Where are we? -- How did we get here? -- The millennial vision -- Where do we go? -- Psychic energy -- The North American continent -- Governance -- The university -- The corporation -- Religion -- The historical mission of our time.
Several theories of emergence will be distinguished. In particular, these are synchronic, diachronic, and weak versions of emergence. While the weaker theories are compatible with property reductionism, synchronic emergentism and strong versions of diachronic emergentism are not. Synchronice mergentism is of particular interest for the discussion of downward causation. For such a theory, a system's property is taken to be emergent if it is irreducible, i.e., if it is not reductively explainable. Furthermore, we have to distinguish two different types of (...) irreducibility with quite different consequences: If, on the one hand, a system's property is irreducible because of the irreducibility of the system's parts' behavior on which the property supervenes, we seem to have a case of "downward causation". This kind of downward causation does not violate the principle of the causal closure of the physical domain. If, on the other hand, a systemic property is irreducible because it is not exhaustively analyzable in terms of its causal role, downward causation is not implied. Rather, it is dubitable how unanalyzable properties might play any causal role at all. Thus, epiphenomenalism seems to be implied. The failure to keep apart the two kinds of irreducibility has muddled recent debate about the emergence of properties considerably. (shrink)
The concept of emergence is widely used in both the philosophy of mind and in cognitive science. In the philosophy of mind it serves to refer to seemingly irreducible phenomena, in cognitive science it is often used to refer to phenomena not explicitly programmed. There is no unique concept of emergence available that serves both purposes.
We will show that there is a strong form of emergence in cell biology. Beginning with C.D. Broad's classic discussion of emergence, we distinguish two conditions sufficient for emergence. Emergence in biology must be compatible with the thought that all explanations of systemic properties are mechanistic explanations and with their sufficiency. Explanations of systemic properties are always in terms of the properties of the parts within the system. Nonetheless, systemic properties can still be emergent. If the properties of the components (...) within the system cannot be predicted, even in principle, from the behavior of the system's parts within simpler wholes then there also will be systemic properties which cannot be predicted, even in principle, on basis of the behavior of these parts. We show in an explicit case study drawn from molecular cell physiology that biochemical networks display this kind of emergence, even though they deploy only mechanistic explanations. This illustrates emergence and its place in nature. (shrink)
Often, the behavior of animals can be better explained and predicted, it seems, if we ascribe the capacity to have beliefs, intentions, and concepts to them. Whether we really can do so, however, is a debated issue. Particularly, Donald Davidson maintains that there is no basis in fact for ascribing propositional attitudes or concepts to animals. I will consider his and rival views, such as Colin Allen's three-part approach, for determining whether animals possess concepts. To avoid pure theoretical debate, however, (...) I will test these criteria using characteristic examples from ethology that depict a broad range of animal behavior. This will allow us to detect a series of gradations in animals' capacities, in the course of which we can think over what would count for or against an attribution of concepts and propositional attitudes to them in each single case. Self-conceit is our natural hereditary disease. Of all creatures man is the most wretched and fragile, and at once the most supercilious. ... It is by this conceit that man arrogates to himself ... divine properties, that he segregates himself from the mass of other creatures and raises himself above them .. (shrink)
If one formulates Helmholtz's ideas about perception in terms of modern-day theories one arrives at a model of perceptual inference and learning that can explain a remarkable range of neurobiological facts. Using constructs from statistical physics it can be shown that the problems of inferring what cause our sensory inputs and learning causal regularities in the sensorium can be resolved using exactly the same principles. Furthermore, inference and learning can proceed in a biologically plausible fashion. The ensuing scheme rests on (...) Empirical Bayes and hierarchical models of how sensory information is generated. The use of hierarchical models enables the brain to construct prior expectations in a dynamic and context-sensitive fashion. This scheme provides a principled way to understand many aspects of the brain's organisation and responses. In this paper, we suggest that these perceptual processes are just one emergent property of systems that conform to a free-energy principle. The free-energy considered here represents a bound on the surprise inherent in any exchange with the environment, under expectations encoded by its state or configuration. A system can minimise free-energy by changing its configuration to change the way it samples the environment, or to change its expectations. These changes correspond to action and perception, respectively, and lead to an adaptive exchange with the environment that is characteristic of biological systems. This treatment implies that the system's state and structure encode an implicit and probabilistic model of the environment. We will look at models entailed by the brain and how minimisation of free-energy can explain its dynamics and structure. (shrink)
Professional philosophy is overdue for a Pyrrhonian revival. For too long, the skeptic has been either overlooked or regarded as an object of pity (for the feebleness of his arguments) or contempt (for his appearing to thumb his nose at the canons of reason and morality). Even among the most learned and philosophically astute commentators, those who would be best positioned to develop a philosophically sophisticated and compelling interpretation of Pyrrhonism, it has found few defenders, many detractors, and has generally (...) suffered by its having been misunderstood, caricatured, or conflated with contemporary varieties of skepticism. Casey Perin's eloquent little essay is therefore a refreshing contribution to the .. (shrink)
This study investigates factors impacting perceptions of ethical conduct of peers of 293 students in four US universities. Self-reported ethical behavior and recognition of emotions in others (a dimension of emotional intelligence) impacted perception of ethical behavior of peers. None of the other dimensions of emotional intelligence were significant. Age, Race, Sex, GPA, or type of major (business versus nonbusiness) did not impact perception of ethical behavior of peers. Implications of the results of the study for business schools and industry (...) professionals are discussed. (shrink)
Introduction : reading Nietzsche skeptically -- Nietzsche and the Pyrrhonian tradition -- Skepticism in Nietzsche's early work : the case of "on truth and lie" -- The question of Nietzsche's "naturalism" -- Perspectivism and Ephexis in interpretation -- Skepticism and health -- Skepticism as immoralism.
In this paper I will argue that (principled) attempts to ground a priori knowledge in default reasonable beliefs cannot capture certain common intuitions about what is required for a priori knowledge. I will describe hypothetical creatures who derive complex mathematical truths like Fermat’s last theorem via short and intuitively unconvincing arguments. Many philosophers with foundationalist inclinations will feel that these creatures must lack knowledge because they are unable to justify their mathematical assumptions in terms of the kind of basic facts (...) which can be known without further argument. Yet, I will argue that nothing in the current literature lets us draw a principled distinction between what these creatures are doing and paradigmatic cases of good a priori reasoning (assuming that the latter are to be grounded in default reasonable beliefs). I will consider, in turn, appeals to reliability, coherence, conceptual truth and indispensability and argue that none of these can do the job. (shrink)
That there is some connection between politics and human nature is a commonplace, but why and in what way they are conjoined is disputed. Aristotle's practice of comparing humans with other animals, and not conceptually divorcing them, is fruitful. By adopting a similar practice an indirect linkage (rather than Aristotle's direct one) between human nature and politics is identified. The strategy is to locate at least one universal aspect of human nature which is non?political that, nonetheless, carries with it a (...) requirement that universally calls forth a political response. The aspect is reproductive sex and the need to ensure that offspring survive. In humans, the natural fact of paternal uncertainty is dealt with by conventions, but, because of this, these vary (for example, as between matrilineal and patrilineal kinship systems). But what is necessitated amid this variety is a need to establish an authoritative allocation of responsibility for nurture. Politics is the exercise of that authority. However, because of its roots in conventions called forth by human nature, the link is indirect. The conclusion is that contemporary attempts to re?establish a direct link are bound to be inconclusive. (shrink)
Nietzsche's reflection "What I Owe to the Ancients" in Twilight of the Idols has served as the touchstone for innumerable discussions in the scholarship on his work and thought. Not surprisingly, given the devotion to and kinship with the Greek philosophers that Nietzsche expressed throughout his productive career, these discussions have tended to focus on the impact of those philosophers (especially Socrates and Plato) on Nietzsche's intellectual development and especially on his mature views. That focus has not been misplaced, of (...) course; one can hardly overestimate Nietzsche's intellectual debt to philosophers in Greek antiquity. But the authors in this issue have been encouraged especially to explore untreated .. (shrink)
The issue of plagiarism—claiming credit for work that is not one’s own, rightly, continues to cause concern in the academic community. An analysis is presented that shows the effects that may arise from metrics-based assessments of research, when credit for an author’s outputs (chiefly publications) is given to an institution that did not support the research but which subsequently employs the author. The incentives for what is termed here “institutional plagiarism” are demonstrated with reference to the UK Research Assessment Exercise (...) in which submitting units of assessment are shown in some instances to derive around twice the credit for papers produced elsewhere by new recruits, compared to papers produced ‘in-house’. (shrink)
This article is a critical and interpretive examination of moral and ethical issues that have emerged as the Internet and other digital information forms have evolved. It considers individual expectations of privacy for one's cyberspace communications against the greater public good for unencumbered access, by government and other organizations, to information that may be harmful to others. I argue for the need to find a reasonable balance between the individual's "right" not to disclose information that might be self-incriminating, as codified (...) in the Miranda Rules, and the open communication principles advocated by professional journalists that are essential to a democratic society. (shrink)
Introduction No consent for health and medical research is appropriate when the criteria for a waiver of consent are met, yet some ethics committees and data custodians still require informed consent. Methods A single-blind parallel-group randomised controlled trial: 1129 families of children born at a South Australian hospital were sent information explaining data linkage of childhood immunisation and hospital records for vaccine safety surveillance with 4 weeks to opt in or opt out by reply form, telephone or email. A subsequent (...) telephone interview gauged the intent of 1026 parents (91%) in relation to their actions and the sociodemographic differences between participants and non-participants in each arm. Results The participation rate was 21% (n=120/564) in the opt-in arm and 96% (n=540/565) in the opt-out arm (χ2 (1 df) = 567.7, p<0.001). Participants in the opt-in arm were more likely than non-participants to be older, married/de facto, university educated and of higher socioeconomic status. Participants in the opt-out arm were similar to non-participants, except men were more likely to opt out. Substantial proportions did not receive, understand or properly consider study invitations, and opting in or opting out behaviour was often at odds with parents' stated underlying intentions. Conclusions The opt-in approach resulted in low participation and a biased sample that would render any subsequent data linkage unfeasible, while the opt-out approach achieved high participation and a representative sample. The waiver of consent afforded under current privacy regulations for data linkage studies meeting all appropriate criteria should be granted by ethics committees, and supported by data custodians. Trial registration number Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000332022. (shrink)
The emphasis on individual differences in evolutionary theories is important and has not received adequate attention. Strategic Pluralism makes a major contribution by addressing these issues, but like other evolutionary models (e.g., game theory) does not articulate the specific mechanisms underlying strategy selection. Specification of such mechanisms is an essential next step in the development of these models.
It is anthropomorphic to speak of Nature designing adaptations for a specific function, as if with conscious intent. Any effect constitutes an adaptive function if it contributes to survival and to reproduction. Natural selection is blind to what might have been the original function. Mutations arise by purest accident and are selected based on whatever fortuitous effects they might produce.
This manuscript describes a pilot study in ethics education employing a problem-based learning approach to the study of novel, complex, ethically fraught, unavoidably public, and unavoidably divisive policy problems, called “fractious problems,” in bioscience and biotechnology. Diverse graduate and professional students from four US institutions and disciplines spanning science, engineering, humanities, social science, law, and medicine analyzed fractious problems employing “navigational skills” tailored to the distinctive features of these problems. The students presented their results to policymakers, stakeholders, experts, and members (...) of the public. This approach may provide a model for educating future bioscientists and bioengineers so that they can meaningfully contribute to the social understanding and resolution of challenging policy problems generated by their work. (shrink)