We have synthesized a 582,970-base pair Mycoplasma genitalium genome. This synthetic genome, named M. genitalium JCVI-1.0, contains all the genes of wild-type M. genitalium G37 except MG408, which was disrupted by an antibiotic marker to block pathogenicity and to allow for selection. To identify the genome as synthetic, we inserted "watermarks" at intergenic sites known to tolerate transposon insertions. Overlapping "cassettes" of 5 to 7 kilobases (kb), assembled from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, were joined by in vitro recombination to produce intermediate (...) assemblies of approximately 24 kb, 72 kb ("1/8 genome"), and 144 kb ("1/4 genome"), which were all cloned as bacterial artificial chromosomes in Escherichia coli. Most of these intermediate clones were sequenced, and clones of all four 1/4 genomes with the correct sequence were identified. The complete synthetic genome was assembled by transformation-associated recombination cloning in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, then isolated and sequenced. A clone with the correct sequence was identified. The methods described here will be generally useful for constructing large DNA molecules from chemically synthesized pieces and also from combinations of natural and synthetic DNA segments. 10.1126/science.1151721. (shrink)
Dual-process theories of conditional reasoning predict that relationships among four basic logical forms, and to intellectual ability and thinking predictions, are most evident when conflict arises between experiential and analytic processing (e.g., Stanovich & West, 2000). To test these predictions, 210 undergraduates were presented with conditionals for which the consequents were either weakly or strongly associated with alternative antecedents (i.e., WA and SA problems, respectively). Consistent with predictions, modus ponens inferences were not related to inferences on the uncertain forms (affirmation (...) of the consequent, denial of the antecedent). On WA problems, modus tollens, affirmation of the consequent, and denial of the antecedent were related to each other and to verbal ability. Modus ponens was linked to verbal ability only when disabling conditions were activated. In accord with the predictions of Stanovich and West (2000), on most problems, thinking dispositions predicted variance in inferences independently from verbal ability. We argue that a largely automatic experiential processing system governs performance on modus ponens, unless disablers are activated. Consciously controlled analytic processing predominates on the uncertain forms and, under some conditions, on modus tollens. (shrink)
Daniel, Michael E Review of: My door is always open: A conversation on faith, hope and the church in a time of change, by Pope Francis with Antonio Spadaro, trans. Shaun Whiteside, London: Bloomsbury, 2014, pp. 172, $30.00.
Clues about what Berkeley was planning to say about mind in his now-lost second volume of the Principles seem to abound in his Notebooks. However, commentators have been reluctant to use his unpublished entries to explicate his remarks about spiritual substances in the Principles and Dialogues for three reasons. First, it has proven difficult to reconcile the seemingly Humean bundle theory of the self in the Notebooks with Berkeley's published characterization of spirits as “active beings or principles.” Second, the fact (...) that Berkeley did not publish his Notebooks insights on mind has led some to claim that he later rejected his early views. Third, many of the Notebooks entries on mind have a ‘+’ sign next to them, which has been understood for decades to comprise a Black List of views about which Berkeley had doubts or subsequently rejected. In my dialogue, I describe how Berkeley's “congeries” account of mind (1) differs from Hume's bundle theory in a way that complements Berkeley's published remarks and (2) undercuts the claim that he later rejected his early views. Most importantly, (3) I show how a careful analysis of the British Library manuscript of the Notebooks refutes the Black List hypothesis. (shrink)
This essay responds to the contemporary anxiety in theology over the relationship between Christian and non-Christian discourse. My argument proceeds as follows. First, I construe the debate between liberal and postliberal theology as turning on the wrestle between the idiosyncrasy and intelligibility of Christian discourse. While the liberal tradition insists that Christian discourse can be rendered intelligible to non-Christian forms of thought and life, and so can contribute to the flourishing of a shared social life, postliberal critics worry that this (...) insistence leads to the capitulation of that discourse to foreign, hostile criteria, and so to the loss of the idiosyncratic Christian identity. Second, I .. (shrink)
Essays by Thomasma and ten Have recommend hermeneutical clinical ethics. The use Thomasma makes of hermeneutics is not radical enough because it leaves out basic interpretation of clinical practice and focuses narrowly on ethical principles and rules. Ten Have, while failing to notice that the hyperreality of clinical ethics is a feature of all language, rightly distinguishes four characteristic parameters of a thoroughgoing interpretive clinical ethics: experience, attitudes and emotions, community, and ambiguity. Suggestions are made for implementing hermeneutical ethics in (...) clinical teaching. (shrink)
The art of interpretation has traditionally been an integral part of medical practice, but little attention has been devoted to its theory. Hermeneutics or the study of interpretation has grown as a methodological interest primarily within the humanities. Borrowing from the medieval fourfold sense of scripture, which organizes interpretive activity both logically and comprehensively, I propose a hermeneutical model of clinical decision-making. According to the model, a patient is analogous to a literary text which may be interpreted on four levels: (...) (1) the literal facts of the patient's body and the literal story told by the patient, (2) the diagnostic meaning of the literal data, (3) the praxis (prognosis and therapeutic decisions) emanating from the diagnosis, and (4) the change effected by the clinical encounter in both the patient's and clinician's life-worlds. The model is illustrated through application to a medical case. (shrink)
Those most intimate with the works of H. Richard Niebuhr, who return to them time after time for theological and ethical sustenance, know that they exemplify a more interesting thinker than his brother, Reinhold. Of course, Reinhold was and remains the more public figure, read seriously in his time by politicians and theologians, celebrated by our current president, and enjoying renewed scholarly interest resulting in new editions of out-of-print works and a number of critical studies. Meanwhile, H. Richard continues to (...) exert decisive influence on American Protestant thought. Such diverse thinkers as Paul Ramsey, James Gustafson, Stanley Hauerwas, William Schweiker, Kathryn Tanner, Gordon Kaufman, Emilie Townes .. (shrink)
During disasters, clinicians may be forced to play dual roles, as both a provider and an allocator of scarce resources. At present, a clear framework to govern resource stewardship at the bedside is lacking. Clinicians who find themselves practicing in this ethical gap between clinical and public health ethics can experience significant moral distress. One provider describes her experience allocating an oxygen tank in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, immediately following the 2010 earthquake. Using a (...) clinical vignette and reflective narrative she attempts to identify the factors that influenced her allocation decision, opening up the factors for commentary and debate by an ethicist. A better paradigm for the ethical care of patients during disasters is needed to better guide provider choices in the future. (shrink)
According to a number of international organizations such as UNESCO, the development of critical thinking is fundamental in youth education. In general, critical thinking is recognized as thinking that doubts and evaluates principles and facts. We define it as essentially dialogical, in other words constructive and responsible. And we maintain that its development is essential to help youngsters make enlightened decisions and adequately face up to the challenges of everyday living. Our recent analyses of exchanges among pupils who benefited from (...) philosophical praxis showed that dialogical critical thinking comprises four thinking modes and six epistemological perspectives that range from the simplest increasing in complexity to the most complex . Relativism merits special focus in that a majority of the pupils’ interventions that we analyzed are situated within this perspective, and in that relativism is charged with both positive and negative meanings. In its positive meaning, it is associated with reflection, plurality and open-mindedness, but in its negative sense, relativism refers to arbitrary decisions, to indifference and the status quo. This is why we maintain that relativism must be transcended. In this respect, we suggest two series of open-ended questions that are designed to provoke a disequilibrium in pupils’ certainties and, by so doing, stimulate their reflection towards inter-subjectivity. These questions are associated with the diversification of thinking modes and the increasing complexity of these modes. (shrink)
Politicians’ decisions affect not only the lives of their fellow countrymen but also the lives of people living in other countries, the global economy, financial markets, the environment, and ultimately the lives of future generations. Therefore, if a cordial human existence depends in part on the quality of political decision making, the system adopted by societies to choose their political leaders is of crucial importance. However, are democratic elections the best way to select political leaders? Not according to Daniel (...) Bell’s recent book, China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy. The book attempts to cover China’s political system from two perspectives: on the one hand it... (shrink)
How important is Jiang Qing, whose extraordinary proposals for political change make up the core of the new book A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future? In his Introduction to the volume, co-editor Daniel Bell maintains that Jiang’s views are “intensely controversial” and that conversations about political reform in China rarely fail to turn to Jiang’s proposals. At least in my experience, this is something of an exaggeration. Chinese political thinking today is highly (...) pluralistic, and for many participants Jiang is simply a curiosity—if indeed they are aware of him. Still, for three reasons Jiang is very much worth our attention. First, there is a vibrant and .. (shrink)
Daniel Dennett has argued that consciousness can be satisfactorily accounted for in terms of physical entities and processes. In some of his most recent publications, he has made this case by casting doubts on purely conceptual thought experiments and proposing his own thought experiments to "pump" the intuition that consciousness can be physical. In this paper, I will summarize Dennett's recent defenses of physicalism, followed by a careful critique of his position. The critique presses two flaws in Dennett's defense (...) of physicalism. First, I will rebut his case against the traditional conceptual arguments against physicalism. Second, I will present some empirical grounds for thinking that a crucial move in the argument against physicalism is well-supported. For someone, like Dennett, who finds conceptual arguments dubious, the empirical findings make it exceptionally difficult to deny the anti-physicalist argument. (shrink)
Dombrowski and Murdoch offer versions of the ontological argument which aim to avoid two types of objection – those concerned with the nature of the divine, and those concerned with the move from an abstract concept to a mind-independent reality. For both, the nature of the concept of God/Good entails its instantiation, and both supply a supporting argument from experience. It is only Murdoch who successfully negotiates the transition from an abstract concept to the instantiation of that concept, however, and (...) this is achieved by means of an ontological argument from moral experience which, in a reversal of the Kantian doctrine, depends ultimately on a form of the cosmological argument. (shrink)
Transpersonal psychology first emerged as an academic discipline in the 1960s and has subsequently broadened into a range of transpersonal studies. Jorge Ferrer (2002) has called for a 'revisioning' of transpersonal theory, dethroning inner experience from its dominant role in defining and validating spiritual reality. In the current paradigm he detects a lingering Cartesianism, which subtly entrenches the very subject-object divide that transpersonalists seek to overcome. This paper outlines the development and current shape of the transpersonal movement, compares Ferrer's epistemology (...) with the heterophenomenology of Daniel Dennett, and speculates on the integration of the latter into transpersonal theory. (shrink)
In The illusion of conscious will , Daniel Wegner offers an exciting, informative, and potentially threatening treatise on the psychology of action. I offer several interpretations of the thesis that conscious will is an illusion. The one Wegner seems to suggest is "modular epiphenomenalism": conscious experience of will is produced by a brain system distinct from the system that produces action; it interprets our behavior but does not, as it seems to us, cause it. I argue that the evidence (...) Wegner presents to support this theory, though fascinating, is inconclusive and, in any case, he has not shown that conscious will does not play a crucial causal role in planning, forming intentions, etc. This theory's potential blow to our self-conception turns out to be a glancing one. (shrink)
Daniel Russell's Practical Intelligence and the Virtues is principally a defense of the Aristotelian claim that phronesis is part of every unqualified virtue—a defense of what Russell calls "hard virtue theory" and "hard virtue ethics." The main support for this is the further claim that we would be unable to act well reliably, or form our character reliably, without phronesis performing its "twin roles": correctly identifying the mean of each virtue, and integrating the mean of each virtue with those (...) of others so as to enable us to act in an overall virtuous manner. In following Russell's argument for these claims, we find much else of interest, including a persuasive account of right action and a resurrection of the old doctrine of cardinal virtues. Here I seek first to give readers a sense of the range and depth of this important book by summarizing the main lines of its argument. But I also raise some critical points, the most substantive of which concern his treatments of the unity of the virtues and of responsibility for character. (shrink)
We have never entirely agreed with Daniel Cohnitz on the status and rôle of thought experiments. Several years ago, enjoying a splendid lunch together in the city of Ghent, we cheerfully agreed to disagree on the matter; and now that Cohnitz has published his considered opinion of our views, we are glad that we have the opportunity to write a rejoinder and to explicate some of our disagreements. We choose not to deal here with all the issues that Cohnitz (...) raises, but rather to restrict ourselves to three specific points. (shrink)
In A New Form of Agent-Based Virtue Ethics , Daniel Doviak develops a novel agent-based theory of right action that treats the rightness (or deontic status) of an action as a matter of the action’s net intrinsic virtue value (net-IVV)—that is, its balance of virtue over vice. This view is designed to accommodate three basic tenets of commonsense morality: (i) the maxim that “ought” implies “can,” (ii) the idea that a person can do the right thing for the wrong (...) reason, and (iii) the idea that a virtuous person can have “mixed motives.” In this paper, I argue that Doviak’s account makes an important contribution to agent-based virtue ethics, but it needs to be supplemented with a consequentialist account of the efficacy of well-motivated actions—that is, it should be transformed into a mixed (motives-consequences) account, while retaining its net-IVV calculus. This is because I believe that there are right-making properties external to an agent’s psychology which it is important to take into account, especially when an agent’s actions negatively affect other people. To incorporate this intuition, I add to Doviak’s net-IVV calculus a scale for outcomes . The result is a mixed view which accommodates tenets (ii) and (iii) above, but allows for (i) to fail in certain cases. I argue that, rather than being a defect, this allowance is an asset because our intuitions about ought-implies-can break down in cases where an agent is grossly misguided, and our theory should track these intuitions. (shrink)
This note replies to a comment by Daniel Hausman on our paper ‘Preference purification and the inner rational agent: a critique of the conventional wisdom of behavioural welfare economics’. We clarify our characterisation of behavioural welfare economics and acknowledge that Hausman does fully endorse this approach. However, we argue that Hausman’s response to our critique, like behavioural welfare economics itself, implicitly uses a model of an inner rational agent.
In Setting Limits, Daniel Callahan advances the provocative thesis that age be a limiting factor in decisions to allocate certain kinds of health services to the elderly. However, when one looks at available data, one discovers that there are many more elderly women than there are elderly men, and these older women are poorer, more apt to live alone, and less likely to have informal social and personal supports than their male counterparts. Older women, therefore, will make the heaviest (...) demand on health care resources. If age were to become a limiting factor, as Dr. Callahan suggests it should, the limits that will be set are limits that will affect women more drastically than they affect men. This review essay examines the implications of Callahan's thesis for elderly women. (shrink)
Contemporary religious and scientific perspectives make various metaphysical truth claims that are frequently perceived to be either competitive or contradictory. Two dominant approaches that have been employed to explain and to resolve such conflicts are those of convergence, where one view trumps over and assimilates the other, and incommensurability, where the views in question come to be regarded as actually non-competitive. Drawing on recent models of inter-religious dialogue, in his essay, ‘The Fruits of Contradiction: Evolution, Cooperation and Ethics in an (...) Inter-Religious Context’, Daniel Weiss proposes by way of analogy a third approach, that of critical yet constructive interaction between religious and secular ethical perspectives where metaphysically contradictory commitments remain held in unresolved tension. In this essay, I engage Weiss’s proposal and raise questions about the analogy that he develops. Drawing on the political theory of Rawlsian liberalism, I propose a fourth conceptuality—that of overlapping consensus—which I argue bears important similarities to the model that Weiss advocates. (shrink)
As time goes by we will increasingly be marked more by abstract, distanced and imaginative renditions of the traumatic historical rupture of the Holocaust than by any personal or tangible connection - this article explores a bookwork/filmwork by artist Daniel Blaufuks engaging questions of what that might mean for us.
Applying cognitive linguistics to the text of Daniel 1 is a useful exegetical aid for a better understanding of the narrative. Studying the author's use of 'spatial markers' such as 'Jerusalem', 'Babylon', 'temple' and some other spatial features, makes it possible to reconstruct the narrative into a 'cognitive spatial frameset'. In this particular exegetical frameset, Daniel 1 can be described as a narrated confrontation between Yahweh and the gods of Babylon. Within this conflict between deities, Daniel, the (...) divine agent becomes a spatial embodiment of Yahweh's power and authority to act inside a hostile, non-Israelite environment and at the same time undermines the authority of the Babylonian gods. (shrink)