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)
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.
In this essay, I first evaluate the conceptual analysis of human rights by Wilfried Hinsch and Markus Stepanians. Next I criticize Allen Buchanan’s claim that Rawls did not address basic human interests/capabilities theories of human nature. I argue Buchanan is doubly mistaken when he claims that John Rawls sought to avoid such theories because they are comprehensive doctrines. Then I evaluate David Reidy’s defense of Rawls, while questioning his efforts to show how Rawls’s list of human rights could (...) be expanded. Finally, I accept James Nickel’s argument that Rawls has tied human rights too closely to intervention on their behalf. However, I reject his, and by implication Rawls’s, refusal to accept a two-tiered approach to human rights. (shrink)
Arguments from stability for liberal nationalism rely on considerations about conditions for the feasibility or stability of liberal political ideals and factual claims about the circumstances under which these conditions are fulfilled in order to argue for nationalist conclusions. Such reliance on factual claims has been criticised by among others G. A. Cohen in other contexts as ideological reifications of social reality. In order to assess whether arguments from stability within liberal nationalism, especially as formulated by David Miller, (...) are vulnerable to a comparable critique, the rationale for their reliance on factual claims is discussed on the basis of a number of concerns in John Rawls’s political liberalism. The concern with stability in liberal nationalism differs from stability in Rawls’s work, mainly because of the stronger non-ideal or ‘realist’ focus of the former. In so far as the ‘realism’ of arguments from stability for liberal nationalism is recognized, they are not vulnerable to the reification charge. But if the arguments are construed as realist, this at the same time makes for other tensions within liberal nationalism. (shrink)
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)
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)