The fact that Sufi metaphysics were so far taken to be merely writings of Islamic philosophers, like Ibn al-'Arabi, seems to underestimate the philosophical indications of literary texts in the Sufi tradition. When Sufi literary texts are examined for philosophical content, that content is sought within and through the traditional Sufist approach. However, there appears to be a lack of correspondence between the traditional approach on the main conceptions (of God, of the universe, etc.) in Sufism and what literary texts (...) can offer regarding those, when some literary texts are to be examined in a way in which an underlying philosophical system can be extracted from them. In this paper, I present a brief analysis of The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar, one of the most significant works focusing on God and written in Sufi tradition. I suggest an alternative framework for Sufi metaphysics, which overlaps with the metaphysical connotations of The Conference of the Birds, via some Spinozistic ideas on God and on God’s relationship to the rest of the universe. Since The Conference of The Birds represents a metaphysical doctrine that is apart from the traditional approach, I argue that we are not justified in thinking that Sufi metaphysics is only what Islamic philosophers so far offered us. (shrink)
Ghosn, Mariam Predictive genetic testing Part 2 will examine the issues and ethical aspects that must be considered when adolescents below the age of majority make a request to undergo predictive genetic testing for Huntington's disease.
Ghosn, Mariam Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited disorder. Sufferers usually develop symptoms in midlife between the ages of 30 and 50 years. HD causes neurodegeneration resulting in the progressive development of physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms. The impact on sufferers worsens over time with the final stage of the disease resulting in the need for professional assistance in a long-term care facility. More rarely HD develops in children and young adults, with less than 5% of HD sufferers being (...) affected by Juvenile HD. This article considers the ethical aspects of such testing. (shrink)
Ghosn, Mariam; Ford, Norman The adult stem cells are capable of self-renewal and are responsible for replenishing cells throughout an individual's lifetime, residing not only at embryonic stage but also in children and adults. The latest advancements and updates in adult stem cell technology demonstrate that it might be possible to generate stem cells for therapeutic uses without the creation or destruction of human embryos.
Ghosn, Mariam A seven-year $1 million dollar study conducted by Dr. M. Soffritti found that significant trend of increasing lymphoma and leukaemia incidence in female rats fed aspartame with a significant increase in the number of female rats affected at dosages of 20 mg/kg per day and upward, thus questioning aspartame's safety. However, the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA's) Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food (AFC) argued that there was not enough (...) evidence to conclude that aspartame causes an increased incidence of lymphomas and leukaemias, also arguing that the increase in the number of rats affected with lymphomas and leukaemias could be due to chronic respiratory infections of the rats used in the study. (shrink)
in Probability is the Very Guide of Life: The Philosophical Uses of Chance, eds. Henry Kyburg, Jr. and Mariam Thalos, Open Court. Abridged version in Proceedings of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis 2002.
This article aims to show that fundamentality is construed differently in the two most prominent strategies of analysis we find in physical science and engineering today: (1) atomistic, reductive analysis and (2) Systems analysis. Correspondingly, atomism is the conception according to which the simplest (smallest) indivisible entity of a certain kind is most fundamental; while systemism , as will be articulated here, is the conception according to which the bonds that structure wholes are most fundamental, and scale and/or constituting entities (...) are of no significance whatsoever for fundamentality. Accordingly, atomists maintain that the basic entities —the atoms —are fundamental, and together with the "external" interactions among them, are sufficient for illuminating all the features and behaviors of the wholes they constitute; whereas systemists proclaim that it is instead structural qualities of systems, that flow from internal relations among their constituents and translate directly into behaviors, that are fundamental, and by themselves largely (if not entirely) sufficient for illuminating the features and behaviors of the wholes thereby structured. Systemism, as will be argued, is consistent with the nonexistence of a fundamental "level" of nondecomposable entities, just as it is consistent with the existence of such a level. Still, systemism is a conception of the fundamental in quite different, but still ontological terms. Systemism can serve the special sciences—the social sciences especially—better than the conception of fundamentality in terms of atoms. Systemism is, in fact, a conception of fundamentality that has rather different uses—and importantly, different resonances. This conception of fundamentality makes contact with questions pertaining to natural kinds and their situation in the metaphysics of the special sciences—their situation within an order of autonomous sciences. The controversy over fundamentality is evident in the social sciences too, albeit somewhat imperfectly, in the terms of debate between methodological individualists and functionalists/holists . This article will thus clarify the difference between systemism and holism. (shrink)
the voluntary actions of such beings cannot be covered by causal laws. Decision theorists, accepting the premise of this argument, appeal instead to noncausal laws predicated on principles of success—oriented action, and use these laws to produce substantive and testable predictions about large—scale human behavior. The primary directive of success-oriented action is maximization of some valuable quantity. Many economists and social scientists use the principles of decision theory to explain social and economic phenomena, while many political philosophers use them to (...) make recommendations on questions of.. (shrink)
We seek to illuminate the prevalence of cooperation among biologically unrelated individuals via an analysis of agency that recognizes the possibility of bonding and challenges the common view that agency is invariably an individual-level affair. Via bonding, a single individual’s behavior patterns or programs are altered so as to facilitate the formation, on at least some occasions, of a larger entity to whom is attributable the coordination of the component entities. Some of these larger entities will qualify as agents in (...) their own right, even when the comprising entities also qualify as agents. In light of the many possibilities that humans actually enjoy for entering into numerous bonding schemes, and the extent to which they avail themselves of these possibilities, there is no basis for the assumption that cooperative behavior must ultimately emerge as either altruistic or self-interested; it can instead be the product of collective agency. (shrink)
The principle that causes always render their effects more likely is fundamental to the enterprise of reducing facts of causation to facts about (objective) chances. This reductionist enterprise faces famous difficulties in accommodating common-sense intuitions about causal processes, if it insists on cashing out causal processes in terms of streams of events in which every event that belongs to the stream is a cause of the adjoining event downstream of it. I shall propose modifications to this way of cashing out (...) causal processes, still well within the reductionist faith. These modifications will allow the reductionist to handle processes successfully, on the assumption that the reductionist proposal is itself otherwise satisfactory. I shall then argue that the reductionist enterprise lies squarely behind the Theory of Relativity, and so has all the confirmatory weight of Relativity behind it. However this is not all good news for reductionists. For throughout I shall simply assume that the reductionist proposal, to the effect that causes are just chance-raisers, is correct. AndI shall sidestep problems with that proposal as such. And so I shall show that, if in the end we find the reductionist proposal unsatisfactory, it cannot be on grounds of its treatment of causal processes as such. Thus, while I shall argue that causal processes pose no extra trouble for redutionists, I shall be making a case that all the action between reductionists and their opponents should be focused upon the proposal to reduce the two-term causal relation itself to relations amongst probabilities. (shrink)
The fact that Sufi metaphysics is usually taken to be merely the writings of Islamic philosophers, like Ibn al-'Arabi, seems to underestimate the philosophical indications of literary texts in the Sufi tradition. When Sufi literary texts are examined for philosophical content, that content is sought within and through the traditional Sufist approach. However, there appears to be a lack of correspondence between the traditional approach on the main conceptions (of God, of the universe, etc.) in Sufism and what literary texts (...) can offer regarding those, when some literary texts are to be examined in a way in which an underlying philosophical system can be extracted from them. In this article, Ipresent a brief analysis of The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar, one of the most significant works focusing on God and written in Sufi tradition. I suggest an alternative framework for Sufi metaphysics, which overlaps with the metaphysical connotations of The Conference of the Birds, via some Spinozistic ideas on God and on God's relationship to the rest of the universe. Since The Conference of the Birds represents a metaphysical doctrine that is apart from the traditional approach, I argue that we are not justified in thinking that Sufi metaphysics is only what Islamic philosophers have so far offered us. (shrink)
I shall endeavor to show that every physical theory since Newton explainswithout drawing attention to causes–that, in other words, physical theories as physical theories aspire to explain under an ideal quite distinctfrom that of causal explanation. If I am right, then even if sometimes theexplanations achieved by a physical theory are not in violation ofthe standard of causal explanation, this is purely an accident. For physicaltheories, as I will show, do not, as such, aim at accommodating the goals (...) oraspirations of causal explanation. This will serve as the founding insightfor a new theory of explanation, which will itself serve as the cornerstoneof a new theory of scientific method. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes two conceptions of collectivity, each of which tracks the targets of classification according to their aetiology. Collectivities falling under the first conception are founded on (more-or-less) explicit negotiations amongst the members who are known to one another personally. Collectivities falling under the second (philosophically neglected) conception are founded - at least initially - purely upon a shared conception of "we", very often in the absence of prior acquaintance and personal interaction. The paper argues that neglect of collectivities (...) of the second kind renders certain social phenomena (for example, sense of place and certain kinds of conflicted loyalty) inexplicable or invisible. And the paper also stresses that a conception referring to the second kind of collectivity will put us in position to revitalize a variety of important questions, including: Which conception of collectivity best serves the needs of a theory of justice? The paper will contrast the distinction between these two conceptions with the classical Gemeinschaft/Gesellschaft distinction, as well as with the more recent attempts to articulate differences between groups according to membership-structuring norms. (shrink)
Is a molecule-for-molecule duplicate D of some entity always a perfect duplicate of it? And in particular: is D a being with consciousness if its original is? These questions summarize a certain diagnostic tool used by metaphysicians, and prominently used in service of a form of dualism that is supposed to support an autonomous science of consciousness. This essay argues that this diagnostic tool is inapt when the exercise is performed as a pure thought experiment, for the sake of eliciting (...) data or judgment from intuition. The trouble is that intuition can render for a “duplicate” only what experience or other learning (perhaps via dogmatic methods) has instilled in the intuiter. But rather than disappoint the aspirations of an autonomous science, the argument of this essay will instead illuminate its better metaphysical supports. (shrink)
The Liar sentence is a singularly important piece of philosophical evidence. It is an instrument for investigating the metaphysics of expressing truths and falsehoods. And an instrument too for investigating the varieties of conflict that can give rise to paradox. It shall serve as perhaps the most important clue to the shape of human judgment, as well as to the nature of the dependence of judgment upon language use.
This paper documents a wide range of nonreductive scientific treatments of phenomena in the domain of physics. These treatments strongly resist characterization as explanations of macrobehavior exclusively in terms of behavior of microconstituents. For they are treatments in which macroquantities are cast in the role of genuine and irreducible degrees of freedom. One is driven into reductionism when one is not cultivated to possess an array of distinctions rich enough to let things be what they are. In contrast, making the (...) decisive distinction has an illuminating and liberating effect because it lets the concrete occurrence stand forth for what it is. We understand it not in terms of a decipherment, but on its own terms. –Robert Sokolowski (“Making Distinctions”, 1992). (shrink)
This essay explores the process and issues related to community collaborative research that involves Native Americans generally, and specifically examines the Navajo Nation’s efforts to regulate research within its jurisdiction. Researchers need to account for both the experience of Native Americans and their own preconceptions about Native Americans when conducting research about Native Americans. The Navajo Nation institutionalized an approach to protecting members of the nation when it took over Institutional Review Board (IRB) responsibilities from the US Indian Health Service (...) (IHS) in 1996. While written regulations for the Navajo Nation IRB are not dissimilar, and in some ways are less detailed than those of the IHS IRB, in practice the Navajo Nation allows less flexibility. Primary examples of this include not allowing expedited review and requiring prepublication review of all manuscripts. Because of its broad mandate, the Navajo Nation IRB may also require review of some projects that would not normally be subject to IRB approval, including investigative journalism and secondary research about Navajo People that does not involve direct data collection from human subjects. (shrink)
This paper is situated in the context of feminist poststructuralist debates around identity. In it, I argue that anti-essentialist accounts of identity, while they may displace, or at least call into question, the foundations of subjectivity, are no less likely to invoke a series of presuppositions with respect to the self than those who seek to maintain them in some form. In particular, these presuppositions often cohere around the materiality of the body. And yet, paradoxically, this accent on materiality refers (...) to a very particular kind of body - one that seems to have very little relation to the biological body. Using psychopharmacology as an example, I suggest that the Gilles Deleuze's ethology offers one way through which both to engage seriously with the 'biological' body while at the same time resisting either an essentialist or biological determinist position. (shrink)
The Liar sentence is a singularly important piece of philosophical evidence. It is an instrument for investigating the metaphysics of expressing truths and falsehoods. And an instrument too for investigating the varieties of conﬂict that can give rise to paradox. It shall serve as perhaps the most important clue to the shape of human judgment, as well as to the nature of the dependence of judgment upon language use.
Dynamical-systems analysis is nowadays ubiquitous. From engineering (its point of origin and natural home) to physiology, and from psychology to ecology, it enjoys surprisingly wide application. Sometimes the analysis rings decisively false—as, for example, when adopted in certain treatments of historical narrative;1 other times it is provocativeandcontroversial,aswhenappliedtothephenomenaofmind and cognition.2 Dynamical systems analysis (or “Systems” with a capital “S,” as I shall sometimes refer to it) is simply a tool of analysis. It mobilizes the language and mathematical technology of differential equations,andbringsintoplaythedistinctiveconceptsofequilibriumand (...) attractor, as well as gain, coupling and neighborhood, that are not obviously proprietary property of any particular domain of objects or regimeintheworld.3 Itistheecumenicallanguageofengineers,universal in scope. Still, Systems, as a mode of analysis, itself stands in need of clarification. Once that clarity has been attained, one can then ask: are there limitations or bounds on proper application of Systems analysis, that are themselves premised upon considerations internal to the analysis itself? This is one of several questions to which the present essay is devoted. Before it can be attempted, however, we shall require some groundwork thatclarifiesthemodeofanalysisthatisSystems—thefamilyofanalyses to which it belongs.This will begin to bring out (among other things) the precisedifferenceofsubjectmatterbetweenbiologyandphysics.Andthe ecumenicality of Systems analysis is bound to have its own distinctive commitments, as we shall see. Practitioners attuned to the signal characteristics of Systems analysis—characteristics that set it apart—proclaim its many advantages.. (shrink)
This book demonstrates how and why vitalism—the idea that life cannot be explained by the principles of mechanism—matters now. Vitalism resists closure and reductionism in the life sciences while simultaneously addressing the object of life itself. The aim of this collection is to consider the questions that vitalism makes it possible to ask: questions about the role and status of life across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities and questions about contingency, indeterminacy, relationality and change. All have special importance now, (...) as the concepts of complexity, artificial life and artificial intelligence, information theory, and cybernetics become increasingly significant in more and more fields of activity. (shrink)
Social sciences face a well-known problem, which is an instance of a general problem faced as well by psychological and biological sciences: the problem of establishing their legitimate existence alongside physics. This, as will become clear, is a problem in metaphysics. I will show how a new account of structural explanations, put forward by Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit, which is designed to solve this metaphysical problem with social sciences in mind, fails to treat the problem in any importantly new (...) way. Then I will propose a more modest approach, and show how it does not deserve the criticism directed at a prototype by Jackson and Pettit. (shrink)
THOMAS SCHELLING taught us that in ordinary human affairs, con¯ict and common interest are ubiquitously intertwined.1 For when it comes to variety, the occasion of pure con¯ict (known to some of its friends as the zerosum game) is as under-represented in human affairs as the occasion of undiluted common interest (known as the pure coordination game). The undiluted extremes are the exceptions, when it comes to counting kinds, while the mixed-motive kind of occasion is the rule. Things look a bit (...) different, however, when one looks at sheer numbers of true-life occasions, as I will explain. Schelling also taught us that in the diverse space of mixed-motive affairs, intermediate between pure con¯ict and pure coordination, there is more true-life collaborative behaviorÐmore trustings and promise-keepingsÐthan our prescriptive decision theories can accommodate, never mind explain. This collaborative behavior, as long ago another ThomasÐThomas HobbesÐwas painfully aware, requires some explaining precisely because of the presence of ineliminable con¯ict of interest. The problem confronting those who aspire to explain such collaboration is to identify weighty motivations in its favor, in the face of the weighty, but countervailing motivations. What shall concern me here is not the collaboration that transpires in the face of con¯ict of interest, but the success which meets us more than halfway in those limiting cases of pure coordination, so as (for example) not to collide in roadways and corridors. For in sheer quantity, the occasions for pure coordination outnumber the occasions for anything else perhaps a hundredfold. We.. (shrink)
On the classical instrumental view, practical reason is an all-things-considered enterprise, concerned not merely with identifying and evaluating appropriate means to the realization of ends construed as uncriticizable, but also with coordinating achievement of their sum. The concept of a totality of ranked concerns is the cornerstone of the theory of utility. This paper discusses some of the ways that practical reasoning, on the ground, is not instrumental in this sense. The paper will demonstrate that some of what goes on (...) by way of practical reasoning on the ground involves a certain simple inference schema—to be called “imitative reasoning”—that involves mobilization of what has been alternately referred to as archetypes, scripts, stereotypes and schemas including most importantly self-schemas or self-concepts . Imitative reasoning, as the paper will argue, is especially hostile to deliberations that involve the sorts of tradeoffs that applications of utility theory routinely advise. It is therefore no expression or realization, however imperfect, of the notion of maximization. What is more, this framework routinely evokes as authoritative the norms of privilege, however removed from or irrelevant to the matter at hand, which might be as simple as where to go for dinner. For it is the basis of—among other things—class and race consciousness. Furthermore, it is highly subject to manipulation by the unscrupulous; such as, for example, by those who market consumer goods, especially to children. For this form of reasoning is employed so as to protect or enhance self-concepts: imitative reasoning is a form of motivated reasoning. Laying it out in schema form will shed light on the sort of reasoning processes that transpire in many cases of cognitive dissonance reduction. (shrink)
In The Construction of Social Reality, John Searle promises a causal account of how social facts are constructed by human acts of intention, but speciﬁcally disavows a special theoretical space in that account for human motivation. This paper argues that such a story as Searle tells cannot serve as a causal account of society. A causal account must illuminate motivations, because doing so illuminates the aims and interests lacking which we cannot explain why these social practices come to be and (...) not potential others. Thus Searle’s would-be account of society has a problem analogous to that of Hobbes, which Hobbes’s own Foole poses, and that Hobbes never answers to anyone’s satisfaction. (shrink)
Abstract This essay offers a motivational conception of solidarity that can be employed across the entire range of sciences and humanities, while also filling a gap in the motivational spectrum conceived by decision theorists and economists?and expanding the two-part division between altruistic and selfish motivations into a tripartite analysis that suggests a spectrum instead. According to the present proposal, solidarity is a condition of action-readiness on behalf of a group or its interests. The proposal will admit of measuring the extent (...) to which Prisoner's Dilemmas are overcome in real life via acts of solidarity. (shrink)
A supcrsclcction rule advanced in thc course of a quantum-mechanical treatment of some phenomenon is an assertion tc thc effect that thc superposition principle of quam tum mechanics is to bc restricted in thc application at hand. Supcrsclcction accounts of measurement all have in common a decision to represent thc indicator states of detectors by eigcnspaccs of supcrsclcction operators named in a supcrsclcction rule, on the grounds that thc states in question arc states of a s0—calicd classical quantity and therefore (...) not subject to quantum interference effects. By this strategy supcrsclcctionists of measurement expect to dispense with usc of projection postulates in treatments of measurement. I shall argue that supcrsclcction accounts of measurement arc selfcontradictory, and that treatments of infinite systems, if they can avoid thc contradiction, are not true supcrsclcction accounts. (shrink)
This paper argues that the doctrines of determinism and supervenience, while logically independent, are importantly linked in physical mechanics-and quite interestingly so. For it is possible to formulate classical mechanics in such a way as to take advantage of the existence of mathematical devices that represent the advance of time-and which are such as to inspire confidence in the truth of determinism-in order to prevent violation of supervenience. It is also possible to formulate classical mechanics-and to do so in an (...) observationally equivalent, and thus equally empirically respectable, way-such that violations of supervenience are (on the one hand) routine, and (on the other hand) necessary for achieving complete descriptions of the motions of mechanical systems-necessary, therefore, for achieving a deterministic mechanical theory. Two such formulations-only one of which preserves supervenience universally-will conceive of mechanical law in quite different ways. What's more, they will not admit of being extended to treat thermodynamical questions in the same way. Thus we will find that supervenience is a contingent matter, in the following rather surprising and philosophically interesting way: we cannot in mechanics separate our decisions to conceive of physical law in certain ways from our decisions to treat macroscopic quantities in certain ways. (shrink)
The goal of the essay is to articulate some beginnings for an empirical approach to the study of agency, in the firm conviction that agency is subject to scientific scrutiny, and is not to be abandoned to high-brow aprioristic philosophy. Drawing on insights from decision analysis, game theory, general dynamics, physics and engineering, this essay will examine the diversity of planning phenomena, and in that way take some steps towards assembling rudiments for the budding science, in the process innovating (parts (...) of) a technical vocabulary. The key is focus upon the organization of effort in time. This paper categorizes forms of organization of effort in time, and yields an analysis of both individual agency and coalitions of agents as forms of effort organized in time. Finally, it articulates precise questions pertaining to the natural (evolutionary) history of forms of agency (once upon a time referred to as 'Will') that we now find on the ground. (shrink)
I shall introduce the units 0f decision problem in thc theory of decision, which as I shall explain is 21 sibling t0 thc units 0f selection problem in cvolutionary thcory. And I shall present an argument to thc cffcct that, contrary to Bayesian wisdom on the subject, undertaking decision in group settings (in multi-individual units) violates no precepts of rationality.
The radical probabilist counsels the prudent never to put away uncertainty, and hence always to balance judgment with probabilities of various sizes. Against this counsel I shall advise in favor of the practice of full belief — at least for some occasions. This advice rests on the fact that it is sometimes in a person's interests to accept certain propositions as a means of bringing it about that others recognize oneself as having accepted those propositions. With the pragmatists, therefore, I (...) shall reject the view that belief formation must in every instance be a truth-directed affair. Unlike the pragmatists, however, I shall conclude that the enterprise of belief formation is not directed exclusively, or even primarily, at attaining knowledge. In other words, pursuit of that which it profits to believe, on the one hand, and pursuit of knowledge on the other, are distinct enterprises, which overlap (when they do) only accidentally. (shrink)
The twin conceptions of (1) natural law as causal structure and (2) explanation as passage from phenomenon to cause, are two sides of a certain philosophical coin, to which I shall offer an alternative – Humean – currency. The Humean alternative yokes together a version of the regularity conception of law and a conception of explanation as passage from one regularity, to another which has it as an instance but of which it is not itself an instance. I will show (...) that the regularity conception of law is the basis of a distinguished branch of physical mechanics; thus the Humean conception of law, like its better-loved rival, enjoys the support of a venerated tradition in mechanical theory – in fact, that strand which culminates in quantum theory. I shall also offer an account of explanatory asymmetry, a natural companion to the Humean conception of explanation as passage from one regularity to another of greater scope, as an alternative to van Fraassen's unsatisfactory account. My account of asymmetry is just as free of reliance on context as it is free of reliance on cause. I shall thus proclaim that explanatory asymmetry is at once a reality deserving of philosophical treatment – one not to be given over to the care of psychology or linguistics – and at the same time susceptible of an account worthy of Hume. (shrink)
This essay identifies foundational questions, all metaphysical in character, which must be answered before the enterprise of epistemology proper can begin to prosper, and in the process draws attention to fundamental conflicts between the demands of epistemology and the demands of prudence. It concludes that knowledge is not, as such, a directive of prudence, and thus that the enterprise of knowledge does not fall under the category of what is practically required.