Even if somebody considers inappropriate any geographic adjective for Bioethics, nevertheless we think that there are some specific features of “Mediterranean” Bioethics that could distinguish it from a “Northern-European and Northern-American” one. First of all we must consider that medical ethics was born and grew in Mediterranean area. First by the thought of great Greek philosophers as Aristotle (that analyse what ethics is), then by Hippocrates, the “father” of medical ethics. The ethical pattern of Aristotle was based on “virtues” and (...) their practice. In this perspective we can already note a strong difference with actual North-European or American principialist ethics. But a second consideration concerns the role that great Mediterranean religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) had in the construction of the ethical thought especially on the matter of life and its respect. So, in our pluralistic and multicultural society is absolutely necessary to rescue an approach that considers both “lungs” of ethical thought (Mediterranean and Northern one) and highlights the role that Mediterranean Ethics still has in this way. (shrink)
Tourism industry is increasingly stripping traveling of one of its most fundamental anthropological and existential values: its being a laboratory in which travelerscan temporarily experience the disruption of their regime of sedentary belonging, protected by a plan of return. According to this perspective, non-touristy travelingis one of the best ways to test the limits of one’s tolerance to cultural diversity and acknowledge, as a consequence, the identity of one’s cultural and existential‘home.’ Yet, modern and contemporary travelogues mostly extol the traveler’s (...) heroic capacity to overcome the limits of tolerance. Claiming that such emphasis stems from the colonial desire to domesticate and assimilate the world and its diversity, the article proposes to subvert this logic and to replace panoramic travelogues, dominated by the will power of subjects, with prosopopoeic travelogues, that tell the stories of how the things of the world, relics of centuries of civilization, reject travelers and their desire of domestication and conquest. As an example of this subversion, the article proposes a semiotic exploration of toilets, their variety, and their ‘cultural resistance.’. (shrink)
Against any obscurantist stand, denying the interest of natural sciences for the comprehension of human meaning and language, but also against any reductionist hypothesis, frustrating the specificity of the semiotic point of view on nature, the paper argues that the deepest dynamic at the basis of meaning consists in its being a mechanism of ‘potentiality navigation’ within a universe generally characterized by motility. On the one hand, such a hypothesis widens the sphere of meaning to all beings somehow endowed with (...) the capacity of moving and/or perceiving movement. On the other hand, through a new evolutionist interpretation of the concept of generativity, such a hypothesis preserves the peculiarity of human meaning, meant as essentially founded on a certain intuition of infinity. Two corollaries stem from this hypothesis: first, religiosity can be considered as a matrix of grammars of infinity, aiming at regimenting its flight of potentialities. Second, non-genetic transmission of cultural information exerts determinant influence also at the level of that very deep mechanism of the human predicament that is the cognitive navigation of motor potentialities. A re-reading of the structuralist epistemology, scientific literature on the nervous cells of jellyfish, and some recent experiments on the mirror neurons of dancers, as well as certain intuitions of Teilhard de Chardin, are the main arguments of the paper. (shrink)
During a decision making process, the body changes. These somatic changes have been related to specific cognitive events and also have been postulated to assist decision making indexing possible outcomes of different options. We used chess to analyze heart rate (HR) modulations on specific cognitive events. In a chess game, players have a limited time-budget to make about 40 moves (decisions) that can be objectively evaluated and retrospectively assigned to specific subjectively perceived events, such as setting a goal and the (...) process to reach a known goal. We show that HR signals events: it predicts the conception of a plan, the concrete analysis of variations or the likelihood to blunder by fluctuations before to the move, and it reflects reactions, such as a blunder made by the opponent, by fluctuations subsequent to the move. Our data demonstrate that even if HR constitutes a relatively broad marker integrating a myriad of physiological variables, its dynamic is rich enough to reveal relevant episodes of inner thought. (shrink)
Religious conversion revolutions the boundaries which delimit personal identity. Therefore, the main semiotic problem of mental and cultural representations of this religious phenomenon is to convey simultaneously a feeling of sameness and otherness, identity and change. In the present paper, mirrors are analysed as cultural mechanisms which enable representations to accomplish this paradoxical task. After a brief survey concerning literature on mirrors, some early-modern religious texts using these optical instruments as representative devices are analysed in-depth: a painting of the Magdalene’s (...) conversion by Artemisia Gentileschi, an engraving representing conversion from a 17th-century French book, a fragment from Sainte Theresa’s spiritual autobiography, a passage from John Calvin’s Institution de la religion chrétienne. In its conclusion, the paper underlines the importance of Saint Paul’s metaphoric conception of mirrors for the cultural history of these objects, and tries to define the role which cultural semiotics should play concerning this kind of representative mechanisms. (shrink)
A vast literature exists on the concept of “linguistic ideology.” Scholars generally agree on defining it as a set of ideas that the members of a community hold about the role of language in the community. Nevertheless, scholars generally disagree on whether these ideas are explicit or implicit. Different views on this point imply different methodologies: the analysis of explicit considerations on language in the first case, that of a more multifarious material in the second one. However, excluding implicit ideas (...) from the analysis is too restrictive. A better option is to distinguish between explicit beliefs and implicit assumptions. Whereas the first ones must be studied through socio- or ethno-logical methods, the second ones must be studied through semiotics: the discourses that are produced in a community are considered as signs of implicit assumptions that such community holds about language. The paper deals with a case-study: the semiotic ideology behind denegation in the contemporary Italian political discourse. (shrink)
Against the assumption that legal and normative systems are coextensive with geopolitical units and national spaces, the article advocates for the need to study how different legal and normative semiospheres, within the same geopolitical unit and national space, often give rise to ‘normolects’ that are transversal to socio-economic classes, ethnicities, and cultural lifestyles. The concept of legal and normative ‘imaginaries’ is useful to come to terms with the legal and normative semiotic ideology of such normolects, including their non-verbal dimension and (...) legal-normative semiotic ideologies. More generally, the article prompts legal scholars, and particularly semioticians of law, not to focus exclusively on inter-cultural awareness in legal-normative language but to concentrate also on intra-cultural awareness. As a case study, the article analyses a drawing through which the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visualized and advertised for a bill of reform of the Italian judicial system by his Minister of Justice, Angelino Alfano. The semiotic analysis of this visual artifact casts new light on the controversial political and judicial figure of Mr Berlusconi. The drawing is read as a visual embodiment of the conflict between two different legal and normative ideologies within the present-day Italian political and judicial arena. The paradoxes that underpin this iconography of law and mar a rational confrontation of legal-normative arguments in contemporary Italy are uncovered. (shrink)
In the twenty-eighth book of the Naturalis Historia Pliny the Elder claims that, if a chameleon’s left leg is roasted together with a herb bearing the same name, and everything is mixed with ointment, cut in lozenges, and stored in a wooden little box, this will bestow on those who own it a perfect camouflage. The ring of Gyges (Plato, etc.), that of Midas (Pliny), the heliotropium (Pliny), the dracontitis (Philostratus): ancient cultures abound with references to objects, recipes, and techniques (...) able to bestow different kinds of invisibility, meant as a perfect resemblance with the environment. At the same time, these same cultures also teem with references to how to avert the perfect camouflage: for instance, by being endowed with a pupula duplex, a double pupil (Ovid).The paper explores such vast corpus of texts from the point of view of a semiotics of cultures, in order to track the roots of a conception of camouflage that, from these ancient cultures on, develops through intricate paths into the contemporary imaginaires (and practices) of invisibility.The paper’s more general goal is to understand the way in which cultures elaborate conceptions of invisibility meant as the perfect resemblance between humans and their environments, often on the basis of the observation of the same resemblance between other living beings and their habitat. Ancient texts aretherefore focused on in order to decipher the passage from camouflage as an adaptive natural behaviour to camouflage as an effective combat strategy. (shrink)
The way in which people change and represent their spiritual evolution is often determined by recurrent language structures. Through the analysis of ancient and modern stories and their words and images, this book describes the nature of conversion through explorations of the encounter with the religious message, the discomfort of spiritual uncertainty, the loss of personal and social identity, the anxiety of destabilization, the reconstitution of the self and the discovery of a new language of the soul.
Brazilian women rely on sterilization as the main source of birth control. Sterilization has been one of the causes of the steep decline in fertility in Brazil, at least since the second half of 1970. It is hypothesized that understanding couples’ relationships might be key to explaining this high rate of female sterilizations. Possible reasons for the higher level of fertility among women in unstable unions than among women in stable ones could be the less effective use of contraceptive methods, (...) or that women in unstable unions tend to use less effective or reversible contraceptive methods. In this paper discrete time modelling of the timing of sterilization according to union histories is presented. The analysis uses the calendar data of the 1996 Brazilian DHS. It is shown that women in second or higher order unions have a lower risk of sterilization. This result should be taken into account in the analysis of the determinants of female sterilization in Brazil. (shrink)
The essay seeks to single out, describe, and analyze the main semiotic features that compose the fundamentalist understanding of authoriality. Given a definition of authoriality as the series of semiotic dynamics that induce a reader to posit a genetic relation between an author and a text, the fundamentalist authoriality is characterized as displaying six main traits. First, centrality of the written text: in order to postulate a perfect coincidence between a transcendent intentio auctoris (intention of the author) and an immanent (...) intentio lectoris (intention of the reader), fundamentalist exegetical and juridical hermeneutics must be anchored to a stable message, canonized into a written verbal text or into a corpus of written verbal texts. Second, fundamentalist authoriality rests on the assumption of the immutability and mono-centrism of the religious semiosphere that irradiates from the written text. Third, literalism, infallibility, and non-contradiction are attributed to the relation between the written text, its exegetical hermeneutics, and the pragmatic normative orders to which it gives rise. Fourth, fundamentalist authoriality rules out any potential duplicity of the operations that ‘extract’ meaning from religious texts. Fifth, the assumption of the immutability of the religious text leads to exclusion of any operation that might alter the form of both its expression and content, hence to stigmatization of translation. The sixth feature of fundamentalist authoriality encompasses all the previous ones: in fundamentalism, a religious text is not actually a text anymore, but a mirror, whose passive reflection of the exegete’s mind undermines the semiotic nature of the relation between the reader and the text. (shrink)
Religion can bring about social harmony as well as social conflict. Religious law is a key element in both cases. Scholars can explain how religious law changes according to historical and socio-cultural context. They can also help reengineering prescriptions that cause social conflict. Changes in religious law can be explained according to a chronological rhetoric (certain agents cause certain changes) or according to a logical rhetoric (a change acquires its meaning in opposition to other possible changes). The two approaches are (...) complementary, but the semiotics of religious law predominantly adopts the second one. In both cases, the explanation of how a religious law changes and the reengineering of a religious prescription are related activities. The semiotics of religious law is particularly equipped to propose alternatives for conflicting prescriptions. However, there is a difference between showing that some alternatives exist and advocating which alternatives should be taken. Whilst the latter position is similar to that of semiotic guerrilla warfare, the former rather configures the semiotics of religious law as a therapy. Semiotic guerrilla warfare stresses the need to demystify the discourse of power that subjugates individuals or groups to a certain religious law. Semiotic therapy does not focus on demystification but on reconciliation. The task of the semiotic therapy of religious law is to show that situations of social conflict generated by certain prescriptions can be decreased or eliminated by adopting alternative paths of meaning. The semiotic therapist of religious law can be effective in showing these alternatives only if some pragmatic and semantic preconditions are met: a correct involvement with the sets of religious core values at stake and an articulated analysis of the paths of meaning to which these values give rise. (shrink)
Studies of children with atypical emotional experience demonstrate that childhood exposure to high levels of hostility and threat biases emotion perception. This study investigates emotion processing, in former child soldiers and non-combatant civilians. All participants have experienced prolonged violence exposure during childhood. The study, carried out in Sierra Leone, aimed to examine the effects of exposure to and forced participation in acts of extreme violence on the emotion processing of young adults war survivors. A total of 76 young, male (...) adults (38 former child soldier survivors and 38 civilian survivors) were tested in order to assess participants’ ability to identify four different facial emotion expressions from photographs and movies. Both groups were able to recognize facial expressions of emotion. However, despite their general ability to correctly identify facial emotions, participants showed a significant response bias in their recognition of sadness. Both former soldiers and civilians made more errors in identifying expressions of sadness than in the other three emotions and when mislabeling sadness participants most often described it as anger. Conversely, when making erroneous identifications of other emotions, participants were most likely to label the expressed emotion as sadness. In addition, while for three of the four emotions participants were better able to make a correct identification the greater the intensity of the expression, this pattern was not observed for sadness. During movies presentation the recognition of sadness was significantly worse for soldiers. While both former child soldiers and civilians were found to be able to identify facial emotions, a significant response bias in their attribution of negative emotions was observed. Such bias was particularly pronounced in former child soldiers. These findings point to a pervasive long-lasting effect of childhood exposure to violence on emotion processing in later life. (shrink)
This article presents findings from a qualitative case study of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in rural Sierra Leone. It adds to the sparse literature directly evaluating local experiences of transitional justice mechanisms. It investigates the conceptual foundations of retributive and restorative approaches to postwar justice, and describes the emerging alternative argument demanding attention be paid to economic, cultural, and social rights in such transitional situations. The article describes how justice is defined in Makeni, a town in Northern (...) Sierra Leone, and shows that the TRC’s restorative approach was unable to generate a sense of postwar justice, and was, to many, experienced as a provocation. The conclusions support an alternative distributive conception of justice and show that local conception of rights, experiences of infringement and needs for redress, demand social, cultural, and economic considerations be taken seriously in transitional justice cases. (shrink)
Serious gender-based crimes were committed against women and girls during Sierra Leone’s decade-long armed conflict. This article examines how the Special Court for Sierra Leone has approached these crimes in its first four judgments. The June 20, 2007 trial judgment in the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council case assists international criminal law’s limited understanding of the crime against humanity of forced marriage, but also collapses evidence of that crime into the war crime of outrages upon personal dignity. The February (...) 22, 2008 appeals judgment attempts to correct this misstep. In contrast, the August 2, 2007 trial judgment in the Civil Defence Forces case is virtually silent on crimes committed against women and girls, although the May 28, 2008 appeals judgment attempts to partially redress this silence. This article concludes that the four judgments, considered together, raise the specter that the Special Court could potentially fail to make a significant progressive contribution to gender-sensitive transitional justice. (shrink)
A leading scholar of humanitarian intervention, Brown (2002) refers to British internal politics to satisfy the influential church and other non-conformist libertarian community leaders, and above all ?undermining Britain's competitors, such as Spain and Portugal, who were still reliant on slave labour to power their economies, as the principal motivation for calls to end the slave trade than any genuine humanitarian concerns of racial equality or global justice?. Drawing on an empirical exploration, this article seeks to draw a parallel between (...) this politics of humanitarian intervention which characterised the abolition movement, albeit rarely recognised in the academic literature, and the British intervention to end the almost 11 year civil war in Sierra Leone. The article concludes with a discussion on the implications of this politics of humanitarian intervention in the reconstruction of post-conflict Sierra Leone. (shrink)
The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) and the Extraordinary Chambers for Cambodia (ECC) represent a departure from the model established by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yygoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The SCSL and the ECC have often been referred to as “mixed” or “hybrid” tribunals in which there are significant domestic and international components. The tribunals include a combination of domestic and international judges, utilize domestic and international laws and are (...) administered by a prosecutorial team composed of domestic and international lawyers. Many of these institutional changes have been brought about because of criticisms of the ICTY and the ICTR. The fundamental question of this article is whether these mixed tribunals are a more effective mechanism for providing justice and reconciliation than purely international solutions. This is an important question because both the international community and states are moving in the direction of mixed tribunals. (shrink)
The passing on of information to GPs by genito-urinary doctors is to be encouraged but is not always possible and ultimately the patient's wishes and confidentiality must be respected if sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infection are to be controlled. Infected health-care workers should seek counselling and medical support and clear guidelines from professional organisations which are in existence. However, they will only do so if strict confidentiality is maintained and assurance about future employment can be given.
While the effect of humanitarian intervention on the recurrence and intensity of armed conflict in a crisis zone has received significant scholarly attention, there has been comparatively less work on the negative externalities of introducing peacekeeping forces into conflict regions. This article demonstrates that large foreign forces create one such externality, namely a previously non-existent demand for human trafficking. Using Kosovo, Haiti, and Sierra Leone as case studies, we suggest that the injection of comparatively wealthy soldiers incentivizes the creation (...) of criminal networks by illicit actors. We theorize further that the magnitude of increase in trafficking should be directly proportional to the size of the foreign force, with larger forces producing larger increases. We find that both hypotheses hold with varying levels of confidence across our three case studies. Despite the benevolent intent of peacekeeping missions, the possibility that they may contribute to human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation runs counter to the spirit of such interventions. This is especially problematic given that trafficking rings, once established, may be adapted to provide weapons and narcotics, thereby planting the seed of further destabilization. (shrink)
Trotsky’s contribution to historical materialism has been subject to two broadly defined critical assessments. Detractors have tended to dismiss his interpretation of Marxism as a form of productive force determinism, while admirers have tended to defend his Marxism as a voluntarist negation of the same. In this essay I argue that both of these opinions share an equally caricatured interpretation of Second International Marxism against which Trotsky is compared. By contrast, I argue that Trotsky’s Marxism can best be understood as (...) a powerful application and deepening of the strongest elements of Second International methodology to a novel set of problems. Thus, against Trotsky’s admirers, I locate his Marxism as both emerging out of, in addition to breaking with, Second International Marxism; while, against his critics, I argue that it was precisely the strengths of this earlier interpretation of Marxism that informed Trotsky’s powerful contributions to historical materialism: his concept of combined and uneven development and his discussion of the role of individual agents within the Marxist interpretation of history. (shrink)
Léon Walras (1834-1910), a French-born economist working in Switzerland, was one of the founders of mathematical economics (and of marginal utility theory and equilibrium analysis in particular). He here defends self-ownership and collective ownership of the rent from natural resources.
Leon Chwistek's 1924 paper ?The Theory of Constructive Types? is cited in the list of recent ?contributions to mathematical logic? in the second edition of Principia Mathematica, yet its prefatory criticisms of the no-classes theory have been seldom noticed. This paper presents a transcription of the relevant section of Chwistek's paper, comments on the significance of his arguments, and traces the reception of the paper. It is suggested that while Russell was aware of Chwistek's points, they were not important in (...) leading him to the adoption of extensionality that marks the second edition of PM. Rudolf Carnap seems to have independently rediscovered Chwistek's issue about the scope of class expressions in identity contexts in his Meaning and Necessity in 1947. (shrink)
Some bioethicists have questioned the desirability of a line of biomedical research aimed at extending the length of our lives over what some think to be its natural limit. In particular, Leon Kass has argued that living longer is not such a great advantage, and that mortality is not a burden after all. In this essay, I evaluate his arguments in favour of such a counterintuitive view by elaborating upon some critical remarks advanced by John Harris. Ultimately, I argue that (...) nothing substantial has been said by Kass to undermine the desirability of life-extending technologies. (shrink)
?The Principles of the Pure Type Theory? is a translation of Leon Chwistek's 1922 paper ?Zasady czystej teorii typów?. It summarizes Chwistek's results from a series of studies of the logic of Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica which were published between 1912 and 1924. Chwistek's main argument involves a criticism of the axiom of reducibility. Moreover, ?The Principles of the Pure Type Theory? is a source for Chwistek's views on an issue in Whitehead and Russell's ?no-class theory of classes? involving (...) the notion of ?scope? (shrink)