Human adults are thought to possess two dissociable systems to represent numbers: an approximate quantity system akin to a mental number line, and a verbal system capable of representing numbers exactly. Here, we study the interface between these two systems using an estimation task. Observers were asked to estimate the approximate numerosity of dot arrays. We show that, in the absence of calibration, estimates are largely inaccurate: responses increase monotonically with numerosity, but underestimate the actual numerosity. However, insertion of a (...) few inducer trials, in which participants are explicitly (and sometimes misleadingly) told that a given display contains 30 dots, is sufficient to calibrate their estimates on the whole range of stimuli. Based on these empirical results, we develop a model of the mapping between the numerical symbols and the representations of numerosity on the number line. (shrink)
Clinical ethics has developed significantly in Europe over the past 15 years and remains an evolving process. While sharing our experiences in different European settings, we were surprised to discover marked differences in our practice, especially regarding the position and role of patients. In this paper, we describe these differences, such as patient access to and participation or representation in ethics consults. We propose reasons to explain these differences, hypothesizing that they relate to the historic and sociocultural context of implementation (...) of clinical ethics consultation services (Cecs), as well as the initial aims for which each structure was established. Then, we analyse those differences with common ethical arguments arising in patient involvement. We conclude that there is no unique model of best practice for patient involvement in clinical ethics, as far as Cecs reflect on how to deal with the challenging ethical issues raised by patient role and position. (shrink)
Humans possess two nonverbal systems capable of representing numbers, both limited in their representational power: the first one represents numbers in an approximate fashion, and the second one conveys information about small numbers only. Conception of exact large numbers has therefore been thought to arise from the manipulation of exact numerical symbols. Here, we focus on two fundamental properties of the exact numbers as prerequisites to the concept of EXACT NUMBERS : the fact that all numbers can be generated by (...) a successor function and the fact that equality between numbers can be defined in an exact fashion. We discuss some recent findings assessing how speakers of Munduruc (an Amazonian language), and young Western children (3-4 years old) understand these fundamental properties of numbers. (shrink)
Geometry, etymologically the “science of measuring the Earth”, is a mathematical formalization of space. Just as formal concepts of number may be rooted in an evolutionary ancient system for perceiving numerical quantity, the fathers of geometry may have been inspired by their perception of space. Is the spatial content of formal Euclidean geometry universally present in the way humans perceive space, or is Euclidean geometry a mental construction, specific to those who have received appropriate instruction? The spatial content of the (...) formal theories of geometry may depart from spatial perception for two reasons: first, because in geometry, only some of the features of spatial figures are theoretically relevant; and second, because some geometric concepts go beyond any possible perceptual experience. Focusing in turn on these two aspects of geometry, we will present several lines of research on US adults and children from the age of three years, and participants from an Amazonian culture, the Mundurucu. Almost all the aspects of geometry tested proved to be shared between these two cultures. Nevertheless, some aspects involve a process of mental construction where explicit instruction seem to play a role in the US, but that can still take place in the absence of instruction in geometry. (shrink)
This article ‘diagnoses’ the discourse of posthumanism as a contemporary symptom, and thus as a mode of the social link that attempts to deal with the real of the human condition as, precisely, non-natural. In order to then interpret this posthuman symptom, the article outlines the psychoanalytic notion of interpretation itself, not as the laying bare of a latent meaning, but as the inducement of truth-effects which are distinct from scientific understandings of truth premised upon identity and non-contradiction. Lacan's Seminar (...) XVII is then utilized both as an example of the psychoanalytic interpretation of contemporary life, and as a resource for thinking through the reification of science and technological ‘lathouses’ that underpins the posthuman era. The article concludes with a strong defence of the capacity of psychoanalysis to hold open a space for the ‘outside-sense’, or what evades capture by the signifier. It is argued that this ‘outside-sense’ is what truly constitutes the human insofar as humans are speaking beings. (shrink)
Does geometry constitues a core set of intuitions present in all humans, regarless of their language or schooling ? We used two non verbal tests to probe the conceptual primitives of geometry in the Munduruku, an isolated Amazonian indigene group. Our results provide evidence for geometrical intuitions in the absence of schooling, experience with graphic symbols or maps, or a rich language of geometrical terms.
Is there any ethical justification for limiting the reproductive autonomy and not make assisted reproductive technologies available to certain prospective parents? We present and discuss the results of an interdisciplinary clinical ethics study concerning access to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in situations which are considered as ethically problematic in France (overage or sick parents, surrogate motherhood). The study focused on the arguments that people in these situations put forward when requesting access to ART. It shows that requester’s arguments are based (...) on sound ethical values, and that their legitimacy is at least as strong as that of those used by doctors to question access to ART. Results reveal that the three implicit normative arguments that founded the law in 1994, which are still in force after the bioethics law revision in July 2011—the welfare of the child, the illegitimacy of a “right to a child,” and the defense of the so called “social order”—are challenged on several grounds by requesters as reasons for limiting their reproductive autonomy. Although these results are limited to exceptional situations, they are of special interest insofar as they give voice to the requesters’ own ethical concerns in the ongoing political debate over access to ART. (shrink)
A pilot center for clinical ethics in France opened with the establishment of the “Centre d'éthique clinique” at Cochin Hospital in Paris, September 2002. Unlike the longer history in the United States of providing ethics consultation for ethical issues deriving from physician–patient interactions, this center marks a new development in bringing clinical ethics to Europe.
This article explores the connections between eugenics, politics and the state, taking the Swiss case as a particular focus. It is argued that Switzerland provides a historical example of what Bauman [Bauman, Z. . Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Polity Press.] describes as ‘gardening states’: states that are concerned with eliminating the ‘bad weeds’ from the national garden and thereby constructing sharply exclusionary national identities. The Swiss experiments with eugenics can be seen as an example of an ongoing struggle against (...) ‘difference’. Against this backdrop I will examine, first, the ways in which state regulation of reproductive sexuality, and other eugenic measures, became central mechanisms for dealing with cultural and other ‘differences’ in the Swiss nation. Second, I will analyse the gendered nature of such mechanisms, as well as the preoccupation with racial ‘difference’ exemplified by eugenic policies towards ‘Gypsies’. To conclude, I will examine the impact of political institutions and political ideology, in particular, social democracy, on these eugenic gardening efforts. (shrink)
Personhood is ascribed on others, such that someone who is recognized to be a person is bestowed with certain civil rights and the right to decision making. A rising question is how severely brain-injured patients who regain consciousness can also regain their personhood. The case of patients with locked-in syndrome is illustrative in this matter. Upon restoration of consciousness, patients with LIS find themselves in a state of profound demolition of their bodily functions. From the third-person perspective, it can be (...) expected that LIS patients might experience a differential personal identity and may lose their status as persons. However, from the patients’ perspective, it is uncontested that they retain their personal identity and that they consider themselves to be persons. We here include results from a survey with patients with LIS aimed at identifying the primary expectations of patients for their care by non-medical professionals. Based on these first-hand reports, we argue that personhood in LIS is progressively regained as the widening circle of others recognizes them as persons. (shrink)
Advance directives have been hailed for two decades as the best way to safeguard patients’ autonomy when they are totally or partially incompetent. In many national contexts they are written into law and they are mostly associated with end-of-life decisions. Although advocates and critics of ADs exchange relevant empirical and theoretical arguments, the debate is inconclusive. We argue that this is so for good reasons: the ADs’ project is fraught with tensions, and this is the reason why they are both (...) important and deeply problematic. We outline six such tensions, and conclude with some positive suggestions about how to better promote patients’ autonomy in end-of-life decision. We argue that ADs should continue to be an option but they cannot be the panacea that they are expected to be. (shrink)