The aim of this paper is to analyze time-asymmetric quantum mechanics with respect to the problems of irreversibility and of time's arrow. We begin with arguing that both problems are conceptually different. Then, we show that, contrary to a common opinion, the theory's ability to describe irreversible quantum processes is not a consequence of the semigroup evolution laws expressing the non-time-reversal invariance of the theory. Finally, we argue that time-asymmetric quantum mechanics, either in Prigogine's version or in Bohm's version, (...) does not solve the problem of the arrow of time because it does not supply a substantial and theoretically founded criterion for distinguishing between the two directions of time. (shrink)
There has been growing concern about whether individuals who satisfy neurological criteria for death or who become non-heart-beating organ donors are really dead. This concern has focused on the issue of the potential for recovery that these individuals may still have and whether their conditions are irreversible. In this article I examine the concepts of potentiality and irreversibility that have been invoked in the discussions of the definition of death and non-heart-beating organ donation. I initially focus on the recent (...) challenge by D. Alan Shewmon to accepting any neurological criterion of death. I argue that Shewmon relies on a problematic and unrealistic concept of potentiality, and that a better, more realistic concept of potentiality is consistent with accepting a neurological criterion for death. I then turn to an analysis of how the concept of irreversibility has been used in discussion of non-heart-beating organ donation. Similarly, I argue that some participants in this discussion have invoked a problematic and unrealistic concept of irreversibility. I then propose an alternative, more realistic account of irreversibility that explains how "irreversibility" should be understood in the definition and criteria of death. (shrink)
Irreversibility, it is claimed, is a much broader concept than is entropy increase, as is shown by the occurrence of certain processes which are irreversible without seeming to involve any intrinsic entropy change. These processes include the spreading outwards into space of particles, or of radiation, and they also include certain biological and mental phenomena. For instance, the irreversible and treelike branching which is characteristic of natural evolution is not entropic when it is considered in itself—i.e. in abstraction from (...) accompanying biochemical and physiological activity. What appears to be the common feature of all forms of irreversibility is the fanning out of trajectories, new entities or new states, in the temporal direction towards the future. (shrink)
There has recently been a good deal of controversy about Landauer's Principle, which is often stated as follows: The erasure of one bit of information in a computational device is necessarily accompanied by a generation of kTln2 heat. This is often generalised to the claim that any logically irreversible operation cannot be implemented in a thermodynamically reversible way. John Norton (2005) and Owen Maroney (2005) both argue that Landauer's Principle has not been shown to hold in general, and Maroney offers (...) a method that he claims instantiates the operation Reset in a thermodynamically reversible way. In this paper we defend the qualitative form of Landauer's Principle, and clarify its quantitative consequences (assuming the second law of thermodynamics). We analyse in detail what it means for a physical system to implement a logical transformation L, and we make this precise by defining the notion of an L-machine. Then we show that logical irreversibility of L implies thermodynamic irreversibility of every corresponding L-machine. We do this in two ways. First, by assuming the phenomenological validity of the Kelvin statement of the second law, and second, by using information-theoretic reasoning. We illustrate our results with the example of the logical transformation 'Reset', and thereby recover the quantitative form of Landauer's Principle. (shrink)
The problem of the irreversibility’s origin in thermodynamic processes occupies a distinguished place among many and lasting attempts by researchers to derive irreversibility from molecular-mechanical principles. However, this problem is still open and no universally accepted solution may be given during any course. In this paper, I shall try to show that the examining of Maxwell’s demon thought experiment may provide insight into the difficulties that emerge, looking for this origin because: (i) it is connected with the notion (...) of irreversibility, and (ii) one of its functions is that of the “reversibility objection.” In order to illustrate this point, I study Boltzmann’s approach to the problem of a molecular-mechanical interpretation of irreversibility and I show that an auxiliary assumption (the selected direction of time) is responsible for producing irreversibility. But this result is accordant with the predictions of Maxwell’s demon thought experiment: the assumptions of this kind are not dictated by molecular-mechanical principles but are separate input in the model-systems used. (shrink)
There has recently been a good deal of controversy about Landauer's Principle, which is often stated as follows: The erasure of one bit of information in a computational device is necessarily accompanied by a generation of kT ln 2 heat. This is often generalised to the claim that any logically irreversible operation cannot be implemented in a thermodynamically reversible way. John Norton (2005) and Owen Maroney (2005) both argue that Landauer's Principle has not been shown to hold in general, and (...) Maroney offers a method that he claims instantiates the operation reset in a thermodynamically reversible way. In this paper we defend the qualitative form of Landauer's Principle, and clarify its quantitative consequences (assuming the second law of thermodynamics). We analyse in detail what it means for a physical system to implement a logical transformation L, and we make this precise by defining the notion of an L-machine. Then we show that logical irreversibility of L implies thermodynamic irreversibility of every corresponding L-machine. We do this in two ways. First, by assuming the phenomenological validity of the Kelvin statement of the second law, and second, by using information-theoretic reasoning. We illustrate our results with the example of the logical transformation 'reset', and thereby recover the quantitative form of Landauer's Principle. (shrink)
As soon as 'modernity' was defined as a particular way of con ceiving of time (the so-called 'time of modernity'), the questions of tempo rality came to be situated at the heart of the ongoing debate regarding the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the 'modern age'. This has, in turn, readily led to a no less passionate search for the assessment of modernity's foundations which are thought to rest in its typical sense of experiencing temporality. This polemic instance, however, (...) involves polarized perspectives (from both sides) and the consequent risk, always present in dichotomous approaches, of oversimplifying the concepts at stake and smoothing over the intricacies of their history and meaning. Does there really exist something like a 'time of modernity'? This is the central question that the present article examines. 1 Key Words: evolution modemity philosophy of history timeirreversibility. (shrink)
Two distinct conceptions for the relation between reversible, time-reversal invariant laws of nature and the irreversible behavior of physical systems are outlined. The standard, extrinsic concept of irreversibility is based on the notion of an open system interacting with its environment. An alternative, intrinsic concept of irreversibility does not explicitly refer to any environment at all. Basic aspects of the two concepts are presented and compared with each other. The significance of the terms extrinsic and intrinsic is discussed.
After reviewing recent literature from physics and philosophy, it is concluded that we are still far from having a satisfying explanation of the nature and origins of irreversibility. It is proposed that the most fruitful approach to this problem is to concentrate on conditions needed for a rigorous derivation of the Boltzmann equation.
The concept underlying Prigogine's ideas is the asymmetric "lifetime" he introduces into thermodynamics in addition to the symmetric time parameter. By identifying processes by means of causal chains of genidentical events, we examine the intrinsic order of lifetime adopting Grunbaum's symmetric time order. Further, we define the physical meaning and the actuality of the processes under consideration. We conclude that Prigogine's microscopic temporal irreversibility is tacitly assumed at macroscopic level. Moreover, his "new" complementarity lacks any scientific foundation. Finally, we (...) put forward the fact-like origin of temporal irreversibility referring to classical thermodynamics. (shrink)
I discuss a broad critique of the classical approach to the foundations of statistical mechanics (SM) offered by N. S. Krylov. He claims that the classical approach is in principle incapable of providing the foundations for interpreting the "laws" of statistical physics. Most intriguing are his arguments against adopting a de facto attitude towards the problem of irreversibility. I argue that the best way to understand his critique is as setting the stage for a positive theory which treats SM (...) as a theory in its own right, involving a completely different conception of a system's state. As the orthodox approach treats SM as an extension of the classical or quantum theories (one which deals with large systems), Krylov is advocating a major break with the traditional view of statistical physics. (shrink)
El objetivo del presente trabajo consiste en analizar las diferencias entre los enfoques de Boltzmann y de Gibbs respecto del problema de la irreversibilidad. Dicho análisis nos permitirá poner de manifiesto que, en las discusiones acerca de las condiciones necesarias para la irreversibilidad, no suele advertirse que la diferencia central entre los dos enfoques consiste en la utilización de diferentes conceptos de equilibrio y, por tanto, de irreversibilidad. Finalmente se argumentará que, si bien inicialmente ambos enfoques parecen por completo irreconciliables, (...) existen condiciones físicas definidas bajo las cuales los resultados que proporcionan ambos marcos teóricos se aproximan lo suficiente como para ser considerados igualmente admisibles desde el punto de vista de la práctica de la física. /// The aim of this paper is to analyze the differences between the approaches of Boltzmann and Gibbs with respect to the problem of irreversibility. This analysis will allow us to show that, in the discussion about the necessary conditions for irreversibility, it goes often unnoticed that the main difference between the two approaches is the use of different concepts of equilibrium and, as a consequence, of irreversibility. Finally, we will argue that, although in principie both approaches seem completely irreconcilable, there are definite physical conditions under which the results provided by both theoretical frameworks are similar enough to be considered equally admissible for all practical purposes. (shrink)
Some of the most imaginative analyses in contemporary science have been fostered by the paradox of irreversibility. Rendered as a question the paradox reads: How can the anisotropic macrophysical behavior of a system of molecules be reconciled with the underlying reversible molecular model? Attempts to resolve and dissolve the paradox have appealed to large numbers of particles, jammed correlations, unseen perturbations, hidden variables or constraints, uncertainty principles, averaging procedures (e.g., coarse graining and time smoothing), stochastic flaws, cosmological origins, etc. (...) While acknowledging these efforts as important articulations of basic ideas of statistical mechanics, we question their relevance to irreversibility as it occurs in nature. It seems to us that once the emergence of the phenomenon of equilibrium is understood in terms of molecular dynamics, the macroscopic appearance of irreversibility can also be understood in terms of the frequency of forced withdrawals from young equilibria. We believe that the paradox of irreversibility can be resolved in a simple, logically clear, and aesthetically pleasing manner. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to analyze the concepts of time-reversal invariance and irreversibility in the so-called 'time-asymmetric quantum mechanics'. We begin with pointing out the difference between these two concepts. On this basis, we show that irreversibility is not as tightly linked to the semigroup evolution laws of the theory -which lead to its non time-reversal invariance- as usually suggested. In turn, we argue that the irreversible evolutions described by the theory are coarse-grained processes.
This paper examines the justifications for using infinite systems to 'recover' thermodynamic properties, such as phase transitions (PT), critical phenomena (CP), and irreversibility, from the micro-structure of matter in bulk. Section 2 is a summary of such rigorous methods as in taking the thermodynamic limit (TL) to recover PT and in using renormalization (semi-) group approach (RG) to explain the universality of critical exponents. Section 3 examines various possible justifications for taking TL on physically finite systems. Section 4 discusses (...) the legitimacy of applying TL to the problem of irreversibility and assesses the repercussions for its legitimacy on its home turf. (shrink)
Professor Cole is correct in his conclusion that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) protocol does not violate requirements of "irreversibility" in criteria of death, but wrong about the reasons. "Irreversible" in this context is best understood not as an ontological or epistemic term, but as an ethical one. Understood that way, the patient declared dead under the protocol is "irreversibly" so, even though resuscitation by medical means is still possible. Nonetheless, the protocol revives difficult questions about our (...) concept of death. (shrink)
A functional approach to evolutionary morphology is emphasized in this paper. This perspective differs from the current structuralist trend, which emphasizes the constraining role of developmental paths. In addition, the present approach agrees with the adaptationist paradigm. It is further argued that three types of phenomena are better understood in this light: i.- the existence of evolutionary trends, ii.- the maintenance of certain structural features within a given taxon, and iii.- the irreversibility of evolution.
The irreversibility effect implies that a decision maker who neglects the prospect of receiving more complete information at later stages of a sequential decision problem will in certain cases too easily take an irreversible decision, as he ignores the existence of a positive option value in favour of reversible decisions. This option value represents the decision maker's flexibility to adapt subsequent decisions to the obtained information. In this paper we show that the economic models dealing with irreversibility as (...) used in environmental and capital investment decision making can be extended to emergency response decisions that produce important irreversible effects. In particular, we concentrate on the decision whether or not to evacuate an industrial area threatened by a possible nuclear accident. We show in a simple two-period evacuation decision model that non-optimal conclusions may be drawn when evacuation is regarded as a `now or never decision'. The robustness of these results is verified by means of a sensitivity analysis of the various model parameters. The importance of `options thinking' in this decision context is illustrated in an example. (shrink)
In this paper I examine Albert’s (2000) claim that the low entropy state of the early universe is sufficient to explain irreversible thermodynamic phenomena. In particular, I argue that conditionalising on the initial state of the universe does not have the explanatory power it is presumed to have. I present several arguments to the effect that Albert’s ‘past hypothesis’ alone cannot justify the belief in past non-equilibrium conditions or ground the veracity of records of the past.
Adoption of an 'ethics of reversibility' can seem fashionably enlightened, even democratic, but appears less radical when issues of power are opened up. Adopting the motif of keeping , this paper sets its questioning of an on-going individuation of ethics within the context of an insidious reduction of institutional mores to business parlance. Keeping Derrida's 'philosophy of reversals' in view, the discussion resists the double bind of attempts to make higher-level decisions ever more 'irreversible' on the one hand, while devolving (...) ethical responsibilities for outcomes downwards on the other. In criss-crossing, back and forth, on variations of these themes, the aim of the paper is to contest a division of moral labour in which the more powerful style themselves as 'not for turning', while those dispossessed of authority are left to vacillate within the market agendas of flexibility and transparency. (shrink)
This paper considers the issue of cryopreservation and the definition of death from an Aristotelian-Thomistic perspective. A central conceptual focus throughout this discussion is the purportedly irreversible nature of death and the criteria by which a human body is considered to be informed by a rational soul. It concludes that a cryopreserved corpse fails to have “life potentially in it” sufficient to satisfy Aristotle’s definition of ensoulment. Therefore, if the possibility that such a corpse may be successfully preserved and resuscitated (...) comes to fruition, one would have to conclude that the person’s rational soul, which had separated from its body at death, has literally reanimated its resuscitated body. Obviously, this conclusion has theological implications that go beyond the scope of this discussion if we regard bodily resuscitation in this manner as a form of technologically induced resurrection. Another apparent implication of the paper’s argument is that, in a limited sense, death loses its irreversible nature. (shrink)
This paper deals with the way metaphors carried over from physical or biological systems condition the analysis of economic systems. The metaphors drawn from Newtonian mechanics, or from conservative fields of force, by neoclassical economists are discussed. Alternative metaphors which involve non-homeostasis and time irreversible processes are then outlined. Particular attention is paid to thermodynamics, evolutionary biology, and non-conservative or hysteretic force fields as sources of such metaphors. It is argued that these metaphors provide illumination to aspects of economic systems (...) which are not consistent with the homeostatic, time reversible metaphors conventionally employed in economics. (shrink)
A recent proposal by Norton (2003) to show that a simple Newtonian system can exhibit stochastic acausal behavior by giving rise to spontaneous movements of a mass on the dome of a certain shape is examined. We discuss the physical significance of an often overlooked and yet important Lipschitz condition the violation of which leads to the existence of anomalous nontrivial solutions in this and similar cases. We show that the Lipschitz condition is closely linked with the time reversibility of (...) certain solutions in Newtonian mechanics and the failure to incorporate this condition within Newtonian mechanics may unsurprisingly lead to physically impossible solutions that have no serious metaphysical implications. ‡I thank Steven Savitt of the Philosophy Department at the University of British Columbia for drawing my attention to the Lipschitz condition, and Alexei Cheviakov of the Mathematics Department at the University of British Columbia for useful discussions. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
The dominant scientific and philosophical view of the mind – according to which, put starkly, cognition is computation – is refuted herein, via specification and defense of the following new argument: Computation is reversible; cognition isn't; ergo, cognition isn't computation. After presenting a sustained dialectic arising from this defense, we conclude with a brief preview of the view we would put in place of the cognition-is-computation doctrine.
Owing to intensive development of the theory of self-organization of complex systems called also synergetics, profound changes in our notions of time occur. Whereas at the beginning of the 20th century, natural sciences, by picking up the general spirit of Einstein's theory of relativity, consider a geometrization as an ideal, i.e. try to represent time and force interactions through space and the changes of its properties, nowadays, at the beginning of the 21st century, time turns to be in the focus (...) of attention. It turns to be possible to represent space through time, because synergetics shows that historical and evolutionary stages of development of a complex structure can be found now, in its present spatial configuration. A whole series of paradoxical notions, such as “the influence of the future upon the present”, a “possibility of touching of a rather remote future today”, “availability of the past and the future now, in praesenti”, “irreversibility and elements of reversibility in the course of evolutionary processes in time”, “discrete unites, quanta of time”, appear in synergetics. (shrink)
Prigogine afirma que, en presencia de alta inestabilidad (caos), los estados puntuales y las trayectorias lineales en el espacio de las fases se convierten en una falsa idealización. En el presente trabajo se sostiene que: (i) los argumentos de Prigogine en favor de tal tesis no son concluyentes, y (ii) hay buenas razones para retener la postulacion de estados puntuales y trayectorias lineales, en tanto conceptos teóricos legítimos en mecánica estadística.Prigogine asserts that the existence of radical instability (chaos) makes the (...) postulation of pointlike states and linelike trajectories in phase space a false idealization. In this paper we argue that (i) Prigogine’s arguments for this claim are not conclusive, and (ii) there are good reasons for retain the positing of pointlike states and linelike trajectories as a legitimate theoretical posit in statistical mechanics. (shrink)
The philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty serves both as a ground and a site of departure for Levinas’ thinking. This essay takes up their relationship, with particular regard to the question of whether Merleau-Ponty’s later shift from phenomenology to ontology brings him under Levinas’ critique of ontology as a totalizing philosophy of power that ultimately either denies or negates the radical alterity of the other. Both thinkers are engaged in reconceiving the intersubjective relation, and focus much of their analyses on the (...) problem of Ianguage as the means by which this relation is expressed. However, though similar in scope, they arrive at fundamentally different positions regarding the self-other relationship, while jointly affirming the role paradox plays in the constitution of intersubjectivity. This essay considers not only their differences but their confluences in contributing to this existential question.La philosophie de Maurice Merleau-Ponty sert à la fois de fondement et de point de départ pour la pensée de Lévinas. Le présent article aborde la question de leur relation en cherchant à savoir si le tournant de Merleau-Ponty, qui le mène de la phénoménologie à I’ontologie, place ce dernier sous la critique lévinassienne de I’ontologie comme philosophie totalisante du pouvoir qui, ultimement, nie I’alteriteradicale de l’autre. Les deux penseurs sont engagés dans le projet de reconceptualisation de la relation intersubjective et du langage qui exprime cette relation. Bien que similaires dans leur portée, ils aboutissent à des positions fondamentalement différentes relativement à la question du rapport soi-autre, alors qu’ils reconnaissent tous deux le rôle du paradoxe dans la constitution de I’intersubjectivité. Cet article considère non seulement leurs differences, mais leurs convergences dans la contribution de la question existentielle. (shrink)
The distinction between the "permanent" (will not reverse) and "irreversible" (cannot reverse) cessation of functions is critical to understand the meaning of a determination of death using circulatory–respiratory tests. Physicians determining death test only for the permanent cessation of circulation and respiration because they know that irreversible cessation follows rapidly and inevitably once circulation no longer will restore itself spontaneously and will not be restored medically. Although most statutes of death stipulate irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, the accepted (...) medical standard is their permanent cessation because permanence is a perfect surrogate indicator for irreversibility, and using it permits a more timely declaration. Therefore, patients properly declared dead in donation after circulatory death (DCD) protocols satisfy the requirements of death statutes and do not violate the dead donor rule. The acronym DCD should represent organ "donation after circulatory death" to clarify that the death standard is the permanent cessation of circulation, not heartbeat. Heart donation in DCD does not retroactively negate the donor's death determination because circulation has ceased permanently. (shrink)
We use two logical resources, namely, the notion of recursively defined function and the Benardete-Yablo paradox, together with some inherent features of causality and time, as usually conceived, to derive two results: that no ungrounded causal chain exists and that time has a beginning.
Irreversible generalism, the view that reasons given for the evaluation of art are general and do not admit of exceptions, is defended from the criticisms levelled against it by George Dickie in ‘Reading Sibley’. The authors' view that Frank Sibley adhered to a form of reversible generalism, the view that reasons given for the evaluation of art are general but can sometimes become reasons to disvalue artworks, according to which there a criterion for distinguishing valenced from neutral aesthetic properties, is (...) also defended. (shrink)
In the case of the irreversibly comatose patient, though no personal consciousness remains, some moral duty is owed the remaining biological life. Such an ending to human life, if pathetic, is also both intelligible and meaningful in a biological and evolutionary perspective. By distinguishing between the human subjective life and the spontaneous objective life, we can recognize a naturalistic principle in medical ethics, contrary to a current tendency to defend purely humanistic norms. This principle has applications in clinical care in (...) the definition of death, in the use of life support therapy, in distinguishing ordinary from extraordinary therapy, in evaluating euthanasia, and in the extent of appropriate medical intervention in terminal cases. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Various arguments have been given against positive euthanasia, but little attention has been given to the question of whether these arguments are uniformly effective in all contexts. There appears to be a range of cases, involving non-voluntary killing of irreversibly unconscious patients, in which these arguments do not succeed. Various reasons have been given in support of positive killing in such cases. It can be argued that there is a range of cases for which a policy of allowing positive killing (...) is morally required. However, currently there are legal obstacles to implementing such a policy. (shrink)
It is argued that the main problem with "the problem of the direction of time" is to figure out what the problem is or is supposed to be. Towards this end, an attempt is made to disentangle and to classify some of the many issues which have been discussed under the label of 'the direction of time'. Secondly, some technical apparatus is introduced in the hope of producing a sharper formulation of the issues than they have received in the philosophical (...) literature. Finally, some tentative suggestions about the central issues are offered. In particular, it is suggested that entropy and irreversibility are much less crucial to the central issues than most philosophers would have us believe. This suggestion is not made because of any firm conviction of its correctness but rather because it helps to focus the discussion on some basic but long neglected assumptions which underlie traditional approaches. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to analyse the relation between the second law of thermodynamics and the so-called arrow of time. For this purpose, a number of different aspects in this arrow of time are distinguished, in particular those of time-reversal (non-)invariance and of (ir)reversibility. Next I review versions of the second law in the work of Carnot, Clausius, Kelvin, Planck, Gibbs, Caratheodory and Lieb and Yngvason, and investigate their connection with these aspects of the arrow of time. It (...) is shown that this connection varies a great deal along with these formulations of the second law. According to the famous formulation by Planck, the second law expresses the irreversibility of natural processes. But in many other formulations irreversibility or even time-reversal non-invariance plays no role. I therefore argue for the view that the second law has nothing to do with the arrow of time. (shrink)
A conclusion drawn after a conference devoted (in 1995) to the “arrow of time” was the following: “Indeed, it seems not a very great exaggeration to say that the main problem with “the problem of the direction of time” is to figure out exactly what the problem is supposed to be !” What does that mean? That more than 130 years after the work of Ludwig Boltzmann on the interpretation of irreversibility of physical phenomena, and that one century after (...) Einstein’s formulation of Special Relativity, we are still not sure what we mean when we talk of “time” or “arrow of time”. We shall try to show that one source of this difficulty is our tendency to confuse, at least verbally, time and becoming, i.e. the course of time and the arrow of time, two concepts that the formalisms of modern physics are careful to distinguish. (shrink)
Recognition that biological systems are stabilized far from equilibrium by self-organizing, informed, autocatalytic cycles and structures that dissipate unusable energy and matter has led to recent attempts to reformulate evolutionary theory. We hold that such insights are consistent with the broad development of the Darwinian Tradition and with the concept of natural selection. Biological systems are selected that re not only more efficient than competitors but also enhance the integrity of the web of energetic relations in which they are embedded. (...) But the expansion of the informational phase space, upon which selection acts, is also guaranteed by the properties of open informational-energetic systems. This provides a directionality and irreversibility to evolutionary processes that are not reflected in current theory.For this thermodynamically-based program to progress, we believe that biological information should not be treated in isolation from energy flows, and that the ecological perspective must be given descriptive and explanatory primacy. Levels of the ecological hierarchy are relational parts of ecological systems in which there are stable, informed patterns of energy flow and entropic dissipation. Isomorphies between developmental patterns and ecological succession are revealing because they suggest that much of the encoded metabolic information in biological systems is internalized ecological information. The geneological hierarchy, to the extent that its information content reflects internalized ecological information, can therefore be redescribed as an ecological hierarchy. (shrink)
The study of the physical world had its origins in philosophy, and, two-and-one-half millennia later, the scientific advances of the twentieth century are bringing the two fields closer together again. So argues Lawrence Sklar in this brilliant new text on the philosophy of physics.Aimed at students of both disciplines, Philosophy of Physics is a broad overview of the problems of contemporary philosophy of physics that readers of all levels of sophistication should find accessible and engaging. Professor Sklar’s talent for clarity (...) and accuracy is on display throughout as he guides students through the key problems: the nature of space and time, the problems of probability and irreversibility in statistical mechanics, and, of course, the many notorious problems raised by quantum mechanics.Integrated by the theme of the interconnectedness of philosophy and science, and linked by many references to the history of both disciplines, Philosophy of Physics is always clear, while remaining faithful to the complexity and integrity of the issues. It will take its place as a classic text in a field of fundamental intellectual importance. (shrink)
During a long and distinguished career, Belgian physical chemist Ilya Prigogine (1917–2003) pursued a coherent research program in thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and related scientific areas. The main goal of this effort was establishing the origin of thermodynamic irreversibility (the ‘‘arrow of time’’) as local (residing in the details of the interaction of interest), rather than as global (being solely a consequence of properties of the initial singularity – the ‘‘Big Bang’’). In many publications for general audiences, he stated the (...) opinion that this scientific research had great philosophical importance. Prigogine and his colleagues considered that the most recent stages of this research program have been successful, so that the local origins of the arrow of time are now established. There is no scientific consensus as to whether or not this claim is valid. Similarly, there is no consensus on whether the competing global (initial singularity) explanation has been proven. (shrink)
This essay is a philosophical evaluation of some of the findings of Wald and Penrose in which they claim to have supported an arrow (or the irreversibility) of time in quantum gravity. First, the notion of lawlike irreversibility (or anisotropy) of time is spelled out, then the general situation in quantum mechanics is briefly discussed. Finally, the findings in quantum gravity are evaluated against such a background. My conclusion is that the arrow of time found in quantum gravity (...) is at best de facto (nonlawlike). (shrink)
This contribution reflects on Nicholas Rescher's discussion of “process and persons” in his book Process Metaphysics. Its main purposes are to offer conceptual commentary on some of Rescher's terms, and to suggest some options for process thinking more radical than Rescher's, partly motivated by recent developments in science and philosophy. First, a brief analysis of the relation between process and time is presented, emphasizing irreversibility and temporal holism as crucial for a processual worldview. Second, instability and transiency are introduced (...) as key concepts for a better understanding of notions such as creativity and freedom. Third, the importance of the sociocultural domain is pointed out in addition to psychological and biophysical factors for the constitution of personhood. And fourth, it is argued that such an extension can be endowed with ontological significance in the framework of a non-reductive and non-hierarchical ontological relativity. (shrink)
Ilya Prigogine was not a systematic author: his ideas, covering a wide arch of areas, are dispersed in his many writings. In particular, his philosophical thought has to be reconstructed mainly on the basis of his works in collaboration with Isabelle Stengers: La Nouvelle Alliance ( 1979 ), Order out of Chaos ( 1984 ), and Entre le Temps et l’Éternité ( 1988 ). In this paper I undertake that reconstruction in order to argue that Prigogine’s position, when read in (...) the light of Putnam’s internalist realism, can be characterized as an ontological pluralism. The main aim of this work is to show the striking parallelism between the philosophical views of Prigogine and Stengers and those of Hilary Putnam in Reason , Truth and History ( 1981 ). This task will lead me to critically review Prigogine’s general scientific program: the attempt to establish the foundations of objective irreversibility. (shrink)
A remarkable thesis prevails in the physics of information, saying that the logical properties of operations that are carried out by computers determine their physical properties. More specifically, it says that logically irreversible operations are dissipative by klog2 per bit of lost information. (A function is logically irreversible if its input cannot be recovered from its output. An operation is dissipative if it turns useful forms of energy into useless ones, such as heat energy.) This is Landauer's dissipation thesis, hereafter (...) LDT. LDT underlies and motivates numerous researches in physics and computer science. Nevertheless, this paper shows that is it plainly wrong. This conclusion is based on a detailed study of LDT in terms of the various notions of entropy used in main stream statistical mechanics. It is supported by a counter example for LDT. Further support is found in an analysis of the phase space representation on which LDT relies. This analysis emphasises the constraints placed on the choice of probability distribution by the fact that it has to be the basis for calculating phase averages corresponding to thermodynamic properties of individual systems. An alternative representation is offered, in which logical irreversibility has nothing to do with dissipation. The strong connection between logic and physics, that LDT implies, is thereby broken off. (shrink)
Gold & Stoljar are right in their thesis but incomplete in not pointing out that there are many other arguments from cognate sciences suggesting that a radical eliminativist neuroreductionism is unlikely to be achieved. The radical neuron doctrine they criticize is only a hoped for dogma that cannot be verified, whereas a constrained monistic materialism (with only partial reductionism) is subject to immediate test by applying such criteria as combinatorial complexity and thermodynamic irreversibility.
The homogeneity of time (i.e. the fact that there are no privileged moments) underlies a fundamental symmetry relating to the energy conservation law. On the other hand the obvious asymmetry between past and future, expressed by the metaphor of the arrow of time or flow of time accounts for the irreversibility of what happens. One takes this for granted but the conceptual tension it creates against the background of time''s presumed homogeneity calls for an explanation of temporal becoming. Here, (...) it is approached with the help of a claim to the effect that the instant (moment) itself has a structure isomorphic to that of time as a whole. Then the asymmetry of past and future in regard to temporal becoming is associated with the internal structure of the very moment, and not with external relations between different moments of time. In this paper ideas of ancient atomism and contemporary dialectics are brought together. It is for the sake of a contrast to what is known as logical atomism that I choose to call this view dialectical atomism. The latter admits dialectical contradictions and, so far as the logical status of contradictions is concerned, bears reference to paraconsistent logics. In the paper there is an outline of a method of converting any consistent axiomatic formal system into a paraconsistent theory. (shrink)
All the attempts to find the justification of the privileged evolution of phenomena exclusively in the external world need to refer to the inescapable fact that we are living in such an asymmetric universe. This leads us to look for the origin of the “arrow of time” in the relationship between the subject and the world. The anthropic argument shows that the arrow of time is the condition of the possibility of emergence and maintenance of life in the universe. Moreover, (...) according to Bohr’s, Poincaré’s and Watanabe’s analysis, this agreement between the earlier-later direction of entropy increase and the past-future direction of life is the very condition of the possibility for meaningful action, representation and creation. Beyond this relationship of logical necessity between the meaning process and the arrow of time the question of their possible physical connection is explored. To answer affirmatively to this question, the meaning process is modelled as an evolving tree-like structure, called “Semantic Time”, where thermodynamic irreversibility can be shown. (shrink)
This paper considers the problem of causal explanation in classical and statistical thermodynamics. It is argued that the irreversibility of macroscopic processes is explained in both formulations of thermodynamics in a teleological way that appeals to entropic or probabilistic consequences rather than to efficient-causal, antecedental conditions. This explanatory structure of thermodynamics is not taken to imply a teleological orientation to macroscopic processes themselves, but to reflect simply the epistemological limitations of this science, wherein consequences of heat-work asymmetries are either (...) macroscopically measurable (entropy) or calculable (probabilities), while efficient-causal relationships are obscure or indeterminable. (shrink)
This paper argues against a standard view that all deterministic and conservative classical mechanical systems are time-reversible, by asking how the temporal evolution of a system modulates parametric imprecision (either ontological or epistemic). It notes that well-behaved systems (e.g. inertial motion) can possess a dynamics which is unstable enough to fail at reversing uncertainties—even though exact values are reliably reversed. A limited (but significant) source of irreversibility is thus displayed in classical mechanics, closely analogous the lack of predictability revealed (...) by unstable chaotic systems. (shrink)
Nonclarity around the understandingof the concept of chaos has caused someconfusion in the contemporary natural science.For instance, not making a clear distinctionbetween the deterministic and quantum chaos hasmade it impossible to evaluate the approach ofIlya Prigogine in an appropriate way. It isshown that Jean Bricmont has missed the targetin his critique of I. Prigogine's ideas, as thelatter has concentrated his interest on systemsconsisting of infinite (arbitrarily large)number of particles in incessant mutualimpact, the former on systems that have afinite (not necessarily (...) large, althoughsometimes very large) number of particles,which move freely of any mutual impact orparticipate only in transient interaction. Thedifference may sometimes be quite crucial. Itis also suggested that if we consider theirreversibility as the basic element ofdescription of physical world, the world oftrajectories and wave functions cannot beresearched apart from this real irreversibility. (shrink)
The current definition of death used for donation after cardiac death relies on a determination of the irreversible cessation of the cardiac function. Although this criterion can be compatible with transplantation of most organs, it is not compatible with heart transplantation since heart transplants by definition involve the resuscitation of the supposedly "irreversibly" stopped heart. Subsequently, the definition of "irreversible" has been altered so as to permit heart transplantation in some circumstances, but this is unsatisfactory. There are three available strategies (...) for solving this "irreversibility problem": altering the definition of death so as to rely on circulatory irreversibility, rather than cardiac; defining death strictly on the basis of brain death (either whole-brain or more pragmatically some higher brain criteria); or redefining death in traditional terms and simultaneously legalizing some limited instances of medical killing to procure viable hearts. The first two strategies are the most ethically justifiable and practical. (shrink)
Arno Bohm and Ilya Prigogine's Brussels-Austin Group have been working on the quantum mechanical arrow of time and irreversibility in rigged Hilbert space quantum mechanics. A crucial notion in Bohm's approach is the so-called preparation/registration arrow. An analysis of this arrow and its role in Bohm's theory of scattering is given. Similarly, the Brussels-Austin Group uses an excitation/de-excitation arrow for ordering events, which is also analyzed. The relationship between the two approaches is discussed focusing on their semi-group operators and (...) time arrows. Finally a possible realist interpretation of the rigged Hilbert space formulation of quantum mechanics is considered. (shrink)
Consider a gas that is adiabatically isolated from its environment and conﬁned to the left half of a container. Then remove the wall separating the two parts. The gas will immediately start spreading and soon be evenly distributed over the entire available space. The gas has approached equilibrium. Thermodynamics (TD) characterizes this process in terms of an increase of thermodynamic entropy, which attains its maximum value at equilibrium. The second law of thermodynamics captures the irreversibility of this process by (...) positing that in an isolated system such as the gas entropy cannot decrease. The aim of statistical mechanics (SM) is to explain the behavior of the gas and, in particular, its conformity with the second law in terms of the dynamical laws governing the individual molecules of which the gas is made up. In what follows these laws are assumed to be the ones of Hamiltonian classical mechanics. We should not, however, ask for an explanation of the second law literally construed. This law is a universal law and as such cannot be explained by a statistical theory. But this is not a problem because we.. (shrink)
This essay looks at the relationship between formative aesthetics, language and the historical anticipation that begins with Antonio Gramsci's discussion of Kant's idea of noumenon. In Gramsci both education (as formazione) and aesthetics stem from a concern for power in terms of the hegemonic relations that are inherent to history as a political horizon. The title cites Gramci's suggestion that Kant's noumenon should be read as a proviso set apart by a ‘relative ignorance’ of reality [‘relativa ignoranza’ della realtà] to (...) be resolved by a future science. Yet far from another epistemological layering, a future science must also resolve those hegemonic relations of power that emerge from formation as a political act figured in the agonistic character of language as lingua and linguaggio. Further down the lane of our ‘relative ignorance’ we are confronted by a Post-Taylorist condition that precludes any false hopes of a reversal of society's educational, economic and political misfortunes. Yet, while Post-Taylorism confirms that this state of affairs is irreversible, a deeper inquiry into the aesthetic-agonistic character of formation could afford us answers that are in no way solutions but, because adept to struggle and are characteristically aesthetical, might provide an understanding of the logic of irreversibility. Because it remains conscious of its ‘relative ignorance’, this assumption offers a hopeful approach that comes to us sideways; thereby avoiding the predicament of what Lyotard and Thébaud regarded as a condition where ‘the prescriptive is derived from the descriptive’. (shrink)
This paper examines the problem of founding irreversibility on reversible equations of motion from the point of view of the Brussels school's recent developments in the foundations of quantum statistical mechanics. A detailed critique of both their 'subdynamics' and 'transformation' theory is given. It is argued that the subdynamics approach involves a generalized form of 'coarse-graining' description, whereas, transformation theory cannot lead to truly irreversible processes pointing to a preferred direction of time. It is concluded that the Brussels school's (...) conception of microscopic temporal irreversibility, as such, is tacitly assumed at the macroscopic level. Finally a logical argument is provided which shows, independently of the mathematical formalism of the theory concerned, that statistical reasoning alone is not sufficient to explain the arrow of time. (shrink)
To the Editor: Before using brain criteria, pronouncing death in humans was based on irreversible loss of something vaguely thought of as respiration or circulation or cardiac function. We have always known the loss had to be irreversible. We have also long known that "irreversible" was ambiguous. In his article ("Are DCD Donors Dead?" May-June 2010), Don Marquis captures this ambiguity when he contrasts irreversibility and permanence. Defenders of cardiocirculatory criteria have known that, in some cases, these functions physiologically (...) could be reversed, but won't be because advance directives or surrogate refusal would make intervention illegal and immoral. When intervening is illegal and immoral, we claim the .. (shrink)
The Confucian idea of “ ming 命 (destiny)” holds that in the course and culmination of human life, there exists some objective certainty that is both transcendent and beyond human control. This is a concept of ultimate concern at the transcendental theoretical level in Confucianism. During its historical development, Confucianism has constantly offered humanist interpretations of the idea of “destiny”, thinking that the transcendence of “destiny” lies inherently within the qi endowment and virtues of human beings, that the certainty of (...) “destiny” is in essence contingency at the beginning of life and linear irreversibility towards its end, and that to live in light of ethics and physical rules — having a “commitment to human affairs” — means putting “destiny” into practice. As all these facts show, the Confucian ultimate concern regarding human life is full of rational awareness. (shrink)
No memory can follow the traces of the past. It is an immemorial past—and this also is perhaps eternity, whose signifyingness obstinately throws one back to the past. Eternity is the very irreversibility of time, the source and refuge of the past. (Levinas, “Meaning and Sense,” 30)Keeping the senses alert means being attentive in flesh and in spirit. (Irigaray, Ethics of Sexual Difference, 148).
The analysis of the nexus between the value of information and risk is examined for sequential decisions with different degrees of future commitment, as e.g. environmental decisions. We find that in the linear case a riskier environment in general will increase the value of information. This result will be extended in the separable case to decreasing and increasing stochastic returns to scale. An example shows the ambiguity in the general case.
Many believe that the ethical problems of donation after cardiocirculatory death (DCD) have been "worked out" and that it is unclear why DCD should be resisted. In this paper we will argue that DCD donors may not yet be dead, and therefore that organ donation during DCD may violate the dead donor rule. We first present a description of the process of DCD and the standard ethical rationale for the practice. We then present our concerns with DCD, including the following: (...)irreversibility of absent circulation has not occurred and the many attempts to claim it has have all failed; conflicts of interest at all steps in the DCD process, including the decision to withdraw life support before DCD, are simply unavoidable; potentially harmful premortem interventions to preserve organ utility are not justifiable, even with the help of the principle of double effect; claims that DCD conforms with the intent of the law and current accepted medical standards are misleading and inaccurate; and consensus statements by respected medical groups do not change these arguments due to their low quality including being plagued by conflict of interest. Moreover, some arguments in favor of DCD, while likely true, are "straw-man arguments," such as the great benefit of organ donation. The truth is that honesty and trustworthiness require that we face these problems instead of avoiding them. We believe that DCD is not ethically allowable because it abandons the dead donor rule, has unavoidable conflicts of interests, and implements premortem interventions which can hasten death. These important points have not been, but need to be fully disclosed to the public and incorporated into fully informed consent. These are tall orders, and require open public debate. Until this debate occurs, we call for a moratorium on the practice of DCD. (shrink)
We examine a formal semantics for counterfactual conditionals due to Judea Pearl, which formalizes the interventionist interpretation of counterfactuals central to the interventionist accounts of causation and explanation. We show that a characteristic principle validated by Pearl’s semantics, known as the principle of reversibility, states a kind of irreversibility: counterfactual dependence (in David Lewis’s sense) between two distinct events is irreversible. Moreover, we show that Pearl’s semantics rules out only mutual counterfactual dependence, not cyclic dependence in general. This, we (...) argue, suggests that Pearl’s logic is either too weak or too strong. (shrink)
In her article, Pascale Hess raises the issue of whether her proposed model may be extrapolated and applied to clinical research fields other than stem cell-based interventions in the brain (SCBI-B) (Hess 2012). Broadly summarized, Hess’s model suggests prioritizing efficacy over safety in phase 1 trials involving irreversible interventions in the brain, when clinical criteria meet the appropriate population suffering from “degenerative brain diseases” (Hess 2012). Although there is a need to reconsider the traditional phase 1 model, especially with respect (...) to first-in-human clinical trials involving novel technologies, the question arises as to whether it is appropriate to advocate for a new model that prioritizes efficacy over safety across all phase 1 clinical research trials involving irreversible interventions in the brain. -/- . (shrink)
Hannah Arendt’s work on violence is bedeviled by a series of paradoxes. On the one hand, Arendt is clear in arguing that violence is utterly powerless and yet, on the other hand, she is equally clear in her portrayal of beginnings as necessarily violent. These two positions conflict insofar as Arendt holds beginnings to be the source of all power. Thus power and violence are at once opposed and yet alloyed. This tension is deepened by yet another. For Arendt, action, (...) of which power is composed, would not be possible without the twofold human faculties of promising and forgiveness. Promising undoes the hold of the future on the present by pacifying its unpredictability, while forgiveness loosens the grip of the past by alleviating its irreversibility. The trouble, however, is that Arendt argues that the power of forgiveness stems from its unpredictability, and unpredictability is precisely that which promising is meant to thwart. Taking these two paradoxes together one might say that Arendt, however unwittingly, leaves us promising never to forgive. This article works to flesh these paradoxes out. It also contextualizes Arendt’s paradoxes in terms of the literature that claims democratic political life is beset by tragedy. In the end, I argue that, following Arendt, democracy is ultimately about learning to live with the vivid disquiet of the miracle of paradox. (shrink)
The recent discovery of a phenomenon of craniofacial growth, called craniofacial contraction, throws a new light on the process of hominization. The main interest of this discovery lies in a growth principle combining the different craniofacial units, that is to say, the neurocranium (neural skull), the chondrocranium (basal skull) and the splanchnocranium (visceral archs including the mandible). Until recent years, these different parts were considered as neighbouring element without any morphogenic or morphodynamic connection. But now, we know that the (...) morphogenesis of the base of the skull governs that of the face. This basicranial morphogenesis is the occipital flexion. It generates morphogenic correlations with the face since embryogenesis. The ontogenic pathway of this phenomenon is the craniofacial contraction. It concerns embryonic dynamics connected with the spatial development of the embryonic neural system, the neural tube. These morphodynamics are common to each primate species, but they are differenciated by the amplitude of the embryonic contraction. We ask ourself the question: is hominization of the neurocephalic embryogenesis, that is the craniofacial contraction, plausible over a very long period, with gradual and chaotic evolutionary pathways, or, on the contrary, is the complexity of such an embryonic phenomenon, a limiting factor generating determined and predictible ontogenic thresholds? The study of extant and fossil primate skulls demonstrates that species are organized around 6 levels of embryonic contraction, which, starting from 60 millions years, evolve from the less to the most contracted skull. Among each ontogenic level, living and fossil species develop from the same embryonic system but between both levels, the embryos suddenly are reorganized. Therefore, I have defined an evolutive ontogenic unity, that is the fundamental ontogenesia. The cephalic pole has a fundamental ontogenesis, meaning that, beyond the diversities, we can see the same contraction in many living and extinct species. The ontogenic diversities are the result of the microevolution and are not predictible. In such a perspective, the ontogenic morphodynamics evolve with chaotic trajectories. But, between two embryonic levels, or two fundamental ontogeneses, evolutionary modalities are different. Eventually, from 60 millions years to XXth century, we observe the same phenomenon than during human ontogenesis; hominization of the cephalic pole is a craniofacial contraction. The evolutive pathway is stable, whatever the number of thresholds, the cranial shape changes but the ontogenic trajectory is preserved. This is a macroevolution because the embryonic system is reorganized. The logics of the phenomenon are an increasing dynamization, the human ontogenesis is the more unstable and the longer morphodynamics to stabilize the craniofacial contraction. To conclude, hominization is an iteration of an ontogenic process when embryos reach successive dynamic thresholds. The attractors are neither static, periodic, nor chaotic because the successive ontogenic trajectories are themselves in a stable evolutive trajectory, and the results with increasing contraction, complexified neocortical tissues and cephalocaudal reorganization are predictible. During hominization, irreversibility and innovations do not emerge with chaotic determinism, but with harmonic determinism in association with the correlations established between the embryonic tissues. When the system is destabilized, the embryonic systems do not forget the previous ontogenic pattern, on the contrary, they develop the pattern with new dynamical conditions. This sort of phenomenon is not described in the sciences of complexity. In the present case, we are in front of many millions years and the necessity to propose new concepts such as a new familly of attractors, namely the harmonic attractors. (shrink)
Practical realism is focused on the problem of how science really works. In the case of physics and chemistry, experiment is the centrepiece of scientific practice. The rapid development of contemporary natural science does not leave the experiment unaffected. The classical experiment is normally applied only to systems that can be considered structurally stable, repeatability being the key feature. After the introduction of the theoretical basis of irreversibility by Ilya Prigogine the essence of the experiment changed. The strict requirement (...) of repeatability has to be dropped. It will be discussed, whether the change is big enough for calling it revolutionary. There are means to update the understanding of the experiment by applying the experimental settings. The material experiment will probably be with us forever but its position on the scientific landscape will be shifted. (shrink)
Teilhard has never given up on permanence behind change, whereas Blondel, although interested by permanence, presents a very keen consciousness of irreversibility. Blondel attempts to construct an ontology that integrates this fact of change or becoming. Would this have satisfied Teilhard? Blondel develops a "logic of moral life" insisting on the initial option right to the end of our destiny. Teilhard develops a consciousness of time with a direct hold on a world apprehended first by the senses, whereas Blondel (...) is suspicious of the sometimes misleading testimony of the senses. We thus see a Blondelian attempt to see where the will reach its limits from this only standpoint, while Teilhard admits the influence of a mystical vision. We thus find in both thinkers a primacy of eternal light and truths, strongly affirmed by Blondel, although present in Teilhard; a specificity of evolution, and the necessity of a complement to prevent thought to close itself off. Both thinkers agree on the idea that "Everything holds from above." They recognize that our humanity represents only a sketch, that it is infra-substantial. (shrink)
An extract from the author's «A Philosophy of Non-being». The Universe is a fluctuation of being originating spontaneously in non-being (i.e., in a non-existing reality). Substance as a whole and cosmic space in the first place are the result of non-being which has lost its state of balance. Fluctuations of being, (i.e., spontaneous transitions from non-existence to existence), are immanent in the nature of unstable non-being. The world of non-being is neither a separate sphere nor a parallel world, but the (...) very bosom of being. Non-being is here, there, and everywhere, it shrouds, penetrates and saturates being. It is substantial. Тhere will inevitably appear conditions for new fluctuations of being. And this will ever be because it is never. And this is everywhere because it is nowhere. Forthe time which non-being lacks is eternity, and the space which it does not possess is infinity. The Universe represents the superposition of cycles with the following phases: non-being - being - non-being, or nothing - something - nothing. Transition from non-being-before-being to being, and further, to non-being-after-being determines the irreversibility of processes and directivity of time from past to future through the present time. The above-mentionedcyclic processes prove to be infinite, continuous, general, and by virtue of their superposition, constantly running; they form the unified world flow of states that differ in quality. Closely related with the processes cyclicity is the law of the being regeneration which expresses the essence of movement caused due to intertransitions of non-being and being. The real world has eternal and continuous origin. It begins always and constantly terminates. And it resumes constantlyand continuously in the process of eternal and infinite regeneration of being. (shrink)
This article analyzes articles and interviews published in Sartre on Theater and focuses on five plays ( Bariona , The Flies , No Exit and The Condemned of Altona ) in order to arrive at a coherent conception of Sartre's theater. Sartre views the stage as “belonging to a different imaginary realm“ in which the characters' language, gestures and the props function in a synecdochical relationship in respect to the spectators. It is their task to grasp these “signs“ and bundle (...) them into a coherent and meaningful whole. Because Sartre views the theater as an imaginary realm, he can free himself from the strictures of his philosophy: 1) the irreversibility of time; 2) the fact that life does not give us a second chance; and 3) that death means that our life falls into the public domain. This freedom allows Sartre to deal with temporality in a novel way and to deal with “life after death“ as life simply continued. Conversely, he can scramble temporality for psychological reasons in order to bring out deep rooted personal conflicts, as he does in The Condemned of Altona. (shrink)
Possible environmental and related impacts of human activity are shown to include the extinction of humanity and other sentient species, excessive human numbers, and a deteriorating quality of life (I). I proceed to argue that neither future rights, nor Kantian respect for future people's autonomy, nor a contract between the generations supplies a plausible basis of obligations with regard to future generations. Obligations concern rather promoting the well-being of the members of future generations, whoever they may be, as well as (...) of current generations. Future benefits and costs should only be discounted where there are special reasons for doing do so (e.g. relevant opportunity costs) (II). A sustainable economy is held to be necessary for intergenerational equity. This granted, principles of equity are introduced concerning: compensation for long-term risks and for resource depletion; conserving the stock of resources, resource diversity, and assimilative capacity; equal options and opportunities for each generation; and remedying past failures to conserve environmental quality. Rules and policies considered include: an efficient, diversified, and ecologically sustainable economy; no increase of risk of irreversible environmental change; and action despite uncertainty to avert serious future outcomes (the Precautionary Principle). These policies are argued to require rectification of current injustices within and between current generations (III). Finally, the recently resuscitated metaphysical model of society as a partnership between generations is held to imply the view of each generation as trustees rather than owners of the planet. This trusteeship view is independently credible, and supportive of the principles and policies earlier introduced; and its adoption by successive generations could turn the partnership model into a reality (IV). (shrink)
The dead donor rule justifies current practice in organ procurement for transplantation and states that organ donors must be dead prior to donation. The majority of organ donors are diagnosed as having suffered brain death and hence are declared dead by neurological criteria. However, a significant amount of unrest in both the philosophical and the medical literature has surfaced since this practice began forty years ago. I argue that, first, declaring death by neurological criteria is both unreliable and unjustified but (...) further, the ethical principles which themselves justify the dead donor rule are better served by abandoning that rule and instead allowing individuals who have suffered severe and irreversible brain damage to become organ donors, even though they are not yet dead and even though the removal of their organs would be the proximal cause of death. (shrink)
What is death? The question is of wide-ranging practical importance because we need to be able to distinguish the living from the dead in order to treat both appropriately; specifically, the permissibility of retrieving vital organs for transplantation depends upon the potential donor's ontological status. There is a well-established and influential biological definition of death as irreversible breakdown in the functioning of the organism as a whole, but it continues to elicit disquiet and rejoinders. The central claims of this paper (...) are that the best way to address the question as to what death is, is to attend closely to our ordinary concept of death; doing so reveals that, whilst our ordinary understanding accommodates the biological definition, it also includes the thought that, for someone who has died, there will never again be anything it is like to be that person. Support for these claims is provided, and their academic and practical implications traced. The important practical implication is that we are left in quandary as to whether certain potential organ donors — for example, anencephalic babies and the permanently vegetative — are dead, a quandary that has serious implications for the relevance of the dead donor rule in transplant ethics. (shrink)
In “Counterfactual Dependence and Time’s Arrow,” David Lewis defends an analysis of counterfactuals intended to yield the asymmetry of counterfactual dependence: that later affairs depend counterfactually on earlier ones, and not the other way around. I argue that careful attention to the dynamical properties of thermodynamically irreversible processes shows that in many ordinary cases, Lewis’s analysis fails to yield this asymmetry. Furthermore, the analysis fails in an instructive way: one that teaches us something about the connection between the asymmetry of (...) overdetermination and the asymmetry of entropy. (shrink)
According to Adina Roskies, the neuroscience of ethics is concerned with a neuroscientific understanding of the brain processes that underpin moral judgment and behavior. The ethics of neuroscience, on the other hand, includes the potential impact advances in neuroscience may have on social, moral and philosophical ideas and institutions, as well as the ethical principles that should guide brain research, treatment of brain disease, and cognitive enhancement. This entry discusses these different aspects of neuroethics, with a special focus on the (...) way in which neuroscience might impact our sense of self and personal responsibility, a concern that cuts across these categories. For example, I discuss whether advancing knowledge of brain states or processes undermine common notions of free will and responsibility. I also examine whether certain treatments of brain abnormality are ethical (is it acceptable to irreversibly ‘cure’ pedophilia or obsessive/compulsive disorder?), a discussion that falls squarely under the category of the ethics of neuroscience. Finally, I discuss whether the neuroscience of ethics can provide insight into who should be deemed criminally responsible via a neuroscientific analysis of intentional action. (shrink)
This paper explores how the diagnosis of mental disorder may affect the diagnosed subject’s self-concept by supplying an account that emphasizes the influence of autobiographical and social narratives on self-understanding. It focuses primarily on the diagnoses made according to the criteria provided by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and suggests that the DSM diagnosis may function as a source of narrative that affects the subject’s self-concept. Engaging in this analysis by appealing to autobiographies and memoirs written by (...) people diagnosed with mental disorder, the paper concludes that a DSM diagnosis is a double-edged sword for self- concept. On the one hand, it sets the subject’s experience in an established classificatory system which can facilitate self-understanding by providing insight into subject’s condition and guiding her personal growth, as well as treatment and recovery. In this sense, the DSM diagnosis may have positive repercussions on self-development. On the other hand, however, given the DSM’s symptom-based approach and its adoption of the Biomedical Disease model, a diagnosis may force the subject to make sense of her condition divorced from other elements in her life that may be affecting her mental- health. It may lead her frame her experience only as an irreversible imbalance. This form of self-understanding may set limits on the subject’s hopes of recovery and may create impediments to her flourishing. (shrink)