Since the origins of the notion of emergence in attempts to recover the content of vitalistic anti-reductionism without its questionable metaphysics, emergence has been treated in terms of logical properties. This approach was doomed to failure, because logical properties are either sui generis or they are constructions from other logical properties. If the former, they do not explain on their own and are inevitably somewhat arbitrary (the problem with the related concept of supervenience, Collier, 1988a), but if the latter, reducibility (...) is assured because logical constructs are reducible, by definition, to their logical components. A satisfactory account of emergence must recognise that it is a dynamical, not a logical property of property of natural systems, and that its basis is dynamical rather than logical composition. Collier (1988a) introduced the concept of cohesion as the closure of the causal relations among the dynamical parts of a dynamical particular that determine its resistance to external and internal fluctuations that might disrupt its integrity. Cohesion is an equivalence relation that partitions a set of dynamical particulars into unified and distinct entities, providing the identity conditions for such particulars. Cohesion blocks reduction of dynamical particulars, and is necessary for dynamical emergence. We will give reasons for thinking that cohesion might be sufficient for emergence as well. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the target article “From Objects to Processes: A Proposal to Rewrite Radical Constructivism” by Siegfried J. Schmidt. Upshot: The subtitle of “An Austrian Contribution” emphasizes a basic distinction between German and Austrian traditions in the philosophy of fields of science. In S. J. Schmidt’s genuinely German way of writing, one can observe a high emphasis on terminology and a specific arena of heavy philosophical problems that have to be solved in a strictly philosophical manner, whereas the (...) Austrian tradition places its importance on scientific progress, especially in the natural sciences, and on the clarifying, mediating, and self-reflecting role of philosophy within the overall context of scientific evolution. (shrink)
Water-related risks threaten society at the local, national and global scales in our inter-connected and rapidly changing world. Most of the world's poor are deeply water insecure and face intolerable water-related risks associated with complex hydrology. Most of the world's wealthy face lower water-related risks and less complex hydrology. This inverse relationship between hydrological complexity and wealth contributes to a divided world. This must be addressed if global water security is to be achieved. Using a risk-based framework provides the potential (...) to link the current policy-oriented discourse on water security to a new and rigorous science-based approach to the description, measurement, analysis and management of water security. To provide the basis for this science-based approach, we propose an encompassing definition rooted in risk science: water security is a tolerable level of water-related risk to society. Water security policy questions need to be framed so that science can marshal interdisciplinary data and evidence to identify solutions. We join a growing group of scientists in asserting a bold vision for science leadership, calling for a new and comprehensive understanding of the planet's water system and society's water needs. (shrink)
In September 2008, 10 years after the untimely death of Pere Alberch (1954–1998), the 20th Altenberg Workshop in Theoretical Biology gathered a group of Pere’s students, col- laborators, and colleagues (Figure 1) to celebrate his contribu- tions to the origins of EvoDevo. Hosted by the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) outside Vienna, the group met for two days of discussion. The meeting was organized in tandem with a congress held in May 2008 at the Cavanilles Institute (...) for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology (ICBiBE) in Valencia, Spain. The talks at the KLI were equal parts: nostalgic remembrance, excitement over new ways of thinking about old problems, and an unrepressed vitriol against the resurgence of reductionist thinking in EvoDevo. Here we highlight some of the key aspects of Pere’s life and work that informed and infused the talks. (shrink)
Purpose: This conceptual-epistemological paper deals with the old problem of inversion of thinking, as typified by traditional metaphysics-ontology. It is proposed that a thorough constructivism -- which views structures of mind, nature, and all, as not derived from (not referring to) any pre-structured given mind-independent reality (zero-derivation, 0-D) -- can go beyond this conceptual impasse; it can also serve as a fall-back position for positive ontologies. Practical implications: The practical result of 0-D is that all structures of experience are understood (...) as tools serving individual and collective subjects. Conclusion: This conceptual correction results in a simplification for the understanding of some conceptual puzzles, such as the mind-brain relation, but also in a considerable increase of responsibility, because entities and agents formerly considered responsible, and outside the mind, are recognized to be extensions of the subjects. (shrink)
What role does non-genetic inheritance play in evolution? In recent work we have independently and collectively argued that the existence and scope of non-genetic inheritance systems, including epigenetic inheritance, niche construction/ecological inheritance, and cultural inheritance—alongside certain other theory revisions—necessitates an extension to the neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis (MS) in the form of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES). However, this argument has been challenged on the grounds that non-genetic inheritance systems are exclusively proximate mechanisms that serve the ultimate function of calibrating organisms (...) to stochastic environments. In this paper we defend our claims, pointing out that critics of the EES (1) conflate non-genetic inheritance with early 20th-century notions of soft inheritance; (2) misunderstand the nature of the EES in relation to the MS; (3) confuse individual phenotypic plasticity with trans-generational non-genetic inheritance; (4) fail to address the extensive theoretical and empirical literature which shows that non-genetic inheritance can generate novel targets for selection, create new genetic equilibria that would not exist in the absence of non-genetic inheritance, and generate phenotypic variation that is independent of genetic variation; (5) artificially limit ultimate explanations for traits to gene-based selection, which is unsatisfactory for phenotypic traits that originate and spread via non-genetic inheritance systems; and (6) fail to provide an explanation for biological organization. We conclude by noting ways in which we feel that an overly gene-centric theory of evolution is hindering progress in biology and other sciences. (shrink)
Purpose: Understanding the place of Ernst von Glasersfeld's Radical Constructivism (RC), and some of its implications, in the development of epistemology. Design: Characterization of two main options for the content of "knowledge" (without and with belief in mind-independent structures), sketch of their history in occidental thought; comparison of their properties concerning subjectivity, objectivity, second-order cybernetics, reliability of mental tools, and the needs and mechanisms for certainty and overall structures. Findings: Awareness that we structure mental working tools can, as RC suggests, (...) replace belief in mind-independent reality, and this change dissolves the conceptual problem of metaphysics-ontology, but also eliminates the certainty expected from it, which raises the possibility of relativism. Working-concepts cannot be deconstructed because they imply no ontological claims. Subject(s) are necessarily included in all knowledge (which does not mean solipsism): because subjective experience encompasses all mental tools, including those of objectivity and mathematics, while in contrast the subject itself cannot become an objective system. Practical reliability of mental tools differs from subjective certainty, which requires an ontological leap of faith to positive beliefs: for specific tools including automata, and for positive holistic structures. However, in agreement with the constructivist view, holistic views can instead have an unstructured center, with reliability = viability, which prevents relativism. In sum, belief in mid-independent reality is needed for certainty if desired; for all other purposes constructivism is more helpful. Implications: The change in view suggested by von Glasersfeld's work is of relevance for a number of fields of study with conceptual problems (such as the mind-brain relation). However, due to their generality, the implications will need evaluation in specific instances. The question of certainty needs attention for practical reasons. (shrink)
In this commentary, the formation of “pre-iconic” visual-prime persistence is described in the context of prime-specific, independent-component activation at prefrontal and posterior EEG-recording sites. Although this activity subserves neural systems that are near identical to those described by Ruchkin and colleagues, we consider priming to be a dynamic process, identified with patterns of coherence and temporal structure of very high precision.
Our paper explores several factors related to the relatively small percentage of women managers in organizations in Japan (especially in comparison to otherindustrialized nations) and examines the strategies of several major corporations that have incorporated diversity management into their corporate social responsibility programs to address problems of gender equity.
Perovskite oxides show a rich variety of electronic phases in bulk. The prospect of combining these phases at the atomic scale has fueled the interest in oxide heterostructures. The existence of interfaces can, however, greatly affect the macroscopic properties of these structures, leading on the one hand to exotic new phases stabilized at the interface or on the other hand to the degradation of bulk-like properties. With recent advances in electron microscopy the composition and bonding at such buried interfaces can (...) now be imaged with atomic resolution. The bonding information is obtained from the near-edge fine-structure of core-level electron energy loss spectra. Here, we discuss the near-edge fine-structure focusing on the O-K and transition metal L 2,3 edges which are of particular importance for the family of perovskite oxides. Spectroscopic imaging of a vanadate/titanate heterostructure demonstrates the capability of the technique to characterize atomic-scale interdiffusion at interfaces. Resolution limits in spectroscopic imaging due to inelastic delocalization effects are discussed. (shrink)
Purpose: To show that the mind--brain relation can be understood from a perspective that keeps the mind at the center. Problem: Since at least the time of Augustine, the puzzle of the mind--brain relation has been how the mind is attached to, or originates from, the body or brain. This is still the prevalent scientific question. It implies assumption of a primary (ontological) subject--object split, and furthermore that subjective experience can be derived from, or even reduced to, a fictitious mind-independently (...) pre-structured reality. This belief in mind-independent reality is closely related to the development and use of language. It in turn means that the mind cannot be real because it cannot be mind-independent and so disappears from discussion, preventing access to the mind--brain question. Solution: The problem requires an epistemology which keeps subjective experience at the center but does not interfere with objective methods. The un-testable proposition of mind-independent structures can be re-formulated as the use of templates for thinking: a method created by humans, a knowable tool, that is, "working" or "as-if" ontology-metaphysics. Truth and reality, including the reality of objective brain activity, then become working tools within ongoing subject-inclusive encompassing experience. Conclusion: The traditional mind--brain puzzle is the result of erroneous premises, and can be replaced by the question: how does working-objective knowledge originate within encompassing experience? This is a novel and contradiction-free approach to studies of the mind--brain relation and related questions. (shrink)
The paper gives a physicist's view on the framework of branching space-time (Belnap, Synthese 92 (1992), 385--434). Branching models are constructed from physical state assignments. The models are then employed to give a formal semantics for the modal operators ``possibly'' and ``necessarily'' and for the counterfactual conditional. The resulting formal language can be used to analyze quantum correlation experiments. As an application sketch, Stapp's premises LOC1 and LOC2 from his purported proof of non-locality (Am. J. Phys. 65 (1997), 300--304) are (...) analyzed. (shrink)