The right to be secure from torture, a right that encompasses moral as well as legal strictures against the practice, is supported by increasingly stringent human rights instruments. In this essay, I have discussed the principal instruments and their place in the anti-torture field considered broadly. The phenomenon of these international instruments foreshadows an ever-widening range of legal initiatives against torture, and is emblematic of the increasing importance attached to respect for human life and human dignity. The diversity of international (...) treaties providing against torture such as, for example, The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), The Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery (1956), The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), and The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973), indicates the interconnectedness of a wide range of human rights issues.The boundaries that have been drawn around the violation constituted by torture are clearer at present than are those bounding many other rights. Rights commonly categorized as of an economic nature - the right to food and to development, for example - are undergoing processes of definition and implementation. One challenge of this paper is to generate procedures presently attached to such specific human rights violations as torture to rights with less clear parameters. In this way, the growing effectiveness of procedures against torture can serve in the long term to strengthen the bases of international human rights law while in the short term helping to expand the armory of procedures for the protection of less clearly-defined, rights. International human rights law offers a practical tool towards eliminating torture from states' instruments for governing and provides a model for the development of procedures in other categories of rights, while bringing universally declared moral aspirations and legal authority into closer alignment. (shrink)
Hereby we provide a list of all semiotic journals currently published in the world, which includes 53 titles. From among these, 42 are printed on paper (among them six international journals on general semiotics, 16 journals specializing in some branch of semiotics, and 20 regional semiotics journals), while 11 appearonly as electronic publications. All in all, these journals publish articles in 16 languages.
The aim of the article is to elaborate ecosemiotics towards practical methodology of analysis. For that, the article first discusses the relation between meaning and context seen as a possibility for an ecological view immanent in semiotics. Then various perspectives in ecosemiotics are analyzed by describing biological and cultural ecosemiotics and critically reading the ecosemiotic works of W. Nöth and K. Kull. Emphasizes is laid on the need to integrate these approaches so that the resulting synthesis would both take into (...) account the semioticity of nature itself as well as allow analyzing the depiction of nature in the written texts. To this end, a model of nature-text is introduced. This relates two parties intertwined by meaningrelations — the written text and the natural environment. In support of theconcept of nature-text, the article discusses the Tartu–Moscow semioticians’ concepts of text, which are regarded as broad enough to accommodate the semiotic activity and environment creation of other animals besides humans. In the final section the concept of nature-text is used to describe nature writing as an appreciation of an alien semiotic sphere and to elucidate the nature writing’s marginality, explaining it with the need to interpret two different types of texts. (shrink)
From a semiotic perspective biological mimicry can be described as a tripartite system with a double structure that consists of ecological relations between species and semiotic relations of sign. In this article the focus is on the mimic who is the individual benefiting from its resemblance to the cues or signals of other species or to the environment. In establishing the mimetic resemblance the question of mimic’s activity becomes crucial, and the activity can range from the fixed bodily patterns to (...) fully dynamic behavioural displays. The mimic’s activity can be targeted at two other participants of the mimicry system—either at the model or at the receiver. The first possibility is quite common in camouflage and there are several possibilities for mimic’s activity to occur: selecting a resting place or habitat based on conformity with the environment, changing body coloration to correspond to the surrounding environment, covering oneself with particles of the soil. In its activity aimed at the model, the mimic develops a strong semiotic connection with its specific perceptual environment or part of it and obtains a representational character. In the second possibility the activity of a mimetic organism is aimed at the receiver who is confused by the resemblance, and between the two participants an active communicative interaction is established. Such type of mimicry can be exemplified by abstract threat displays found in various groups of animals, for instance a toad’s upright posture as a response to the presence of a snake. From the semiotic viewpoint it can be interpreted as the motive of fear in the predator’s Umwelt being entered into the mimic’s subjective world and manifested in its behaviour. The mimetic organism ends up in an ambiguous position, where it needs to pretend to be something other than it is. In the final part of the article it is argued that the mimetic sign is basically a false designator as the mimic’s activity to become a sign is aimed at a specific type of signs. Rather than signifying belonging to its own species or group, a mimetic sign indicates that its carrier belongs to the type of some other species. The tension between the form and behaviour of mimetic organisms arises from the discrepancy between the type of organism that it essentially is and the type of organism that the mimetic sign it carries imposes on it. (shrink)
Approaches to animal communication have for the most part been quite different in semiotics and evolutionary biology. In this context the writings of a leading evolutionary biologist who has also been attracted to semiotics — John Maynard Smith — are an interesting exception and object of study. The present article focuses on the use and adaptation of semiotic terminology in Maynard Smith’s works with reference to general theoretical premises both in semiotics and evolutionary biology. In developing a typology of animal (...) signals, Maynard Smith employs the concepts of icon, index and symbol to denote distinct signal classes.He uses “indices” or “indexes” to express a signal type where the relation between signal properties and meaning is restricted because of physical characteristics. Such approach also points out the issue of the motivatedness of signs, which has had a long history in semiotics. In the final part of the article the usage and content of the concepts of signal form and meaning in Maynard Smith’s writings are analysed. It appears that in evolutionary biology, the “signal” is a vague concept that may denote a variety of things from an animal’s specific physiological status to artificial theoretical constructs. It also becomes evident that in actual usage the concept of signal often includes references to the receiver’s activity and interpretation, which belong rather to the characteristics of sign process. The positive influence of Maynard Smith’s works on semiotics could lie in paying attention to the role of physical necessities in animal communication. Physicalconstraints and relations also seem to have a significant role in semiotic processes although this is not always sufficiently studied or understood in semiotics. (shrink)
Mimicry has been an important topic for biology since the rise of the Darwinian theory of evolution. However. by its very narure mimicry is a sign process and the quest for understanding mimicry in biology has intrinsically always been a semiotic quest. In this paper various theories since Henry W. Bates will be examined to show how the concept of mimicry has been shifted from perceptual resemblance to a particular communicative structure. A concept of mimicry will then be formulated which (...) emphasizes its dynamic properties, and finally, mimicry will be considered in the framework of ecosemiotics. (shrink)
The concept of mimesis is not very often used in the contemporary semiotic dialogue. This article introduces several views on this concept, and on the basis of these, mimesis is comprehended as a phenomenon of communication. By highlighting different semantic dimensions of the concept, mimesis is seen as being composed of phases of communication and as such, it is connected with imitation, representation, iconicity and other semiotic concepts.
Biological mimicry can be considered as having a double-layered structure: there is a layer of ecological relations between species and there is a layer of semiotic relations of the sign. The present article demonstrates the limitations of triadic models and typologies of mimicry, as well as their lack of correspondence to mimicry as it actually occurs in nature. It is argued that more dynamical semiotic tools are needed to describe mimicry in a theoretically coherent way that would at the same (...) time allow comparative approach to various mimicry cases. For this a five-stage model of analysis is proposed, which incorporates classical mimicry theory, Jakob von Uexküll’s Umwelt-theory, as well as semiotic and communication analysis. This research model can be expressed in the form of five questions: 1) What is the formal structure of mimicry system? 2) What are the perceptual and effectual correspondences between the participants of mimicry? 3) What are the characteristics of resemblances? 4) How is the mimicry system regulated in ontogenetic and evolutionary processes? 5) How is the mimicry system related to human cultural processes? As a practical example of this semiotic methodology, brood parasitism between the common cuckoo Cuculus canorus and his frequent host species is examined. (shrink)
In biosemiotics, living beings are not conceived of as the passive result of anonymous selection pressures acted upon through the course of evolution. Rather, organisms are considered active participants that influence, shape and re-shape other organisms, the surrounding environment, and eventually also their own constitutional and functional integrity. The traditional Darwinian division between natural and sexual selection seems insufficient to encompass the richness of these processes, particularly in light of recent knowledge on communicational processes in the realm of life. Here, (...) we introduce the concepts of semiotic selection and semiotic co-option which in part represent a reinterpretation of classical biological terms and, at the same time, keep explanations sensitive to semiosic processes taking place in living nature. We introduce the term ‘semiotic selection’ to emphasize the fact that actions of different semiotic subjects (selectors) will produce qualitatively different selection pressures. Thereafter, ‘semiotic co-option’ explains how semiotic selection may shape appearance in animals through remodelling existing forms and relations. Considering the event of co-option followed by the process of semiotic selection enables us to describe the evolution of semantic organs. (shrink)
In the current debates about zoosemiotics its relations with the neighbouring disciplines are a relevant topic. The present article aims to analyse the complex relations between zoosemiotics and cognitive ethology with special attention to their establishers: Thomas A. Sebeok and Donald R. Griffin. It is argued that zoosemiotics and cognitive ethology have common roots in comparative studies of animal communication in the early 1960s. For supporting this claim Sebeok’s works are analysed, the classical and philosophical periods of his zoosemiotic views (...) are distinguished and the changing relations between zoosemiotics and cognitive ethology are described. The animal language controversy can be interpreted as the explicit point of divergence of the two paradigms, which, however, is a mere symptom of a deeper cleavage. The analysis brings out later critical differences between Sebeok’s and Griffin’s views on animal cognition and language. This disagreement has been the main reason for the critical reception and later neglect of Sebeok’s works in cognitive ethology. Sebeok’s position in this debate remains, however, paradigmatic, i.e. it proceeds from understanding of the contextualisation of semiotic processes that do not allow treating the animal mind as a distinct entity. As a peculiar parallel to Griffin’s metaphor of “animal mind”, Sebeok develops his understanding of “semiotic self” as a layered structure, characterised by an ability to make distinctions, foremost between itself and the surrounding environment. It appears that the history of zoosemiotics has two layers: in addition to the chronological history starting in 1963, when Sebeok proposed a name for the field, zoosemiotics is also philosophically rooted in Peircean semiotics and German biological philosophy. It is argued that the confrontation between zoosemiotics and cognitive ethology is related to different epistemological approaches and at least partly induced by underlying philosophical traditions. (shrink)
We investigate what drives responsible investment of European pension funds. Pension funds are institutional investors who assure the income of part of the population for a long period of time. Increasingly, stakeholders hold pension funds accountable for the non-financial consequences of their investments and many funds have engaged in responsible investing. However, it appears that there is a wide difference between pension funds in this respect. We investigate what determines pension funds’ responsible investments on the basis of a survey of (...) more than 250 pension funds in 15 European countries in 2010. We use multinomial logistic regression and find that especially legal origin of the country, ownership of the pension fund and fund size-related variables are to be associated with pension funds′ responsible investment. For fund size, we establish a curvilinear relationship; especially the smallest and largest pension funds in the sample tend to engage with responsible investing. (shrink)
Viktor Hamburger was a developmental biologist interested in the ontogenesis of the vertebrate nervous system. A student of Hans Spemann at Freiburg in the 1920s, Hamburger picked up a holistic view of the embryo that precluded him from treating it in a reductionist way; at the same time, he was committed to a materialist and analytical approach that eschewed any form of vitalism or metaphysics. This paper explores how Hamburger walked this thin line between mechanistic reductionism and metaphysical vitalism in (...) light of his work on the factors influencing growth of neurons into limb buds, and the discovery of nerve growth factor, work carried out with Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen. (shrink)
Patrizia Lombardo | : Stendhal et Musil sont les deux écrivains par excellence qui se sont interrogés sur le type de connaissance qui vient de la littérature. Avant Musil et comme Musil, Stendhal répond à cette question fondamentale en montrant que le roman offre une connaissance des émotions humaines et de leur lien avec les valeurs. Il s’agit à la fois de valeurs éthiques — les situations morales dans lesquelles se trouvent les personnages — et des valeurs esthétiques et proprement (...) littéraires — le tragique, le comique, le tragi-comique, le sublime, etc. Surtout, le roman n’est pas simple représentation du réel, mais aussi du possible. L’analyse de quelques phrases hypothétiques, conjectures et expériences de pensée dans Le Rouge et le Noir, confirme la thèse que la littérature propose une connaissance du possible à travers le travail de l’imagination. | : Stendhal and Musil are deeply concerned with the question of theknowledge value of literature. Like Musil and before him, Stendhalanswered this question by showing the potential of the novel :this literary form presents human emotions and their connection tovalues. The characters deal with various situations, therefore conveyethical values, while aesthetic values —such as the comic, thetragic, the tragic-comic, the sublime- emerge from the way in whichhuman actions and emotions are represented. All these values arebrought about by the style of Stendhal, which is both form and content,both ethical and aesthetic. The analysis of some hypotheticalsentences, conjectures and thought experiments in The Red and the Blackconfirms the thesis later endorsed by Musil, that literature allows forthe knowledge of the possible, thanks to the exercise of theimagination. (shrink)
Jean-Marie Schaeffer | : La question de la relation entre vérité et littérature se pose autrement selon qu’on aborde la littérature comme une forme d’art ou comme une forme de discours. Il faut aussi distinguer plusieurs régimes de vérité/fausseté, voire plusieurs types de réussite et d’échec littéraires qui ne peuvent peut-être pas tous être analysés en termes de vérité/non-vérité. À partir de là on peut envisager la relation entre valeur de vérité et fonction cognitive. | : Answers to the problem (...) of the relation of literature and truth differ according to whether one takes literature as a form of art or as a form of discourse. One must also distinguish various regimes of truth and falsity and various kinds of literary success or failures which cannot all be analysed in terms of truth and falsity. Once these points are examined on can deal with the relation between truth value and cognitive function. (shrink)