It is widely believed that such old-fashioned questions have been rendered absurd by the materialism of modern empirical science, but some seemingly 'magical' properties of quantum mechanics have brought them back into serious discussion in some circles. I will examine the possibility of making miracles using well-established principles of quantum mechanics--in particular, the possibility that quantum theory allows for the most desirable 'miracle' of all: immortality.
The theme of the third annual Spring workshop of the HUPO-PSI was proteomics and beyond and its underlying goal was to reach beyond the boundaries of the proteomics community to interact with groups working on the similar issues of developing interchange standards and minimal reporting requirements. Significant developments in many of the HUPO-PSI XML interchange formats, minimal reporting requirements and accompanying controlled vocabularies were reported, with many of these now feeding into the broader efforts of the Functional Genomics Experiment (FuGE) (...) data model and Functional Genomics Ontology (FuGO) ontologies. (shrink)
Extensive interest in business ethics has developed accompanied by an increase in empirical research on the determinants of unethical conduct. In setting forth the theory of reasoned action, Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) maintained that research attention on such variables as personality traits and demographic characteristics is misplaced and, instead, researchers should focus on behavioral intentions and the beliefs that shape those intentions. This study summarizes business ethics research which tests the theory of reasoned action and suggests directions for further research.
The following is my interpretation of the philosophy of Parmenides of Elea , the Greek father of metaphysics. His only work, On Nature , is written in rather obscure verse, and so his thesis can be viewed from a variety of perspectives, of which mine is only one (although a fairly standard one). Parmenides' most important principle, hereafter called "Parmenides' Principle", was that anything rationally conceivable must exist. Nonbeing is not a thing and can neither be thought of nor spoken (...) about in any meaningful or coherent way. Parmenides forbade talking as if there are possible things that nonetheless do not exist. He illustrated this principle by showing us three possible methods of inquiry, of which only one is valid. The following chart summarizes them. (shrink)
The precautionary principle (PP) is fundamentally a claim that acting to avoid and/or mitigate threats of serious harm should be accorded high priority in public policy. Over the last three decades, governments and international bodies have endorsed it in principle, and some of them have incorporated it into some areas of policy practice. Yet, PP is controversial in policy circles, public discussion and scholarly discourse. Here the PP literature is reviewed from the perspective of economics, where the tendency is to (...) see theory and methods for rational decision-making under risk and uncertainty as well-established and risk management tools as well developed, and to view the PP with some circumspection. Following a brief introduction to PP concepts, history, applications, and controversies, I review and critique the standard economic approach to decision-making and risk management (here labeled ordinary risk management, ORM), identifying areas of incompleteness especially in the treatment of disproportionate and asymmetric threats. After reviewing some of the more prominent PP controversies in the scholarly literature, I suggest a conceptual framework for a PP that may withstand the major criticisms levied against the PP and make a unique and valid contribution to a decision and risk management arsenal that includes ORM. The framework relates the nature of the threat, the evidence, and the remedy indicated; and each of these elements is discussed in some detail. The scope of this PP is identified in general terms and distinguished from the quantity restrictions and regulatory safety margins that often serve as practical heuristics when ORM-based policies are implemented. Because the PP is clearly identified as a principle, I discuss the role of principles in policy design and implementation, and conclude with some suggestions as to how this PP could guide policy and management. (shrink)
Using 94 published empirical articles in academic journals as a data base, this paper provides a critical review of the methodology employed in the study of ethical beliefs and behavior of organizational members. The review revealed that full methodological detail was provided in less than one half of the articles. Further, the majority of empirical research articles expressed no concern for the reliability or validity of measures, were characterized by low response rates, used convenience samples, and did not offer a (...) theoretic framework, hypotheses, or a definition of ethics. Several recommendations, including a reviewer rating form addressing methodological decisions and inclusion of methodologists on the review panel, are offered to improve methodological rigor in published ethics research. (shrink)
Businesses that maintain ethical standards have an advantage in the marketplace based on the increasing interest of consumers in products that have a social and ethical component. Fair trade organisations that adopt environmental, social and ethical principles in trading are in a good position to make the most of this growing interest in the market. However, it is unclear whether fair trade organisations are taking full advantage of emerging market opportunities for ethically traded products. This research explores this issue by (...) describing the business strategies of three fair trade organisations that import and sell craft goods into Western countries and evaluates them in the context of this growing market. The research findings indicate that in order to remain in business, fair trade craft organisations have had to adopt better business practices in recent years, improving quality, customer service and product offerings to customers. However, growth appears to be limited, as distribution remains focused on a small, niche market. This paper explores the distribution strategies of two fair trade commodity organisations that are successfully reaching a wider customer base, demonstrating that fair trade products have a unique selling advantage in the mainstream marketplace. In conclusion, fair trade craft organisations are not exploiting this market opportunity to the degree they should and will need to explore wider distribution and alternative business strategies to expand their market share. (shrink)
This study examines the impact of a social desirability response bias as a personality characteristic (self-deception and impression management) and as an item characteristic (perceived desirability of the behavior) on self-reported ethical conduct. Findings from a sample of college students revealed that self-reported ethical conduct is associated with both personality and item characteristics, with perceived desirability of behavior having the greatest influence on self-reported conduct. Implications for research in business ethics are drawn, and suggestions are offered for reducing the effects (...) of a socially desirable response bias. (shrink)
A survey of Kant's views on space, time, geometry and the synthetic nature of mathematics. I concentrate mostly on geometry, but comment briefly on the syntheticity of logic and arithmetic as well. I believe the view of many that Kant's system denied the possibility of non-Euclidean geometries is clearly mistaken, as Kant himself used a non-Euclidean geometry (spherical geometry, used in his day for navigational purposes) in order to explain his idea, which amounts to an anticipation of the later discovery (...) of the general concept of non- Euclidean geometries. Kant's view of geometry and arithmetic as synthetic was, I believe, essentially correct, in that geometry and arithmetic are both synthetic a priori if considered as branches of mathematics independent of the rest of mathematics. However, the view that somehow logic is analytic, while mathematics is synthetic for Kantian reasons, is mistaken. All three disciplinesÂ—logic, arithmetic and geometryÂ—are synthetic as disciplines independent from one another. However, they have a common basis, recursion theory, which I prefer to identify with mathematics as a whole. As a result, I do not say, as is often considered to be the Kantian view, that mathematics is synthetic while logic is analytic. Rather, I prefer to say that mathematics is analytic, while logic is synthetic. This is perfectly consistent with Kant's system, since it was arithmetic and geometry individually that he argued were synthetic. What Kant called the analytic is recursion theory, which could be considered as a basic formulation of mathematics or logicÂ—or better, both mathematics and logic could be recognized as essentially the same discipline. However, if "logic" is taken to mean "predicate logic", as is often the case in modern times, then it is mathematics that is closer to Kant's analytic, not logic. Such ambiguities, of course, can be avoided by simply associating Kant's analytic with recursion theory, and avoiding the controversies as to what counts as mathematics or logic.. (shrink)
Plato's theory of forms is developed and compared to the modern theory of recursion. I show how Plato's theory, as it applies to mathematical objects, is essentially a primitve version of modern recursion theory, which has all the essential elements of the ancient theory. However, Plato himself thought there was more than mathematics to his forms. He believed that form had a noncomposite, unanalyzable component. So, while recursion theory provides an adequate formalization of Plato's theory, it cannot be considered identical (...) to it. I argue--drawing from material in the "Meno," "Phaedo," and "Republic"--that Plato's arguments for noncomposite form are largely fallacious. Plato would, I believe, have taken the computational version developed here seriously, since mathematics was his primary source for clear examples of forms (one could argue that it was his only source short of dipping into mysticism). In fact, there is a long-standing oral tradition that Plato developed a more formal version of his theory in lecture notes for courses he taught at the Academy (the university he founded in Athens). Any such notes, if they existed at all, have been lost. But if such a formal version did exist, it is tantalizing to wonder to what extent Plato may have anticipated modern theoretical computer science and metamathematics. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's philosophies, from both the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations, are explained and developed. Wittgenstein uses a primitive version of recursion theory to develop his attempt at a purely logical metaphysics in the Tractatus. However, due to his implicit materialist assumptions, he could not make the system completely logical, and built in a mystical division of possible worlds into the true and the false. This incoherence eventually lead him to reject logic as a method for doing metaphysics, and indeed to (...) reject metaphysics entirely. I argue that his move from the Tractatus to the Investigations was valid, but only given his materialist assumptions. If he had been willing to drop this unnecessary baggage, recursion would have played a very different role in his system, since he would then have had no need to separate static objects from processes, which he saw as purely mental. F.H. Bradley developed such a nonmaterialist metaphysics in the nineteenth century, but was crippled by a mentalism that Wittgenstein was free of. The anti-mentalism and anti-materialism that Wittgenstein considered as given were not so obvious to his predecessor, Russell, who revolted against Bradley's idealism in much the same way Wittgenstein ended up revolting against Russell's logical atomism. In my view, none of these positions was the right approach, which would require nonmentalism and nonmaterialism. But for some reason, these things (which seem to go together quite naturally to me) have been widely considered to be incompatible. Bradley was appropriately a non-materialist, but suffered from mentalism. Russell and the early Wittgenstein were appropriately nonmentalists, but suffered from materialism. The later Wittgenstein was, I would argue, still an ardent materialist and anti-mentalist, in spite of the fact that he had long since realized the contradictions to which materialism leads; he just had not recognized that it was his materialist assumptions that had lead him there, since these assumptions were so firmly engrained in his thinking as to be invisible.. (shrink)
An overview of Bradley's metaphysics and epistemology, which had much of the basic structure of quantum mechanics, but was all but ignored in the years following the formal quantum theories discovered by Heisenberg and Schrödinger. Bradley's version of absolute idealism was infected with the mentalism that was generally associated with idealism in the late nineteenth century. I develop his ideas from a standpoint somewhat more friendly to modern formal methods, although this is not much of a stretch, as Bradley had (...) already taken absolute idealism strongly in that direction, if not all the way. (shrink)
The present study applied Ajzen's (1985) theory of planned behavior to the explanation of ethical decision making. Nurses in three hospitals were provided with scenarios that depicted inadequate patient care and asked if they would report health professionals responsible for the situation. Study results suggest that the theory of planned behavior can explain a significant amount of variation in the intent to report a colleague. Attitude toward performing the behavior explained a large portion of the variance; subjective norms explained a (...) moderate amount of the variance; and, perceived behavioral control added little to the explanation of variance. Implications for research and practice are discussed. (shrink)
Starting with the Descartes' cogito, "I think, therefore I am"--and taking an uncompromisingly rational, rigorously phenomenological approach--I attempt to derive the basic principles of recursion theory (the backbone of all mathematics and logic), and from that the principles of feedback control theory (the backbone of all biology), leading to the basic ideas of quantum mechanics (the backbone of all physics). What is derived is not the full quantum theory, but a basic framework--derived from a priori principles along with common everyday (...) experience--of how the universe of everyday experience should work if it operates according to rational principles. We find, to our surprise, that the resulting system has all the most puzzling features of quantum physics that make physicists scratch their heads. Far from being "bizarre" and "weird", as is usually thought, the strangest paradoxes of quantum theory turn out to be just what one ought to expect of a rational universe. It is the classical, pre-quantum universe of the nineteenth century that has irrational, mystical components. The quantum-mechanics-like theory that is developed is, furthermore, most compatible with the strictest, most uncompromisingly rationalist of the standard interpretations of quantum mechanics, those which add no ad hoc elements to the theory, and which generally trace their history to the relative state formulation of Everett (also called the "many worlds" interpretation). These interpretations take the universe to be quite literally describable as a quantum wavefunction. As with any project this far-reaching in scope, I confess I have had to make some working assumptions along the way. I have attempted to isolate these, and clearly label them as points of possible future revision--they are marked in the text with an asterisk (*). (shrink)
Those who interpret quantum mechanics literally are forced to follow some variant of Everett's relative state formulation (or "many worlds" interpretation). It is generally assumed that this is a rather bizarre result that many physicists (especially cosmologists) have been forced into because of the evidence. I look at the history of philosophy, however, reveals that rationalism has always flirted with this very idea, from Parmenides to Leibniz to modern times. I will survey some of the philosophical history, and show how (...) the so-called paradox of quantum superposition can be considered a consequence of basic rationalist assumptions such as the principle of sufficient reason and the identity of indiscernibles. (shrink)
While the essays on this web site, taken together, explain most of the essentials of my metaphysical system, some material is not covered, and the different essays take quite different approaches. The essays were mostly written for undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy at the University of Toronto and York University. Thus, each essay is slanted to the issues that were addressed in whatever course it was written for. However, I hope soon to pull all this material together into a (...) cohesive, single work that will explain my system more fully and with more focus, which will serve as my Ph.D. dissertation. In the meantime this brief overview gives the broad picture of what my philosophical system is, and how the various essays on these pages are inter-related. For those who do not wish to read through this entire page, the Quantum Phenomenology essay is probably the one you should read if you only have time to read one, as it is the closest to being comprehensive. (shrink)
It might be conjectured that new models of regional economic development, combined with the emerging understanding of multifunctional agriculture, would suggest a new and perhaps more optimistic perspective on the potential of agriculture as an engine of regional economic growth. My purpose here is begin the process of surveying the relevant literature, unraveling the arguments and gleaning evidence from the published empirical record, and drawing-out some implications that may help focus our deliberations over the next few days.
The many worlds anthropic principle is explored here from the a priori perspective of rationalist metaphysics, within the framework of modal logic. It is shown how the apparent contradictions of quantum superposition can be thought of in terms of different levels of world models. The framework of modal logic is used, but given the rationalist assumption that all possible worlds exist. There is thus no absolute distinction between possibility and necessity. To take the point of view of a conscious being (...) in a world, however, is to adopt some such distinction--something we must do in order to do physics. This paper is intended to lay the groundwork for future attempts to develop theories of what is necessarily true in a world with conscious entities. It also contains some tentative speculations on the difficult issue of death and quantum mechanics. (shrink)
Despite the prevalence of elective business ethics courses, little research has sought to explain and predict why some students enroll in these courses and while others do not. Using the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen and Madden, 1986) as a theoretical foundation, 178 graduate students in Ireland were surveyed about their intention to sign up for an elective ethics class. Their behavior was measured two months later. The results reveal the power of the theory of planned behavior to explain and (...) predict who takes elective ethics classes. (shrink)
Engineering educators have long discussed the need to teach professional responsibility and the social context of engineering without adding to overcrowded curricula. One difficulty we face is the lack of appropriate teaching materials that can fit into existing courses. The PRiME (Professional Responsibility Modules for Engineering) Project (http://www.engr.utexas.edu/ethics/primeModules.cfm) described in this paper was initiated at the University of Texas, Austin to provide web-based modules that could be integrated into any undergraduate engineering class. Using HPL (How People Learn) theory, PRiME developed (...) and piloted four modules during the academic year 2004–2005. This article introduces the modules and the pilot, outlines the assessment process, analyzes the results, and describes how the modules are being revised in light of the initial assessment. In its first year of development and testing, PRiME made significant progress towards meeting its objectives. The PRiME Project can strengthen engineering education by providing faculty with an effective system for engaging students in learning about professional responsibility. (shrink)
Palliative care is a recent branch of health care. The doctors, nurses, and other professionals involved in it took their inspiration from the medieval idea of the hospice, but have now extended their expertise to every area of health care: surgeries, nursing homes, acute wards, and the community. This has happened during a period when patients wish to take more control over their own lives and deaths, resources have become scarce, and technology has created controversial life-prolonging treatments. Palliative care is (...) therefore faced with more ethical problems that other areas of health care. This book, by a clinician, teacher, and writer on health care ethics, has been written to provide all those who care for the terminally ill--doctors, nurses, social workers, clergymen, physiotherapists--with the concepts and principles which will assist them with difficult decisions. It challenges many received doctrines of palliative care, but its well-illustrated central theme is that technical expertise must be controlled by humane, non-technical judgments. (shrink)