Deterministic models in population dynamics often are really approximations to stochastic models, justified by an appeal to the law of large numbers. It is proposed to call such models pseudodeterministic. Four questions are discussed in this article: (1) What errors may be made by equating deterministically predicted values to expectations? (2) When, and in what sense, may numbers be assumed to be large? (3) How large are the variances, coefficients of variations, etc., as assigned to the variables in the stochastic (...) versions of the models? (4) What role may pseudodeterministic models play in empirical research, where problems of statistical reliability arise?As an example, a modified Nicholson-Bailey model of the interaction between insect parasitoids and their hosts is discussed; the modification consists of assigning a random (density-independent) mortality to the parasitoid population. A stochastic version of this model is discussed. The expectation of the final host density is compared with the value computed from the deterministic model. The latter value is systematically lower than the former. The magnitude of the difference depends on parameter values. The variability to be expected with the stochastic model is characterized by the coefficient of variation of the final host density; its dependence on parameter values and initial conditions is discussed. It is concluded that it is worthwhile in practical applications to estimate parasitoid mortality, and that the coefficient of variation in real situations may be far from negligible. (shrink)
Seeking consent for genetic and genomic research can be challenging, particularly in populations with low literacy levels, and in emergency situations. All of these factors were relevant to the MalariaGEN study of genetic factors influencing immune responses to malaria in northern rural Ghana. This study sought to identify issues arising in practice during the enrolment of paediatric cases with severe malaria and matched healthy controls into the MalariaGEN study.
Despite all the hyperbole, Natural Capitalism is not a great book and even less of a radical concept. Indeed, the "natural" is wholly unnecessary, for most of its "radical insights" amounts to nothing more than a rediscovery of the fundamental tenets of a market economy. Good capitalist entrepreneurs have always been able to figure out that pollution and waste are both inefficient and expensive. They never needed government officials or business consultants to tell them that you can do well financially (...) and environmentally at the same time. In spite of all this, if Natural Capitalism succeeds in convincing a large segment of the population that economic growth needn’t coincide with environmental degradation, it will have played a useful role—perhaps one that long-time advocates of market economies simply cannot play. One nonetheless hopes that Hawken and the Lovins will one day take a good look at what their ancestors achieved and give some credit to writers who made all of their good points—and most of their bad ones—long before they were born. (shrink)
The almost simultaneous and overlapping discoveries of Mendel's forgotten work by Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns, and Erik von Tschermak gave rise to an intense rivalry, some jealousy, and more than a little illfeeling. De Vries, the first to announce the discovery, has been subjected to the charge that he wished to conceal his discovery and to obtain for himself the credit for having discovered what we now call Mendelism. This charge involves the statement that de Vries (...) gave credit to Mendel only after he had found that others had also read Mendel's papers. The evidence on which this charge is based is sketchy, and we can now show that at least that portion of it that is based on supposed alteration in the proof of de Vries' paper in the Berichte is without foundation. Unfortunately, de Vries gave three different accounts of how he was led to Mendel's work. Two of these involve Liberty Hyde Bailey.Bailey had listed Mendel's papers in a bibliography that he published in 1892 in The Rural Library. Bailey did not include this bibliography in the first edition (1895) of Plant Breeding or in its reprinting in 1896 and 1897. He did include the bibliography in the second edition (1902), but this was after de Vries and others had called attention to Mendel. In 1899, both Bailey and de Vries gave papers at the Hybrid Conference held at Chiswick, England, but we have no record of their having discussed Mendel. What evidence we have indicates that, at this time, neither of them had read Mendel's papers.De Vries wrote to Bailey that it was Bailey's listing of Mendel in the bibliography published in The Rural Library that led to his discovery of Mendel. Later, de Vries wrote to H. F. Roberts that he had first found a reference to Mendel in Bailey's Plant Breeding of 1895, where the bibliographic reference to Mendel's papers was not published. Finally, de Vries told Th. J. Stomps, who succeeded him at the University of Amsterdam, that he had first learned of Mendel early in 1900 from a reprint of Mendel's paper sent him by his friend Professor M. W. Beyerinck. Our present evidence favors Stomp's account as it shows that de Vries had not read Mendel's papers in 1899 but had early in 1900.Attempts to pinpoint de Vries' discovery of Mendel are aided in part, and in part confused, by the fact that he published five relevant papers in 1900. These papers were in press simultaneously, and some of them were altered in proof. Further confusion is due to the fact that at least three of them were published in the reverse order of their acceptance for publication. Unfortunately we do not have the crucial dates for all of the papers.J. Roy. Hort. Soc. 24: 69–75. A definitely pre-Mendelian paper given on 11 July 1899, and published in 1900 (possibly in April). The evidence for an alteration in proof after de Vries had read Mendel is shown by the fact that de Vries described a ratio of 99 to 54 as a 3 to 1 ratio.Rev. gén. botan. 12: 129–137. A Mendelian paper, giving the 3 to 1 ratio in the F2 generation of a cross between starchy and sugary corn. The paper is not dated by de Vries but it was published in the volume, 128 pages ahead of a paper de Vries dated 19 March. In a footnote, de Vries cites a paper by Correns that was published on 25 January, so we can tell that it was written or corrected in proof after this date. Here Correns showed de Vries that he had already read Mendel's paper. Any attempt by de Vries to ignore Mendel or get credit for Mendelism after 25 January would have been senseless. This date was nearly two months before de Vries' Berichte paper was submitted for publication.Ber. deut. botan. Ges. 18: 83–90. Accepted for publication 14 march, published 25 April. This paper gives Mendel full credit and stimulated the publications of Correns and von Tschermak. As de Vries was aware that Correns already knew of Mendel when the paper was first submitted, there was no occasion to alter it in proof.Rev. gén. botan. 12: 257–271. Dated by de Vries 19 March, but the proof was read after June. De Vries cites von Tschermak's paper in the Berichte that was published in June. The Revue paper is a Mendelian paper, and Mendel is cited on the last page.C. R. Acad. Sci. (Paris) 130: 845–847. Accepted for publication 26 March 1900. Reprint received by Correns 21 April. Mendel is not mentioned but de Vries' use of terms told Correns that de Vries had read Mendel's paper. First of the papers to be published, it caused Correns to assume that de Vries wanted the credit that was due Mendel.The three discoverers of Mendel did not form a mutual admiration society. (shrink)
Hugo de Vries claimed that he had discovered Mendel's laws before he found Mendel's paper. De Vries's first ratios, published in 1897, for the second generation of hybrids were 2/3:1/3 and 80%:20%. By 1900, both of these ratios had become 3:1. These changing ratios suggest that as late as 1897 de Vries had not discovered the laws, although he asserted, from 1900 on, that he had found the laws in 1896. An Appendix details de Vries's Mendelian (...) experiments as described in the original edition of volume two of Die Mutationstheorie, but omitted entirely from the English translation. (shrink)
A great deal is known about the technical issues surrounding the introduction of Hugo De Vries's mutation theory and the subsequent development of the modern genetical theory of natural selection. But so far little has been done to relate these events to the wider issues of the time. This article suggests that extra-scientific factors played a significant role, and substantiates this by comparing De Vries's respect for the original Darwinian spirit with Thomas Hunt Morgan's use of the mutation (...) theory as part of an attack on the whole philosophy of Darwinism. In particular, it is argued that Morgan's attitude was dictated by his moral objections to the picture of a world dominated by struggle. (shrink)
Traveling-wave solutions of the standard and compound form of Korteweg–de Vries–Burgers equations are found using factorizations of the corresponding reduced ordinary differential equations. The procedure leads to solutions of Bernoulli equations of non-linearity 3/2 and 2 (Riccati), respectively. Introducing the initial conditions through an imaginary phase in the traveling coordinate, we obtain all the solutions previously reported, some of them being corrected here, and showing, at the same time, the presence of interesting details of these solitary waves that have (...) been overlooked before this investigation. (shrink)
At the heart of the current surge of interest in religion among contemporary Continental philosophers stands Augustine’s Confessions. With Derrida’s Circumfession constantly in the background, this volume takes up the provocative readings of Augustine by Heidegger, Lyotard, Arendt, and Ricoeur. Derrida himself presides over and comments on essays by major Continental philosophers and internationally recognized Augustine scholars. While studies on and about Augustine as a philosopher abound, none approach his work from such a uniquely postmodern point of view, showing both (...) the continuing relevance of Augustine and the religious resonances within postmodernism. Posed at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and religious studies, this book will be of interest to scholars and students of Augustine as well as those interested in the invigorating discussion between philosophy, religion, and postmodernism. Contributors include Geoffrey Bennington, Philippe Capelle, John D. Caputo, Elizabeth A. Clark, Hent de Vries, Jacques Derrida, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Richard Kearney, Catherine Malabou, James O’Donnell, Michael J. Scanlon, and Mark Vessey. Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion—Merold Westphal, general editor. (shrink)
New Zealand’s curriculum, in terms of its approach to technological literacy, attempts to deliver a sound, philosophy-based understanding of the nature of technology. The curriculum’s main authors claim that it conforms well to Mitcham’s categorization of different aspects of technology’s nature. Nevertheless, taking advantage of the existing literature of the philosophy of technology, this paper will reveal that the intended urriculum, though an admirable approach, still has a number of points needing improvement, and there are also certain gaps to be (...) bridged in the claimed conformity. This analysis primarily makes use of the method initiated by Nia and De Vries, based upon Mitcham’s suggested framework and other philosophers’ opinions as to the nature and various features of technology. (shrink)
BackgroundGenome-wide association studies provide a powerful means of identifying genetic variants that play a role in common diseases. Such studies present important ethical challenges. An increasing number of GWAS is taking place in lower income countries and there is a pressing need to identify the particular ethical challenges arising in such contexts. In this paper, we draw upon the experiences of the MalariaGEN Consortium to identify specific ethical issues raised by such research in Africa, Asia and Oceania.DiscussionWe explore ethical issues (...) in three key areas: protecting the interests of research participants, regulation of international collaborative genomics research and protecting the interests of scientists in low income countries. With regard to participants, important challenges are raised about community consultation and consent. Genomics research raises ethical and governance issues about sample export and ownership, about the use of archived samples and about the complexity of reviewing such large international projects. In the context of protecting the interests of researchers in low income countries, we discuss aspects of data sharing and capacity building that need to be considered for sustainable and mutually beneficial collaborations.SummaryMany ethical issues are raised when genomics research is conducted on populations that are characterised by lower average income and literacy levels, such as the populations included in MalariaGEN. It is important that such issues are appropriately addressed in such research. Our experience suggests that the ethical issues in genomics research can best be identified, analysed and addressed where ethics is embedded in the design and implementation of such research projects. (shrink)
For decades, the discussion on children’s competence to consent to medical issues has concentrated around normative concerns, with little progress in clinical practices. Decision-making competence is an important condition in the informed consent model. In pediatrics, clinicians need to strike a proper balance in order to both protect children’s interests when they are not fully able to do so themselves and to respect their autonomy when they are. Children’s competence to consent, however, is currently not assessed in a standardized way. (...) Moreover, the correlation between competence to give informed consent and age in children has never been systematically investigated, nor do we know which factors exactly contribute to children’s competence. (shrink)
Alice Crary has recently developed a radical reading of J. L. Austin's philosophy of language. The central contention of Crary's reading is that Austin gives convincing reasons to reject the idea that sentences have context-invariant literal meaning. While I am in sympathy with Crary about the continuing importance of Austin's work, and I think Crary's reading is deep and interesting, I do not think literal sentence meaning is one of Austin's targets, and the arguments that Crary attributes to Austin or (...) finds Austinian in spirit do not provide convincing reasons to reject literal sentence meaning. In this paper, I challenge Crary's reading of Austin and defend the idea of literal sentence meaning. (shrink)
BackgroundFor many decades, the debate on children’s competence to give informed consent in medical settings concentrated on ethical and legal aspects, with little empirical underpinnings. Recently, data from empirical research became available to advance the discussion. It was shown that children’s competence to consent to clinical research could be accurately assessed by the modified MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool for Clinical Research. Age limits for children to be deemed competent to decide on research participation have been studied: generally children of 11.2 (...) years and above were decision-making competent, while children of 9.6 years and younger were not. Age was pointed out to be the key determining factor in children’s competence. In this article we reflect on policy implications of these findings, considering legal, ethical, developmental and clinical perspectives.DiscussionAlthough assessment of children’s competence has a normative character, ethics, law and clinical practice can benefit from research data. The findings may help to do justice to the capacities children possess and challenges they may face when deciding about treatment and research options. We discuss advantages and drawbacks of standardized competence assessment in children on a case-by-case basis compared to application of a fixed age limit, and conclude that a selective implementation of case-by-case competence assessment in specific populations is preferable. We recommend the implementation of age limits based on empirical evidence. Furthermore, we elaborate on a suitable model for informed consent involving children and parents that would do justice to developmental aspects of children and the specific characteristics of the parent-child dyad.SummaryPrevious research outcomes showed that children’s medical decision-making capacities could be operationalized into a standardized assessment instrument. Recommendations for policies include a dual consent procedure, including both child as well as parents, for children from the age of 12 until they reach majority. For children between 10 and 12 years of age, and in case of children older than 12 years in special research populations of mentally compromised patients, we suggest a case-by-case assessment of children’s competence to consent. Since such a dual consent procedure is fundamentally different from a procedure of parental permission and child assent, and would imply a considerable shift regarding some current legislations, practical implications are elaborated. (shrink)
Scientific interest in genomics in Africa is on the rise with a number of funding initiatives aimed specifically at supporting research in this area. Genomics research on material of African origin raises a number of important ethical issues. A prominent concern relates to sample export, which is increasingly seen by researchers and ethics committees across the continent as being problematic. The concept of genomic sovereignty proposes that unique patterns of genomic variation can be found in human populations, and that these (...) are commercially, scientifically or symbolically valuable and in need of protection against exploitation. Although it is appealing as a response to increasing concerns regarding sample export, there are a number of important conceptual problems relating to the term. It is not clear, for instance, whether it is appropriate that ownership over human genomic samples should rest with national governments. Furthermore, ethnic groups in Africa are frequently spread across multiple nation states, and protection offered in one state may not prevent researchers from accessing the same group elsewhere. Lastly, scientific evidence suggests that the assumption that genomic data is unique for population groups is false. Although the frequency with which particular variants are found can differ between groups, such genes or variants per se are not unique to any population group. In this paper, the authors describe these concerns in detail and argue that the concept of genomic sovereignty alone may not be adequate to protect the genetic resources of people of African descent. (shrink)
J. L. Schellenberg’s Philosophy of Religion argues for a specific brand of sceptical religion that takes ‘Ultimism’ – the proposition that there is a metaphysically, axiologically, and soteriologically ultimate reality – to be the object to which the sceptical religionist should assent. In this article I shall argue that Ietsism – the proposition that there is merely something transcendental worth committing ourselves to religiously – is a preferable object of assent. This is for two primary reasons. First, Ietsism is far (...) more modest than Ultimism; Ietsism, in fact, is open to the truth of Ultimism, while the converse does not hold. Second, Ietsism can fulfil the same criteria that compel Schellenberg to argue for Ultimism. (shrink)
In Heidegger’s Being and Time certain concepts are discussed which are central to the ontological constitution of Dasein. This paper demonstrates the interesting manner in which some of these concepts can be used in a reading of T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. A comparative analysis is performed, explicating the relevant Heideggerian terms and then relating them to Eliot’s poem. In this way strong parallels are revealed between the two men’s respective thoughts and distinct modernist sensibilities. Prufrock, (...) the protagonist of the poem, and the world he inhabits illustrate poetically concepts such as authenticity, inauthenticity, the ‘they’, idle talk and angst, which Heidegger develops in Being and Time. (shrink)
BackgroundCommunity engagement within biomedical research is broadly defined as a collaborative relationship between a research team and a group of individuals targeted for research. A Community Advisory Board is one mechanism of engaging the community. Within genomics research CABs may be particularly relevant due to the potential implications of research findings drawn from individual participants on the larger communities they represent. Within such research, CABs seek to meet instrumental goals such as protecting research participants and their community from research-related risks, (...) as well as intrinsic goals such as promoting the respect of participants and their community. However, successful community engagement depends on the degree to which CABs legitimately represent and engage with communities targeted for research. Currently, there is little literature describing the use of CABs in genomics research taking place in developing countries, and even less in the field of genomics research relating to mental illness. The aim of this article is to describe and consider the contributions made by a researcher-driven, population-specific CAB in a genomics of schizophrenia research project taking place in South Africa, from the perspective of the research team.DiscussionFour broad discussion topics emerged during the CAB meetings namely: 1) informed consent procedures, 2) recruitment strategies, 3) patient illness beliefs and stigma experiences, and 4) specific ethical concerns relating to the project. The authors consider these discussions in terms of their contributions to instrumental and intrinsic goals of community engagement.SummaryThe CAB gave valuable input on the consent processes and materials, recruitment strategies and suggested ways of minimizing the potential for stigma and discrimination. All of these contributions were of an instrumental nature, and helped improve the way in which the research took place. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the CAB made a unique and important contribution relating to intrinsic functions such as promoting the respect and dignity of research participants and their community. This was particularly evident in ensuring sensitivity and respect of the community’s traditional beliefs about schizophrenia and its treatment, and in this way promoting a respectful relationship between the research team and the participants. (shrink)
Teaching about technology, at all levels of education, can only be done properly when those who teach have a clear idea about what it is that they teach. In other words: they should be able to give a decent answer to the question: what is technology? In the philosophy of technology that question is explored. Therefore the philosophy of technology is a discipline with a high relevance for those who teach about technology. Literature in this field, though, is not always (...) easy to access for non-philosophers. This book provides an introduction to the philosophy of technology for such people. It offers a survey of the current state-of-affairs in the philosophy of technology, and also discusses the relevance of that for teaching about technology. The book can be used in introductory courses on the philosophy of technology in teacher education programs, engineering education programs, and by individual educators that are interested in the intriguing phenomenon of technology that is so important in our contemporary society. (shrink)
This paper is a detailed examination of some parts of J. P. Moreland's book on "the argument from consciousness". (There is a companion article that discusses the parts of the book not taken up in this critical notice.).
In his new book, "The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe," Robert J. Richards argues that Charles Darwin's true evolutionary roots lie in the German Romantic biology that flourished around the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is argued that Richards is quite wrong in this claim and that Darwin's roots are in the British society within which he was born, educated, and lived.
Artifacts are probably our most obvious everyday encounter with technology. Therefore, a good understanding of the nature of technical artifacts is a relevant part of technological literacy. In this article we draw from the philosophy of technology to develop a conceptualization of technical artifacts that can be used for educational purposes. Furthermore we report a small exploratory empirical study to see to what extent teachers’ intuitive ideas about artifacts match with the way philosophers write about the nature of artifacts. Finally, (...) we suggest a teaching and learning strategy for improving teachers’ concepts of technical artifacts through practical activities. (shrink)
La metafísica después de ser ignorada por años ha regresado al centro de la escena en la filosofía contemporánea. Tomás de Aquino ha vivido una historia muy parecida, lo que dio nacimiento al tomismo analítico. A pesar de los trabajos desarrollados en esta línea de investigación, la metafísica del Aquinate ha sido fuertemente ignorada. Sin embargo, la metafísica de Tomás de Aquino tiene una ventaja, poco discutida entre los tomistas y tomasinos, y es la de ser una metafísica esencialista. Así, (...) en armonía con el trabajo del metafísico E. J. Lowe, quien presenta su metafísica como “esencialista seria”, se quiere mostrar que la metafísica del Aquinate tiene las mismas virtudes del “esencialismo serio”, lo que permite postularla como una posición válida y plausible para la metafísica contemporánea. (shrink)
Background The use of tissue collected at a forensic post-mortem for forensic genetics research purposes remains of ethical concern as the process involves obtaining informed consent from grieving family members. Two forensic genetics research studies using tissue collected from a forensic post-mortem were recently initiated at our institution and were the first of their kind to be conducted in Cape Town, South Africa. Main body This article discusses some of the ethical challenges that were encountered in these research projects. Among (...) these challenges was the adaptation of research workflows to fit in with an exceptionally busy service delivery that is operating with limited resources. Whilst seeking guidance from the literature regarding research on deceased populations, it was noted that next of kin of decedents are not formally recognised as a vulnerable group in the existing ethical and legal frameworks in South Africa. The authors recommend that research in the forensic mortuary setting is approached using guidance for vulnerable groups, and the benefit to risk standard needs to be strongly justified. Lastly, when planning forensic genetics research, consideration must be given to the potential of uncovering incidental findings, funding to validate these findings and the feedback of results to family members; the latter of which is recommended to occur through a genetic counsellor. Conclusion It is hoped that these experiences will contribute towards a formal framework for conducting forensic genetic research in medico-legal mortuaries in South Africa. (shrink)