Debates over adaptationism can be clarified and partially resolved by careful consideration of the ‘grain’ at which evolutionary processes are described. The framework of ‘adaptive landscapes’ can be used to illustrate and facilitate this investigation. We argue that natural selection may have special status at an intermediate grain of analysis of evolutionary processes. The cases of sickle-cell disease and genomic imprinting are used as case studies.
Why did Hume drop sympathy as a key concept of his moral philosophy, and why—on the other hand—did Smith make it into the ‘didactic principle’ of his Theory of Moral Sentiments? These questions confront us with the basic issue of ethical theory concerning human nature. My point in dealing with these questions is to show what views of human nature their respective choices involved. And my procedure will be to take a close look at the revisions they made to (...) their ethical theories to bring out the contrasting aspects of their views of human nature. (shrink)
This commentary questions the applicability of the Newell Test for evaluating the utility of connectionism. Rather than being a specific theory of cognition (because connectionism can be used to model nativist, behaviorist, or constructivist theories), connectionism, we argue, offers researchers a collection of computational and conceptual tools that are particularly useful for investigating and rendering specific fundamental issues of human development. These benefits of connectionism are not well captured by evaluating it against Newell's criteria for a unified theory of cognition.
In the last two decades an increasing number of musicians, musicologists and philosophers in the United States of America have dealt with questions of philosophy of music on a phenomenological basis. F. Joseph Smith certainly deserves mention as one of the first and most innovative of these authors. Sections 1 and 2 of the paper sketch a portrait of Smith against the background of the current situation in America, where there is a strong awareness of the need to (...) overcome the present limits imposed by historical musicology in order to develop a new phenomenological approach. Section 3 expounds Smith 's critique against traditional theory of musical form and his attempt to redefine musical form on the basis of Husserl's treatise on passive synthesis. This, in the author's opinion, is Smith 's most important contribution to a phenomenologically oriented philosophy of music. Finally, section 4 tries to draw some critical conclusions concerning Smith 's work, with special regard to the merits and demerits of his idea of phenomenology as applied to music. (shrink)
Many proponents of deliberative democracy expect reasonable citizens to engage in rational argumentation. However, this expectation runs up against findings by behavioral economists and social psychologists revealing the extent to which normal cognitive functions are influenced by bounded rationality. Individuals regularly utilize an array of biases in the process of making decisions, which inhibits our argumentative capacities by adversely affecting our ability and willingness to be self-critical and to give due consideration to others’ interests. Although these biases cannot be overcome, (...) I draw on scientifically corroborated insights offered by Adam Smith to show that they can be kept in check if certain affective and cognitive capacities are cultivated. Smith provides a compelling account of how to foster sympathetic, impartial, and projective role-taking in the process of interacting with others, which can greatly enhance our capacity and willingness to critically assess our own interests and fairly consider those of others. (shrink)
In this essay, I offer a twofold defense of homelessness. First, I argue that specifiable socio-economic forms of organization that are common among the homeless and that operate at least partially independently of state and philanthropic institutions embody valuable and worthwhile ways to live and to make a living. Second, the norms underlying the current institutional response to homelessness facilitate psychological distress and social fragmentation not just among the homeless but among the housed as well. As a result, the ways (...) in which the homeless seek to live and to make a living may be conducive to the wellbeing of the housed as well. (shrink)
Commonplace among deliberative theorists is the view that, when defending preferred laws and policies, citizens should appeal only to reasons they expect others reasonably to accept. This view has been challenged on the grounds that it places an undue burden on religious citizens who feel duty-bound to appeal to religious reasons to justify preferred positions. In response, I develop a conception of democratic deliberation that provides unlimited latitude regarding the sorts of reasons that can be introduced, so long as one (...) is prepared to defend them against criticism. Moreover, I contend that religious citizens have a powerful incentive, based on their religious convictions, to be fully responsive to criticism. I defend this proposition by drawing on Robert Erlewine’s account of Hermann Cohen’s ‘religion of reason’. (shrink)
I here argue against the viability of Peter Ludlow’s modified version of Paul Boghossian’s argument for the incompatibility of semantic externalism and authoritative self-knowledge. Ludlow contends that slow switching is not merely actual but is, moreover, prevalent; it can occur whenever we shift between localized linguistic communities. It is therefore quite possible, he maintains, that we undergo unwitting shifts in our mental content on a regular basis. However, there is good reason to accept as plausible that despite their prevalence we (...) are in fact able to readily adapt to such switches, as well as to the shifts in mental content that accompany them. The prevalence of slow switching between linguistic communities does not then necessarily entail incompatibility after all. (shrink)
Throughout the biological and biomedical sciences there is a growing need for, prescriptive ‘minimum information’ (MI) checklists specifying the key information to include when reporting experimental results are beginning to find favor with experimentalists, analysts, publishers and funders alike. Such checklists aim to ensure that methods, data, analyses and results are described to a level sufficient to support the unambiguous interpretation, sophisticated search, reanalysis and experimental corroboration and reuse of data sets, facilitating the extraction of maximum value from data sets (...) them. However, such ‘minimum information’ MI checklists are usually developed independently by groups working within representatives of particular biologically- or technologically-delineated domains. Consequently, an overview of the full range of checklists can be difficult to establish without intensive searching, and even tracking thetheir individual evolution of single checklists may be a non-trivial exercise. Checklists are also inevitably partially redundant when measured one against another, and where they overlap is far from straightforward. Furthermore, conflicts in scope and arbitrary decisions on wording and sub-structuring make integration difficult. This presents inhibit their use in combination. Overall, these issues present significant difficulties for the users of checklists, especially those in areas such as systems biology, who routinely combine information from multiple biological domains and technology platforms. To address all of the above, we present MIBBI (Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations); a web-based communal resource for such checklists, designed to act as a ‘one-stop shop’ for those exploring the range of extant checklist projects, and to foster collaborative, integrative development and ultimately promote gradual integration of checklists. (shrink)
The scientific method is a potentiation of common sense, exercised with a specially firm determination not to persist in error if any exertion of hand or mind can deliver us from it. We are all affected by our past. I grew up in the “Land of Lincoln,” so stories about the 16th U.S. President, “Honest Abe” as we called him, were unavoidable in my youth. In particular, we learned that Abraham Lincoln never told a lie. Well, one day when I (...) was 10, a friend caused a bike accident that broke my left clavicle. When my parents asked me what had happened, I lied. I told them that I fell against the corner of a building. As I recall, I lied in order to protect my friend. His family was very poor, and my young mind .. (shrink)
Possible distributive justice frameworks for providing health care by general practitioners are discussed. The ethical considerations before and after the recent changes to the British National Health Service are contrasted, with particular emphasis on a possible ethical divide that has been produced between fund-holding and non-fund-holding general practitioners. It is argued that general practitioners in non-fund-holding practices can continue as ethical advocates for their patients and distribute health care within an egalitarian framework. However, those in fund-holding practices may now be (...) seen as interest advocates and may have to practise utilitarian distributive justice. Patient groups may be needed to ensure that these general practitioners are seen to act justly in the distribution of the health care resources for which they are now responsible. (shrink)
This study probed a crucial assumption underlying much of the ethics theory and research: do managers perceive ethical behavior to be an important personal job requirement? A large sample of managers from a cross-section of industries and job functions indicated that, compared to other job duties, certain ethical behaviors were moderate to somewhat major parts of their jobs. Some noteworthy differences by industry, organization size, tenure and job function were also found. These findings underscore the importance of ethics for business (...) education. They also have implications for manager selection, training, and development by organizations. (shrink)