The topic of synthetic life has long been a subject for science fiction writers, philosophers, and even scientists. With the announcement in 2010 by renowned biologist J. Craig Venter that he and a team of scientists from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) had created a bacterial cell with chemically synthesized genome, discussions of synthetic life were no longer just conjecture.Humans had assembled nonliving components to make a living cell (Gibson et al. 2010). I was one of the leaders of (...) that endeavor, and this article will be a first-person account of how we made our cell, along with my conjectures about what will come next in the new fields of synthetic biology and synthetic genomics.Scanning electron .. (shrink)
We have synthesized a 582,970-base pair Mycoplasma genitalium genome. This synthetic genome, named M. genitalium JCVI-1.0, contains all the genes of wild-type M. genitalium G37 except MG408, which was disrupted by an antibiotic marker to block pathogenicity and to allow for selection. To identify the genome as synthetic, we inserted "watermarks" at intergenic sites known to tolerate transposon insertions. Overlapping "cassettes" of 5 to 7 kilobases (kb), assembled from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, were joined by in vitro recombination to produce intermediate (...) assemblies of approximately 24 kb, 72 kb ("1/8 genome"), and 144 kb ("1/4 genome"), which were all cloned as bacterial artificial chromosomes in Escherichia coli. Most of these intermediate clones were sequenced, and clones of all four 1/4 genomes with the correct sequence were identified. The complete synthetic genome was assembled by transformation-associated recombination cloning in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, then isolated and sequenced. A clone with the correct sequence was identified. The methods described here will be generally useful for constructing large DNA molecules from chemically synthesized pieces and also from combinations of natural and synthetic DNA segments. 10.1126/science.1151721. (shrink)
Few topics in contemporary science hold the wide interest commanded by immunology, so this graceful and timely account of the development of this science is a welcomed addition to the literature. Succinct, well-written, and informed, Intolerant Bodies narrates the history of immunology through the lens of autoimmune disease. In what the authors call “a biography” , they have focused on four central illnesses: multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes mellitus. However, the story told here extends (...) far beyond the topic of “attack against self” to provide perhaps the best overview of immunity available for the general reader. The specialist will also appreciate the rich anecdotal material and benefit from the historical insights scattered throughout the text. So the book is, in fact, more than a history of autoimmunity and offers a compact history for those who need not consult more comprehensive accounts (e .. (shrink)
As the ball flew towards us I leapt to my left to catch it. But it was you, reacting more rapidly than I, who caught the ball just in front of the point at which my hand was poised. Fortunate for us that you took the catch. The ball was headed on a course which, unimpeded, would have taken it through the glass window of a nearby building. Your catch prevented the window from being broken.
F. H. Bradley has assured us that where all is bad it must be good to know the worst. In the case before us the worst is that Jonathan Edwards, from whatever perspective he is viewed, represents an imposing enigma. I confess at the outset that the enigma is one I am unable entirely to dispel, although I am confident that I can explain what is enigmatic about his thought, his approach, his caste of mind, and that I can do (...) so "not through a glass darkly." The central problem is this: Edwards, on the one hand, accepted totally the tradition established by the Reformers with respect to the absolute primacy and authority of the Bible, and he could approach the biblical writings with that conviction of their inerrancy and literal truth which one usually associates with Protestant fundamentalism. On the other hand, Edwards insisted vigorously on the criteria of reason and experience, and he was without equal on the American scene up to the time of Charles Peirce in his capacity for philosophical analysis, for sustaining a logical argument, and for expressing his conclusions with the most painstaking attention to subtle nuances of meaning and rhetorical effectiveness. Moreover, he insisted on the use of philosophical concepts and principles in considering the "things of religion" and his speculations about creation, his estheticism, and pantheism caused deep anxiety in the minds of traditional Calvinists, whose theology was as literal as their biblical exegesis. This double-barrelled character of his approach has led critics to define him as a reactionary and "medieval" thinker who had lost touch with those currents of thought which would eventually lead to the "modern" point of view. Without pausing to evaluate that charge at this point, one thing at least is clear: in relation to his contemporaries Edwards was alone in his attempt to make the religious tradition intelligible in those philosophical terms first laid down by Augustine and Anselm in their enterprise of "faith seeking understanding.". (shrink)
In this article I address a number of central problems in modern and/or postmodern political and ethical life. I do so largely through an explication and comparison of John Dewey's and Max Weber's theoretical approaches and prescriptions for ethics and political participation. According to both Dewey and Weber, the modern world fragments both the ‘individual' and ‘community'. This fragmentation impairs meaningful political action. Thus, the question becomes, how is the fragmentation on the individual and community level to be reconciled, (...) coherence regained and meaningful action restored? Dewey and Weber have conflicting answers to this set of questions. I argue that however wanting one might find Dewey and Weber's insights, the questions and their insights are still relevant to this day. I argue that the problems brought on by modernity still flourish under ‘postmodern' conditions. Further, I propose that given contemporary conditions a supplemented combination of Weber and Dewey's views is the most suitable and politically efficient response to the demands of the day and would best serve our need for coherence and allow for meaningful political action. The article ends by proposing a blend of their views that is supplemented by the work of Judith Butler.umpty Dumpty sat on a wall:Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.All the King's horses and all the King's menCouldn't put Humpty Dumpty in his place again.– Lewis Carrol, Alice Through the Looking Glass. (shrink)
Organised into three sections covering the place of semantics in linguistics, the description of sentence and word meanings, and current theoretical approaches to semantics, this book is aimed at undergraduates as well as general readers.
"[The authors] artfully piece together important essays in educational policy and philosophy. . . . The book deals in detail with such issues as teacher professionalization, moral responsibility of public schools, accountability, and ethical codes of practice. Must reading for teachers, administrators, and professors in schools and departments of education." --Choice.
This book offers a revisionary account of key epistemological concepts and doctrines of St Thomas Aquinas, particularly his concept of scientia, and proposes an interpretation of the purpose and composition of Aquinas's most mature and influential work, the Summa theologiae, which presents the scientia of sacred doctrine, i.e. Christian theology. Contrary to the standard interpretation of it as a work for neophytes in theology, Jenkins argues that it is in fact a pedagogical work intended as the culmination of philosophical and (...) theological studies of very gifted students. Jenkins considers our knowledge of the principles of a science. He argues that rational assent to the principles of sacred doctrine, the articles of faith, is due to the influence of grace on one's cognitive powers, because of which one is able immediately to apprehend these propositions as divinely revealed. His study will be of interest to readers in philosophy, theology and medieval studies. (shrink)
This study examines the use of a video news release in a specific story. Press coverage and editorial criticism in the case showed that journalists do not articulate sufficiently how the news owners' sway, through institutional controls, can lead to a hegemony of expedient action in the newsroom. Critical self-reflection by news workers will better enable journalists to ethically deliberate news choices that balance their responsibilities to owners, peers, and the public.
Our concern in this paper is with the question of how irrational an intentional agent can be, and, in particular, with an argument Stephen Stich has given for the claim that there are only very minimal a priori requirements on the rationality of intentional agents. The argument appears in chapter 2 of The Fragmentation of Reason.1 Stich is concerned there with the prospects for the ‘reform-minded epistemologist’. If there are a priori limits on how irrational we can be, there are (...) limits to how much reform we could expect to achieve. With this in mind, Stich sets out to determine what a priori limits there are on irrationality by examining `a cluster of influential arguments aimed at showing that there are conceptual constraints on how badly a person can reason’ (p. 30). Stich aims to remove the threat of a priori limits on the project of reforming our cognitive practices by showing, first, that these influential arguments are bad arguments, and, second, that at best there are only minimal constraints on how irrational we can be.2 We aim to show three things. The first is that Stich’s own arguments against strong a priori limits on how badly a person can reason are unsuccessful, because Stich fails to take into account that the concept of rationality is an epistemic, not just a logical concept, and because he fails to take into account the connection between having a concept and being able to recognize conceptually simple inferences involving the concept. The second is that the position Stich argues for, on the basis of Richard Grandy’s principle of humanity, turns out not to be distinct from the one he rejects. The third is that, in any case, the position that Stich rejects in order to preserve some scope for the project of improving our reasoning is not only no danger to that project but must be presupposed by it. (shrink)
This paper considers the applicability of standard accounts of causation to living systems. In particular it examines critically the increasing tendency to equate causal explanation with the identification of a mechanism. A range of differences between living systems and paradigm mechanisms are identified and discussed. While in principle it might be possible to accommodate an account of mechanism to these features, the attempt to do so risks reducing the idea of a mechanism to vacuity. It is proposed that the solution (...) to this problem requires the development of a philosophical account of process adequate to apply to living systems. (shrink)