The UK Medical Research Council, in order to further its mission of maintaining and improving human health, supports a substantial number of clinical trials on a wide variety of medical questions; some of these trials involve the use of placebos as controls or to maintain blinding. Before providing support, proposed trials are carefully reviewed to assess scientific quality, and to determine whether a placebo is required and is ethical — in addition to ethics review by independent Research Ethics Committees. Some (...) questions such as the choice of placebos in trials in developing countries, in surgical trials and those involving alternative medicine require consideration of additional, specific issues. Involvement of consumers in MRC work has been increasing and includes the establishment of a Consumer Liaison Group; members of this group comment on patient information leaflets for clinical trials, helping to improve patient understanding of trials and ensuring topics like placebo use are explained clearly. Views differ on the value of placebos in clinical care and on their mechanism of action; continuing research is helping to clarify the issues. (shrink)
Recognized in his day as a man of letters equaling Rousseau and Voltaire in France and rivaling Samuel Johnson, David Hume passed from favor in the Victorian age--his work, it seemed, did not pursue Truth but rather indulged in popularization. Although Hume is once more considered as one of the greatest British philosophers, scholars now tend to focus on his thought rather than his writing. To round out our understanding of Hume, M. A. Box in this book charts the interrelated (...) development of Hume's literary ambitions, theories of style, and compositional practice from his Treatise in 1739 through the Enquiries. In so doing, Box makes the case for Hume's career-long concern with the presentational modes of reaching an audience for his philosophical writings. Hume reacted to the popular failure of his masterpiece, A Treatise of Human Nature, Box suggests, by self-consciously exploring strategies in his subsequent works for agreeably bringing his readership to participate in the act of philosophizing. Combining a sensitive grasp of the ways Restoration period and eighteenth-century writers conceived the relations between rhetoric and philosophy with sound readings of particular texts, Box shows how Hume's literary concerns went beyond matters of style to involve persona, structure, and doctrine. While this book helps explain long-standing ambiguities surrounding Hume, especially by pointing out the tension between his created persona and his own voice, it also serves as an excellent introduction to his philosophy. (shrink)
Sex and sensibility: The role of social selection Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9464-6 Authors Erika L. Milam, Department of History, University of Maryland, 2115 Francis Scott Key Hall, College Park, MD 20742, USA Roberta L. Millstein, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA Angela Potochnik, Department of Philosophy, University of Cincinnati, P.O. Box 210374, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA Joan E. Roughgarden, Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5020, USA Journal Metascience (...) Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
continent. 1.3 (2011): 149-155. The world is teeming. Anything can happen. John Cage, “Silence” 1 Autonomy means that although something is part of something else, or related to it in some way, it has its own “law” or “tendency” (Greek, nomos ). In their book on life sciences, Medawar and Medawar state, “Organs and tissues…are composed of cells which…have a high measure of autonomy.”2 Autonomy also has ethical and political valences. De Grazia writes, “In Kant's enormously influential moral philosophy, autonomy (...) , or freedom from the causal determinism of nature, became prominent in justifying the human use of animals.”3 One of the oldest uses of autonomy in English is a description of the French civil war from the late sixteenth century: “Others of the…rebellion entred in counsell, whether they ought to admit the King vpon reasonable conditions, specially hauing their autonomy.”4 Life, and in particular human life, and in particular human politics, is well served by the usages of autonomy . What about the rest of reality, however? Should it be thought of, if it's even considered real and mind-independent, as pure stuff for the manipulation or decorative tastes of truly autonomous beings? We tend to think of things such as paperweights and iPhones as mere tools of human design and human use. To use them is to cause them to exist as fully and properly as they can. But according to Martin Heidegger, when a tool such as a paperweight is used, it disappears, or withdraws ( Entzug ). We are preoccupied with copying the page that the paperweight is holding down. We are concerned with an essay deadline, and the paperweight simply disappears into this general project. If the paperweight slips, or if the iPhone freezes, we might notice it. All of a sudden it becomes vorhanden (present-at-hand) rather than zuhanden (ready-to-hand).5 Yet Heidegger is unable to draw a meaningful distinction between what happens to a paperweight when it slips from the book I'm copying from and what happens to the paperweight when it presses on the still resilient pages of the thick paperback itself. Further still and related to this point, even when I am using the paperweight as part of some general task, I am not using the entirety of the paperweight as such. My project itself selects a thin slice of paperweight-being for the purposes of holding down a book. Even when it is zuhanden the paperweight is withdrawn. Graham Harman is the architect of this way of thinking.6 Harman discovered a gigantic coral reef of withdrawn entities beneath the Heideggerian submarine of Da-sein, which itself is operating at an ontological depth way below the choppy surface of philosophy, beset by the winds of epistemology, and infested with the sharks of materialism, idealism, empiricism and most of the other isms that have defined what is and what isn't for the last several hundred years. At a moment when the term ontology was left alone like a piece of well chewed old chewing gum that no one wants to have anything to do with, object-oriented ontology (OOO) has put it back on the table. The coral reef isn't going anywhere and once you have discovered it, you can't un-discover it. And it seems to be teeming with strange facts. The first fact is that the entities in the reef—we call them “objects” somewhat provocatively—constitute all there is: from doughnuts to dogfish to the Dog Star to Dobermans to Snoop Dogg. People, plastic clothes pegs, piranhas and particles are all objects. And they are all pretty much the same, at this depth. There is not much of a distinction between life and non-life (as there isn't in contemporary life science). And there is not much of a distinction between intelligence and non-intelligence (as there is in contemporary artificial intelligence theory). A lot of these distinctions are made by humans, for humans (anthropocentrism). And the concept autonomy has come into play in policing such distinctions. In this essay I shall to try to liberate autonomy for the sake of nonhumans. I shall do so by parsing carefully the title, which is taken from Hakim Bey's work The Temporary Autonomous Zone .8 First we shall explore the term autonomous . Then we shall explore what the full meaning of zone is. Finally, we shall investigate what temporary means. Each of these terms is of great value. An object withdraws from access. This means that its very own parts can't access it. Since an object's parts can't fully express the object, the object is not reducible to its parts. OOO is anti-reductionist. But OOO is also anti-holist. An object can't be reduced to its “whole” either, “reduced upwards” as it were. The whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. So we have a strange irreductionist situation in which an object is reducible neither to its parts nor to its whole. A coral reef is made of coral, fish, seaweed, plankton and so on. But one of these things on its own doesn't embody part of a reef. Yet the reef just is an assemblage of these particular parts. You can't find a coral reef in a parking lot. In this way, the vibrant realness of a reef is kept safe both from its parts and from its whole. Moreover, the reef is safe from being mistaken for a parking lot. Objects can't be reduced to tiny Lego bricks such as atoms that can be reused in other things. Nor can be reduced upwards into instantiations of a global process. A coral reef is an expression of the biosphere or of evolution, yes; but so is this sentence, and we ought to be able to distinguish between coral reefs and sentences in English. The preceding facts go under the heading of undermining . Any attempt to undermine an object—in thought, or with a gun, or with heat, or with the ravages of time or global warming—will not get at the withdrawn essence of the object. By essence is meant something very different from essentialism . This is because essentialism depends upon some aspect of an object that OOO holds to be a mere appearance of that object, an appearance-for some object. This reduction to appearance holds even if that object for which the appearance occurs is the object itself! Even a coral reef can't grasp its essential coral reefness. In essentialism, a superficial appearance is taken for the essence of a thing, or of things in general. In thinking essentialism we may be able to discern another way of avoiding OOO. This is what Harman has christened overmining .? The overminer decides that some things are more real than others: say for example human perception. Then the overminer decides that other things are only granted realness status by somehow coming into the purview of the more real entity. When I measure a photon, when I see a coral reef, it becomes what it is. But when I measure a photon, I never measure the actual photon. Indeed, since at the quantum scale to measure means “to hit with a photon or an electron beam” (or whatever), measurement, perception ( aisthesis ), and doing become the same. What I “see” are deflections, tracks in a diffusion cloud chamber or interference patterns. Far from underwriting a world of pure illusion where the mind is king, quantum theory is one of the very first truly rigorous realisms, thinking its objects as irreducibly resistant to full comprehension, by anything.9 So far we have made objects safe from being swallowed up by larger objects and broken down into smaller objects—undermining. And so far we have made objects safe from being mere projections or reflections of some supervenient entity—overmining. That's quite a degree of autonomy. Everything in the coral reef, from the fish to a single coral lifeform to a tiny plankton, is autonomous. But so is the coral reef itself. So are the heads of the coral, a community of tiny polyps. So is each individual head. Each object is like one of Leibniz's monads, in that each one contains a potentially infinite regress of other objects; and around each object, there is a potentially infinite progress of objects, as numerous multiverse theories are now also arguing. But the infinity, the uncountability, is more radical than Leibniz, since there is nothing stopping a group of objects from being an object, just as a coral reef is something like a society of corals. Each object is “a little world made cunningly” (John Donne).10 We are indeed approaching something like the political valance of autonomy . The existence of an object is irreducibly a matter of coexistence. Objects contain other objects, and are contained “in” other objects. Let us, however, explore further the ramifications of the autonomy of objects. We will see that this mereological approach (based on the study of parts) only gets at part of the astonishing autonomy of things. Yet there are some more things to be said about mereology before we move on. Consider the fact that since objects can't be undermined or overmined, it means that there is strictly no bottom object . There is no object to which all other objects can be reduced, so that we can say everything we want to say about them, hypothetically at least, based on the behavior of the bottom object. The idea that we could is roughly E.O Wilson's theory of consilience .11 Likewise, there is no object from which all things can be produced, no top object . Objects are not emanations from some primordial One or from a prime mover. There might be a god, or gods. Suppose there were. In an OOO universe even a god would not know the essential ins and outs of a piece of coral. Unlike even some forms of atheism, the existence of god (or nonexistence) doesn't matter very much for OOO. If you really want to be an atheist, you might consider giving OOO a spin. If there is no top object and no bottom object, neither is there a middle object . That is, there is no such thing as a space, or time, “in” which objects float. There is no environment distinct from objects. There is no Nature (I capitalize the word to reinforce a sense of its deceptive artificiality). There is no world, if by world we mean a kind of “rope” that connects things together.12 All such connections must be emergent properties of objects themselves. And this of course is well in line with post-Einsteinian physics, in which spacetime just is the product of objects, and which may even be an emergent property of a certain scale of object larger than 10?¹?cm).13 Objects don't sit in a box of space or time. It's the other way around: space and time emanate from objects. How does this happen? OOO tries to produce an explanation from objects themselves. Indeed, the ideal situation would be to rely on just one single object. Otherwise we are stuck with a reality in which objects require other entities to function, which would result in some kind of undermining or overmining. We shall see that we have all the fuel we need “inside” one object to have time and space, and even causality. We shall discover that rather than being some kind of machinery or operating system that underlies objects, causality itself is a phenomenon that floats ontologically “in front of” them. In so doing, we will move from the notion of autonomy and begin approaching a full exploration of the notion of zone , which was promised at the outset of this essay. Since an object is withdrawn, even “from itself,” it is a self-contradictory being. It is itself and not-itself, or in a slightly more expanded version, there is a rift between essence and appearance within an object (as well as “between” them). This rift can't be the same as the clichéd split between substance and accidents , which is the default ontology. On this view, things are like somewhat boring cupcakes with somewhat less boring sugar sprinkles on them of different colors and shapes. But on the OOO view, what is called substance is just another limited slice of an object, a way of apprehending something that is ontologically fathoms deeper. What is called substance and what is called accidence are just on the side of what this essay calls appearance. The rift (Greek, chorismos ) between essence and appearance means that an object presents us with something like what in logic is known as the Liar: some version of the sentence “This sentence is false.” The sentence is true, which means that it is a lie, which means that it is false. Or the sentence is false, which means that it is telling the truth, which means that it is true. Now logic since Aristotle has tried desperately to quarantine such beasts in small backwaters and side streets so that they don't act too provocatively.14 But if OOO holds, then at least one very significant thing in the universe is both itself and not-itself: the object. An object is p ? ¬p. To cope with this fact, we shall need some kind of paraconsistent or even fully dialetheic logic, one that is not allergic to dialetheias (double-truthed things). Yet if we accept that objects are dialetheic, p ? ¬p, we can derive all kinds of things easily from objects. Consider the fact of motion. If objects only occupy one location “in” space at any “one” time, then Zeno's paradoxes will apply to trying to think how an object moves. Yet motion seems like a basic, simple fact of our world. Either everything is just an illusion and nothing really moves at all (Parmenides). Or objects are here and not-here “at the same time.”15 This latter possibility provides the basic setup for all the motion we could wish for. Objects are not “in” time and space. Rather, they “time” (a verb) and “space.” They produce time and space. It would be better to think these verbs as intransitive rather than transitive, in the manner of dance or revolt . They emanate from objects, yet they are not the object. “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” (Yeats).16 The point being, that for there to be a question, there must be a distinction—or there must not be (p ? ¬p).17 It becomes impossible to tell: “What constitutes pretense is that, in the end, you don't know whether it's pretense or not.”18 In this notion of the emergence of time and space from an object we can begin to understand the term zone . Zone can mean belt , something that winds around something else. We talk of temperate zones and war zones. A zone is a place where a certain action is taking place: the zone winds around, it radiates heat, bullets fly, armies are defeated. To speak of an autonomous zone is to speak of a place that a certain political act has carved out of some other entity. Cynically, Tibet is called TAR, the Tibetan Autonomous Region, for this very reason. In this phrase, Region tries to emulate zone : it sounds as if the place has its own rules, but of course, it is very much under the control of China. What action is taking place? “[N]ot something that just is what it is, here and now, without mystery, but something like a quest…a tone on its way calling forth echoes and responses…water seeking its liquidity in the sunlight rippling across the cypresses in the back of the garden.”19 If as suggested earlier there is no functional difference between substance and accidence; if there is no difference between perceiving and doing; if there is no real difference between sentience and non-sentience—then causality itself is a strange, ultimately nonlocal aesthetic phenomenon. A phenomenon, moreover, that emanates from objects themselves, wavering in front of them like the astonishingly beautiful real illusion conjured in this quotation of Alphonso Lingis. Lingis's sentence does what it says, casting a compelling, mysterious spell, the spell of causality, like a demonic force field. A real illusion: if we knew it was an illusion, if it were just an illusion, it would cease to waver. It would not be an illusion at all. We would be in the real of noncontradiction. Since it is like an illusion, we can never be sure: “What constitutes pretense…” A zone is what Lingis calls a level . A zone is not entirely a matter of “free will”: this concept has already beaten down most objects into abject submission. Objects are far more threateningly autonomous, and sensually autonomous, than the Kantian version of autonomy cited in the first paragraph of this essay. A zone is not studiously decided upon by an earnest committee before it goes into action. One of its predominant features is that it is already happening . We find ourselves in it, all of a sudden, in the late afternoon as the shadows lengthen around a city square, giving rise to an uncanny sensation of having been here before. Objects emit zones. Wherever I find myself a zone is already happening, an autonomous zone. It is the nonautonomous zones that are impositions on what is already the case. Or rather, these zones are autonomous zones that exclude and police. They are brittle. Every object is autonomous, but some objects try to maintain themselves through rigidity and brittleness, like (and such as) a police state. Paradoxically, the more rigidly one tries to exclude contradiction, the more virulent become the dialetheias that are possible. I can get around “This sentence is false” by imagining that there are metalanguages that explain what counts as a sentence. Then I can decide that this isn't a real sentence. This is basically Alfred Tarski's strategy, since he invented the notion of metalanguage specifically to cope with dialetheias.20 For example we might claim that sentences such as “This sentence is false” are neither true nor false. But then you can imagine a strengthened version of the Liar such as: “This sentence is not true”; or “This sentence is neither true nor false.” And we can go on adding to the strengthened Liar if the counter-attack tries to build immunity by specifying some fourth thing that a sentence can be besides true, false, and neither true nor false: “This sentence is false, or neither true nor false, or the fourth thing.” And so on.21 It seems as if language becomes more brittle the more it tries to police the Liars of this world. Why? I believe that this increasing brittleness is a symptom of a deep fact about reality. What is this deep fact? Simply that there are objects, that these objects are withdrawn, and that they are walking contradictions. This means indeed that (as Lacan put it) “there is no metalanguage,” since a metalanguage would function as a “middle object” that gave coherency and evenness to the others.22 Since there is no metalanguage, there is no rising above the disturbing illusory play of causality. This may even have political implications: no global critique is therefore possible, and attempts to smooth out or totalize are doomed to fail. To think the zone is to think the notion of temporary , which we shall now begin to discuss in greater detail. The zone is not in time: rather it “times.” But because a zone is an emanation of an object, it is based on a wavering fragility, since objects are p ? ¬p. When an object is born, that means that it has broken free of some other object. An object can be born because it and other objects are fragile. If not, no movement would be possible. Objects contain the seeds of their own destruction, a dialetheic sentence that says something like “This sentence cannot be proved.” Kurt Gödel argues that every true system of propositions contains at least one sentence that the system cannot prove. In order to be true, the system must have a minimum incoherence. To be real, it has to be fragile. Imagine a record player. Now imagine a record called I Cannot Be Played on This Record Player . When you play it on this record player, it produces sympathetic vibrations that cause the record player to shudder apart. No matter how many defense mechanisms you build in, there will always be the possibility of at least one record that destroys the record player.23 That is what being physical is. An object is inherently fragile because it is both itself and not-itself. When the rift between appearance and essence collapses, that is called destruction, ending, death. When an object breaks, several new objects are born. An opera singer sings a loud note in tune with the resonant frequency of a wine glass. (See the movie included below.) The singing is a zone, an autonomous level of intensity, opening a rift between appearance and essence. The glass ripples—for a moment it is nakedly a glass and a not-glass—almost as if it were having an orgasm, a little death. It is caught in the rift of the singing. Then its structure can't handle the coherence of the sound waves, and it breaks. It is incoherence and inconsistency that is the mark of existence, not consistency and noncontradiction. When things break or die, they become coherent. Essence disappears into appearance. I become the memories of friends. A glass becomes a dancing wave. Instantly, there are glass fragments, new temporary autonomous zones. The fragments have broken free from the glass. They are no longer its parts, but emanate their own time and space, becoming perhaps accidental weapons as they bury themselves in my flesh. Thus Hakim Bey's instructions on creating temporary autonomous zones oscillate disturbingly between performance art and politics, circus clowning and revolution. To play with the aesthetic is to play with causality, to rip from the sensual ether emanating from things new regions, new zones. Anarchist politics is the creation of fresh objects in a reality without a top or a bottom object, or for that matter a middle object: Everything in nature is perfectly real including consciousness, there's absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only have the chains of the Law been broken, they never existed; demons never guarded the stars, the Empire never got started, Eros never grew a beard. … There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no path; already you're the monarch of your own skin—your inviolable freedom waits to be completed only by the love of other monarchs: a politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.24 Bey imagines that this is because chaos is a primordial “undifferentiated oneness-of-being.” A Parmenides or a Spinoza or a Laruelle would read this a certain way. Individual objects, or decisions to talk about this rather than that, are just maggot-like things crawling around on the surface of the giant cheese of oneness.25 Yet he also describes chaos as “Primordial uncarved block, sole worshipful monster, inert & spontaneous, more ultraviolet than any mythology.” This image is of an inconsistent object, not of an undifferentiated field. An object, indeed, that can be distinguished from other things. If not, then the first part of The Temporary Autonomous Zone , subtitled “The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism,” is a kind of onto-theology. Onto-theology proclaims that some things are more real than others. Bey, however, is writing poetically, and thus ambiguously. We are at liberty to read “undifferentiated oneness-of-being” as something like the irreducibility of a thing to its parts and so forth (undermining and overmining). This certainly seems closer to the language in the following paragraph: “There is no becoming … already you're the monarch of your own skin.”26 On this view, there is no difference between art and politics: “When ugliness, poor design & stupid waste are forced upon you, turn Luddite, throw your shoe in the works, retaliate.” Since Romanticism this has been the war cry of the vanguard artist.27 To say to is to fall prey to the tired axioms of the avant-garde, and we think we know how the game goes. But OOO is not simply a way to advocate “new and improved” versions of this shock-the-bourgeoisie boredom. Bey's text is certainly full enough of that. Rather, since causality as such is aesthetic, and since nonhumans are not that different from humans, the new approach would be to form aesthetic–causal alliances with nonhumans. These alliances would have to resist becoming brittle, whether that brittleness is right wing (authoritarianism) or left wing (the endless maze of critique). No “ism,” especially not the ultimate forms, nihilism and cynicism, is in any sense effective at this point. All forms of brittleness are based on the mistaken assumption that there is a metalanguage and that therefore “Anything you can do, I can do meta.” I will not be listing any approaches here, as Bey does. Such lists and manifestos belong to the vanguardism that no longer works. Why? Not because of some marvelous revolution in human consciousness, but because nonhumans have so successfully impinged upon human social, psychic and aesthetic space. It is the time after the end of the world. That happened in 1945, when a thin layer of radioactive materials was deposited in Earth's crust. Geology now calls it this era the Anthropocene . Ironically, this period, named after humans, is the moment at which even the most thick headed of us make decisive contact with nonhumans, from mercury in our blood to manta rays to magnesium. Richard Dawkins, Pat Robertson and Lady Gaga all have to deal with global warming and mass extinction, somehow. We now live in an Age of Asymmetry marked by a skewed, spiraling relationship between vast knowledge and vast nonhuman things—both become vaster and vaster because of one another and for the same reasons.28 This means that coming up with the perfect attitude or the perfect aesthetic prescription just won't work any more. Even the most hardened anthropocentrist now has to pay through the nose for basic food supplies, and has to use more sunscreen. Whether he knows it or acknowledges it, he is already acting with regard towards nonhumans. There is nothing special to think, no special critique that will get rid of the stains of coexistence. The problem won't fit into the well-established modern boxes, which is why the “mystical,” “spiritual” quality of Bey's prose is welcome. Of course, when I put it this way, you may immediately close off and decide that I am talking about perfect attitudes after all, or something outside of politics, or other ways that the radical left marshals to police its thinking of the nonhuman. Because that is what is really at stake in all this: the nonhuman in its coexistence with the human—bosons, gods, clouds, spirits, lifeforms, experiences, the sunlight rippling across the cypresses. Bey begins to get at this in a Latour litany in the second part of The Temporary Autonomous Zone , “The Assassins”: Pomegranate, mulberry, persimmon, the erotic melancholy of cypresses, membrane-pink shirazi roses, braziers of meccan aloes & benzoin, stiff shafts of ottoman tulips, carpets spread like make-believe gardens on actual lawns—a pavilion set with a mosaic of calligrammes—a willow, a stream with watercress—a fountain crystalled underneath with geometry— the metaphysical scandal of bathing odalisques, of wet brown cupbearers hide-&-seeking in the foliage—“water, greenery, beautiful faces.”29 This will be conveniently dismissed as orientalism. If we're never allowed to escape the crumbling prison of modernity for fear of imperialism there is truly no hope. In a similar way, the fear of anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism is very often staged from a place that just is anthropocentrism .30 Critique turns into ressentiment . An object radiates a zone that is aesthetic and therefore causal. Because objects “time” they are temporary. Not because they exist “in” time that eventually gets the better of them. Their very existence implies the possibility of their non-existence. Since objects are not consistent, they can cease to exist. But nothing, no one, will ever be able to insert a blade between appearance and existence, even thought there is a rift there. Now that's what I call autonomy. NOTES 1. John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973), 96. 2. P. B. Medawar and J. S. Medawar, The Life Science: Current Ideas in Biology (London: Wildwood House, 1977), 8. 3. David DeGrazia, Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 5. 4. Antony Colynet, A True History of the Civil Warres in France (London, 1591), 480. 5. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time , tr. Joan Stambaugh (Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 1996) 62–71. 6. Graham Harman, Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects (Peru, IL: Open Court, 2002). 7. Hakim Bey, The Temporary Autonomous Zone (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1991). 8. Graham Harman, The Quadruple Object (Ripley: Zero Books, 2011), 7–18. 9. This is not the place to get into an argument about quantum theory, but I have argued that quanta also do not endorse a world that I can't speak about because it is only real when measured. This world is that of the reigning Standard Model proposed by Niels Bohr and challenged by De Broglie and Bohm (and now the cosmologist Valentini, among others). See Timothy Morton, “Here Comes Everything: The Promise of Object-Oriented Ontology,” Qui Parle 19.2 (Spring–Summer, 2011), 163–190. 10. John Donne, Holy Sonnets 15, in The Major Works: Including Songs and Sonnets and Sermons , ed. John Carey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). 11. Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (New York: Knopf, 1998). 12. Martin Heidegger, What Is a Thing? (Washington: Regnery, 1968), 243. 13. Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (London: Penguin, 2006); Petr Horava, “Quantum Gravity at a Lifshitz Point,” arXiv:0901.3775v2 [hep-th]. 14. Graham Priest, In Contradiction (Oxford University Press, 2006), passim: the most notable recent quarantine officers have been Tarski, Russell, and Frege. 15. Priest, In Contradiction , 172–181. 16. William Butler Yeats, “Among School Children,” Collected Poems , ed. Richard J. Finneran (New York: Scribner, 1996). 17. Paul de Man, “Semiology and Rhetoric,” Diacritics 3.3 (Autumn, 1973), 27–33 (30). 18. Jacques Lacan, Le seminaire, Livre III: Les psychoses (Paris: Editions de Seuil, 1981), 48. See Slavoj Zizek, The Parallax View (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006), 206. 19. Alphonso Lingis, The Imperative (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), 29. 20. Priest, In Contradiction , 9–27. 21. See Graham Priest and Francesco Berto, “ Dialetheism ,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2010 Edition), ed. Edward N. Zalta. 22. Jacques Lacan, Écrits: A Selection , tr. Alan Sheridan (London: Tavistock, 1977), 311. 23. The analogy can be found at length in Douglas Hofstadter, “Contracrostipunctus,” Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 75–81. 24. Bey, “ Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism ,” Temporary Autonomous Zone . 25. This is closest to the language of François Laruelle in Philosophies of Difference: A Critical Introduction to Non-Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2011) 179. 26. Bey, “ Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism ,” Temporary Autonomous Zone . 27. Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant Garde (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984). 28. For further discussion see Timothy Morton, “From Modernity to the Anthropocene: Ecology and Art in the Age of Asymmetry,” The International Social Science Journal 209 (forthcoming). 29. Bey, “ The Assassins ,” Temporary Autonomous Zone . 30. Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010), 75–76. (shrink)
Hospital ethics committees (HECs) and ethicists generally describe themselves as engaged in four domains of practice: case consultation, research, education, and policy work. Despite the increasing attention to quality indicators, practice standards, and evaluation methods for the other domains, comparatively little is known or published about the policy work of HECs or ethicists. This article attempts to open the ?black box? of this health care ethics practice by providing two detailed case examples of ethics policy reviews. We also describe the (...) development and application of an evaluation strategy to assess the quality of ethics policy review work, and to enable continuous improvement of ethics policy review processes. Given the potential for policy work to impact entire patient populations and organizational systems, it is imperative that HECs and ethicists develop clearer roles, responsibilities, procedural standards, and evaluation methods to ensure the delivery of consistent, relevant, and high-quality ethics policy reviews. (shrink)
My aim in this article is to contribute to the larger project of assessing the relative merits of different theories of substance. An important preliminary step in this project is assessing the explanatory resources of one main theory of substance, the so-called bundle theory. This article works towards such an assessment. I identify and explain three distinct explanatory challenges an adequate bundle theory must meet. Each points to a putative explanatory gap, so I call them the Gap Challenges. I consider (...) three bundle-theoretic strategies for meeting these challenges. I argue that none of them goes very far. The upshot is that, absent other strategies for meeting the challenges, bundle theory involves a significant amount of stipulation. This black box makes bundle theory relatively weak with respect to its explanatory power—unless, of course, rival theories of substance are unable to do better. (shrink)
Skeptical theism is a leading response to the evidential argument from evil against the existence of God. Skeptical theists attempt to block the inference from the existence of inscrutable evils to gratuitous evils by insisting that given our cognitive limitations, it wouldn’t be surprising if there were God-justifying reasons we can’t think of. A well-known objection to skeptical theism is that it opens up a skeptical Pandora’s box, generating implausibly wide-ranging forms of skepticism, including skepticism about the external world and (...) past. This paper looks at several responses to this Pandora’s box objection, including a popular response devised by Beaudoin and Bergmann. I find that all of the examined responses fail. It appears the Pandora’s box objection to skeptical theism still stands. (shrink)
After a brief review of the ethical judgment research, the Potter Box, a four-step ethical judgment tool used primarily in media ethics, is introduced. The paper proposes that the Potter Box's usefulness for evaluating ethical dilemmas could be improved by re-sequencing the steps, by incorporating philosophical intuitionism as a mechanism for structuring its inherent pluralism and by adding a post-decision, pre-action reflective step. The resulting modified Potter Box has five steps – analyze the situation, identify stakeholders, specify duties, weigh obligations (...) and check for universalizability – and should provide a useful structure for analyzing difficult ethical dilemmas and for creating transparency in the judgment process that accommodates improved discussion. (shrink)
The complexity of crisis situations allows for corporate responses to create multiple interpretations for organizational stakeholders concerning crisis evidence, the organization's intentions, and the locus of responsibility. Hence, organizations have the ability to emphasize an interpretation where the organization is viewed most favorably. Using Jack in the Box as a case study, we apply stakeholder theory to ascertain the ethical implications of employing strategic ambiguity in organizational crisis communication. We conclude that the crisis response provided by Jack in the Box's (...) leaders was ethically questionable in the areas of evidence, intent, and locus because the ambiguity they introduced privileged their financial stakeholders over others. Ultimately, this strategic use of ambiguity diminished the deliberative ability of Jack in the Box's publics. (shrink)
By way of an example, Lewis imagines your being invited to join Schrödinger’s cat in its box for an hour. This box will either fill up with deadly poison fumes or not, depending on whether or not some radioactive atom decays, the probability of decay within an hour being 50%. The invitation is accompanied with some further incentive to comply (Lewis sets it up so there is a significant chance of some pretty bad but not life-threatening punishment if you don’t (...) get in the box). Lewis argues that the many minds theory implies that you should get in the box with the cat, despite this making it 50% likely you will die. (shrink)
From all of the evidence, Joan of Arc was a conventionally pious Catholic and a patriotic Frenchman. Yet she was tried as a heretic and executed as a traitor. She unnerved both her friends and her enemies in the church and the state with her zeal. And she continues to fascinate. Almost six centuries after she was burned at the stake, her body still has life. This essay uses Kantorowicz's reading of the historical development of the legal fiction of (...) the king's two bodies to re-focus our attention on what Joan of Arc accomplished as a political actor. (shrink)
Even where an act appears to be responsible, and satisfies all the conditions for responsibility laid down by society, the response to it may be unjust where that appearance is false, and where those conditions are insufficient. This paper argues that those who want to place considerations of responsibility at the centre of distributive and criminal justice ought to take this concern seriously. The common strategy of relying on what Susan Hurley describes as a 'black box of responsibility' has the (...) advantage of not taking responsibility considerations to be irrelevant merely because some specific account of responsibility is mistaken. It can, furthermore, cope perfectly well with an absence of responsibility, even of the global sort implied by hard determinism and other strongly sceptical accounts. Problems for the black box view come in where responsibility is present, but in a form that is curtailed in one significant regard or another. The trick, then, is to open the box of responsibility just enough that its contents can be the basis for judgements of justice. I identify three 'moderately sceptical' forms of compatibilism that cannot ground judgements of justice, and are therefore expunged by the strongest 'grey box' view. (shrink)
The concept of agency, although central to many sociological debates, has remained frustratingly elusive to pin down. This article is an attempt to open up what has been called the "black box" of personal agency by distinguishing clearly between two contrasting conceptions of the phenomenon. These two conceptions are very apparent in the manner in which the concept is defined in sociological reference works, resembling as it does a similar contrast in the treatment of the concept of power. The two (...) are referred to as type 1 and type 2 or the power of agency as compared with agentic power, the essential contrast being that the first refers to an actor's ability to initiate and maintain a program of action while the second refers to an actor's ability to act independently of the constraining power of social structure. The nature of these two forms of personal agency is then illustrated by referring to material taken from Weber's essay The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, this essay itself being understood as an argument that focuses on the crucial role played by an increase in the power of agency in ushering in the modern world. Finally, it is argued that these two conceptions of agency possess no given logical relationship with each other, it being perfectly possible for individuals to be possessed of considerable power of agency while lacking agentic power, and vice versa. It is therefore concluded that it is important, in all discussions of human agency, to distinguish clearly between these two forms. (shrink)
The ethical ‘eye’ of nursing, that is, the particular moral vision and values inherent in nursing work, is constrained by the preoccupations and practices of the superordinate biomedical structure in which nursing as a practice discipline is embedded. The intimate, situated knowledge of particular persons who construct and attach meaning to their health experience in the presence of and with the active participation of the nurse, is the knowledge that provides the evidence for nurses’ ethical decision making. It is largely (...) invisible to all but other nurses. Two nurse researchers, Joan Liaschenko of the University of Minnesota and Patricia Rodney of the University of Victoria, have investigated the ethical concerns of practising nurses and noted in their separate enquiries the invisible nature of critical aspects of nursing work. Noting the similarities in their respective observations, and with the feminist ethics of Margaret Urban Walker as a theoretical framework, this article examines the concept of ‘invisibility’ as it relates to nursing work and nursing ethics. (shrink)
Embryonic development and ontogeny occupy whatis often depicted as the black box betweengenes – the genotype – and the features(structures, functions, behaviors) of organisms– the phenotype; the phenotype is not merelya one-to-one readout of the genotype. Thegenes home, context, and locus of operation isthe cell. Initially, in ontogeny, that cell isthe single-celled zygote. As developmentensues, multicellular assemblages of like cells(modules) progressively organized as germlayers, embryonic fields, anlage,condensations, or blastemata, enable genes toplay their roles in development and evolution.As modules, condensations are (...) fundamentaldevelopmental and selectable units ofmorphology (morphogenetic units) that mediateinteractions between genotype and phenotype viaevolutionary developmental mechanisms. In ahierarchy of emergent processes, gene networksand gene cascades (genetic modules) link thegenotype with morphogenetic units such ascondensations, while epigenetic processes suchas embryonic inductions, tissue interactionsand functional integration, link morphogeneticunits to the phenotype. To support theseconclusions I distinguish units of heredityfrom units of transmission and discussepigenetic inheritance by tracing the historyof relationship between embryology andevolution, especially the role(s) assigned tocells or to cellular components in generatingtheories of morphological change in evolution.The concept of cells as modular morphogeneticunits is modeled and illustrated using themammalian dentary bone. (shrink)
In Darwin's Black Box: The BiochemicalChallenge to Evolution I argued thatpurposeful intelligent design, rather thanDarwinian natural selection, better explainssome aspects of the complexity that modernscience has discovered at the molecularfoundation of life. In the five years since itspublication the book has been widely discussedand has received considerable criticism. Here Irespond to what I deem to be the mostfundamental objections. In the first part ofthe article I address empirical criticismsbased on experimental studies alleging eitherthat biochemical systems I discussed are notirreducibly complex (...) or that similar systemshave been demonstrated to be able to evolve byDarwinian processes. In the remainder of thearticle I address methodological concerns,including whether a claim of intelligent designis falsifiable and whether intelligent designis a permissible scientific conclusion. (shrink)
I argue that Graham Priest's story 'Sylvan's Box' has an attractive consistent reading. Priest's hope that this story can be used as an example of a non-trivial 'essentially inconsistent' story is thus threatened. I then make some observations about the role 'Sylvan's Box' might play in a theory of unreliable narrators.
In Danto's view, Andy Warhol's Brillo Box was not only a radical attack on traditional definitions of the art work; it brought the history of Western art to a close. In this collection of interconnected essays, he grapples with this and many more of the most challenging issues in art today, from the problems of contemporary pluralism to the dilemmas of censorship and state support for artists.
Portraying the firm as a ‘black box’, as traditional conceptions of the firm tend to do, has been strongly criticised by stakeholder theorists. This article claims, however, that the ‘black box problem’ has not been satisfactorily resolved by stakeholder theory itself. The failure to bring clarity to the internal realities of the firm has led to unacceptable conceptions of the firm from a moral agency point of view. For example, stakeholder theory tends to portray the firm as an exchange system (...) with an input-output thought model as a basis. Such a conception does not provide a credible account of moral agency and results in problematic consequences for stakeholder theory, for example when it comes to motivating the existence of corporate moral purposes and ethically acceptable foundations ofstakeholder interests. (shrink)
“Black box argument” is a metaphor for modular components of argumentative discussion that are, within a particular discussion, not open to expansion. In public policy debate such as the controversy over abstinence-only sex education, scientific conclusions enter the discourse as black boxes consisting of a result returned from an external and largely impenetrable process. In one way of looking at black box arguments, there is nothing fundamentally new for the argumentation theorist: A black box argument is very like any other (...) appeal to authority, and what might be said about any particular form of black box will turn out to be a particularized version of what might be said about evaluating arguments based on authority. But in another way of looking at black box arguments, they are a constantly evolving technology for coming to conclusions and making these conclusions broadly acceptable. Black boxes are to argumentation what material inventions are to engineering and related sciences. They are anchored in and constrained by fundamental natural processes, but they are also new things that require theoretical explication and practical assessment. (shrink)
The photon box thought experiment can be considered a forerunner of the EPR-experiment: by performing suitable measurements on the box it is possible to ``prepare'' the photon, long after it has escaped, in either of two complementary states. Consistency requires that the corresponding box measurements be complementary as well. At first sight it seems, however, that these measurements can be jointly performed with arbitrary precision: they pertain to different systems (the center of mass of the box and an internal clock, (...) respectively). But this is deceptive. As we show by explicit calculation, although the relevant quantities are simultaneously measurable, they develop non-vanishing commutators when calculated back to the time of escape of the photon. This justifies Bohr's qualitative arguments in a precise way; and it illustrates how the details of the dynamics conspire to guarantee the requirements of complementarity. In addition, our calculations exhibit a ``fine structure'' in the distribution of the uncertainties over the complementary quantities: depending on when the box measurement is performed, the resulting quantum description of the photon differs. This brings us close to the argumentation of the later EPR thought experiment. (shrink)
The ethically controversial option of genetic population screening used to be restricted to a small number of rather rare diseases by methodological limitations which are now about to be overcome. With the new technology of DNA microarrays ("DNA chip"), emerging from the synthesis of microelectronics and molecular biology, methods are now at hand for the development of mass screening programmes for a wide spectrum of genetic traits. Thus, the DNA chip may be the key technology for a refined preventive medicine (...) as well as a new dimension of eugenics. The forthcoming introduction of the DNA chip technology into medical practice urgently requires an internationally consistent framework of ethical standards and legal limitations if we do not want it to become a new Pandora's box. (shrink)
We strengthen the revised GCH theorem by showing, e.g., that for , for all but finitely many regular κ ω implies that the diamond holds on λ when restricted to cofinality κ for all but finitely many .We strengthen previous results on the black box and the middle diamond: previously it was established that these principles hold on for sufficiently large n; here we succeed in replacing a sufficiently large n with a sufficiently large n.The main theorem, concerning the accessibility (...) of λ on cofinality κ, Theorem 3.1, implies as a special case that for every regular λ>ω, for some κ<ω, we can find a sequence such that , , and we can fix a finite set of “exceptional” regular cardinals θ<ω so that if Aλ satisfies A<ω, there is a pair-coloring so that for every -monochromatic BA with no last element, letting δ:=supB it holds that —provided that is not one of the finitely many “exceptional” members of. (shrink)
In this paper I characterize the problem of first-person authority as it confronts the proponent of the belief box conception of belief, and I develop the groundwork for a belief box account of that authority. If acceptable, the belief box account calls into question (by undermining a popular motivation for) the thesis that first-person authority is not to be traced to a truth-tracking relation between first-person opinions themselves and the beliefs which they are about.
A mathematical theory is proposed and exemplified, which covers an extended class of black boxes. Every kind of stimulus and response is pictured by a channel connecting the box with its environment. The input-output relation is given by a postulate schema according to which the response is, in general, a nonlinear functional of the input. Several examples are worked out: the perfectly transmitting box, the damping box, and the amplifying box. The theory is shown to be (a) an extension of (...) the S-matrix theory and the accompanying channel picture as developed in microphysics; (b) abstract and applicable to any problem involving the transactions of a system (physical, biological, social, etc.) with its milieu; (c) superficial, because unconcerned with either the structure of the box or the nature of the stimuli and responses. The motive for building the theory was to show the capabilities and limitations of the phenomenological approach. (shrink)
It has been argued, partly from the lack of any widely accepted solution to the measurement problem, and partly from recent results from quantum information theory, that measurement in quantum theory is best treated as a black box. However, there is a crucial difference between ‘having no account of measurement' and ‘having no solution to the measurement problem'. We know a lot about measurements. Taking into account this knowledge sheds light on quantum theory as a theory of information and computation. (...) In particular, the scheme of ‘one-way quantnum computation' takes on a new character in light of the role that reference frames play in actually carrying out any one-way quantum comptuation. ‡Thanks to audiences at the PSA and the Centre for Time, University of Sydney, for helpful comments and questions. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
The article seeks to consider the relationship between hope and utopianism by looking at the ancient Greek myth of Pandora's Box, with its enigmatic figure of hope. It begins by considering Hesiod's influential formulation of the myth, before examining a range of modern interpretations in which diverse conceptions of hope are to be found. Using the work of Spinoza, Hume and Day an alternative conception of hope is proposed that conjoins hope with fear. This is followed by an exploration of (...) the utopian, using this time another figure associated with the myth, Prometheus. An attempt is then made to differentiate the frequently conflated concepts of hope and the utopian. Finally, in the spirit of recent post-secularism, the two concepts are brought to bear on the nature of religion. (shrink)
"Joan Robinson: One Woman's Story' is a cinéma vérité style record of a woman's losing struggle against ovarian cancer. The film has been shown now twice on the American Public Television Network. It has received good notices primarily from the lay press. Yet the film depicts much that is out-of-date and much that is debatable. In general, we feel that it presents a depressing picture of the cancer patient. This was not Joan Robinson's intention and her bravery only (...) serves to highlight this picture of suffering with cancer. We point to specific flaws in the film. We then go on to account for why many reviewers seem to have been blind to these flaws. It is suggested that criteria for good works of art, for good public health information, and for admirable personal traits were confused. (shrink)
Joan Maragall es representante del modernismo catalán, afín al simbolismo y al parnasianismo de Francia. En el poesía y vida van estrechamente ligados. Acentúa la dimensión ética y cultural de exigencia de fidelidad a la experiencia personal de sinceridad. Llega a la cuestión última sin dejar de profundizar la absoluta relación del sujeto con el mundo. Combina la profundidad unamuniana y la mundanidad orteguiana.
I argue that Graham Priest's story 'Sylvan's Box' has an attractive consistent reading. Priest's hope that this story can be used as an example of a non-trivial 'essentially inconsistent' story is thus threatened. I then make some observations about the role 'Sylvan's Box' might play in a theory of unreliable narrators.
The project of constructing a logic of scientific inference on the basis of mathematical probability theory was first undertaken in a systematic way by the mid-nineteenth-century British logicians Augustus De Morgan, George Boole and William Stanley Jevons. This paper sketches the origins and motivation of that effort, the emergence of the inverse probability (IP) model of theory assessment, and the vicissitudes which that model suffered at the hands of its critics. Particular emphasis is given to the influence which competing interpretations (...) of probability had on the project, and to the role of the 'lottery' or 'ballot box' metaphor in the philosophical imagination of the proponents of the IP model. (shrink)