The Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI) is an ontology that provides terms with precisely defined meanings to describe all aspects of how investigations in the biological and medical domains are conducted. OBI re-uses ontologies that provide a representation of biomedical knowledge from the Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) project and adds the ability to describe how this knowledge was derived. We here describe the state of OBI and several applications that are using it, such as adding semantic expressivity to (...) existing databases, building data entry forms, and enabling interoperability between knowledge resources. OBI covers all phases of the investigation process, such as planning, execution and reporting. It represents information and material entities that participate in these processes, as well as roles and functions. Prior to OBI, it was not possible to use a single internally consistent resource that could be applied to multiple types of experiments for these applications. OBI has made this possible by creating terms for entities involved in biological and medical investigations and by importing parts of other biomedical ontologies such as GO, Chemical Entities of Biological Interest (ChEBI) and Phenotype Attribute and Trait Ontology (PATO) without altering their meaning. OBI is being used in a wide range of projects covering genomics, multi-omics, immunology, and catalogs of services. OBI has also spawned other ontologies (Information Artifact Ontology) and methods for importing parts of ontologies (Minimum information to reference an external ontology term (MIREOT)). The OBI project is an open cross-disciplinary collaborative effort, encompassing multiple research communities from around the globe. To date, OBI has created 2366 classes and 40 relations along with textual and formal definitions. The OBI Consortium maintains a web resource providing details on the people, policies, and issues being addressed in association with OBI. (shrink)
Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. The symptoms generally come on slowly over time. Early in the disease, the most obvious are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Doctors do not know what causes it and finds difficulty in early diagnosing the presence of Parkinson’s disease. An artificial neural network system with back propagation algorithm is presented in this paper for helping doctors (...) in identifying PD. Previous research with regards to predict the presence of the PD has shown accuracy rates up to 93% ; however, accuracy of prediction for small classes is reduced. The proposed design of the neural network system causes a significant increase of robustness. It is also has shown that networks recognition rates reached 100%. (shrink)
Helen Steward argues that determinism is incompatible with agency itself--not only the special human variety of agency, but also powers which can be accorded to animal agents. She offers a distinctive, non-dualistic version of libertarianism, rooted in a conception of what biological forms of organisation might make possible in the way of freedom.
James Tabery Helen Longino’s Studying Human Behavior is an overdue effort at a nonpartisan evaluation of the many scientific disciplines that study the nature and nurture of human behavior, arguing for the acceptance of the strengths and weaknesses of all approaches. After years of conflict, Longino makes the pluralist case for peaceful coexistence. Her analysis of the approaches raises the following question: how are we to understand the pluralistic relationship among the peacefully coexisting approaches? Longino is ironically rather unpluralistic (...) about her pluralism, forcing a choice between integrative pluralism and her preferred ineliminative pluralism. I hope to show that the analysis of approaches she offers actually accommodates a pluralism that is both integrative and ineliminative.Approaches to studying human behaviorPhilosophy of biology took shape as a discipline in the 1970s. This disciplinary formation over. (shrink)
An agent A morally coerces another agent, B, when A manipulates non-epistemological facts in order that B’s moral commitments enjoin B to do what A wants B to do, and B is motivated by these commitments. It is widely argued that forced choices arising from moral coercion are morally distinct from forced choices arising from moral duress or happenstance. On these accounts, the fact of being coerced bears on what an agent may do, the voluntariness of her actions, and/or her (...) accountability for any harms that result from her actions. This paper does not provide an account of the wrongness of moral coercion. Rather, I argue that, whatever the correct account of its wrongness, the mere fact of being coerced has no bearing on what the agent may do, on the voluntariness of her action, or her accountability for any resultant harm, compared to otherwise identical cases arising from duress and happenstance. (shrink)
Helen Steward puts forward a radical critique of the foundations of contemporary philosophy of mind, arguing that it relies too heavily on insecure assumptions about the sorts of things there are in the mind--events, processes, and states. She offers a fresh investigation of these three categories, clarifying the distinctions between them, and argues that the category of state has been very widely and seriously misunderstood.
In Studying Human Behavior, Helen E. Longino enters into the complexities of human behavioral research, a domain still dominated by the age-old debate of “nature versus nurture.” Rather than supporting one side or another or attempting..
Most people believe that it is sometimes morally permissible for a person to use force to defend herself or others against harm. In Defensive Killing, Helen Frowe offers a detailed exploration of when and why the use of such force is permissible. She begins by considering the use of force between individuals, investigating both the circumstances under which an attacker forfeits her right not to be harmed, and the distinct question of when it is all-things-considered permissible to use force (...) against an attacker. Frowe then extends this enquiry to war, defending the view that we should judge the ethics of killing in war by the moral rules that govern killing between individuals. She argues that this requires us to significantly revise our understanding of the moral status of non-combatants in war. Non-combatants who intentionally contribute to an unjust war forfeit their rights not to be harmed, such that they are morally liable to attack by combatants fighting a just war. (shrink)
This article examines the place of human and animal subjectivity in two autobiographically informed texts by Hélène Cixous. It takes her view on the word ‘human’ and the figure of Fips, the dog of the Cixous family, as a point of departure. By thinking through this figure, I argue, Cixous analyses the dehumanizing logic of colonialism and anti-Semitism in Algeria and develops her own response to such kinds of political evils, arguing for human relationality and animal corporeality. The article shows (...) that Cixous’ meeting with Fips creates a stigma that, belatedly, breaks through the barrier between herself and the dog; the reopening of the wound takes place in a poetical writing that reveals an intense ‘animal humanity’ formed by communal suffering, finiteness, and love. The lesson Cixous learns from the memory of Fips the dog is how to become ‘better human’. This becoming is also an assault on the false humanism of the colonial project and on racialized social exclusion. (shrink)
I have been asked to consider two questions: How Christian ‘oughts’ are related to Christian ‘is-es’, and, What does Christianity take flourishing to be? The background to these questions is that Christian ethics have traditionally been taken, both by supporters and opponents, as au ethic of creature-hood, sometimes quite crudely conceived. It is a sketch, but by no means a caricature, of a great deal of standard Christian thinking, to depict it as answering the two questions as follows: God is (...) your Creator: therefore you ought to obey him. The end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever. (shrink)
A computer can come to understand natural language the same way Helen Keller did: by using “syntactic semantics”—a theory of how syntax can suffice for semantics, i.e., how semantics for natural language can be provided by means of computational symbol manipulation. This essay considers real-life approximations of Chinese Rooms, focusing on Helen Keller’s experiences growing up deaf and blind, locked in a sort of Chinese Room yet learning how to communicate with the outside world. Using the SNePS computational (...) knowledge-representation system, the essay analyzes Keller’s belief that learning that “everything has a name” was the key to her success, enabling her to “partition” her mental concepts into mental representations of: words, objects, and the naming relations between them. It next looks at Herbert Terrace’s theory of naming, which is akin to Keller’s, and which only humans are supposed to be capable of. The essay suggests that computers at least, and perhaps non-human primates, are also capable of this kind of naming. (shrink)
"Open Democracy envisions what true government by mass leadership could look like."—Nathan Heller, New Yorker How a new model of democracy that opens up power to ordinary citizens could strengthen inclusiveness, responsiveness, and accountability in modern societies To the ancient Greeks, democracy meant gathering in public and debating laws set by a randomly selected assembly of several hundred citizens. To the Icelandic Vikings, democracy meant meeting every summer in a field to discuss issues until consensus was reached. Our contemporary representative (...) democracies are very different. Modern parliaments are gated and guarded, and it seems as if only certain people—with the right suit, accent, wealth, and connections—are welcome. Diagnosing what is wrong with representative government and aiming to recover some of the lost openness of ancient democracies, Open Democracy presents a new paradigm of democracy in which power is genuinely accessible to ordinary citizens. Hélène Landemore favors the ideal of “representing and being represented in turn” over direct-democracy approaches. Supporting a fresh nonelectoral understanding of democratic representation, Landemore recommends centering political institutions around the “open mini-public”—a large, jury-like body of randomly selected citizens gathered to define laws and policies for the polity, in connection with the larger public. She also defends five institutional principles as the foundations of an open democracy: participatory rights, deliberation, the majoritarian principle, democratic representation, and transparency. Open Democracy demonstrates that placing ordinary citizens, rather than elites, at the heart of democratic power is not only the true meaning of a government of, by, and for the people, but also feasible and, today more than ever, urgently needed. (shrink)
The paper considers and opposes the view that processes are best thought of as continuants, to be differentiated from events mainly by way of the fact that the latter, but not the former, are entities with temporal parts. The motivation for the investigation, though, is not so much the defeat of what is, in any case, a rather implausible claim, as the vindication of some of the ideas and intuitions that the claim is made in order to defend — and (...) the grounding of those ideas and intuitions in a more plausible metaphysics than is provided by the continuant view. It is argued that in addition to a distinction between events and processes there is room and need for a third category, that of the individual process, which can be illuminatingly compared with the idea of a substance. Individual processes indeed share important metaphysical features with substantial continuants, but they do not lack temporal parts. Instead, it is argued that individual processes share with substantial continuants an important property I call ‘modal robustness in virtue of form’. The paper explains what this property is, and further suggests that the category of individual process, thus understood, might be of considerable value to the philosophy of action. (shrink)
This paper argues in favor of the epistemic properties of inclusiveness in the context of democratic deliberative assemblies and derives the implications of this argument in terms of the epistemically superior mode of selection of representatives. The paper makes the general case that, all other things being equal and under some reasonable assumptions, more is smarter. When applied to deliberative assemblies of representatives, where there is an upper limit to the number of people that can be included in the group, (...) the argument translates into a defense of a specific selection mode of participants: random selection. (shrink)
I argue that any successful account of permissible self- defence must be action-guiding, or practical . It must be able to inform people’s deliberation about what they are permitted to do when faced with an apparent threat to their lives. I argue that this forces us to accept that a person can be permitted to use self-defence against Apparent Threats: characters whom a person reasonably, but mistakenly, believes threaten her life. I defend a hybrid account of self-defence that prioritises an (...) agent’s subjective perspective. I argue that it is sufficient to render the use of defence permissible if an agent reasonably believes that (a) she is morally innocent, and (b) if she does not kill this person, then they will kill her. I argue that the correct account of self-defence must distinguish between whether an agent is permitted to inflict harm, and whether the target is liable to bear that harm. (shrink)
The paper argues that it is possible for an incompatibilist to accept John Martin Fischer's plausible insistence that the question whether we are morally responsible agents ought not to depend on whether the laws of physics turn out to be deterministic or merely probabilistic. The incompatibilist should do so by rejecting the fundamentalism which entails that the question whether determinism is true is a question merely about the nature of the basic physical laws. It is argued that this is a (...) better option for ensuring the irrelevance of physics than the embrace of semi-compatibilism, since there are reasons for supposing that alternate possibilities are necessary for moral responsibility, despite Fischer's claims to the contrary. There are two distinct reasons for supposing that alternate possibilities might be necessary for moral responsibility—one of which is to do with fairness, the other to do with agency itself. It is suggested that if one focuses on the second of these reasons, Fischer's arguments for supposing that alternate possibilities are unnecessary for moral responsibility can be met by the incompatibilist. Some possible reasons for denying that alternate possibilities are necessary for the existence of agency are then raised and rejected. (shrink)
The paper argues that actions should be thought of as processes and not events. A number of reasons are offered for thinking that the things that it is most plausible to suppose we are trying to cotton on to with the generic talk of ‘actions’ in which philosophy indulges cannot be events. A framework for thinking about the event-process distinction which can help us understand how we ought to think about the ontology of processes we need instead is then developed, (...) building on some excellent work already done by philosophers working at the intersection of philosophy and linguistics. (shrink)
The Ethics of War and Peace is a lively introduction to one of the oldest but still most relevant ethical debates. Focusing on the philosophical questions surrounding the ethics of modern war, Helen Frowe presents contemporary just war theory in a stimulating and accessible way. This 2nd edition includes new material on weapons and technology, and humanitarian intervention, in addition to: theories of self-defence and national defence jus ad bellum, jus in bello and jus post bellum the moral status (...) of combatants the principle of non-combatant immunity and the nature of terrorism and the moral status of terrorists. Each chapter uses examples and concludes with a summary, discussion questions and suggestions for further reading to aid student engagement, learning and revision. The glossary has been expanded to cover the full range of relevant terminology. This is the ideal textbook for students of philosophy and politics approaching this important area for the first time. (shrink)
Helen Frowe has recently offered what she calls a “practical” account of self-defense. Her account is supposed to be practical by being subjectivist about permissibility and objectivist about liability. I shall argue here that Frowe first makes up a problem that does not exist and then fails to solve it. To wit, her claim that objectivist accounts of permissibility cannot be action-guiding is wrong; and her own account of permissibility actually retains an objectivist (in the relevant sense) element. In (...) addition, her attempt to restrict subjectivism primarily to “urgent” situations like self-defense contradicts her own point of departure and is either incoherent or futile. Finally, the only actual whole-heartedly objectivist account she criticizes is an easy target; while those objectivist accounts one finds in certain Western European jurisdictions are immune to her criticisms. Those accounts are also clearly superior to hers in terms of action-guidingness. (shrink)
This paper presents a new approach to the demarcation of social emotions, based on their dependence on social appraisals that are designed to assess events bearing on social concerns. Previous theoretical attempts to characterize social emotions are compared, and their inconsistencies highlighted. Evidence for the present formulation is derived from theory and research into links between appraisals and emotions. Emotions identified as social using our criteria are also shown to bring more consistent consequences for social behavior than nonsocial emotions. We (...) conclude by considering ways of validating and refining our classification. (shrink)
The concept of freedom is one which Hegel thought of very great importance; indeed, he believed that it is the central concept in human history. ‘Mind is free’, he wrote, ‘and to actualise this, its essence – to achieve this excellence – is the endeavour of the worldmind in world-history’ . Those who already have an interest in Hegel will doubtless be interested in his views on a topic which he thought so important; on the other hand, the many philosophers (...) who are either indifferent to or hostile to Hegel may point out that it does not follow that, because the subject of freedom interested Hegel, his views about this subject are of general interest. It will be the aim of this paper to show that they are of general interest; in the meantime, it may be recalled that Isaiah Berlin has argued that Hegel's concept of freedom is one of a type, called by him the concept of positive freedom, which is ‘at the heart of many of the nationalist, communist, authoritarian and totalitarian creeds of our day’. It will surely be worth while to see to what extent this is true of Hegel, and to what extent Hegel's views about freedom are true. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with two theories of history—those of Hegel and of Marx. Its primary aim is to clarify. The writings of Hegel are notoriously obscure, and those of Marx have been variously interpreted, so there is room for a paper which tries to ensure that when the theories of history propounded by Marx and Hegel are criticized, what are criticized are views which they actually held. It is no part of this paper's thesis that, in his theory of (...) history, Marx consciously borrowed from Hegel. But it will be argued that there is more of Hegel in Marx than is sometimes supposed, and that if this fact is ignored one seriously distorts Marx. (shrink)
William Rapaport, in “How Helen Keller used syntactic semantics to escape from a Chinese Room,” (Rapaport 2006), argues that Helen Keller was in a sort of Chinese Room, and that her subsequent development of natural language fluency illustrates the flaws in Searle’s famous Chinese Room Argument and provides a method for developing computers that have genuine semantics (and intentionality). I contend that his argument fails. In setting the problem, Rapaport uses his own preferred definitions of semantics and syntax, (...) but he does not translate Searle’s Chinese Room argument into that idiom before attacking it. Once the Chinese Room is translated into Rapaport’s idiom (in a manner that preserves the distinction between meaningful representations and uninterpreted symbols), I demonstrate how Rapaport’s argument fails to defeat the CRA. This failure brings a crucial element of the Chinese Room Argument to the fore: the person in the Chinese Room is prevented from connecting the Chinese symbols to his/her own meaningful experiences and memories. This issue must be addressed before any victory over the CRA is announced. (shrink)
We investigated family members’ lived experience of Parkinson’s disease aiming to investigate opportunities for well-being. A lifeworld-led approach to healthcare was adopted. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to explore in-depth interviews with people living with PD and their partners. The analysis generated four themes: It’s more than just an illness revealed the existential challenge of diagnosis; Like a bird with a broken wing emphasizing the need to adapt to increasing immobility through embodied agency; Being together with PD exploring the (...) kinship within couples and belonging experienced through support groups; and Carpe diem! illuminated the significance of time and fractured future orientation created by diagnosis. Findings were interpreted using an existential-phenomenological theory of well-being. We highlighted how partners shared the impact of PD in their own ontological challenges. Further research with different types of families and in different situations is required to identify services required to facilitate the process of learning to live with PD. Care and support for the family unit needs to provide emotional support to manage threats to identity and agency alongside problem-solving for bodily changes. Adopting a lifeworld-led healthcare approach would increase opportunities for well-being within the PD illness journey. (shrink)
The Habits of Racism examines some of the complex questions raised by the phenomenon and experience of racism. Helen Ngo argues that the conceptual reworking of habit as bodily orientation helps to identify the more subtle but fundamental workings of racism, exploring what the lived experience of racism and racialization teaches about the nature of the embodied and socially-situated being.
In this paper, I explore the question what a continuant is, in the context of a very interesting suggestion recently made by Rowland Stout, as part of his attempt to develop a coherent ontology of processes. Stout claims that a continuant is best thought of as something that primarily has its properties at times, rather than atemporally—and that on this construal, processes should count as continuants. While accepting that Stout is onto something here, I reject his suggestion that we should (...) accept that processes are both occurrents and continuants; nothing, I argue, can truly occur or happen, which does not have temporal parts. I make an alternative suggestion as to how one might deal with the peculiar status of processes without jettisoning a very natural account of occurrence; and assess the consequences for the category of continuant. (shrink)
Moral foundation theory posits that specific moral transgressions elicit specific moral emotions. To test this claim, participants were asked to rate their emotions in response to moral violation vignettes. We found that compassion and disgust were associated with care and purity respectively as predicted by moral foundation theory. However, anger, rage, contempt, resentment and fear were not associated to any single moral transgression. Thus, even though the type of moral violation matters for the type of emotion that is elicited, the (...) link between moral foundations and moral emotions seems more complex than moral foundation theory suggests. Rather, the findings suggest that there are both emotion-specific foundations and emotion-unspecific foundations. (shrink)
In April 1999, Dr. Curt Freed of the University of Colorado in Denver and Dr. Stanley Fahn of Columbia Presbyterian Center in New York presented the results of a four-year, $5.7 million government-financed study using tissue from aborted fetuses to treat Parkinson’s disease at a conference of the American Academy of Neurology. The results of the first government-financed, placebo-controlled clinical study using fetal tissue showed that the symptoms of some Parkinson’s patients had been relieved. This research study involved (...) forty subjects, nineteen women and twenty-one men; all suffered from Parkinson’s disease for an average of 13.5 years. In the study, each subject underwent neurosurgery: “four tiny burr holes, drilled through the wrinkle lines above the eyebrows into the skull, to clear a pathway to the brain. But only half received injections of fetal cells into the putamen, the region of the brain that controls movement; the other half received nothing. One year later, three members of the placebo group said their symptoms had improved.” In two-thirds of the transplant recipients, the fetal tissue took hold and seemed to establish a new network to produce the missing neurochemical dopamine. (shrink)
In Australia as is the case elsewhere, ethics is a developing aspect of business behaviour. Many educational institutions and business enterprises have a strong interest in the subject, particularly from the practical viewpoint of creating an ethical culture in business that has substantial practical effects. In this paper, the codes of ethics of five large enterprises are examined. They were selected as being typical of a collection of corporate codes used in Australia held by the Ethics Research Group at the (...) University of Technology, Sydney. Two codes were from international companies: a chemical manufacturing company and a health, beauty and medical manufacturer. The other codes were from an Australian bank, an Australian federal government business agency, and an Australian mining company.Corporate codes of ethics rarely contain operational definitions to direct their addressees on situations of moral hazard and the required response, to achieve a particular desired ethical corporate culture. Consequently, addressees constitute the locus of ethical decision making in enterprises. By contrast, the language used in the corporate codes examined construct an authoritarian position in the writer/reader relationship from the overuse of grammatical structures such as relational clauses, the passive, nominalisation, grammatical metaphor and modality. Collectively, these structures communicate a strong sense of obligation and even powerlessness since a strong authoritarian tone is established which does not give the addressees the possibility of discretionary decision making. (shrink)
This paper argues for the replacement of the Principle of Alternate Possibilities by an alternative principle, the Principle of Possible Non-Performance, which it is argued represents an important improvement on the Principle of Alternate Possibilities in the context of Frankfurt-style examples. The suggestion that the principle offers only the possibility of something insufficiently 'robust' to supply a decent replacement to PAP is countered.
Professor Parkinson's book on Spinoza's theory of knowledge makes a serious attempt to consider this theme in isolation. The author argues that an understanding of this particular theory is a prerequisite to any understanding of Spinoza's theory of ethics or his metaphysical views. The text also discusses Spinoza's interests, especially the influence of science on the development of his thought, and ultimately provides a critical account of the philosopher's methodology, theory of truth, and theory of differing kinds of knowledge.
Most philosophical accounts of human rights accept that all persons have human rights. Typically, ‘personhood’ is understood as unitary and binary. It is unitary because there is generally supposed to be a single threshold property required for personhood. It is binary because it is all-or-nothing: you are either a person or you are not. A difficulty with binary views is that there will typically be subjects, like children and those with dementia, who do not meet the threshold, and so who (...) are not persons with human rights, on these accounts. It is consequently unclear how we ought to treat these subjects. This is the problem of marginal cases. I argue that we cannot resolve the problem of marginal cases if we accept a unitary, binary view of personhood. Instead, I develop a new non-binary personhood account of human rights, and defend two main claims. First, there are many, scalar properties, the having of which are conducive to personhood. Second, different subjects have different human rights depending on which of these properties they have, and what threats apply to them. On my view, and contra most existing accounts, most marginal cases have some degree of personhood and are entitled to some human rights. (shrink)