We offer a general definition of interpretation based on a naturalized teleology. The definition tests and extends the biosemiotic paradigm by seeking to provide a philosophically robust resource for investigating the possible role of semiosis (processes of representation and interpretation) in biological systems. We show that our definition provides a way of understanding various possible kinds of misinterpretation, illustrate the definition using examples at the cellular and subcellular level, and test the definition by applying it to a potential counterexample. We (...) explain how we propose to use the definition as a way of asking new questions about what distinguishes life from non-life and of formulating testable hypotheses within the field of origin-of-life research. If the definition leads to fruitful new empirical approaches to the scientific problem of the origin of life, it will help to establish biosemiotics as a legitimate philosophical approach in theoretical biology and will thereby support a theological appropriation of the biosemiotic perspective as the basis of a new theology of nature. (shrink)
Background: Breaches of publication ethics such as plagiarism, data fabrication and redundant publication are recognised as forms of research misconduct that can undermine the scientific literature. We surveyed journal editors to determine their views about a range of publication ethics issues. Methods: Questionnaire sent to 524 editors-in-chief of Wiley-Blackwell science journals asking about the severity and frequency of 16 ethical issues at their journals, their confidence in handling such issues, and their awareness and use of guidelines. Results: Responses were obtained (...) from 231 editors (44%), of whom 48% edited healthcare journals. The general level of concern about the 16 issues was low, with mean severity scores of <1 (on a scale of 0–3) for all but one. The issue of greatest concern (mean score 1.19) was redundant publication. Most editors felt confident in handling the issues, with <15% feeling “not at all confident” for all but one of the issues (gift authorship, 22% not confident). Most editors believed such problems occurred less than once a year and >20% of the editors stated that 12 of the 16 items never occurred at their journal. However, 13%–47% did not know the frequency of the problems. Awareness and use of guidelines was generally low. Most editors were unaware of all except other journals’ instructions. Conclusions: Most editors of science journals seem not very concerned about publication ethics and believe that misconduct occurs only rarely in their journals. Many editors are unfamiliar with available guidelines but would welcome more guidance or training. (shrink)
We provide an overview of a proposal for a new metaphysical framework within which theology and science might both find a home. Our proposal draws on the triadic semiotics and threefold system of metaphysical categories of C. S. Peirce. We summarize the key features of a semiotic model of the Trinity, based on observed parallels between Peirce's categories of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness and Christian thinking about, respectively, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We test and extend the semiotic model (...) by exploring how Peirce's taxonomy of signs offers a new approach to theological reflection on the Incarnation. This leads to a novel way of framing scientific questions about human evolution in semiotic terms and to a new approach to theological anthropology. Finally, we use the semiotic model of the Trinity as the basis of a trinitarian approach to the theology of creation according to which the semiotic processes that are fundamental to life and to human behavior and cognition may be understood as “vestiges of the Trinity in creation.”. (shrink)
We draw on Short’s work on Peirce’s theory of signs to propose a new general definition of interpretation. Short argues that Peirce’s semiotics rests on his naturalised teleology. Our proposal extends Short’s work by modifying his definition of interpretation so as to make it more generally applicable to putatively interpretative processes in biological systems. We use our definition as the basis of an account of different kinds of misinterpretation and we discuss some questions raised by the definition by reference to (...) parallel problems in the field of teleosemantics. We propose that interpretative responses fulfilling the criteria of our definition may be made by relatively simple molecular entities and we suggest two specific empirical applications of the definition to experimental work in the field of origin of life research. Our wider aim is to suggest that a well formulated naturalistic definition of interpretation will allow a re-evaluation of the role of semiotic phenomena in biological systems, including the generation of empirically testable hypotheses. (shrink)
We introduce a two-part collection of articles (Part 2 to appear in the September 2010 issue) exploring a possible new research program in the field of science and religion. At the center of the program lies an attempt to develop a new theology of nature drawing on the philosophy of C. S. Peirce. Our overall idea is that the fundamental structure of the world is exactly that required for the emergence of meaning and truth-bearing representation. We understand the emergence of (...) a capacity to interpret an environment to be important to the emergence of life, and we see the subsequent history of biological evolution as a story of increasing capacities for meaning making and meaning seeking. Theologically, we understand God to be the ground of all such meaning making and the ultimate goal of the universe's emerging capacity for interpreting signs. Here we explain our reasons for seeking a new metaphysical framework in which science and theology may each find a home. We survey the contributions to the two-part collection, and we suggest that the interdisciplinary collaboration from which these have arisen may serve as a methodological model for the field of science and religion. (shrink)
Kalevi Kull and colleagues recently proposed eight theses as a conceptual basis for the field of biosemiotics. We use these theses as a framework for discussing important current areas of debate in biosemiotics with particular reference to the articles collected in this issue of Zygon.
Drawing on the philosophy of C. S. Peirce, Robinson develops a ‘semiotic model’ of the Trinity and proposes a new theology of nature according to which the evolving cosmos may be understood as bearing ‘vestiges of the Trinity in ...
We introduce the second part of a two-part collection of articles exploring a possible new research program in the field of science and religion. At the center of the program lies an attempt to develop a new theology of nature drawing on the philosophy of C. S. Peirce. Our overall idea is that the fundamental structure of the world is exactly that required for the emergence of meaning and truth-bearing representation. We understand the emergence of a capacity to interpret an (...) environment to be important to the emergence of life, and we see the subsequent history of biological evolution as a story of increasing capacities for meaning-making and -seeking. Theologically, we understand God to be the ground of all such meaning-making and the ultimate goal of the universe's emerging capacity for interpreting signs. Here we summarize the articles in Part 1, which focused on scientific and philosophical aspects of the research program, and introduce Part 2, which turns to the theological outworking of the project. (shrink)
This is a concordance of page numbers in the following editions of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception: English editions prior to the Routledge Classics 2002; Routledge Classics edition, with the new pagination; the French edition from Gallimard, prior to 2005; the 2e edition from Gallimard, 2005, with new pagination.
The work of Slavoj Žižek has become an essential reference point for debates concerning the future of left radical thought and practice. His attacks on identity politics, multiculturalism and ‘radical democracy’ have established him as a leading figure amongst those looking to renew the link between socialist discourse and a transformative politics. However, we contend that despite the undeniable radicality of Žižek’s theoretical approach, his politics offers little in the way of inspiration for the progressive left. On the contrary, his (...) commitment to Lacanian categories reasserts the primordial character of alienation, hierarchy and domination, and his proposed schema for confronting the status quo, the model of the Act, serves to reaffirm rather than contest the given. We suggest that a genuinely transformative politics should (contra Žižek) stress the necessity for the prefiguration of alternatives, of linking and radicalizing ‘petty’ resistances, of encouraging critical and utopian forms of thought and activity. (shrink)
Governments must determine the legal procedures by which their residents are registered, or can register, as organ donors. Provided that governments recognize that people have a right to determine what happens to their organs after they die, there are four feasible options to choose from: opt-in, opt-out, mandated active choice, and voluntary active choice. We investigate the ethics of these policies' use of nudges to affect organ donor registration rates. We argue that the use of nudges in this context is (...) morally problematic. It is disrespectful of people's autonomy to take advantage of their cognitive biases since doing so involves bypassing, not engaging, their rational capacities. We conclude that while mandated active choice policies are not problem free—they are coercive, after all—voluntary active choice, opt-in, and opt-out policies are potentially less respectful of people's autonomy since their use of nudges could significantly affect people's decision making. (shrink)
In the preceding article in this section, F. LeRon Shults responds to our article preceding his, “Semiotics as a Metaphysical Framework for Christian Theology.” We respond here to his criticisms of our proposal. We discuss his concerns about the concept of “vestiges of the Trinity in creation” and argue that this does not undermine the absolute ontological difference between God and creation. We offer a clarification of our idea that the Incarnation may be understood, in terms of Peirce's taxonomy of (...) signs, as a qualisign of God's being. Finally, we discuss the idea that all symbols “break on the infinite.”. (shrink)
Discussions on the nature of reality between Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali poet, philosopher and Nobel laureate, have provoked interest among both physicists and philosophers since their first publication in 1930/31. This article points out their relevance to past and present debates about the meaning of quantum mechanics.