The public communication of science and technology has become increasingly important over the last several decades. However, understanding the audience that receives this information remains the weak link in the science communication process. This essay provides a brief review of some of the issues involved, discusses results from an audience-based study, and suggests some strategies that both scientists and journalists can use to modify media coverage in ways that can help audiences better understand major public issues that involve science and (...) technology. (shrink)
_The Undiscovered Dewey_ explores the profound influence of evolution and its corresponding ideas of contingency and uncertainty on John Dewey's philosophy of action, particularly its argument that inquiry proceeds from the uncertainty of human activity. Dewey separated the meaningfulness of inquiry from a larger metaphysical story concerning the certainty of human progress. He then connected this thread to the way in which our reflective capacities aid us in improving our lives. Dewey therefore launched a new understanding of the modern self (...) that encouraged intervention in social and natural environments but which nonetheless demanded courage and humility because of the intimate relationship between action and uncertainty. Melvin L. Rogers explicitly connects Dewey's theory of inquiry to his religious, moral, and political philosophy. He argues that, contrary to common belief, Dewey sought a place for religious commitment within a democratic society sensitive to modern pluralism. Against those who regard Dewey as indifferent to moral conflict, Rogers points to Dewey's appreciation for the incommensurability of our ethical commitments. His deep respect for modern pluralism, argues Rogers, led Dewey to articulate a negotiation between experts and the public so that power did not lapse into domination. Exhibiting an abiding faith in the reflective and contestable character of inquiry, Dewey strongly engaged with the complexity of our religious, moral, and political lives. (shrink)
The revival of interest in pragmatism and its practical relevance for democracy has prompted a reconsideration of John Dewey’s political philosophy. Dewey’s _The Public and Its Problems _ constitutes his richest and most systematic meditation on the future of democracy in an age of mass communication, governmental bureaucracy, social complexity, and pluralism. Drawing on his previous writings and prefiguring his later thinking, Dewey argues for the importance of civic participation and clarifies the meaning and role of the state, the proper (...) relationship between the public and experts, and the source of democracy’s legitimacy. These themes remain as important today as they were when Dewey first engaged them, and this is the work to which scholars consistently turn when assessing Dewey’s conception of democracy and what might be imagined for democracy in our own time. In this carefully annotated edition, Melvin L. Rogers provides an introductory essay that elucidates the philosophical and historical background of _The Public and Its Problems_ while explaining the key ideas of the book. He also provides a biographical outline of Dewey’s life and bibliographical notes to assist student and scholar alike. (shrink)
These essays apply influential, pathbreaking psychological studies about women's lives to literature. In their analyses of fictional portraits, contributors both challenge and confirm psychological theories about female identity, about 'connection/separation' as developmental catalysts, and about the impact of gender on 'voice,' moral decision-making, and epistemology in relation to classical and contemporary literary texts, written by both women and men.
Current practices of identifying and treating small indolent thyroid cancers constitute an important but in some ways unusual form of overdiagnosis. Overdiagnosis refers to diagnoses that generally harm rather than benefit patients, primarily because the diagnosed condition is not a harmful form of disease. Patients who are overdiagnosed with thyroid cancer are harmed by the psycho-social impact of a cancer diagnosis, as well as treatment interventions such partial or total thyroidectomy, lifelong thyroid replacement hormone, monitoring, surgical complications and other side (...) effects. These harms seem to outweigh any putative benefit of knowing about a cancer that would not have caused problems if left undiscovered. In addition to harms to patients, thyroid cancer overdiagnosis leads to significant opportunity costs at a societal level, due to costs of diagnosis and treatment. Unlike many other overdiagnosed cancers, accurate risk stratification is possible with thyroid cancer. At the individual patient level, use of this risk information might support informed choice and/or shared decision-making, as mandated by clinical ethics frameworks. And this approach might, to some extent, help to reduce rates of diagnosis and intervention. In practice, however, it is unlikely to stem the rising incidence and associated harms and costs of overdiagnosed thyroid cancer, especially in situations where health professionals have conflicts of interest. We argue in this article that thyroid cancer overdiagnosis may be usefully understood as a public health problem, and that some public health approaches will be readily justifiable and are more likely to be effective in minimising its harms. (shrink)
This paper introduces a special issue of Cognitive Science initiated on the 25th anniversary of the publication of Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP), a two-volume work that introduced the use of neural network models as vehicles for understanding cognition. The collection surveys the core commitments of the PDP framework, the key issues the framework has addressed, and the debates the framework has spawned, and presents viewpoints on the current status of these issues. The articles focus on both historical roots and contemporary (...) developments in learning, optimality theory, perception, memory, language, conceptual knowledge, cognitive control, and consciousness. Here we consider the approach more generally, reviewing the original motivations, the resulting framework, and the central tenets of the underlying theory. We then evaluate the impact of PDP both on the field at large and within specific subdomains of cognitive science and consider the current role of PDP models within the broader landscape of contemporary theoretical frameworks in cognitive science. Looking to the future, we consider the implications for cognitive science of the recent success of machine learning systems called “deep networks”—systems that build on key ideas presented in the PDP volumes. (shrink)
In this prcis we focus on phenomena central to the reaction against similarity-based theories that arose in the 1980s and that subsequently motivated the approach to semantic knowledge. Specifically, we consider (1) how concepts differentiate in early development, (2) why some groupings of items seem to form or coherent categories while others do not, (3) why different properties seem central or important to different concepts, (4) why children and adults sometimes attest to beliefs that seem to contradict their direct experience, (...) (5) how concepts reorganize between the ages of 4 and 10, and (6) the relationship between causal knowledge and semantic knowledge. The explanations our theory offers for these phenomena are illustrated with reference to a simple feed-forward connectionist model. The relationships between this simple model, the broader theory, and more general issues in cognitive science are discussed. (shrink)
ABSTRACTAnxiety and depression diagnoses are associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviours. However, a categorical understanding of these associations limits insight into identifying dimensional mechanisms of suicide risk. This study investigated anxious and depressive features through a lens of suicide risk, independent of diagnosis. Latent class analysis of 97 depression, anxiety, and suicidality-related items among 616 psychiatric outpatients indicated a 3-class solution, specifically: a higher suicide-risk class uniquely differentiated from both other classes by high reported levels of depression and anxious arousal; (...) a lower suicide-risk class that reported levels of anxiety sensitivity and generalised worry comparable to Class 1, but lower levels of depression and anxious arousal; and a low to non-suicidal class that reported relatively low levels across all depression and anxiety measures. Discriminants of the higher suicide-risk class included borderline personality disorder; report... (shrink)
The development of ethical and practice guidelines related to mental health service on the Internet has lagged behind the movement of practitioners into this area. Even for clinicians who are not offering services on the Web, the Internet has led to confusion and concern about proper roles and responsibilities. This article discusses an actual experience we had with a self-described rationally suicidal man with multiple sclerosis. After presenting some background on MS, we report initial interactions with the man verbatim and (...) summarize subsequent correspondence in an analysis of the man's claim that his decision to die was well reasoned and that he should be allowed a physician's assistance. (shrink)
This essay demonstrates that the management and contestability of power is central to Dewey's understanding of democracy and provides a middle ground between two opposite poles within democratic theory: Either the masses become the genuine danger to democratic governance or elites are described as bent on controlling the masses. Yet, the answer to managing the relationship between them and the demos is never forthcoming. I argue that Dewey's response to Lippmann for how we ought to conceive of the relationship between (...) citizens and elites if power is not to become arbitrary is located within a larger framework that avoids the problematic distinction Wolin draws between the demos and representative government. For Dewey, the legitimacy of decision-making, and, indeed, the security of freedom, is determined not merely by our actual involvement, but the extent to which non-participation does not preclude the future contestability of power. (shrink)
With much talk of President Obama’s pragmatism, there is good reason to explore what this means in terms of his commitments and his policies. When we call Obama a pragmatist, is this merely a way of saying he selects policies and makes decisions that work, quite independent and sometimes against principles he may hold? Or, do we mean to point to something more robust—a kind of pragmatism that emphasizes experimentalism as a cooperative venture, that locates principles in and assesses their (...) worth based on background experiential conditions, that eschews epistemic and practical certainty for fallibilism, that is oriented by a chastened hope, and that is committed to public deliberation as essential to democratic .. (shrink)
Dewey's conception of inquiry is often criticized for misdescribing the complexities of life that outstrip the reach of intelligence. This article argues that we can ascertain his subtle account of inquiry if we read it as a transformation of Aristotle's categories of knowledge: episteme, phronesis, and techne. For Dewey, inquiry is the process by which practical as well as theoretical knowledge emerges. He thus extends the contingency Aristotle attributes to ethical and political life to all domains of action. Knowledge claims (...) become experimental, the result of which makes them revisable in the context of experience. As a result, when we say a person (e.g., scientist, craftsman, or citizen) displays practical wisdom we are reading their judgments within a complex horizon, whose success as judgments require alertness and discernment of salient features in response to an uncertain environment. Contrary to his critics, he seeks to make us attuned to the world's inescapable, and sometimes, tragic complexity. (shrink)
The commentaries reflect three core themes that pertain not just to our theory, but to the enterprise of connectionist modeling more generally. The first concerns the relationship between a cognitive theory and an implemented computer model. Specifically, how does one determine, when a model departs from the theory it exemplifies, whether the departure is a useful simplification or a critical flaw? We argue that the answer to this question depends partially upon the model's intended function, and we suggest that connectionist (...) models have important functions beyond the commonly accepted goals of fitting data and making predictions. The second theme concerns perceived in-principle limitations of the connectionist approach to cognition, and the specific concerns these perceived limitations raise for our theory. We argue that the approach is not in fact limited in the ways our critics suggest. One common misconception, that connectionist models cannot address abstract or relational structure, is corrected through new simulations showing directly that such structure can be captured. The third theme concerns the relationship between parallel distributed processing (PDP) models and structured probabilistic approaches. In this case we argue that there the difference between the approaches is not merely one of levels. Our PDP approach differs from structured statistical approaches at all of Marr's levels, including the characterization of the goals of cognitive computations, and of the representations and algorithms used. (shrink)
In this essay, I maintain that Dewey's 1888 article “The Ethics of Democracy” is the most immediate thematic and conceptual predecessor to The Public and Its Problems. Both texts revolve around a number of key themes at the heart of Dewey's thinking about democracy: the relationship between the individual and society, the legitimacy of majoritarianism, and the significance and meaning of political deliberation. When these themes are taken together we come to understand the anti-elitist core of Dewey's political thinking.
This special section of Contemporary Pragmatism is about John Dewey's book The Public and Its Problems, published in 1927. Scholars consistently turn to this work when assessing Dewey's conception of democracy and what might be imagined for democracy in our own time. This special section contains four articles by James Bohman, Eric MacGilvray, Eddie Glaude, and myself.
Richard Rorty's irony is an extended form of Leo Strauss's esotericism, which can harm democracy. Esotericism and irony both grow from a confrontation with nihilism. Strauss's vision seeks to guard the democratic community from the necessity of esotericism, but stops short of installing esotericism and its deception as a public virtue. Rorty, however, replaces belief in sincere speech with inauthentic and insincere rhetoric by presenting the Ironist as a model for public imitation. The social reproduction of dissimulation through irony among (...) deliberative agents undercuts the moral resources that make democracy possible. (shrink)