The interventionist account of causation has been largely dismissed as a serious candidate for application in physics. This dismissal is related to the problematic assumption that physical causation is entirely a matter of dynamical evolution. In this article, I offer a fresh look at the interventionist account of causation and its applicability to thermodynamics. I argue that the interventionist account of causation is the account of causation that most appropriately characterizes the theoretical structure and phenomenal behavior of thermodynamics.
The manipulationist account of causation provides a conceptual analysis of cause-effect relationships in terms of hypothetical experiments. It also explains why and how experiments are used for the empirical testing of causal claims. This paper attempts to apply the manipulationist account of causation to a broader range of experiments—a range that extends beyond experiments explicitly designed for the testing of causal claims. I aim to show that the set of causal inferences afforded by an experiment is determined solely on the (...) basis of contrasting case structures that I call “experimental series”, and that the conditions that suffice for causal inference obtain quite commonly, even among “ordinary” experiments that are not explicitly designed for the testing of causal claims. (shrink)
A basic problem of daily life is determining who owns what. One way that people may solve this problem is by relying on a ‘first possession’ heuristic, according to which the first person who possesses an object is its owner, even if others subsequently possess the object. We investigated preschoolers’ use of this heuristic in five experiments. In Experiments 1 and 2, 3- and 4-year-olds inferred that an object was owned by the character who possessed it first, even though another (...) character subsequently possessed it. Two-year-olds also showed this bias, but only when the object was placed between the characters when children were asked about ownership. Experiment 3 ruled out the possibility that children’s bias to select the first possessor results from a tendency to select the character first associated with the object. Experiment 4 showed that 3- and 4-year-olds have difficulty disregarding the first possession heuristic, even when provided with evidence that the character who first possessed an object is not its owner. But Experiment 5 found that children can disregard the heuristic in at least some situations. These five experiments suggest that the first possession heuristic guides children’s ownership inferences. The findings provide the first evidence that preschoolers can infer who owns what, when not explicitly told, and when not reasoning about objects with which they are personally acquainted. (shrink)
Two arguments are critiqued here. The first is that hominin mothers “parked” their offspring; the evidence does not support that position. The second is that motherese developed to control the behavior of nonambulatory infants. However, Falk's case is stronger if we apply it to children who are already walking and more likely to be influenced by verbal information.
Paul Needham has claimed in several recent papers that Dalton’s chemical atomism was not explanatory. I respond to his criticism of Dalton by arguing that explanation admits of degrees and that under a view that allows for a spectrum of explanatory value, it is possible to see ample worth in Dalton’s atomistic explanations. Furthermore, I argue that even Duhem, who rejected atomism, acknowledged the explanatory worth of Dalton’s atomism.
The current consensus view of causation in physics, as commonly held by scientists and philosophers, has several serious problems. It fails to provide an epistemology for the causal knowledge that it claims physics to possess; it is inapplicable in a prominent area of physics (classical thermodynamics); and it is difficult to reconcile with our everyday use of causal concepts and claims. In this dissertation, I use historical examples and philosophical arguments to show that the interventionist account of causation constitutes a (...) promising alternative for a “physically respectable” account of causation. The interventionist account explicates important parts of the experimental practice of physics and important aspects of the ways in which physical theory is used and applied. Moreover, the interventionist account succeeds where the consensus view of causation in physics fails. I argue that the interventionist account provides an epistemology of causal knowledge in physics that is rooted in experiment. On the interventionist view, there is a close link between experiment and the testing of causal claims. I give several examples of experiments from the early history of thermodynamics that scientists used in interventionist-type arguments. I also argue that interventionist claims made in the context of a physical theory can be epistemically justified by reference to the experimental interventions and observations that serve as evidence for the theory. I then show that the interventionist account of causation is well-suited to the patterns of reasoning that are intrinsic to thermodynamic theory. I argue that interventionist reasoning constitutes the structural foundation of thermodynamic theory, and that thermodynamic theory can provide clear answers to meaningful questions about whether or not a certain variable is a cause of another in a given context. Finally, I argue that the interventionist account offers the prospect of a unification of “physically respectable” causation and our everyday notion of causation. I conclude the dissertation by sketching an anti-foundationalist unification of causation, according to which causal reasoning occurs in the same manner in physics as it does in other branches of life and scientific research. (shrink)
Historical research on John Dalton has been dominated by an attempt to reconstruct the origins of his so-called "chemical atomic theory". I show that Dalton's theory is difficult to define in any concise manner, and that there has been no consensus as to its unique content among his contemporaries, later chemists, and modern historians. I propose an approach which, instead of attempting to work backward from Dalton's theory, works forward, by identifying the research questions that Dalton posed to himself and (...) attempting to understand how his hypotheses served as answers to these questions. I describe Dalton's scientific work as an evolving set of puzzles about natural phenomena. I show how an early interest in meteorology led Dalton to see the constitution of the atmosphere as a puzzle. In working on this great puzzle, he gradually turned his interest to specifically chemical questions. In the end, the web of puzzles that he worked on required him to create his own novel philosophy of chemistry for which he is known today. (shrink)
Is it possible to take the enterprise of physics seriously while also holding the belief that the world contains an order beyond the reach of that physics? Is it possible to simultaneously believe in objective laws of nature and in miracles? Is it possible to search for the truths of physics while also acknowledging the limitations of that search as it is carried out by limited human knowers? As a philosopher, as a Christian, and as a participant in the physics (...) of his day, Leibniz had an interesting view that bears on all of these questions. This paper examines the status of laws of nature in Leibniz's philosophy and how the status of these laws fits into his larger philosophical picture of the limits of human knowledge and the wise and omniscient God who created the actual world. (shrink)
Three experiments investigated response times for remember and know responses in recognition memory. RTs to remember responses were faster than RTs to know responses, regardless of whether the remember–know decision was preceded by an old/new decision or was made without a preceding old/new decision . The finding of faster RTs for R responses was also found when remember–know decisions were made retrospectively. These findings are inconsistent with dual-process models of recognition memory, which predict that recollection is slower and more effortful (...) than familiarity. Word frequency did not influence RTs, but remember responses were faster for words than for nonwords. We argue that the difference in RTs to remember and know responses reflects the time taken to make old/new decisions on the basis of the type of information activated at test. (shrink)
Socio-cultural changes in the West have influenced interpretation and use of scriptural texts among both those who oppose and support same-sex relationships. Cultural distance from the values of antiquity on matters of family structures and perceptions of people attracted to the same sex have led to greater attention to theological reflection beyond the standard biblical prohibition texts, particularly among conservative evangelicals. This article looks at two key areas of discussion: theological anthropology and sanctification.
The Protein Ontology (PRO; http://proconsortium.org) formally defines protein entities and explicitly represents their major forms and interrelations. Protein entities represented in PRO corresponding to single amino acid chains are categorized by level of specificity into family, gene, sequence and modification metaclasses, and there is a separate metaclass for protein complexes. All metaclasses also have organism-specific derivatives. PRO complements established sequence databases such as UniProtKB, and interoperates with other biomedical and biological ontologies such as the Gene Ontology (GO). PRO relates to (...) UniProtKB in that PRO’s organism-specific classes of proteins encoded by a specific gene correspond to entities documented in UniProtKB entries. PRO relates to the GO in that PRO’s representations of organism-specific protein complexes are subclasses of the organism-agnostic protein complex terms in the GO Cellular Component Ontology. The past few years have seen growth and changes to the PRO, as well as new points of access to the data and new applications of PRO in immunology and proteomics. Here we describe some of these developments. (shrink)
This is a defense of black reparations using the theory of reparations set out in John Locke''s The Second Treatise of Government. I develop two main arguments, what I call the ``inheritance argument'''' and the ``counterfactual argument,''''both of which have been thought to fail. In no case do I appeal to the false ideas that present day United States citizens are guilty of slavery or must pay reparation simply because the U.S. Government was once complicit in the crime.
Drawing on and extending the Foucaultian philosophical framework that Jeffrey Bishop develops in his masterful book, The Anticipatory Corpse: Medicine, Power, and the Care of the Dying, we undertake a sociological analysis of the neurological procedure—deep brain stimulation —which implants electrodes in the brain, powered by a pacemaker-like device, for the treatment of movement disorders. Following Bishop’s work, we carry out this analysis through a two-fold strategy. First, we examine how a multidisciplinary team evaluates candidates for this implant at a (...) major medical center. We present excerpts from an ethnographic study of the “case conference” where disease entities are presented, contested, ratified, and made objects for intervention with this technology. The case conference becomes the key site in the transition from “person-with-illness” to “person-with-brain-implant” as a team of health professionals determines a plan of action by interpreting both statistical and “quality of life” data regarding their patients. Second, this article explores these decision-making processes through Bishop’s conceptualization of evidence-based medicine, which relies on statistical approaches as the ultimate authority in knowledge production and medical decisions. We then reflect on Bishop’s critique of the social sciences and the methodological, analytical, and substantive ramifications that The Anticipatory Corpse can offer future sociological work. (shrink)
As sharing and secondary research use of biospecimens increases, IRBs and researchers face the challenge of protecting and respecting donors without comprehensive regulations addressing the human subject protection issues posed by biobanking. Variation in IRB biobanking policies about these issues has not been well documented.
This paper considers an approach to teaching ethics in bioengineering based on the How People Learn (HPL) framework. Curricula based on this framework have been effective in mathematics and science instruction from the kindergarten to the college levels. This framework is well suited to teaching bioengineering ethics because it helps learners develop “adaptive expertise”. Adaptive expertise refers to the ability to use knowledge and experience in a domain to learn in unanticipated situations. It differs from routine expertise, which requires using (...) knowledge appropriately to solve routine problems. Adaptive expertise is an important educational objective for bioengineers because the regulations and knowledge base in the discipline are likely to change significantly over the course of their careers. This study compares the performance of undergraduate bioengineering students who learned about ethics for stem cell research using the HPL method of instruction to the performance of students who learned following a standard lecture sequence. Both groups learned the factual material equally well, but the HPL group was more prepared to act adaptively when presented with a novel situation. (shrink)
BackgroundFunding agencies have long used panel discussion in the peer review of research grant proposals as a way to utilize a set of expertise and perspectives in making funding decisions. Little research has examined the quality of panel discussions and how effectively they are facilitated.MethodsHere, we present a mixed-method analysis of data from a survey of reviewers focused on their perceptions of the quality, effectiveness, and influence of panel discussion from their last peer review experience.ResultsReviewers indicated that panel discussions were (...) viewed favorably in terms of participation, clarifying differing opinions, informing unassigned reviewers, and chair facilitation. However, some reviewers mentioned issues with panel discussions, including an uneven focus, limited participation from unassigned reviewers, and short discussion times. Most reviewers felt the discussions affected the review outcome, helped in choosing the best science, and were generally fair and balanced. However, those who felt the discussion did not affect the outcome were also more likely to evaluate panel communication negatively, and several reviewers mentioned potential sources of bias related to the discussion. While respondents strongly acknowledged the importance of the chair in ensuring appropriate facilitation of the discussion to influence scoring and to limit the influence of potential sources of bias from the discussion on scoring, nearly a third of respondents did not find the chair of their most recent panel to have performed these roles effectively.ConclusionsIt is likely that improving chair training in the management of discussion as well as creating review procedures that are informed by the science of leadership and team communication would improve review processes and proposal review reliability. (shrink)
Analogue experiments have attracted interest for their potential to shed light on inaccessible domains. For instance, ‘dumb holes’ in fluids and Bose–Einstein condensates, as analogues of black holes, have been promoted as means of confirming the existence of Hawking radiation in real black holes. We compare analogue experiments with other cases of experiment and simulation in physics. We argue—contra recent claims in the philosophical literature—that analogue experiments are not capable of confirming the existence of particular phenomena in inaccessible (...) target systems. As they must assume the physical adequacy of the modelling framework used to describe the inaccessible target system, arguments to the conclusion that analogue experiments can yield confirmation for phenomena in those target systems, such as Hawking radiation in black holes, beg the question. (shrink)