This is a review of H. Duméry’s volume Imagination et religion. Éléments de judaïsme, éléments de christianisme. The author studies biblical religion and the origins of the Christian religion, classifying and recording the imaginative element that feeds the narratives of piety: hence the rehabilitation of the myths that frame the functioning of religious representations. The author suggests that the imagination, in its deepest resources, forges the human social, has the power to invent all social roles, and causes the emergence of (...) attitudes of devotion or renunciation which are a human prerogative. (shrink)
Knowing the individual skills and competences of one's group members may be important for deciding from whom to learn (social learning), with whom to collaborate and whom to follow. We investigated whether 12 jackdaws could select conspecifics based on their helping skills, which had been exhibited in a previous context. The birds were tested in a blocked-exit-situation, where they could choose between two conspecifics, one of which could be recruited inside. One conspecific had previously displayed the ability to open the (...) exit door whilst the other individual lacked the skill. The subjects showed a significant preference for the skilled conspecific if they had previously directly benefited from this skill. If they had merely observed the skilled (and non-skilled) individual opening (or failing to open) the exit door, they did not preferably choose the skilled conspecific. Taken together, these results suggest that jackdaws are capable of assessing other individuals' competence under certain circumstances. (shrink)
Global warming, like many other environmental controversies, mixes pervasive uncertainty with the certainties of expert (but contradictory) opinion. How can we know who is right about global warming, if the only things we have to work with are the scientists? competing scenarios, the truth?value of which has yet to be established? One approach is to rely on narrative policy analysis to identify the non?scientific, but policy?relevant role played by the global warming controversy. This approach shows that the controversy signals a (...) wider ?analytic tip? taking place in the examination of major public policy problems, a tip toward the notion that issues which can still be effectively dealt with locally, regionally or nationally must now first be addressed globally. The policy implications of analytic tip and the narrative features of the global warming scenario are profound for both environmentalists and their ideological opponents. (shrink)
Animal rights and experimentation have become the focus of a major controversy in the United States, with acute implications for animal-related research in the laboratories and veterinary schools of many American universities. To date, efforts to reduce fundamental disagreements between animal researchers and animal welfare groups or to redefine their differences in ways that satisfy all concerned have by and large not been successful. In such situations where it is not possible to identify a middle ground between conflicting positions, the (...) best a policy analyst may be able to do is to accentuate the issue's manifest topsy-turviness and uncertainties. No one can afford or risk having an issue of such high uncertainty, inconsistency, and stakes defined in terms so stark that they feel compelled to choose between those who say they know that the future shall hold us accountable for our wholesale slaughter of animals and those who would blame us for the human deaths they say will surely follow when we do not allow that slaughter. (shrink)
A plateau has been reached in how to analyze people's use of their common property resources. We require fresh ways of thinking about the issue. Four new and very different approaches are sketched in the article.