Genetic results are usually not returned to research participants in Uganda despite their increased demand. We report on researchers’ perceptions and experiences of return of individual genetic research results. The study involved 15 in-depth interviews of investigators involved in genetics and/or genomic research. A thematic approach was used to interpret the results. The four themes that emerged from the data were the need for return of individual results including incidental findings, community engagement and the consenting process, implications and challenges to (...) return of individual results. While researchers are willing to return clinically significant genetic results to research participants, they remain unsure of how this should be implemented. Suggestions to aid implementation of return of results included reconsenting of participants before receiving individual genetic results and increasing access to genetic counseling services. Community engagement to determine community perceptions and individual preferences for the return of results, and also prepare participants to safely receive results emerged as another way to support return of results. Researchers have a positive attitude toward the return of clinically significant genetic results to research participants. There is need to develop national guidance on genetic research and also build capacity for clinical genetics and genetic counseling. (shrink)
How does science work? Does it tell us what the world is "really" like? What makes it different from other ways of understanding the universe? In Theory and Reality , Peter Godfrey-Smith addresses these questions by taking the reader on a grand tour of one hundred years of debate about science. The result is a completely accessible introduction to the main themes of the philosophy of science. Intended for undergraduates and general readers with no prior background in philosophy, Theory (...) and Reality covers logical positivism the problems of induction and confirmation Karl Popper's theory of science Thomas Kuhn and "scientific revolutions" the views of Imre Lakatos, Larry Laudan, and Paul Feyerabend and challenges to the field from sociology of science, feminism, and science studies. The book then looks in more detail at some specific problems and theories, including scientific realism, the theory-ladeness of observation, scientific explanation, and Bayesianism. Finally, Godfrey-Smith defends a form of philosophical naturalism as the best way to solve the main problems in the field. Throughout the text he points out connections between philosophical debates and wider discussions about science in recent decades, such as the infamous "science wars." Examples and asides engage the beginning student a glossary of terms explains key concepts and suggestions for further reading are included at the end of each chapter. However, this is a textbook that doesn't feel like a textbook because it captures the historical drama of changes in how science has been conceived over the last one hundred years. Like no other text in this field, Theory and Reality combines a survey of recent history of the philosophy of science with current key debates in language that any beginning scholar or critical reader can follow. (shrink)
This book explains the relationship between intelligence and environmental complexity, and in so doing links philosophy of mind to more general issues about the relations between organisms and environments, and to the general pattern of 'externalist' explanations. The author provides a biological approach to the investigation of mind and cognition in nature. In particular he explores the idea that the function of cognition is to enable agents to deal with environmental complexity. The history of the idea in the work of (...) Dewey and Spencer is considered, as is the impact of recent evolutionary theory on our understanding of the place of mind in nature. (shrink)
• "Conditions for Evolution by Natural Selection " (2007) . Evolution by natural selection is usually said to require three ingredients: variation, heredity, and fitness differences. But things are not so simple. Here I discuss various problem cases and their consequences.
Non-actual model systems discussed in scientific theories are compared to fictions in literature. This comparison may help with the understanding of similarity relations between models and real-world target systems. The ontological problems surrounding fictions in science may be particularly difficult, however. A comparison is also made to ontological problems that arise in the philosophy of mathematics.
Kyle Stanford’s arguments against scientific realism are assessed, with a focus on the underdetermination of theory by evidence. I argue that discussions of underdetermination have neglected a possible symmetry which may ameliorate the situation.
As a rule we treat people as responsible for what they do. We admonish them if they behave badly, praise them if they do well. We punish people. And we reward them. There are exceptions, of course. For example, we do not punish someone for doing something he has been compelled to do, perhaps by having a gun in his back. And we even recognize such a thing as psychological compulsion, as in the case of kleptomania.
There is a passage in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations in which he compares an answer that may be given to a philosophical question about someone else's pain with an answer that may be given to a question about the meaning of ‘It is 5 o'clock on the sun’. Wittgenstein does not compare other answers that may be given to the two questions. And he does not compare the questions themselves in respect of what lies behind them – making them ones which (...) we can, or cannot, easily ‘see through’ – or in respect of how they should be answered. Yet there is material in what he says elsewhere in the Investigations and in other of his later writings for a manysided and, I think, useful development of the comparison. Anyway, that is what I shall attempt in this lecture. (shrink)
Our understanding of communication and its evolution has advanced significantly through the study of simple models involving interacting senders and receivers of signals. Many theorists have thought that the resources of mathematical information theory are all that are needed to capture the meaning or content that is being communicated in these systems. However, the way theorists routinely talk about the models implicitly draws on a conception of content that is richer than bare informational content, especially in contexts where false content (...) is important. This article shows that this concept can be made precise by defining a notion of functional content that captures the degree to which different states of the world are involved in stabilizing senders’ and receivers’ use of a signal at equilibrium. A series of case studies is used to contrast functional content with informational content, and to illustrate the explanatory role and limitations of this definition of functional content. _1_ Introduction _2_ Modelling Framework _3_ Two Kinds of Content _3.1_ Informational content _3.2_ Functional content _4_ Cases _4.1_ Case 1: Simplest case _4.2_ Case 2: Partial pooling _4.3_ Case 3: Bottleneck _4.4_ Case 4: Partial common interest _4.5_ Case 5: Deception _4.6_ Case 6: A further problem arising from divergent interests _5_ Discussion Appendix. (shrink)
David Hume described the question of liberty and necessity as ‘the most contentious question of metaphysics, the most contentious science’. He was right about it being contentious. Whether it is metaphysical is another matter. I think that what is genuinely metaphysical is an assumption that Hume, and a good many other philosophers, make in their treatment of the question. The assumption is about language and reality. I call it ‘the conformity assumption’. But more about that shortly. Let us begin at (...) the obvious beginning, by considering what the terms ‘liberty’ and ‘necessity’ mean in the expression ‘liberty and necessity’. (shrink)
Few reference works in philosophy have articles on hope. Few also are systematic or large-scale philosophical studies of hope. Hope is admitted to be important in people's lives, but as a topic for study, hope has largely been left to psychologists and theologians. For the most part philosophers treat hope en passant. My aim is to outline a general theory of hope, to explore its structure, forms, goals, reasonableness, and implications, and to trace the implications of such a theory for (...) atheism or theism. What has been written is quite disparate. Some see hope in an individualistic, often existential, way, and some in a social and political way. Hope is proposed by some as essentially atheistic, and by others as incomprehensible outside of one or another kind of theism. Is it possible to think consistently and at the same time comprehensively about the phenomenon of human hoping? Or is it several phenomena? How could there be such diverse understandings of so central a human experience? On what rational basis could people differ over whether hope is linked to God? What I offer here is a systematic analysis, but one worked out in dialogue with Ernst Bloch, Immanuel Kant, and Gabriel Marcel. Ernst Bloch of course was a Marxist and officially an atheist, Gabriel Marcel a Christian theist, and Immanuel Kant was a theist, but not in a conventional way. (shrink)
This book looks at the role of the imagination in science, from both philosophical and psychological perspectives. These contributions combine to provide a comprehensive and exciting picture of this under-explored subject.
An interpretation of John Dewey’s views about realism, science, and naturalistic philosophy is presented. Dewey should be seen as an unorthodox realist, with respect to both general metaphysical debates about realism and with respect to debates about the aims and achievements of science.
Recent years have seen a renewed debate over the importance of groupselection, especially as it relates to the evolution of altruism. Onefeature of this debate has been disagreement over which kinds ofprocesses should be described in terms of selection at multiple levels,within and between groups. Adapting some earlier discussions, we presenta mathematical framework that can be used to explore the exactrelationships between evolutionary models that do, and those that donot, explicitly recognize biological groups as fitness-bearing entities.We show a fundamental set (...) of mathematical equivalences between these twokinds of models, one of which applies a form of multi-level selectiontheory and the other being a form of ``individualism.'' However, we alsoargue that each type of model can have heuristic advantages over theother. Indeed, it can be positively useful to engage in a kind ofback-and-forth switching between two different perspectives on theevolutionary role of groups. So the position we defend is a``gestalt-switching pluralism.''. (shrink)
The Ebola epidemic that broke out inWest Africa West AfricaAfrica towards the end of 2013 had been brought under reasonable control by 2015. The epidemic had severely affected three countries. This case study is about a phase I/II clinical trial Phase I/II clinical trial of a candidate Ebola virus vaccine in 2015 in a sub-Saharan AfricanSub-Saharan Africa country which had not registered any cases of the Ebola virus disease. The study was designed as a randomized double-blinded trialRandomized double blinded trial. (...) It was sponsored and funded by one of the biggest Northern multinational pharmaceutical companiesPharmaceutical companies. The protocol received ethics clearance from the relevantNational Ethics Committee national ethics committeeEthics committee. The study was coordinated and managed at the local branch of a big Northern diagnostic laboratoryDiagnostic laboratory and a laboratory of a local regional hospital. The overall study was a multi-countryMulti-country, multi-siteMulti-site trial aimed at recruiting a total of 3,000 research participantsResearch participants across four or five sub-Saharan African countries. For this country, the recruitmentRecruitment sites were two big cities, each aiming to recruit 200 participants: adults at the first site and childrenChildren at the second. The target sampleSample size was almost achieved at the first site but, before the study commenced at the second site, some members of raised the alarm that the governmentGovernment was carelessly risking the health, safetySafety and lives of citizens in the cause of an unproven vaccine that could precipitate a public health disaster. The trial was immediately suspended. A commentary on this case, and on the importance of trustTrust, is provided by Katharine Browne and Doris Schroeder at the end of this chapter. It highlights differences between this case and a phase I Ebola vaccine trial in CanadaCanada in 2014. (shrink)
We present a dynamic model of the evolution of communication in a Lewis signaling game while systematically varying the degree of common interest between sender and receiver. We show that the level of common interest between sender and receiver is strongly predictive of the amount of information transferred between them. We also discuss a set of rare but interesting cases in which common interest is almost entirely absent, yet substantial information transfer persists in a *cheap talk* regime, and offer a (...) diagnosis of how this may arise. -/- . (shrink)
Biological functions are dispositions or effects a trait has which explain the recent maintenance of the trait under natural selection. This is the "modern history" approach to functions. The approach is historical because to ascribe a function is to make a claim about the past, but the relevant past is the recent past; modern history rather than ancient.
In this paper I have attempted to open a window on an African approach to Bioethics — that of the Nso' of the Bamenda Highlands of Kamerun — from the vantage position of someone who has familiarity with both African and Western cultures. Because of its scientific-cum-technological sophistication and its proselytising character, Western culture, as well as Western systems of thought and practice, have greatly affected and influenced other cultures, particularly African culture. But Western culture, systems of thought and practice, (...) have been highly impervious and immune to influences from other cultures, philosophies, systems of thought and practice, even where these might have been salutary and enriching to Western culture and systems. What I have here termed Nso' eco-bio-cummunitarianism clearly indicates a viable alternative world-view within which some of the bioethical perplexities and controversies of today might be more satisfactorily resolved than within a Western framework. I have further attempted to show, by way of example, how within such a world-view, abortion and suicide, for instance, would be disapproved of while euthanasia, in its etymological purity, is approved of. (shrink)
In this article, I consider the virtual absence of an African voice and perspective in global discourses of medical research ethics against the backdrop of the high burden of diseases and epidemics on the continent and the fact that the continent is actually the scene of numerous and sundry medical research studies. I consider some reasons for this state of affairs as well as how the situation might be redressed. Using examples from the HIV/AIDS and Ebola epidemics, I attempt to (...) show that the marginalization of Africa in medical research and medical research ethics is deliberate rather than accidental. It is causally related, in general terms, to a Eurocentric hegemony derived from colonialism and colonial indoctrination cum proselytization. I end by proposing seven theses for the critical reflection and appraisal of the reader. (shrink)
Debate about adaptationism in biology continues, in part because within “the” problem of assessing adaptationism, three distinct problems are mixed together. The three problems concern the assessment of three distinct adaptationist positions, each of which asserts the central importance of adaptation and natural selection to the study of evolution, but conceives this importance in a different way. As there are three kinds of adaptationism, there are three distinct "anti-adaptationist" positions as well. Or putting it more formally, there are three different (...) dimensions here, and strongly adaptationist views, strongly anti-adaptationist views, and moderate views are possible for each dimension. (shrink)
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)
Altruism is generally understood to be behavior that benefits others at a personal cost to the behaving individual. However, within evolutionary biology, different authors have interpreted the concept of altruism differently, leading to dissimilar predictions about the evolution of altruistic behavior. Generally, different interpretations diverge on which party receives the benefit from altruism and on how the cost of altruism is assessed. Using a simple trait-group framework, we delineate the assumptions underlying different interpretations and show how they relate to one (...) another. We feel that a thorough examination of the connections between interpretations not only reveals why different authors have arrived at disparate conclusions about altruism, but also illuminates the conditions that are likely to favor the evolution of altruism. (shrink)
One way to express the most persistent part of the mind-body problem is to say that there is an “explanatory gap” between the physical and the mental. The gap is not usually taken to apply to all of the mental, but to subjective experience, the mind’s “qualitative” features, or what is now referred to as “phenomenal consciousness.” The “gap” formulation is due to Joseph Levine. He acknowledged the appeal of intuitions of separability between physical facts, of any kind we can (...) envisage, and this aspect of our mental lives. Subjective experience seems not to be the sort of thing that is just the physical under another guise. The immediate focus of Levine’s discussion was a family of arguments due to Saul Kripke. Kripke argued that some influential claims of mind-body identity could not be, as materialists claimed, contingent. If these identities are real then they are necessary. But we can clearly conceive that the mental and physical could come apart—an intuition that “identity theorists” conceded. Given that the identity is necessarily present if present at all, from the fact it is not necessary we can see it is absent. Kripke concluded that physicalism is false. Levine wanted to resist this. (shrink)
Both biologists and philosophers often make use of simple verbal formulations of necessary and sufficient conditions for evolution by natural selection (ENS). Such summaries go back to Darwin's Origin of Species (especially the "Recapitulation"), but recent ones are more compact.1 Perhaps the most commonly cited formulation is due to Lewontin.2 These summaries tend to have three or four conditions, where the core requirement is a combination of variation, heredity, and fitness differences. The summaries are employed in several ways. First, they (...) are often used in pedagogical contexts, and in showing the coherence of evolutionary theory in response to attacks from outside biology. Second, they are important in discussions of extensions of evolutionary principles to new domains, such as cultural change. The summaries also have intrinsic scientific and philosophical interest as attempts to capture some core principles of evolutionary theory in a highly concise way. Despite their prominence, both the proper formulation and status of these summaries are unclear. Standard formulations are subject to counterexamples, and their relations to formal models of evolutionary change are not straightforward. Here I look closely at these verbal summaries, and at how they relate to formal models. Are the summaries merely rough approximations that have no theoretical role of their own? Perhaps they could operate as theoretical statements in Darwin's time, but have now been superseded by more exact treatments. (shrink)
The paper links discussions of two topics: biological individuality and the simplest forms of mentality. I discuss several attempts to locate the boundary between metabolic activity and ‘minimal cognition.’ I then look at differences between the kinds of individuality present in unicellular life, multicellular life in general, and animals of several kinds. Nervous systems, which are clearly relevant to cognition and subjectivity, also play an important role in the form of individuality seen in animals. The last part of the paper (...) links these biological transitions to the evolutionary history of subjective experience. (shrink)
The main message of the paper is that there is a disconnect between what many philosophers of mind think of as the scientific practice of reductive or reductionist explanation, and what the most relevant scientific work is actually like. I will sketch what I see as a better view, drawing on various ideas in recent philosophy of science. I then import these ideas into the philosophy of mind, to see what difference they make.1 At the end of the paper I (...) address a possible objection: the familiar package of ideas I reject in the philosophy of science should not be lightly discarded, because other popular views on fundamental issues depend on positions that I want to reject. I reply that those apparently attractive further ideas are not worth holding onto. (shrink)
I discuss the bearing on the mind-body problem of some general characteristics of living systems, including the physical basis of metabolism and the relation between living activity and cognitive capacities in simple organisms. I then attempt to describe stages in the history of animal life important to the evolution of subjective experience. Features of the biological basis of cognition are used to criticize arguments against materialism that draw on the conceivability of a separation between mental and physical. I also argue (...) against commonly held views about the "multiple realizability" of mental states of the kind seen in humans. The aim of the paper is to reconfigure and narrow the "explanatory gap" between mental and physical. (shrink)
This book presents a collection of linked essays written by one of the leading philosophers of biology, Kim Sterelny, on the topic of biological evolution. The first half of the book explores most of the main theoretical controversies about evolution and selection. Sterelny argues that genes are not the only replicators: non-genetic inheritance is also extremely important, and is no mere epiphenomenon of gene selection. The second half of the book applies some of these ideas in considering cognitive evolution. Concentrating (...) on the mental capacities of simpler animals rather than those of humans, Sterelny argues for a general distinction between detection and representation, and that the evolution of belief, like that of representation, can be decoupled from the evolution of preference. These essays, some never before published, form a coherent whole that defends not just an overall conception of evolution, but also a distinctive take on cognitive evolution. (shrink)
COVID-19 is a very complex pandemic. It has affected individuals, different countries and regions of the world equally in some senses and differently in other senses. While sub-Saharan Africa has weathered a range of outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, the manner in which the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved necessitates some observations, remarks and conclusions from our own situated observation point. Compared to previous epidemics/pandemics, many African countries have displayed a sense of solidarity in the face of COVID-19 that (...) convincingly demonstrates that an Ubuntu ethic is viable and globalizable. The African continent seems, at last, to have realized that ethics dumping must be avoided and has made strides in defining its COVID-19 research agenda and strengthening its epidemic response for both public health and health research. More needs to be done in terms of public engagement, funding and technical support for research on potential therapies/candidate vaccines that are a product of scientific studies on the continent. (shrink)
Corporate social responsibility is a tortured concept. We review the current state of the art across a number of academic disciplines, from accounting to management to theology. In a world that is increasingly global and pluralistic, progress in our understanding of CSR must include theorizing around the micro-level processes practicing managers engage in when allocating resources toward social initiatives, as well as refined measurement of the outcomes of those initiatives on stakeholder and shareholder interests. Scholarship must also account for the (...) influence of diverse, and even mal-adaptive, stakeholders as well as more fully incorporate non-Western philosophical and economic perspectives. Based on this review, we pose five questions that scholars from each of these disciplines should address as the CSR field moves forward. We hope our questions provoke deeper thinking and greater rigor and attention to detail in this important area of business research. (shrink)
Originally published in 1965. For hundreds of years the thinking of philosophers, psychologists, and theologians on the problem of the mind’s relation to the body was dominated by the Cartesian notion that mind and matter are distinct substances. That Descartes also held that there is a union of mind and matter, in a person, has largely been ignored. This may be because, as he admitted in his private correspondence, it is impossible to think of mind and matter both as being (...) distinct substances and also as being, in some sense, united. The fact of mind being united with matter in a person – our experience of ourselves as embodied minds – cannot be accounted for on Cartesian principles. This book rejects the panaceas of the Double Aspect Theory and the Identity Theory and investigates the possibility of accommodating this experience within a conceptual framework derived from Kant, the basis of which is the concept of mind, not as immaterial substance, but as a subject related, in experience, to its objects. (shrink)
I argue that everyday folk-psychological skill might best be explained in terms of the deployment of something like a model, in a specific sense drawn from recent philosophy of science. Theoretical models in this sense do not make definite commitments about the systems they are used to understand; they are employed with a particular kind of flexibility. This analysis is used to dissolve the eliminativism debate of the 1980s, and to transform a number of other questions about the status and (...) role of folk psychology. (shrink)
A number of recent discussions have argued that George Price's equationfor representing evolutionary change is a powerful and illuminatingtool, especially in the context of debates about multiple levels ofselection. Our paper dissects Price's equation in detail, and comparesit to another statistical tool: the calculation and comparison ofaverage fitnesses. The relations between Price's equation and equationsfor evolutionary change using average fitness are closer than issometimes supposed. The two approaches achieve a similar kind ofstatistical summary of one generation of change, and they (...) achieve thisvia a similar loss of information about the underlying fitnessstructure. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIn his commentary on Aceme Nyika’s paper ‘Ethical and Regulatory Issues Surrounding African Traditional Medicine in the Context of HIV/AIDS’,1 Godfrey B. Tangwa charges the author with inappropriately using expressions, terminology and criteria of evaluation appropriate in Western scientific medicine to judge African traditional medicine . He seriously frowns on Nyika’s suggestion that African TM needs to be incorporated into, and subjected to the canons of Western scientific medicine. Such a suggestion, he believes, is a prescription for invasion, colonization (...) and exploitation so characteristic of the relationship between Africa and the Western world. However, he thinks that African TM is quite compatible with Western scientific medicine. (shrink)
The role played by the concept of genetic coding in biology is discussed. I argue that this concept makes a real contribution to solving a specific problem in cell biology. But attempts to make the idea of genetic coding do theoretical work elsewhere in biology, and in philosophy of biology, are probably mistaken. In particular, the concept of genetic coding should not be used (as it often is) to express a distinction between the traits of whole organisms that are coded (...) for in the genes, and the traits that are not. (shrink)