Bringing together the expertise of rhetoricians in English and communication as well as media studies scholars, Arguments about Animal Ethics delves into the rhetorical and discursive practices of participants in controversies over the use of nonhuman animals for meat, entertainment, fur, and vivisection. Both sides of the debate are carefully analyzed, as the contributors examine how stakeholders persuade or fail to persuade audiences about the ethics of animal rights or the value of using animals.
Recent work by Brian Skyrms offers a very general way to think about how information flows and evolves in biological networks—from the way monkeys in a troop communicate to the way cells in a body coordinate their actions. A central feature of his account is a way to formally measure the quantity of information contained in the signals in these networks. In this article, we argue there is a tension between how Skyrms talks of signalling networks and his formal measure (...) of information. Although Skyrms refers to both how information flows through networks and that signals carry information, we show that his formal measure only captures the latter. We then suggest that to capture the notion of flow in signalling networks, we need to treat them as causal networks. This provides the formal tools to define a measure that does capture flow, and we do so by drawing on recent work defining causal specificity. Finally, we suggest that this new measure is crucial if we wish to explain how evolution creates information. For signals to play a role in explaining their own origins and stability, they can’t just carry information about acts; they must be difference-makers for acts. _1_ Signalling, Evolution, and Information _2_ Skyrms’s Measure of Information _3_ Carrying Information versus Information Flow _3.1_ Example 1 _3.2_ Example 2 _3.3_ Example 3 _4_ Signalling Networks Are Causal Networks _4.1_ Causal specificity _4.2_ Formalizing causal specificity _5_ Information Flow as Causal Control _5.1_ Example 1 _5.2_ Examples 2 and 3 _5.3_ Average control implicitly ‘holds fixed’ other pathways _6_ How Does Evolution Create Information? _7_ Conclusion Appendix >. (shrink)
One recent topic of debate in Bayesian epistemology has been the question of whether imprecise credences can be rational. I argue that one account of imprecise credences, the orthodox treatment as defended by James M. Joyce, is untenable. Despite Joyce’s claims to the contrary, a puzzle introduced by Roger White shows that the orthodox account, when paired with Bas C. van Fraassen’s Reflection Principle, can lead to inconsistent beliefs. Proponents of imprecise credences, then, must either provide a compelling reason to (...) reject Reflection or admit that the rational credences in White’s case are precise. (shrink)
Every day, new warnings emerge about artificial intelligence rebelling against us. All the while, a more immediate dilemma flies under the radar. Have forces been unleashed that are thrusting humanity down an ill-advised path, one that's increasingly making us behave like simple machines? In this wide-reaching, interdisciplinary book, Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger examine what's happening to our lives as society embraces big data, predictive analytics, and smart environments. They explain how the goal of designing programmable worlds goes hand (...) in hand with engineering predictable and programmable people. Detailing new frameworks, provocative case studies, and mind-blowing thought experiments, Frischmann and Selinger reveal hidden connections between fitness trackers, electronic contracts, social media platforms, robotic companions, fake news, autonomous cars, and more. This powerful analysis should be read by anyone interested in understanding exactly how technology threatens the future of our society, and what we can do now to build something better. (shrink)
This paper describes a pattern of explanation prevalent in the biological sciences that I call a ‘lineage explanation’. The aim of these explanations is to make plausible certain trajectories of change through phenotypic space. They do this by laying out a series of stages, where each stage shows how some mechanism worked, and the differences between each adjacent stage demonstrates how one mechanism, through minor modifications, could be changed into another. These explanations are important, for though it is widely accepted (...) that there is an ‘incremental constraint’ on evolutionary change, in an important class of cases it is difficult to see how to satisfy this constraint. I show that lineage explanations answer important questions about evolutionary change, but do so by demonstrating differences between individuals rather than invoking population processes, such as natural selection. Introduction Turning a ‘Scale’ into a ‘Plume’ Lineage Explanations in Biology 3.1 The evolution of eyes 3.2 The evolution of feathers The Two Dimensions of a Lineage Explanation 4.1 The production dimension 4.2 The continuity dimension 4.3 The dual role of the parts Constraining the Explanations Operational and Generative Lineages Explaining Change Without Populations Conclusion. (shrink)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed substantial changes to the current regulatory system governing human subjects research in its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, entitled “Human Subjects Research Protections: Enhancing Protections for Research Subjects and Reducing Burden, Delay, and Ambiguity for Investigators.” Some of the most significant proposed changes concern the use of biospecimens in research. Because research involving biological materials begins with an initial interaction with an individual, such research falls squarely within the human subjects (...) research regulatory framework known as the “Common Rule,” which applies to research conducted or funded by the HHS and the other signatory agencies and departments. However, as described in detail below, much biospecimen research may fall within exemptions and exceptions under the Common Rule and, thus, may be conducted without consent. The ANPRM proposes requiring written consent for research use of biospecimens, even if the biospecimens were initially collected for a purpose other than research or have been stripped of identifiers. (shrink)
This review of Wimsatt’s book Re-engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings focuses on analysing his use of robustness, a central theme in the book. I outline a family of three distinct conceptions of robustness that appear in the book, and look at the different roles they play. I briefly examine what underwrites robustness, and suggest that further work is needed to clarify both the structure of robustness and the relation between it various conceptions.
I use some recent formal work on measuring causation to explore a suggestion by James Woodward: that the notion of causal specificity can clarify the distinction in biology between permissive and instructive causes. This distinction arises when a complex developmental process, such as the formation of an entire body part, can be triggered by a simple switch, such as the presence of particular protein. In such cases, the protein is said to merely induce or "permit" the developmental process, whilst the (...) causal "instructions" for guiding that process are already prefigured within the cells. I construct a novel model that expresses in a simple and tractable way the relevant causal structure of biological development and then use a measure of causal specificity to analyse the model. I show that the permissive-instructive distinction cannot be captured by simply contrasting the specificity of two causes as Woodward proposes, and instead introduce an alternative, hierarchical approach to analysing the interaction between two causes. The resulting analysis highlights the importance of focusing on gene regulation, rather than just the coding regions, when analysing the distinctive causal power of genes. (shrink)
Jakob von Uexküll's theories of life -- Biography and historical background -- Nature's conformity with plan -- Umweltforschung -- Biosemiotics -- Concluding remarks -- Marking a path into the environments of animals -- The essential approach to the organism -- Heidegger and the biologists -- Paths to the world -- Disruptive behavior : Heidegger and the captivated animal -- The worldless stone -- The poor animal -- For example, three bees and a lark -- Animal morphology -- A shocking wealth (...) -- A fine line in the rupture of time -- An affected body -- The theme of the animal melody : Merleau-Ponty and the umwelt -- The structure of behavior -- A pure wake, a quiet force -- A leaf of being -- Interanimality -- The-animal-stalks-at-five-oclock : Deleuze's affection for Uexküll -- Problematic organisms -- Uexküll's ethology of affects -- The body without organs, the embryonic egg, and prebiotic soup -- Nature's refrain sung across milieus and territories -- The animal stalks. (shrink)
Why can I not appropriately utter ‘It must be raining’ while standing outside in the rain, even though every world consistent with my knowledge is one in which it is raining? The common response to this problem is to hold that epistemic must, in addition to quantifying over epistemic possibilities, carries some additional evidential information concerning the source of one'S evidence. I argue that this is a mistake: epistemic modals are mere quantifiers over epistemic possibilities. My central claim is that (...) the seeming anomaly of the data above arises from a mistaken conception of what a possibility is. Instead of conceiving of possibilities as possible worlds, I argue that we should conceive of possibilities as answers to open questions. (shrink)
Like Laland et al., I think Mayr’s distinction is problematic, but I identify a further problem with it. I argue that Mayr’s distinction is a false dichotomy, and obscures an important question about evolutionary change. I show how this question, once revealed, sheds light on some debates in evo-devo that Laland et al.’s analysis cannot, and suggest that it provides a different view about how future integration between biological disciplines might proceed.
When epistemologists talk about knowledge, the discussions traditionally include only a small class of other epistemic notions: belief, justification, probability, truth. In this paper, we propose that epistemologists should include an additional epistemic notion into the mix, namely the notion of assuming or taking for granted.
Comparing engineering to evolution typically involves adaptationist thinking, where well-designed artifacts are likened to well-adapted organisms, and the process of evolution is likened to the process of design. A quite different comparison is made when biologists focus on evolvability instead of adaptationism. Here, the idea is that complex integrated systems, whether evolved or engineered, share universal principles that affect the way they change over time. This shift from adaptationism to evolvability is a significant move for, as I argue, we can (...) make sense of these universal principles without making any adaptationism claims. Furthermore, evolvability highlights important aspects of engineering that are ignored in the adaptationist debates. I introduce some novel engineering examples that incorporate these key neglected aspects, and use these examples to challenge some commonly cited contrasts between engineering and evolution, and to highlight some novel resemblances that have gone unnoticed. (shrink)
Understanding how cooperation evolves is central to explaining some core features of our biological world. Many important evolutionary events, such as the arrival of multicellularity or the origins of eusociality, are cooperative ventures between formerly solitary individuals. Explanations of the evolution of cooperation have primarily involved showing how cooperation can be maintained in the face of free-riding individuals whose success gradually undermines cooperation. In this paper I argue that there is a second, distinct, and less well explored, problem of cooperation (...) that I call the generation of benefit. Focusing on how benefit is generated within a group poses a different problem: how is it that individuals in a group can (at least in principle) do better than those who remain solitary? I present several different ways that benefit may be generated, each with different implications for how cooperation might be initiated, how it might further evolve, and how it might interact with different ways of maintaining cooperation. I argue that in some cases of cooperation, the most important underlying “problem” of cooperation may be how to generate benefit, rather than how to reduce conflict or prevent free-riding. (shrink)
We offer a sceptical examination of a thesis recently advanced in a monograph published by Princeton University Press, entitled Greek Buddha: Pyrrho’s Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia. In this dense and probing work, Christopher I. Beckwith, a professor of Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, argues that Pyrrho of Elis adopted a form of early Buddhism during his years in Bactria and Gandhāra, and that early Pyrrhonism must be understood as a sect of early Buddhism. In making (...) his case Beckwith claims that virtually all scholars of Greek, Indian, and Chinese philosophy have been operating under flawed assumptions and with flawed methodologies, and so have failed to notice obvious and undeniable correspondences between the philosophical views of the Buddha and of Pyrrho. In this study we take Beckwith’s proposal and challenge seriously, and we examine his textual basis and techniques of translation, his methods of examining passages, his construal of problems and his reconstruction of arguments. We find that his presuppositions are contentious and doubtful, his own methods are extremely flawed, and that he draws unreasonable conclusions. Although the result of our study is almost entirely negative, we think it illustrates some important general points about the methodology of comparative philosophy. (shrink)
It is commonly held that the context with respect to which an indexical is interpreted is determined independently of the interpretation of the indexical. This view, which I call Context Realism, has explanatory significance: it is because the context is what it is that an indexical refers to what it does. In this paper, I provide an argument against Context Realism. I then develop an alternative that I call Context Constructivism, according to which indexicals are defined not in terms of (...) features of utterance situations, but rather in terms of roles that objects could play. (shrink)
'the whole work is remarkably fresh, vivid and attractively written psychologists will be grateful that a work of this kind has been done ... by one who has the scholarship, science, and philosophical training that are requisite for the task' - Mind This renowned three-volume collection records chronologically the steps by which psychology developed from the time of the early Greek thinkers and the first writings on the nature of the mind, through to the 1920s and such modern preoccupations as (...) criminal and animal psychology. It is only in relatively recent times that psychology has been considered an empirical science independent of philosophy. Brett's account is thus concerned with the broadest definition of psychology, taking in such philosophical aspects as the relation of mind and body, thought processes, etc. For each period he gives an account of the state of the sciences which influenced psychology, the state of psychology itself, the influence psychology had on other areas, and the applications of psychological theories. Examining a huge range of figures, he describes their attitudes on fundamental questions and their contribution to the progress of the subject, as well as the history of the different methods of inquiry. The thinkers he discusses range from Aristotle, Democritus, Socrates, Plato, and Xenocrates to Proclus, the Arabian teachers, Magnus, Duns Scotus, and Ockham from Galileo, Descartes, Gassendi, and Cudworth to Locke, Berkeley, Condillac, and Kant from Reid, Stewart, Herbart, and Schopenhauer to Bain, Spencer, Mill and Darwin. Surprisingly clear and easy to read, Brett's account succeeds in illuminating the nature of psychology as well as its history. It remains a classic overview of the subject from its broad roots in philosophy through to the independent empirical science of the modern era. --a scarce work, rarely found as a complete set --a classic work - all historians of psychology and philosophy should have A History of Psychology. (shrink)
Recent work on the evolution of signaling systems provides a novel way of thinking about genetic information, where information is passed between genes in a regulatory network. I use examples from evolutionary developmental biology to show how information can be created in these networks and how it can be reused to produce rapid phenotypic change.
Recent work by Brian Skyrms offers a very general way to think about how information flows and evolves in biological networks — from the way monkeys in a troop communicate, to the way cells in a body coordinate their actions. A central feature of his account is a way to formally measure the quantity of information contained in the signals in these networks. In this paper, we argue there is a tension between how Skyrms talks of signalling networks and his (...) formal measure of information. Although Skyrms refers to both how information flows through networks and that signals carry information, we show that his formal measure only captures the latter. We then suggest that to capture the notion of flow in signalling networks, we need to treat them as causal networks. This provides the formal tools to define a measure that does capture flow, and we do so by drawing on recent work defining causal specificity. Finally, we suggest that this new measure is crucial if we wish to explain how evolution creates information. For signals to play a role in explaining their own origins and stability, they can’t just carry information about acts: they must be difference-makers for acts. (shrink)
While research has focused on why certain entrepreneurs elect to create innovative solutions to social problems, very little is known about why some social entrepreneurs choose to scale their solutions while others do not. Research on scaling has generally focused on organizational characteristics often overlooking factors at the individual level that may affect scaling decisions. Drawing on the multidimensional construct of moral intensity, we propose a theoretical model of ethical decision making to explain why a social entrepreneur’s perception of moral (...) intensity of the social problem, coupled with their personal desire for control, can significantly influence scaling decisions. Specifically, we propose that higher levels of perceived moral intensity will positively influence the likelihood of scaling through open as opposed to closed modes in order to achieve greater speed and scope of social impact. However, we also propose this effect will be negatively moderated by a social entrepreneur’s higher levels of desire for control. Our model has implications for research and practice at the interface of ethics and social entrepreneurship. (shrink)
Biologists frequently draw on ideas and terminology from engineering. Evolutionary systems biology—with its circuits, switches, and signal processing—is no exception. In parallel with the frequent links drawn between biology and engineering, there is ongoing criticism against this cross-fertilization, using the argument that over-simplistic metaphors from engineering are likely to mislead us as engineering is fundamentally different from biology. In this article, we clarify and reconfigure the link between biology and engineering, presenting it in a more favorable light. We do so (...) by, first, arguing that critics operate with a narrow and incorrect notion of how engineering actually works, and of what the reliance on ideas from engineering entails. Second, we diagnose and diffuse one significant source of concern about appeals to engineering, namely that they are inherently and problematically metaphorical. We suggest that there is plenty of fertile ground left for a continued, healthy relationship between engineering and biology. (shrink)
Hugo Grotius’s account of sovereign power in De iure belli ac pacis occupies a contested place in recent genealogies of modern sovereignty. This article takes a fresh approach by arguing that Grotius’s legal arguments do not do their work alone. They function within a broader horizon of what he calls “morals,” a field of reasoning that has debts to scholastic moral theology and Aristotelian moral science. Grotius's conception of sovereignty represents a modulation between law and “morals,” which allows him both (...) to separate his scientific jurisprudence from the science of politics and nevertheless to reply to the political scientists on their own ground. The context of “morals,” however, is not narrowly political but inter-political, generating a potential tension between popular aspirations to sovereignty and the international order. Grotius’s “moral” handling of the issue offers an invitation to reflect on our current preoccupation with much the same concerns. (shrink)
Hugh Everett III proposed that a quantum measurement can be treated as an interaction that correlates microscopic and macroscopic systems—particularly when the experimenter herself is included among those macroscopic systems. It has been difficult, however, to determine precisely what this proposal amounts to. Almost without exception, commentators have held that there are ambiguities in Everett’s theory of measurement that result from significant—even embarrassing—omissions. In the present paper, we resist the conclusion that Everett’s proposal is incomplete, and we develop a close (...) reading that accounts for apparent oversights. We begin by taking a look at how Everett set up his project—his method and his criterion of success. Illuminating parallels are found between Everett’s method and then-contemporary thought regarding inter-theoretic reduction. Also, from unpublished papers and correspondence, we are able to piece together how Everett judged the success of his theory of measurement, which completes our account of his intended contribution to the resolution of the quantum measurement problem. (shrink)
In this discussion I shall argue that some fairly widely held views about human habits are mistaken. These misconceptions are important because of the pervasiveness of the habitual in human behavior and because it is the concept of habit that has served as the prototype of various conceptions of conditioned response which are used in psychological explanation. One major task of this analysis is to show that accounts in which actions are explained by reference to rules are not incompatible with (...) accounts in which the same behavior is seen as the product of habit. (shrink)
In The Anticipatory Corpse, Jeffrey Bishop claims that modern medicine has lost formal and final causality as the dead body has become epistemologically normative, and that a singular focus on efficient and material causality has thoroughly distorted modern medical practice. Bishop implies that the renewal of medicine will require its housing in alternate social spaces. This essay critiques both Bishop’s diagnosis and therapy by arguing, first, that alternate social imaginaries, though perhaps marginalized, are already present within the practice of medicine. (...) And second, the essay argues that alternate social imaginaries in medicine can be reclaimed not through separatist communities but in the re-narration of conceptually underdetermined practices. Given Bishop’s invitation for theology to engage medicine, this essay then draws from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer for the kind of diagnosis and therapy currently needed, concluding with a contemporary example of how an alternate social imaginary is being instantiated in modern medicine. (shrink)
This study considers customer characteristics as situational influences on a salesperson'sethical judgment formation. Specifically, customer gender, income, and propensity to buy were considered as factors which may bias these judgments. Additionally, the gender of the salesperson and their moral value structure were examined as moderating effects. An experiment using real estate agents reading hypothetical sales scenarios revealed differences across customer gender, customer income, and level of the respondent'sidealism. Significant interactive effects with these factors were also found involving respondent gender and (...) level of idealism. These and previous findings which consider situational effects on ethical decision-making, indicate that a more contingent approach to ethics studies is warranted. (shrink)
Hume is famous for the view that “reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions.” His claim that “we are no sooner acquainted with the impossibility of satisfying any desire, than the desire itself vanishes” is less well known. Each seems, in opposite ways, shocking to common sense. This paper explores the latter claim, looking for its source in Hume’s account of the passions and exploring its compatibility with his associationist psychology. We are led to the (...) conclusion that this view—that desires vanish when fulfilment is deemed impossible—endows reason with a power over the passions that is at odds with its role as slave, and ultimately incompatible with a proper understanding of emotions such as grief. Such emotions involve continuing to want what one believes to be impossible. The human imagination can sustain desires without the belief that fulfilment is possible. (shrink)
In this issue of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Schneiderman and colleagues critique a recent multi-society policy statement—developed by the American Thoracic Society and endorsed by four other organizations—entitled “Responding to Requests for Potentially Inappropriate Treatment in Intensive Care Units”. The focus of Schneiderman’s critique is the Multiorganization Policy Statement’s choice of the term “potentially inappropriate” to describe a class of interventions that clinicians should resist providing for patients near the end of life, even when patients or their families request (...) or demand them.1 Schneiderman and colleagues argue that the term... (shrink)
Two experiments examined the impact of causal relations between features on categorization in 5- to 6-year-old children and adults. Participants learned artificial categories containing instances with causally related features and noncausal features. They then selected the most likely category member from a series of novel test pairs. Classification patterns and logistic regression were used to diagnose the presence of independent effects of causal coherence, causal status, and relational centrality. Adult classification was driven primarily by coherence when causal links were deterministic (...) (Experiment 1) but showed additional influences of causal status when links were probabilistic (Experiment 2). Children’s classification was based primarily on causal coherence in both cases. There was no effect of relational centrality in either age group. These results suggest that the generative model (Rehder, 2003a) provides a good account of causal categorization in children as well as adults. (shrink)
This book reviews some of life’s history. It suggests that one crucial feature of John Maynard Smith and Eörs Szathmáry’s The Major Transitions in Evolution is that it has a dynamic approach. In The Major Transitions in Evolution, Maynard Smith and Szathmáry bought a much more dynamic model to debates about the history of life. This book also shows that in the decade and more that has followed, the legacy of Maynard Smith and Szathmáry has been developed in important ways.
The Defender of the Peace of Marsilius of Padua is a massively influential text in the history of western political thought. Marsilius offers a detailed analysis and explanation of human political communities, before going on to attack what he sees as the obstacles to peaceful human coexistence - principally the contemporary papacy. Annabel Brett's authoritative rendition of the Defensor Pacis was the first new translation in English for fifty years, and a major contribution to the series of Cambridge Texts: (...) all of the usual series features are provided, included chronology, notes for further reading, and up-to-date annotation aimed at the student reader encountering this classic of medieval thought for the first time. This edition of The Defender of the Peace is a scholarly and a pedagogic event of great importance, of interest to historians, political theorists, theologians and philosophers at all levels from second-year undergraduate upwards. (shrink)
According to Pigliucci and Kaplan, there is a revolution underway in how we understand fitness landscapes. Recent models suggest that a perennial problem in these landscapes—how to get from one peak across a fitness valley to another peak—is, in fact, non-existent. In this paper I assess the structure and the extent of Pigliucci and Kaplan’s proposed revolution and argue for two points. First, I provide an alternative interpretation of what underwrites this revolution, motivated by some recent work on model-based science. (...) Second, I show that the implications of this revolution need to carefully assessed depending on question being asked, for peak-shifting is not central to all evolutionary questions that fitness landscapes have been used to explore. (shrink)
This chapter presents the advantages of the use of functional regions of interest along with its specific concerns, and provides a reference to Karl J. Friston related to the subject. Functionally defined ROI help to test hypotheses about the cognitive functions of particular regions of the brain. fROI are useful for specifying brain locations and investigating separable components of the mind. The chapter provides an overview of the common and uncommon misconceptions about fROI related to assumptions of homogeneity, factorial designs (...) versus independent localizers, a summary measure, and the naming of fROI. (shrink)
We critically review key lines of evidence and theoretical argument relevant to Machery's These include interactions between different kinds of concept representations, unified approaches to explaining contextual effects on concept retrieval, and a critique of empirical dissociations as evidence for concept heterogeneity. We suggest there are good grounds for retaining the concept construct in human cognition.
What do medicine and war have to do with each other? This question is explored through the writings of James Childress, whose early contributions to just war theory illuminate his work in bioethics. By considering the conceptual influences of just war theory on Childress’s bioethics, the contributions and limits of his approach can be set in relief through normative engagement with certain areas of medicine. In particular, Childress’s just-war-inspired bioethics befits the practice of surgery; but oncology, as a medical analogue (...) to total warfare, requires significant transformation in order to be disciplined by Childress’s approach. Childress offers a coherent schema for navigating moral conflict in a fallen world, but he does not provide a substantive account of the peaceable end toward which medicine as just war aims. (shrink)
The literature contains evidence from some studies of asymmetric patterns of choice cycles in the direction consistent with regret theory, and evidence from other studies of asymmetries in the opposite direction. This article reports an experiment showing that both patterns occur within the same sample of respondents operating in the same experimental environment. We discuss the implications for modelling behaviour in such environments.