this mean that there is causation between the results? I argue that it does, according to Lewis's counterfactual analysis of causation and his associated views. The reason lies in his doctrine that chances evolve by conditionalization on intervening history. This doctrine collapses the distinction between the conditional probabilities that are used (...) to state screening off, and the counterfactuals with chance consequents that are used to state lack of causation. I briefly discuss ways to evade my argument. (shrink)
Upshot: According to its introduction, the aim of Enaction is to “present the paradigm of enaction as a framework for a far-reaching renewal of cognitive science as a whole.” While many of the chapters make progress towards this aim, the book as a whole does not present enactivism as a coherent framework, and it could be argued that enactivism’s embrace of phenomenology means it is no longer a theory of cognition.
Metaphysics is definitely back on the agenda of contemporary philosophy. It is a metaphysics in the full traditional sense, seeking to provide the means to gain knowledge that covers being as a whole, not just parts of it (such as the metaphysics of mind, the metaphysics of values, etc.). Oxford University Press published three books in 2011 and 2012 each of which spells out that ambition. The present review sums up the main topics covered in these books and offers some (...) comments. (shrink)
The paper is devoted to the interpretation of one of the most important passages in modern Anglophon philosophy: III.1.3 of Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume. The author considers the problem of its meaning at an angle of the standard interpretation, which can be summed up in a dictum: ‘no ought from is’ (so called “Hume’s Guillotine”). The author outlines four possible approaches to this putative meaning of the Treatise passage and weighs arguments for them. The investigation, based (...) mainly on the strategies by Arthur Prior, Charles Pigden and John Searle, allows to defend two approaches regarding Hume’s putative proposal of is/ought gap: /1/ the idea of logical autonomy of moral discourse, making strong rationality of deduction from is to (non-trivial) ought invalid, together with /2/ the possibility of weak rational (justified) inference from is to ought. However, the comparison of these two accounts with the guts of Humean philosophy as such (critical skepticism, fallibilism, ethical noncognitivism) makes the author prone to give a priority to the latter. (shrink)
The lecture that we have heard consists of excerpts from Professor Stanley’s forthcoming book Knowledge and Interest, and it consists of two parts, a messy part and a clean part; the messy part is from the book’s introduction, which describes the “central data that is at issue in this debate,” and the clean part is from Chapter 7, which presents an interesting criticism of a semantical theory of knowledge-attribution sentences that makes their truth-conditions relative to non-time-world circumstances of evaluation, e.g. (...) to a judgment-maker at a time. There is a nice discussion of Peter Lasersohn’s semantical views, with kudos, bricks, and bats to Mark Richard, Jeff King, Gareth Evans, John Hawthorne, David Kaplan, and David Lewis. Though I found this discussion of great interest and would have welcomed more discussion of an earlier view of Jason Stanley’s in which “what is said” and “what is believed” can be used to refer to entities that are not propositional, e.g. semantic values that are neutral with respect to time and place, a view of Stanley’s of which I am a fan, I was more provoked by the messy part: the appeal to intuitive linguistic data employed by supporters of epistemological contextualism, e.g. Stewart Cohen, Keith De Rose, a time-slice of David Lewis, among others. I will focus on what Professor Stanley says about the data in his paper and not worry the scholarly question about their relation to other views. (shrink)