Purpose This paper aims to formalize long-term trajectories of human civilization as a scientific and ethical field of study. The long-term trajectory of human civilization can be defined as the path that human civilization takes during the entire future time period in which human civilization could continue to exist. -/- Design/methodology/approach This paper focuses on four types of trajectories: status quo trajectories, in which human civilization persists in a state broadly similar to its current state into the distant future; catastrophe (...) trajectories, in which one or more events cause significant harm to human civilization; technological transformation trajectories, in which radical technological breakthroughs put human civilization on a fundamentally different course; and astronomical trajectories, in which human civilization expands beyond its home planet and into the accessible portions of the cosmos. -/- Findings Status quo trajectories appear unlikely to persist into the distant future, especially in light of long-term astronomical processes. Several catastrophe, technological transformation and astronomical trajectories appear possible. -/- Originality/value Some current actions may be able to affect the long-term trajectory. Whether these actions should be pursued depends on a mix of empirical and ethical factors. For some ethical frameworks, these actions may be especially important to pursue. (shrink)
BackgroundThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration traditionally has kept confidential significant amounts of information relevant to the approval or non-approval of specific drugs, devices, and biologics and about the regulatory status of such medical products in FDA’s pipeline.ObjectiveTo develop practical recommendations for FDA to improve its transparency to the public that FDA could implement by rulemaking or other regulatory processes without further congressional authorization. These recommendations would build on the work of FDA’s Transparency Task Force in 2010.MethodsIn 2016-2017, we convened (...) a team of academic faculty from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Yale Medical School, Yale Law School, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to develop recommendations through an iterative process of reviewing FDA’s practices, considering the legal and policy constraints on FDA in expanding transparency, and obtaining insights from independent observers of FDA.ResultsThe team developed 18 specific recommendations for improving FDA’s transparency to the public. FDA could adopt all these recommendations without further congressional action.FundingThe development of the Blueprint for Transparency at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. (shrink)
Philosophical questions regarding the nature and methodology of philosophical inquiry have garnered much attention in recent years. Perhaps nowhere are these discussions more developed than in relation to the field of metaphysics. The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics is an outstanding reference source to this growing subject. It comprises thirty-eight chapters written by leading international contributors, and is arranged around five themes: • The history of metametaphysics • Neo-Quineanism (and its objectors) • Alternative conceptions of metaphysics • The epistemology of metaphysics (...) • Science and metaphysics. Essential reading for students and researchers in metaphysics, philosophical methodology, and ontology, The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics will also be of interest to those in closely related subjects such as philosophy of language, logic, and philosophy of science. (shrink)
An artificial general intelligence might have an instrumental drive to modify its utility function to improve its ability to cooperate, bargain, promise, threaten, and resist and engage in blackmail. Such an AGI would necessarily have a utility function that was at least partially observable and that was influenced by how other agents chose to interact with it. This instrumental drive would conflict with the strong orthogonality thesis since the modifications would be influenced by the AGI’s intelligence. AGIs in highly competitive (...) environments might converge to having nearly the same utility function, one optimized to favorably influencing other agents through game theory. Nothing in our analysis weakens arguments concerning the risks of AGI. (shrink)
Edward Jonathan Lowe (usually cited as E. J. Lowe) was one of the most significant philosophers of the twentieth and early twenty-first century. He made sustained and significant contributions to debates in metaphysics, ontology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophical logic, and philosophy of religion, as well as contributing important scholarly work in early modern philosophy (most notably on Locke). Over the length of his career, Lowe published eleven single-authored books, four co-edited collections, and well over 300 papers and (...) book reviews in journals and edited volumes. The range of topics covered in his published work is highly eclectic. Given this, and his prolific rate of publication, this article cannot aim to cover all of the questions that Lowe contributed work on. Instead, it will focus on some of his most significant contributions in metaphysics and ontology, and related topics in other areas of philosophy. This choice of focus stems, in part, from Lowe’s strong belief in the inescapability of metaphysical questions. Lowe argued for the need to approach metaphysics, and philosophy more broadly, in a serious, systematic fashion, likening metaphysics to putting together the pieces of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, working with, rather than trying to overrule or being secondary to, natural science. Although the sections in this article focus on different topics, the highly systematic nature of Lowe’s work means that there are many potential points of intersection that could be drawn between them. In the interests of providing a navigable summary of Lowe’s work, this article highlights only some of these connections. (shrink)
Originally published in 1938. This compact treatise is a complete treatment of Aristotle’s logic as containing negative terms. It begins with defining Aristotelian logic as a subject-predicate logic confining itself to the four forms of categorical proposition known as the A, E, I and O forms. It assigns conventional meanings to these categorical forms such that subalternation holds. It continues to discuss the development of the logic since the time of its founder and address traditional logic as it existed in (...) the twentieth century. The primary consideration of the book is the inclusion of negative terms - obversion, contraposition etc. – within traditional logic by addressing three questions, of systematization, the rules, and the interpretation. (shrink)
In this paper, I distinguish between two possible versions of Amie Thomasson’s easy ontology project that differ in virtue of positing atomic or holistic application conditions, and evaluate the strengths of a holistic version over a non-holistic version. In particular, I argue that neither of the recently identified regress or circularity problems are troublesome for the supporter of easy ontology if they adopt a holistic account of application conditions. This is not intended to be a defence of easy ontology from (...) all possible objections, but rather to compare holistic and non-holistic versions of the view. This discussion is also significant in that it serves to highlight two distinct forms of easy ontology, which, I argue, need to be distinguished when assessing the merits of the easy approach in future work. (shrink)
Originally published in 1938. This compact treatise is a complete treatment of Aristotle’s logic as containing negative terms. It begins with defining Aristotelian logic as a subject-predicate logic confining itself to the four forms of categorical proposition known as the _A, E, I _and_ O_ forms. It assigns conventional meanings to these categorical forms such that subalternation holds. It continues to discuss the development of the logic since the time of its founder and address traditional logic as it existed in (...) the twentieth century. The primary consideration of the book is the inclusion of negative terms - obversion, contraposition etc. – within traditional logic by addressing three questions, of systematization, the rules, and the interpretation. (shrink)
From the Introduction: The present essay provides an introduction to the treatment of human existence and individuality in Marxist thought. The work will be primarily concerned with two related topics: the evaluation by Marxists of individual emancipation and their assessment of subjective factors in social theory. By taking up these taking up these topics within a systematic and historical framework, I hope to generate some fresh light on several familiar issues. First, I pursue a reading of Marx focused on his (...) treatment of subjectivity, individuation, and related methodological and practical matters; second, I apply this interpretation to analyzing the dispute between Marxist orthodoxy and heterodoxy over such matters as class consciousness and the philosophy of materialism; finally, I employ this historical context to clarify the significance of "existential Marxism," Maurice Merleau-Ponty's and Jean-Paul Sartre's contribution to Marxist thought. (shrink)
'The interpretours of Plato,' wrote Sir Thomas Elyot in The Governour, 'do think that the wonderful and incomprehensible order of the celestial bodies, I mean sterres and planettes, and their motions harmonicall, gave to them that intensifly and by the deepe serche of raison beholde their coursis, in the sondrye diversities of number and tyme, a forme of imitation of a semblable motion, which they called daunsigne or sltation.' The image of the planets and stars engaged in an ordered and (...) measured dance is an ancient one. Plato articulated it in a passage in the Timaeus, where he likened the apparent motions of the planets and stars to 'choreiai'. Through the centuries the analogy has challenged Plator's interpreters to define and elaborate the image. Miller has examined a range of poetic and philosophical texts influenced by Plato cosmology, and has discovered frequent comparisons of the cosmic order to 'daunsigne.' He suggests that the vision of the cosmic dance did not develop at random in Western intellectual history but originated in a specific philosophical context and passed through stages of evolution that reflect Gnostic, Christian, Stoic, and Neoplatonic responses to Plato. He argues that the historical variations of the image were often closely related to adaption or criticisms of Plato's theories of visual perception and intellectual vision. The dance, in conjunction with images such as the Great chain of Being and the Lyre of the Heavens, became the dominant image of a peculiarly Late Antique world-view which Miller has called the 'poetic universe'; a world where metaphors, metonymies, and personifications could exist in fact as well as in word. The result of Miller's analysis is vast in scope. The nine chapters of the book each present a thesis on a particular author, but all function together like links in a chain. Miller has been described as 'an historian of visions'; the book has been likened to Auerbach's Mimesis. It is a remarkable contribution to an understanding of the complex interaction of ideas and images in time. (shrink)
This chapter considers the view that a central concern of metaphysics is what is possible. That is, the idea is that, unlike science, metaphysics studies not only what is actual, but the ways that reality could be. This view, if right, provides metaphysics with a distinct subject matter from that of science, and, depending on what modal epistemology we adopt, a distinct methodology too. In this chapter, I first provide an overview of the view, before highlighting some of the most (...) prominent objections, and possible routes of response. (shrink)
A crucial question for both philosophy and for science concerns the kind of relationship that obtains between entities—objects, properties, states, processes, kinds and so on—that exist at apparently higher and lower ‘levels’ of reality. According to reductionism, seeming higher-level entities can in fact be fully accounted for by more fundamental, lower-level entities. Conversely, emergentists of various stripes hold that whilst higher-level entities depend in some important sense on lower-level entities, they are nevertheless irreducible to them. This introductory paper outlines the (...) context of the debate between emergentists and reductionists; offers a broad characterisation of ‘strong’ or ontological emergence, and provides summaries of each of the papers to come in this special issue. (shrink)
Metaphysical and epistemological dualism informs much contemporary discussion of the relationships of science and religion, in particular in relation to the neurosciences and the religious understanding of the human person. This dualism is a foundational artifact of modern culture; however, contemporary scientific research and historical theological scholarship encourage a more holistic view wherein human personhood is most fittingly understood as an emergent phenomenon of, but not simply reducible to, evolutionary and developmental neurobiology.
In the last decade, it has become something of a cliché to note that Marxism lacks a theory of politics. As Jürgen Habermas said more than 15 years ago: “Due to the introduction of the superstructure into the base itself, the classical dependency relationship of politics to the economy was disrupted.” Similar theses have taken a variety of forms. For some, the inadequacy of Marxist political theory is the result of recent developments, particularly the appearance of the welfare state in (...) place of the watchdog state; the novel political arrangements characterizing this new historical epoch require a new theory of the state. (shrink)
An opinion piece discussing the role of the realist novel and the concept of realism itself when reality seems so deranged in light of Trump, Brexit and the present Anglo-American crisis of legitimacy. The essay also acts as a critical-reflective 'companion' to my novel 'UnAmerican Activities' as the final part - calling for writers to respond with a 'deranged realism' - articulate the aesthetic behind my latest novel.
It is hard to believe that the ancient philosophers were as rationally consistent in word and deed as they appear in the surviving lore about their lives. The myths are certainly charming – but they also make Socrates, Plato, and Diogenes the Cynic feel alien, remote, more like polished marble statues than fallible creatures of flesh and blood.
Research on children raises major ethical issues, the most important being the inability of the subjects to provide freely given informed consent. Committees in Canada and the United States charged with formulating recommendations for the protection of human subjects in research came to some fundamentally different conclusions. Two of these are discussed as they apply to children: first the distinction between therapeutic and non-therapeutic research, recognized implicitly by the National Commission and deliberately avoided by the Medical Research Council Working Group (...) ; and second, the looser relation between local committees and Council as defined by guidelines in Canada and the tighter relation between the institutional review committees and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare defined by regulations in the United States. (shrink)
This book sheds light on the social imagination of nature and environment in contemporary China. It demonstrates how the urgent debate on how to create an ecologically sustainable future for the world's most populous country is shaped by its complex engagement with religious traditions, competing visions of modernity and globalization, and by engagement with minority nationalities who live in areas of outstanding natural beauty on China's physical and social margins. The book develops a comprehensive understanding of contemporary China that goes (...) beyond the tradition/ modernity dichotomy, and illuminates the diversity of narratives and worldviews that inform contemporary Chinese understandings of and engagements with nature and environment. (shrink)
Metaphysical and ontological debates, concerning what exists and the nature of reality, are perennial features of the philosophical landscape. However, some have argued that ontological debates are non-substantive, pointless, trivial, incoherent, or impossible. Debates about whether tables exist, for example, or about the nature of reality, are taken to be in some way deficient. This has led to a burgeoning literature studying the nature of metaphysical and ontological disputes themselves. One major debate within this context concerns the language of ontology. (...) The central question is whether the nature of language influences or limits our ability to engage productively in ontological disputes. While we typically think that our language describes the world, or at least can accurately describe the world, there have been many who have argued that the nature of language inherently influences and limits our attempts to understand the nature of reality-that our claims about what exists are, in fact, merely a reflection of how we happen to speak or think. The Language of Ontology collects chapters from established participants in the debate alongside new voices, to explore the range of issues relating to our ability or inability to get beyond the limits of our language. (shrink)