Nanotechnology: Considering the Complex Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues with the Parameters of Human Performance Content Type Journal Article Pages 265-275 DOI 10.1007/s11569-008-0047-6 Authors Linda MacDonald Glenn, Albany Medical College/Center Alden March Bioethics Institute Albany NY 12208 USA Jeanann S. Boyce, Montgomery College Dept. of Computer Science and Business 7600 Takoma Avenue Takoma Park MD 20912 USA Journal NanoEthics Online ISSN 1871-4765 Print ISSN 1871-4757 Journal Volume Volume 2 Journal Issue Volume 2, Number 3.
Authors frequently refer to gene-based selection in biological evolution, the reaction of the immune system to antigens, and operant learning as exemplifying selection processes in the same sense of this term. However, as obvious as this claim may seem on the surface, setting out an account of “selection” that is general enough to incorporate all three of these processes without becoming so general as to be vacuous is far from easy. In this target article, we set out such a general (...) account of selection to see how well it accommodates these very different sorts of selection. The three fundamental elements of this account are replication, variation, and environmental interaction. For selection to occur, these three processes must be related in a very specific way. In particular, replication must alternate with environmental interaction so that any changes that occur in replication are passed on differentially because of environmental interaction. One of the main differences among the three sorts of selection that we investigate concerns the role of organisms. In traditional biological evolution, organisms play a central role with respect to environmental interaction. Although environmental interaction can occur at other levels of the organizational hierarchy, organisms are the primary focus of environmental interaction. In the functioning of the immune system, organisms function as containers. The interactions that result in selection of antibodies during a lifetime are between entities (antibodies and antigens) contained within the organism. Resulting changes in the immune system of one organism are not passed on to later organisms. Nor are changes in operant behavior resulting from behavioral selection passed on to later organisms. But operant behavior is not contained in the organism because most of the interactions that lead to differential replication include parts of the world outside the organism. Changes in the organism's nervous system are the effects of those interactions. The role of genes also varies in these three systems. Biological evolution is gene-based (i.e., genes are the primary replicators). Genes play very different roles in operant behavior and the immune system. However, in all three systems, iteration is central. All three selection processes are also incredibly wasteful and inefficient. They can generate complexity and novelty primarily because they are so wasteful and inefficient. Key Words: evolution; immunology; interaction; operant behavior; operant learning; replication; selection; variation. (shrink)
Increasing evidence from psychology and neuroscience suggests that emotion plays an important and sometimes critical role in moral judgment and moral behavior. At the same time, there is increasing psychological and neuroscientific evidence that brain regions critical in emotional and moral capacity are impaired in psychopaths. We ask how the criminal law should accommodate these two streams of research, in light of a new normative and legal account of the criminal responsibility of psychopaths.
This paper reports the results of a four year study to measure the effect of a Business and Society course on the ethical judgment of students. The research involves a matched pre/post survey with control design, with the Business and Society course functioning as the treatment variable. The subjects were undergraduate and graduate (M.B.A.) business students (n=460). The answer to the question posed by the title of this paper is yes, in a more ethical direction.
For a long time, several natural phenomena have been considered unproblematically selection processes in the same sense of “selection.” In our target article we dealt with three of these phenomena: gene-based selection in biological evolution, the reaction of the immune system to antigens, and operant learning. We characterize selection in terms of three processes (variation, replication, and environmental interaction) resulting in the evolution of lineages via differential replication. Our commentators were largely supportive with respect to variation and environmental interaction but (...) critical with respect to replication, in particular its appeal to information. With some reservations, our commentators think that our general analysis of selection may fit gene-based selection in biological evolution and the reaction of the immune system but not operant learning. If nothing else, this article shows that the notion of selection is not as straightforward as it may seem. (shrink)
This paper compares the ethical decisions and attitudes of business students and practitioners. Recent unpublished data from a national study of over 1600 students are contrasted with information reported previously. Students are found consistently to make less ethical choices than practitioners, and there is some indication that students are making less ethical choices in the 1980s than in the 1960s. In addition, both students and practitioners agree that buyers should beware, view the role of business more narrowly, and find fewer (...) incentives to behave ethically over time. Codes of ethics appear to be less influential than the individual''s strong personal value system and one''s superiors behaving ethically; support for codes is declining. The paper concludes with observations about the limitations and possibilities for survey research in this area drawing on other studies that used the same instrument utilized for this paper. Some implications for future research are suggested. (shrink)
Many analogies exist between the process of evolution by natural selection and of learning by reinforcement and punishment. A full extension of the evolutionary analogy to learning to include analogues of the fitness, genotype, development, environmental influences, and phenotype concepts makes possible a single theory of the learning process able to encompass all of the elementary procedures known to yield learning.
Activity anorexia illustrates selection of behavior at the biological, behavioral, and neural levels. Based on evolutionary history, food depletion increases the reinforcement value of physical activity that, in turn, decreases the reinforcement effectiveness of eating – resulting in activity anorexia. Neural opiates participate in the selection of physical activity during periods of food depletion.
Nietzsche's harsh attacks on modernity suggest a problem: if the modern age is so diseased, can we overcome it and move on to something higher? Or is the disease too severe? I examine the question by studying Nietzsche's view of spiritual health. Spiritual illness, even in the highest man, is nothing unusual or necessarily debilitating. Even the strongest have been infected since the earliest days of civilization. Indeed, infection with slave morality and bad conscience are requirements for spiritual elevation. And (...) the disease serves life by giving the strong something to struggle against, as well as making possible the spiritual greatness required to revalue all values. The higher man, then, is a mixture of health and disease. The revaluation of values is extraordinarily dangerous, but not impossible. Key Words: great politics Nietzsche's revaluation of all values On the Genealogy of Morals spiritual health. (shrink)
Locke & Bogin (L&B) propose that humans are unique in possessing stages of childhood and adolescence. Arguments to the contrary include evidence for a similar and adaptive juvenile period in simians of slow growth, intense play and learning, and provisioning with solid food by adults. Likewise, simians as well as humans undergo a compensatory growth spurt during puberty.
Psychopathy is characterized by pronounced emotional deficits, yet individuals with psychopathic traits generally understand the law and the likely punishments for violating it. Vitacco, Erickson, and Lishner (2013) suggest that because of this appreciation, there is no question that psychopaths are criminally responsible. We make the modest argument that increasing psychological and neurological evidence calls into question whether conventional assumptions about an offender’s culpable states of mind hold true for psychopaths. It is likely, we suggest, that a wide range of (...) deficits found in psychopaths impair their ability to calculate risks of harm and utilize information about the consequences of their behavior. (shrink)
This article examines the difficulties encountered in teaching professionalism to medical students in the current social and political climate where economic considerations take top priority in health care decision making. The conflict between the commitment to advocate at all times the interests of one’s patients over one’s own interests is discussed. With personal, institutional, tech industry, pharmaceutical industry, and third-party payer financial imperatives that stand between patients and the delivery of health care, this article investigates how medical ethics instructors are (...) to teach professionalism in a responsible way that does not avoid dealing with the principle of justice. (shrink)
Richard Rorty places William James in the same category of thinkers as Hegel. These thinkers, he claims, do not believe that philosophical discussion involves any reference to a reality external to their dialogue. Rorty’s claim initially seems justified, for Jamesdoes after all speak of the malleability of reality and insists that reality is part of experience. However, the fact that reality is part of experience does not necessarily mean that it is created by experience. Indeed, James insists that the reality (...) that limits truth is “found, not manufactured,” and the flexibility of truth cannot be attributed to the lack of an external reality but rather results from the interplay of thought and reality in determining truth. (shrink)
Seeking parallels among disciplines can have both risks and benefits. Finding parallels may be a vacuous exercise in categorization, generating no new insights. And pointing to analogous functions may cause us to treat them as homologous. Hull et al. have provided a basis for the generation of insights in different selectionist areas, without confusing analogy with homology.
The interaction of the organism with the environment requires not only reactive, but also active behavior which helps subject to meet the challenge of the uncertainty of the environment. A positive feedback between active behavior and immune system makes the selection process effective.
If selection is interpreted as involving repeated cycles of replication, variation, and environmental interaction so structured that environmental interaction causes replication to be differential, then selection in gene-based biological evolution and the reaction of the immune system to antigens are relatively unproblematic examples of selection processes. Operant learning and cultural evolution pose more serious problems. In this response we deal with operant learning as a selection process. Footnotes1 The authors regretfully inform readers that since the publication of our target article (...) in 2001, one of our coauthors, Rod Langman, has died. (shrink)
Title: Nietzsche’s Machiavellian PoliticsPublisher: Palgrave MacmillanISBN: 1403933677Author: Don DombowskyTitle: Political Writings of Friedrich NietzschePublisher: Palgrave MacmillanISBN: 9780230537736Author: Frank Cameron and Don Dombowsky.
Albert Einstein insists that his epistemology made his discovery of relativity possible. He believed it was his understanding of the relationship of experience and reason that allowed him to reconsider certain “truths” of physics. Specifically, he believed that reality and thought were independent but related, and that conceptual systems are independent of but conditioned by experience. Failure to understand the relation between experience and reason had, Einstein believed, limited progress in science. His understanding of the relation, on the other hand, (...) enabled him to formulate relativity theory and therefore provides one example of the relevance of philosophy to scientific inquiry. When Albert Einstein discussed his discoveries in physics, particularly the theory of relativity, he often began with an explanation of his epistemology and referred to thinkers like Hume and Kant. Einstein may have been a physicist, but he had definite ideas about how we know and regarded epistemological theories as crucial to science, especially to physics. Indeed, he placed such importance on the question of how we know that the discussion of his work in his “Autobiographical Notes” begins with the question, “What, precisely, is ‘thinking?'” (1951, 7). The correct answer to this philosophical question, he believed, makes progress in science possible. The present article focuses on the relationship of the two elements, experience and reason, in Einstein's epistemology. Einstein himself frequently concentrates on what he characterizes as “the eternal antithesis between the two inseparable components of our knowledge, the empirical and the rational” (1934b, 271) in his papers and lectures on physics, for he regards them as independent in origin but related in scientific truth. His insistence that experience and reason do not determine one another yet must be related proved, for him, to be a necessary but not sufficient condition for the formulation of relativity theory and for scientific progress in general. The discussion of the relationship has four parts. First, experience and reason are explained; included in this explanation are Einstein's reasons for maintaining that the two are independent. The second section discusses the connection between the two that produces truth and knowledge. The third section follows with discussion of the way that Einstein believes reason can be both conditioned by and independent of experience. Finally, the significance of this understanding of the relation for relativity theory is examined. (shrink)