Biologists rely heavily on the language of information, coding, and transmission that is commonplace in the field of information theory developed by Claude Shannon, but there is open debate about whether such language is anything more than facile metaphor. Philosophers of biology have argued that when biologists talk about information in genes and in evolution, they are not talking about the sort of information that Shannon’s theory addresses. First, philosophers have suggested that Shannon’s theory is only useful for developing a (...) shallow notion of correlation, the so-called causal sense of information. Second, they typically argue that in genetics and evolutionary biology, information language is used in a semantic sense, whereas semantics are deliberately omitted from Shannon’s theory. Neither critique is well-founded. Here we propose an alternative to the causal and semantic senses of information: a transmission sense of information, in which an object X conveys information if the function of X is to reduce, by virtue of its sequence properties, uncertainty on the part of an agent who observes X. The transmission sense not only captures much of what biologists intend when they talk about information in genes, but also brings Shannon’s theory back to the fore. By taking the viewpoint of a communications engineer and focusing on the decision problem of how information is to be packaged for transport, this approach resolves several problems that have plagued the information concept in biology, and highlights a number of important features of the way that information is encoded, stored, and transmitted as genetic sequence. (shrink)
Response to commentaries on “The Transmission Sense of Information” Content Type Journal Article Pages 195-200 DOI 10.1007/s10539-011-9257-3 Authors Carl T. Bergstrom, Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-1800, USA Martin Rosvall, Integrated Science Lab, Department of Physics, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden Journal Biology and Philosophy Online ISSN 1572-8404 Print ISSN 0169-3867 Journal Volume Volume 26 Journal Issue Volume 26, Number 2.
A wide range of ecological and evolutionary models predict variety in phenotype or behavior when a population is at equilibrium. This heterogeneity can be realized in different ways. For example, it can be realized through a complex population of individuals exhibiting different simple behaviors, or through a simple population of individuals exhibiting complex, varying behaviors. In some theoretical frameworks these different realizations are treated as equivalent, but natural selection distinguishes between these two alternatives in subtle ways. By investigating an increasingly (...) complex series of models, from a simple fluctuating selection model up to a finite population hawk/dove game, we explore the selective pressures which discriminate between pure strategists, mixed at the population level, and individual mixed strategists. Our analysis reveals some important limitations to the ESS framework often employed to investigate the evolution of complex behavior. (shrink)
Commentary on “The transmission sense of information” by Carl T. Bergstrom and Martin Rosvall Content Type Journal Article Pages 191-194 DOI 10.1007/s10539-010-9233-3 Authors James Maclaurin, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand Journal Biology and Philosophy Online ISSN 1572-8404 Print ISSN 0169-3867 Journal Volume Volume 26 Journal Issue Volume 26, Number 2.
Costly signalling theory has become a common explanation for honest communication when interests conflict. In this paper, we provide an alternative explanation for partially honest communication that does not require significant signal costs. We show that this alternative is at least as plausible as traditional costly signalling, and we suggest a number of experiments that might be used to distinguish the two theories.
The problem of the many threatens to show that, in general, there are far more ordinary objects than you might have thought. I present and motivate a solution to this problem using many-one identity. According to this solution, the many things that seem to have what it takes to be, say, a cat, are collectively identical to that single cat.
Using the corpus of JSTOR articles, we investigate the role of gender in collaboration patterns across the scholarly landscape by analyzing gender-based homophily--the tendency for researchers to co-author with individuals of the same gender. For a nuanced analysis of gender homophily, we develop methodology necessitated by the fact that the data comprises heterogeneous sub-disciplines and that not all authorships are exchangeable. In particular, we distinguish three components of gender homophily in collaborations: a structural component that is due to demographics and (...) non-gendered authorship norms of a scholarly community, a compositional component which is driven by varying gender representation across sub-disciplines, and a behavioral component which we define as the remainder of observed homophily after its structural and compositional components have been taken into account. Using minimal modeling assumptions, we measure and test for behavioral homophily. We find that significant behavioral homophily can be detected across the JSTOR corpus and show that this finding is robust to missing gender indicators in our data. In a secondary analysis, we show that the proportion of female representation in a field is positively associated with significant behavioral homophily. (shrink)
The principle of proportionate causality is often cited as a cause for concern that Thomistic metaphysics may be irreconcilable with a theory of biological evolution. St. Thomas does hold that for the generation of what he calls perfect animals, a generator of the same species is required. This study clarifies what the proportionate causes of generated organisms are for Thomas, examining his views about spontaneous generation, reproductive generation, and hybridization, while also articulating the roles of both the heavenly bodies and (...) their separate movers as universal causes of generation. This study establishes that Thomas’s assertion of the need for a univocal generator for perfect animals is grounded not in the principle of proportionate causality, but rather in physical and biological doctrines received from Aristotle and in a causal principle that seems reconcilable with biological evolution, namely, that a remote universal cause requires more mediating causes to produce more powerful effects. (shrink)
A common reaction among idealist philosophers to the classical syntactic characterization of proof so crisply articulated by Tarski is an urgent but inchoate Angst that something momentous is missing, an awesome intimation of bereftness. The simple fact is that in many pursuits proof involves an empirical appeal, an operation that Tarski excludes from the domain of proof and assigns to the company of confirmation. In Tarski’s terms, empirical statements never even admit of the predicate true, let alone proved, unless perhaps (...) they hanker after truth or proof in the limit in some dimly understood and always unsuccessful way. Some sources of queasiness about the syntactic account are not hard to pinpoint. On the syntactic account, the injunction “Prove it!” can never be fulfilled, or even well-formedly uttered, in regard to an empirical statement, ┏∅, therefore ∅┓ is valid for any well-formed ∅ in a given first-order language, for any theorem, t, ┏∅, therefore t┓ is an impeccable proof for any well-formed ∅ in the classical languages. It is easy to think, with Bradley, that there is an important and legitimate, if not formally well-articulated sense of proof, characteristic of much of philosophical reasoning and argumentation, which is badly misrepresented by the syntactic conception. The kind of proof often sought after in theology, and sought after and found in the law, and the experimental and social sciences, is not purely syntactic. Idealists, of course, have frequently expressed dissatisfaction with the Tarski conception of truth. We will here extend this skepticism to the Tarski notion of proof. (shrink)
The interest contemporary philosophy takes in Kant's notion of apperception is restricted to his criticism of the Cartesian Ego and to his refutation of scepticism, but there is a profound lack of concern for the notion itself and for the act of spontaneity in particular which is connected with the use of the word T. Starting from a comparison of Wittgenstein's account of this use with Kant's considerations it is argued that the latter aims at a theory of formal conditions (...) of knowledge which includes the availability of the notion of the I. It is clarified what the determination of apperception as an 'act of spontaniety' amounts to (B: 132). Kant's scattered remarks on the ability of having the representation of the I, of using the word 'I', are considered in order to show that what he called 'the logical I' has something to do with the capacity of performing an act of judgment. It is argued that such an account is not to be found in contemporary discussions of 'essential indexicals', 'first-person view' and mental self-ascriptions. (shrink)
Although there has been critical analysis of how the informed consent process functions in relation to participation in research and particular ethical 'dilemmas', there has been little examination of consenting to more routine medical procedures. We report a qualitative study of 25 women who consented to surgery. Of these, nine were ambivalent or opposed to having an operation. When faced with a consent form, women's accounts suggest that they rarely do anything other than obey professionals' requests for a signature. An (...) interactionist analysis suggests that women's capacity to act is reduced by the hospital structure of tacit, socially-imposed rules of conduct. Bourdieu's concepts of habitus, capital and symbolic power/violence show how the practical logic that women apply confers a 'sense of place' relative to professionals. Women experience deficits in capital that constrain their ability to exercise choice. This work demonstrates the weakness of the consent process as a safeguard of autonomy. (shrink)
Philosophical arguments usually are and nearly always should be abductive. Across many areas, philosophers are starting to recognize that often the best we can do in theorizing some phenomena is put forward our best overall account of it, warts and all. This is especially true in esoteric areas like logic, aesthetics, mathematics, and morality where the data to be explained is often based in our stubborn intuitions. -/- While this methodological shift is welcome, it's not without problems. Abductive arguments involve (...) significant theoretical resources which themselves can be part of what's being disputed. This means that we will sometimes find otherwise good arguments which suggest their own grounds are problematic. In particular, sometimes revising our beliefs on the basis of such an argument can undermine the very justification we used in that argument. -/- This feature, which I'll call self-effacingness, occurs most dramatically in arguments against our standing views on the esoteric subject matters mentioned above: logic, mathematics, aesthetics, and morality. This is because these subject matters all play a role in how we reason abductively. This isn't an idle fact; we can resist some challenges to our standing beliefs about these subject matters exactly because the challenges are self-effacing. The self-effacing character of certain arguments is thus both a benefit and limitation of the abductive turn and deserves serious attention. I aim to give it the attention it deserves. (shrink)
This article traces the life of Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev from childhood in Siberia, through education and training to become the first formulator of the Periodic Table, the logo of chemistry. His unique contribution is described and analysed; what factors helped him be the first formulator? What did he do after making his most famous discovery? In addition the article peeps into his personal life, his dealings with his family and the authorities. Finally we look at honours he received in (...) later life. (shrink)
It is regrettably common for theorists to attempt to characterize the Humean dictum that one can’t get an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ just in broadly logical terms. We here address an important new class of such approaches which appeal to model-theoretic machinery. Our complaint about these recent attempts is that they interfere with substantive debates about the nature of the ethical. This problem, developed in detail for Daniel Singer’s and Gillian Russell and Greg Restall’s accounts of Hume’s dictum, is of (...) a general type arising for the use of model-theoretic structures in cashing out substantive philosophical claims: the question of whether an abstract model-theoretic structure successfully interprets something often involves taking a stand on non-trivial issues surrounding the thing. In the particular case of Hume’s dictum, given reasonable conceptual or metaphysical claims about the ethical, Singer’s and Russell and Restall’s accounts treat obviously ethical claims as descriptive and vice versa. Consequently, their model-theoretic characterizations of Hume’s dictum are not metaethically neutral. This encourages skepticism about whether model-theoretic machinery suffices to provide an illuminating distinction between the ethical and the descriptive. (shrink)
An account of analogical characterization is developed in which the following things are claimed.(1) Analogical predications are irreflexive, asymmetrical, atransitive and non-inversive. (2) Analogies A and B share role-similarity descriptions sufficiently abstract to overcome the differences between A and B. Analogies pivot on the point of limited similarity and substantial, even radical, difference. (3) The semantical theory for sentences making analogical attributions requires a distinction between (sentential) meaning as truth conditions and (sentential) meaning as a functional compound of the meanings (...) of contained lexical items. Analogical sentences possess both kinds of meaning. They are true via their truth conditions and would be false via their lexical meanings. The distinctive feature of the lexical meaning of analogical sentences is the tightness of constraints on closure. The implications of analogical sentences, given their lexical meanings, though there, aren't drawn. It is in this sense that analogies are made and not found. (shrink)
Mississippian Meramec reservoirs of the STACK play are comprised of silty limestones, calcareous siltstones, argillaceous-calcareous siltstones, argillaceous siltstones and mudstones. We found that core-defined reservoir lithologies are related to petrophysics-based rock types derived from porosity-permeability relationships using a flow-zone indicator approach. We classified lithologies and rock types in non-cored wells using an Artificial Neural Network with overall accuracies of 93% and 70%, respectively. We observed that mudstone-rich rock type 1 exhibits high clay and low calcite while calcareous-rich rock type 3 (...) has high calcite and low clay content with rock type 2 falling in between rock types 1 and 3. Results of the ANN were applied to a suite of well logs in non-cored wells in which we generated lithology and rock-type logs. We identified that the Meramec consists of seven stratigraphic units characterized as strike-elongate, shoaling-upward parasequences; each parasequence is capped by a marine-flooding surface. The lower three parasequences form a retrogradational parasequence set that back-steps to the northwest and is capped by a maximum flooding surface. The upper Meramec is characterized by parasequences that form an aggradational to progradational stacking pattern followed again by a retrogradational trend. We predict that the parasequence stacking, associated lithology distribution, and diagenetic cements appear to control the spatial distribution of petrophysical properties, pore volume, and hydrocarbon pore volume. Calcareous-rich lithologies exhibit lower porosity, permeability, and HCPV and higher water saturation. Argillaceous-rich lithologies that occur near the maximum flooding surface are the most favorable reservoir intervals as they exhibit relatively higher porosity, permeability, HCPV, and lower water saturation. Productivity could not be directly correlated to rock types as operational and completion factors along with overpressure and oil phase play important roles on production. (shrink)
Objectives To conduct an independent evaluation of the first phase of the Health Foundation’s Safer Patients Initiative (SPI), and to identify the net additional effect of SPI and any differences in changes in participating and non-participating NHS hospitals. Design Mixed method evaluation involving five substudies, before and after design. Setting NHS hospitals in the United Kingdom. Participants Four hospitals (one in each country in the UK) participating in the first phase of the SPI (SPI1); 18 control hospitals. Intervention The SPI1 (...) was a compound (multi-component) organisational intervention delivered over 18 months that focused on improving the reliability of specific frontline care processes in designated clinical specialties and promoting organisational and cultural change. Results Senior staff members were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about SPI1. There was a small (0.08 points on a 5 point scale) but significant (P<0.01) effect in favour of the SPI1 hospitals in one of 11 dimensions of the staff questionnaire (organisational climate). Qualitative evidence showed only modest penetration of SPI1 at medical ward level. Although SPI1 was designed to engage staff from the bottom up, it did not usually feel like this to those working on the wards, and questions about legitimacy of some aspects of SPI1 were raised. Of the five components to identify patients at risk of deterioration—monitoring of vital signs (14 items); routine tests (three items); evidence based standards specific to certain diseases (three items); prescribing errors (multiple items from the British National Formulary); and medical history taking (11 items)—there was little net difference between control and SPI1 hospitals, except in relation to quality of monitoring of acute medical patients, which improved on average over time across all hospitals. Recording of respiratory rate increased to a greater degree in SPI1 than in control hospitals; in the second six hours after admission recording increased from 40% (93) to 69% (165) in control hospitals and from 37% (141) to 78% (296) in SPI1 hospitals (odds ratio for “difference in difference” 2.1, 99% confidence interval 1.0 to 4.3; P=0.008). Use of a formal scoring system for patients with pneumonia also increased over time (from 2% (102) to 23% (111) in control hospitals and from 2% (170) to 9% (189) in SPI1 hospitals), which favoured controls and was not significant (0.3, 0.02 to 3.4; P=0.173). There were no improvements in the proportion of prescription errors and no effects that could be attributed to SPI1 in non-targeted generic areas (such as enhanced safety culture). On some measures, the lack of effect could be because compliance was already high at baseline (such as use of steroids in over 85% of cases where indicated), but even when there was more room for improvement (such as in quality of medical history taking), there was no significant additional net effect of SPI1. There were no changes over time or between control and SPI1 hospitals in errors or rates of adverse events in patients in medical wards. Mortality increased from 11% (27) to 16% (39) among controls and decreased from 17% (63) to 13% (49) among SPI1 hospitals, but the risk adjusted difference was not significant (0.5, 0.2 to 1.4; P=0.085). Poor care was a contributing factor in four of the 178 deaths identified by review of case notes. The survey of patients showed no significant differences apart from an increase in perception of cleanliness in favour of SPI1 hospitals. Conclusions The introduction of SPI1 was associated with improvements in one of the types of clinical process studied (monitoring of vital signs) and one measure of staff perceptions of organisational climate. There was no additional effect of SPI1 on other targeted issues nor on other measures of generic organisational strengthening. (shrink)
A possible worlds treatment of the normal alethic modalities was, after classical model theory, logic’s most significant semantic achievement in the century just past. Kripke’s groundbreaking paper appeared in 1959 and, in the scant few succeeding years, its principal analytical tool, possible worlds, was adapted to serve a range of quite different-seeming purposes – from nonnormal logics, to epistemic and doxastic logics, deontic and temporal logics and, not much later, the logic of counterfactual conditionals. In short order, possible worlds acquired (...) a twofold reputation which has steadily enlarged to the present day. They were celebrated for both their mathematical power and their sheer versatility. This sets the stage for what I want to do here. I wish to explore the extent to which the supposed versatility of a possible worlds semantics is justified. In so doing, I shall confine my attention to its role in (1) logics of counterfactual conditionals, and (2) logics of belief. The question I pose is, why and on what grounds should we think that the device of possible worlds turns the semantic trick for these logics? My answer is that they do not turn the trick for them. Whereupon a further question presses for attention. If possible worlds semantics don’t work there, why does virtually everyone think that they do? Answering this second question is risky. Who am I to say why virtually everyone thinks that the possible worlds approach is more successful than I do? Who has vouchsafed me these powers? I shall try to mitigate the riskiness of my answer by contextualizing the evaluation of this approach in the following ways. First, the triumph of possible worlds occurred in the midst of a powerful general trend in logical theory, especially, in the past 60 years. In that period, logical theory became aggressively and widely pluralistic. Second, the versatility – the sheer ubiquity – of possible worlds as a tool of semantic and philosophical analysis, gives to possible worlds a kind of hegemonic standing.. (shrink)
In criminal cases at common law, juries are permitted to convict on wholly circumstantial evidence even in the face of a reasonable case for acquittal. This generates the highly counterintuitive—if not absurd—consequence that there being reason to think that the accused didn’t do it is not reason to doubt that he did. This is the no-reason-to-doubt problem. It has a technical solution provided that the evidence on which it is reasonable to think that the accused didn’t do it is a (...) different subset of the total evidence from that on which there is no reason to doubt that he did do it. It lies in the adversarial nature of criminal proceedings in the common law tradition that the subsets of the total evidence on which counsel base their opposing arguments are themselves different from and often incompatible with one another. While this solves the no-reason-to-doubt problem, it does so at the cost of triggering a second problem just as bad. It is the no-rival problem, according to which incompatible theories of the case based on incompatible subsets of the evidence cannot be rivals of one another. If neither party’s case contradicts the other’s then, by the burden of proof requirement, criminal convictions are impossible. Once having generated the dilemma, the object of the paper is to determine how it might be escaped. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the shared interest of John Dewey and Carl Jung in the developmental continuity between biological, psychological, and cultural phenomena. Like other first generation psychological theorists, Dewey and Jung thought that psychology could be used to deepen our understanding of this continuity and thus gain a degree of control over human development. While their pursuit of this goal received little institutional support, there is a growing body of theory and practice derived from the new field (...) of ‘affect science’ as well as clinical and political psychologies, and other recent research into the function of human emotions, that are bringing greater institutional weight to the interest in anticipating and activating our psychocultural development. The epistemological and theoretical work of these seminal thinkers provides the foundation for this new praxis leading to: 1) a theory of ‘political development’ based in transformations of the psychocultural function of ‘reasoning’, ‘sensory’, and ‘affect’ freedom, as sources of culturally valid knowledge, which connects our biological heritage with increasingly advanced forms of individual and organizational identities; and 2) a range of psycho-educational practices that activate the political development of individuals and organizations by transforming the prejudicial dimensions of their current political identities. (shrink)