The caliber of recent discourse regarding geneticallymodified organisms (GMOs) has suffered from a lack of consensuson terminology, from the scarcity of evidence upon which toassess risk to health and to the environment, and from valuedifferences between proponents and opponents of GMOs. Towardsaddressing these issues, we present the thesis that GM should bedefined as the forcible insertion of DNA into a host genome,irrespective of the source of the DNA, and exclusive ofconventional or mutation breeding.Some defenders of the commercial use of GMOs (...) have referred to thescientific work of GMO critics as ``junk science.'''' Such a claim isfalse and misleading, given that many papers critical of both theutility and safety of GMOs have been published in peer reviewedjournals by respected scientists. In contrast, there is a dearthof peer reviewed work to substantiate the frequently heardassertions of either safety or utility in GMOs. The polarity,which now characterizes much of the public discourse on GMOs,reflects not simply scientific disagreement, but alsodisagreement in underlying value assumptions. Value differencesstrongly affect the assessment of both benefit and harm fromGMOs. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the essentialism/antiessentialism debate among feminists is a variety of the idealist/realist split that Dewey addressed in The Quest for Certainty. I attempt to use Dewey's thought to subvert this opposition so that we can remove the feminist discussion from the structure of an idealist/realist either/or.
The necessity of incorporating societal and environmental concerns into publicly funded agricultural initiatives in research, extension, and practice is increasingly evident. Agriculturalists are urged to acknowledge and respond to societal concerns before an insensitive and largely ill-informed urban majority assumes a dominant posture in agricultural policy. In recent history, the availability of unrealistically cheap energy encouraged the evolution of a form of commercial agriculture unfettered by sound ecological principles. At present, external, resource-intensive intervention of increasing magnitude is needed to compensate (...) for the apparent ecological instability generated by practices such as intensive cereal management or conservation tillage practices. Polarization of the enterprises of plant and animal agriculture to enable centralized, concentrate-intensive, confinement feeding has disrupted the natural cycling of nutrients and carbon in the soil, encouraged the withdrawal of perennial forages from crop rotations, and invoked a widely ramifying network of agricultural and societal problems. Solutions to these problems must evolve from a holistic and far-reaching appraisal of causes, rather than from a piecemeal approach to individual symptoms. (shrink)
A number of distinct definitions ofsustainable agriculture have been proposed. In this paper we criticize two such definitions, primarily for conflating sustainability with other objectives such as economic viability and ecological integrity. Finally, we propose and defend a definition which avoids our objections to the other definitions.
Changes in global patterns of grain production have affected the profitability of commercial, cash-crop agriculture in North America. The current financial crisis has highlighted a perceived conflict between the priorities of (1) strengthening net farm profit, (2) maintaining the productive potential of the land base, (3) enhancing the health and cohesiveness of the agricultural community, and (4) addressing societal demands for safe foodstuffs. Reducing input costs by reducing the need for privately owned machinery can minimize the scale-dependence of agricultural practices, (...) as illustrated with examples involving silage and intensively managed pasture in Ontario. This approach could improve farming opportunities for nontraditional, part-time farmers, and at the same time, create a niche for professional custom operators and managers. Enhancing the viability of nontraditional farm operations, a historically neglected component of the farming community, as well as commercial farms is viewed as one approach to sustaining and improving both the agricultural land base and the agricultural community. Applying resource-extensive rather than resource-intensive approaches to forage management reveals that these apparently divergent priorities are, in fact, interlocking pieces of the same puzzle. (shrink)
This book offers both the theoretical background behind the minority effect, teachers' personal experiences as they experienced being a minority, and their analyses and insights for teaching diverse learners. This book uses real-life experiences of diverse people to illustrate that, if not understood and addressed, situational minorities at school or work are unlikely to perform at their highest potentials.
This paper rereads David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion as dramatising a distinctive, naturalistic account of toleration. I have two purposes in mind: first, to complete and ground Hume's fragmentary explicit discussion of toleration; second, to unearth a potentially attractive alternative to more recent, Rawlsian approaches to toleration. To make my case, I connect Dialogues and the problem of toleration to the wider themes of naturalism, scepticism and their relation in Hume's thought, before developing a new interpretation of Dialogues part (...) 12 as political drama. Finally, I develop the Humean theory of toleration I have discovered by comparison between Rawls's and Hume's strategies for justification of a tolerant political regime. (shrink)
Philosophers of earlier ages have usually spent time in considering thenature of marital, and in general familial, duty. Paley devotes an entire book to those ‘relative duties which result from the constitution of the sexes’,1 a book notable on the one hand for its humanity and on the other for Paley‘s strange refusal to acknowledge that the evils for which he condemns any breach of pure monogamy are in large part the result of the fact that such breaches are generally (...) condemned. In a society where an unmarried mother is ruined no decent male should put a woman in such danger: but why precisely should social feeling be so severe? Marriage, the monogamist would say, must be defended at all costs, for it is a centrally important institution of our society. Political community was, in the past, understood as emerging from or imposed upon families, or similar associations. The struggle to establish the state was a struggle against families, clans and clubs; the state, once established, rested upon the social institutions to which it gave legal backing. (shrink)
For the last few years, thanks to the Leverhulme Trust, I've been largely absent from my department, working on the late antique philosopher Plotinus. To speak personally – it's been a difficult few years, since my youngest daughter has been afflicted with anorexia during this period, and my own bowel cancer was discovered, serendipitously, and removed, at the end of 2005. Since then I've had ample occasion to consider the importance – and the difficulty – of the practice of detachment, (...) and also to worry about the moral some have drawn from Plotinian and similar philosophies, namely that the things of this world really do not matter much, and that we should withdraw ourselves from them. Maybe it is true, as Plotinus says, that ‘some troubles are profitable to the sufferers themselves, poverty and sickness for example’. But this is not an altogether helpful message for those afflicted by the bundle of disorders that lead to anorexia. It's difficult not to suspect, for example, that Simone Weil would have lived longer but for her Neo-Platonism. It has also been made obvious to me that we are much less in control of our own mental and emotional states even than I had thought before. None of this, of course, should have been any surprise: I have frequently pointed out – to myself and others – the importance of distinguishing between one's self and the states one finds oneself in, and the extreme difficulty of controlling the thoughts we say are ours. Any delusion that my knowledge of these facts is of itself enough to render me immune to them has been – at least for the moment – thoroughly debunked – though the facts themselves are such that this disillusionment, so to call it, is probably both temporary and almost entirely insincere! (shrink)
Anyone who wishes to talk about angels has to respond to the mocking question, how many of them can dance on the point of a pin. The answer is: ‘just as many as they please’. Angels being immaterial intellects do not occupy space to the exclusion of any other such intellectual substance, and their being ‘on’ the point of a pin can only mean that they attend to it. The question, however, is not one that concerned our mediaeval predecessors, although (...) it seems as difficult to persuade anyone of this as it is to clear Canute of the charge of insane conceit. (shrink)
While philosophers feel relatively comfortable about talking of the present and the past, some of them feel uncomfortable about talking in just the same way of future events. They feel that, in general, discourse about the future differs significantly from discourse about the past and present, and that these differences reflect a logical asymmetry between the past and future beyond the merely defining fact that the future succeeds, and the past precedes, the present time. The problem is: how can we (...) talk about events which have not yet happened, or at any rate are not yet bound to happen, or whose participants do not yet exist? The effect of these worries has led them to claim to recognise restrictions on our talk about the future which do not govern talk about the past and present. The most famous of these views is Aristotle's. According to one familiar interpretation, he holds that a statement about a future event which is not yet settled, a contingent event in the future, is neither true nor false, even though the statement that the event either will or will not happen is necessarily true. Proponents of this view felt that if a future-tensed statement were already true then the fact that it stated would already be settled. I do not propose to discuss this well-known and muchdiscussed doctrine of Aristotle's, but I do want to consider some allied views which have been aired recently, and to look at their philosophical significance. Before I look at these, however, it will be convenient to recall three of the main reasons why the Aristotelian doctrine is unpopular. In the first place it is paradoxical to accept that a statement of the form p v ∼ p is true while claiming that neither of its disjuncts is true. Then there are misgivings about the notion of truth involved: many feel that truth is essentially an attribute of timeless propositions and that it is nonsense to talk of a statement's becoming true as you would of Aristotle's views if the event described became inevitable. There is also the difficulty of accounting for the meaning of a future-tensed sentence which may express a statement that is neither true nor false simply because what it states is not yet settled. It could not be said of the sentence expressing such a statement that you know what it means if you know what it is for the sentence to express a true statement. I know the meaning of the present-tensed sentence ‘A sea-battle is now being waged’ if I know that it can normally be used to make a true statement precisely in the event of there being a sea-battle being waged at present. But I do not know the meaning of the future-tensed sentence ‘A sea-battle will be waged tomorrow’ simply by knowing that the sentence expresses a true statement if it is already settled that there is going to be a battle: the statement doesn't mean that the battle is already settled, otherwise it would not lack a truth-value when the matter was still open – it would be false. (shrink)
Consistent materialists are almost bound to suggest that ‘conscious experience’, if it exists at all, is no more than epiphenomenal. A correct understanding of the real requires that everything we do and say is no more than a product of whatever processes are best described by physics, without any privileged place, person, time or scale of action. Consciousness is a myth, or at least a figment. Plotinus was no materialist: for him, it is Soul and Intellect that are more real (...) than the phenomena we misdescribe as material. Nor does he suppose that consciousness depends on language : wordless experience is actually superior. And much of what counts towards our present consciousness is to be discarded. It is better not to remember most of what now seems more significant to us; better to discard images; better that the intellect be ‘drunk’ than ‘sober’, losing any sense of separation between subject and object. The goal of the Plotinian intellectual is to join ‘the dance of immortal love’, but it is a mark of the good dancer that she is not conscious of what she does. There is therefore a strange confluence between Plotinus and modern materialists: our experience at least is transitory, deceitful, epiphenomenal, and ‘reality’ is to be encountered when we have shed our illusions. (shrink)
When we speak of philosophy and therapy, or of philosophy as therapy, the usual intent is to suggest that ‘philosophizing’ is or should be a way to clarify the mind or purify the soul. While there may be little point in arguing with psychoses or deeply-embedded neuroses our more ordinary misjudgements, biases and obsessions may be alleviated, at least, by trying to ‘see things clearly and to see them whole’, by carefully identifying premises and seeing what they – rationally – (...) support, and by seeking to eliminate the residual influence of premises that we have long since, rationally, dismissed. I don't intend to argue with this account – though of course it may be as well to remember that ‘philosophizing’ may have more dangerous effects. It is not obvious that philosophical argument will always help us ‘see things straight’, and the Athenian democracy was not altogether wrong to think that some of Socrates' followers or pupils learnt quite the wrong things from him. (shrink)
Cartesian accounts of the mental make it axiomatic that consciousness is transparent: what I feel, I know I feel, however many errors I may make about its cause. ‘I’ names a simple, unextended, irreducible substance, created ex nihilo or eternally existent, and only associated with the complete, extended, dissoluble substance or pretend-substance that is ‘my’ body by divine fiat. Good moderns take it for granted that ‘we’ now realize how shifting, foggy and deconstructible are the boundaries of the self; ‘we’ (...) know that our own motives, feelings and intentions constantly escape us; ‘I’ names only the current speaker, or the momentarily dominant self among many fluid identities. (shrink)
The social and environmental problems that we face at this tail end of twentieth-century progress require us to identify some cause, some spirit that transcends the petty limits of our time and place. It is easy to believe that there is no crisis. We have been told too often that the oceans will soon die, the air be poisonous, our energy reserves run dry; that the world will grow warmer, coastlands be flooded and the climate change; that plague, famine and (...) war will be the necessary checks on population growth. But here we are: sufficiently healthy and well-fed, connoisseurs of far-off catastrophe and horror movies, confident that something will turn up or that the prophecies of doom were only dreams. We are the descendants, after all, of creatures who did not despair, who hoped against hope that there would still be life tomorrow. We no more believe in the world's end than we believe that soldiers could break down the door and drag us off to torture and to death: we don't believe that they could even when we know that, somewhere altogether elsewhere, they did. Even if we can force ourselves to remember other ages, other lands or other classes, we are content enough. (shrink)
According to Aristotle, the goal of anyone who is not simply stupid or slavish is to live a worthwhile life. There are, no doubt, people who have no goal at all beyond the moment's pleasure or release from pain. There may be people incapable of reaching any reasoned decision about what to do, and acting on it. But anyone who asks how she should live implicitly agrees that her goal is to live well, to live a life that she can (...) think worth living. That goal, eudaimonia , is something that is sought for its own sake, and for nothing else. Anyone who asks herself how she should live can answer that she should live well. The answer, admittedly, needs further comment. Aristotle went on to suggest that ‘living well’ amounted to living in accordance with virtue, or if there is more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete. Eudaimonia , happiness, is virtuous activity over a whole life. To live a worthwhile life we must acquire and practice habits of doing the right thing, for the right reason. Equivalently, we must do what a virtuous person would, and in the way she would, for the sake of to kalon , or beauty. (shrink)
When I was first approached to read a paper at the conference from which this volume takes its beginning I expected that Flint Schier, with whom I had taught a course on the Philosophy of Biology in my years at Glasgow, would be with us to comment and to criticize. I cannot let this occasion pass without expressing once again my own sense of loss. I am sure that we would all have gained by his presence, and hope that he (...) would find things both to approve, and disapprove, in the following venture. (shrink)
Persons are creatures with a range of personal capacities. Most known to us are also people, though nothing in observation or biological theory demands that all and only people are persons, nor even that persons, any more than people, constitute a natural kind. My aim is to consider what non-personal minds are like. Darwin's Earthworms are sensitive, passionate and, in their degree, intelligent. They may even construct maps, embedded in the world they perceive around them, so as to be able (...) to construct their tunnels. Other creatures may be able to perceive that world as also accessible to other minds, and structure it by locality and temporal relation, without having many personal qualities. Non-personal mind, on both modern materialist and Plotinian grounds, may be the more usual, and the less deluded, sort of mind. (shrink)
This paper considers prevailing environmental policy in the United States with the emphasis on liberty, markets, utilizing information, entrepreneurial discovery, and the economic analysis of political decisions. The general discussion is illustrated by the concern over global warming and policies for addressing this concern. The political incentives to confront environmental problems directly with mandates, restrictions, and subsidies ignore the power of liberty and market incentives to solve problems by fostering an impressive network of information transfer, increasing innovation, and expanding prosperity. (...) Indeed, most environmental policies systematically suppress liberty, censor the communication of information, and retard innovation and prosperity, with the result that they provide less environmental quality at greater cost than is possible. While such flawed policies might be justified in cases where pollution problems pose clear, serious, and immediate threats, we argue this is not true of global warming, and the most effective response to concerns over carbon emissions may be limiting the discretionary power of government to take direct action and rely on the indirect effects of liberty and market incentives to move us beyond the petroleum age more quickly and efficiently than will result from the direct action of government. (shrink)
Practitioners of disciplines whose problems are debated by moral philosophers regularly complain that the philosophers are engaged in abstract speculation, divorced from ‘real-life’ consequences and responsibilities, that it is the practitioners who must take the decisions, and that they cannot act in accordance with strict abstract logic.
Technology, according to Derry and Williams's Short History , ‘comprises all that bewilderingly varied body of knowledge and devices by which man progressively masters his natural environment’. Their casual, and unconscious, sexism is not unrelated to my present topic. Women enter the story as spinners, burden bearers and, at long last, typists. ‘The tying of a bundle on the back or the dragging of it along upon the outspread twigs of a convenient branch are contributions [and by implication the only (...) contributions] to technology which probably had a feminine origin’. Everything else was done by men , and what they did was master, conquer , and control . It is also significant that Derry and Williams take it for granted that ‘the men [sic] of the Old Stone Age, few and scattered, developed little to help them to conquer their environment’: until the advent of agriculture, and settled civilization, there was, they say, neither leisure nor surplus. (shrink)