Ideas about heredity and evolution are undergoing a revolutionary change. New findings in molecular biology challenge the gene-centered version of Darwinian theory according to which adaptation occurs only through natural selection of chance DNA variations. In Evolution in Four Dimensions, Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb argue that there is more to heredity than genes. They trace four "dimensions" in evolution -- four inheritance systems that play a role in evolution: genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and symbolic. These systems, they argue, can all (...) provide variations on which natural selection can act. Evolution in Four Dimensions offers a richer, more complex view of evolution than the gene-based, one-dimensional view held by many today. The new synthesis advanced by Jablonka and Lamb makes clear that induced and acquired changes also play a role in evolution.After discussing each of the four inheritance systems in detail, Jablonka and Lamb "put Humpty Dumpty together again" by showing how all of these systems interact. They consider how each may have originated and guided evolutionary history and they discuss the social and philosophical implications of the four-dimensional view of evolution. Each chapter ends with a dialogue in which the authors engage the contrarieties of the fictional "I.M.," or Ifcha Mistabra -- Aramaic for "the opposite conjecture" -- refining their arguments against I.M.'s vigorous counterarguments. The lucid and accessible text is accompanied by artist-physician Anna Zeligowski's lively drawings, which humorously and effectively illustrate the authors' points. (shrink)
'...a challenging and useful book, both because it provokes a careful scrutiny of one's own basic ideas regarding evolutionary theory, and because it cuts across so many biological disciplines.' -The Quarterly Review of Biology 'In my view, this work exemplifies Theoretical Biology at its best...here is rampant speculation that is consistently based on cautious reasoning from the available data. Even more refreshing is the absence of sloganeering, grandstanding, and 'isms'.' -Biology and Philosophy 'Epigenetics is fundamental to understanding both development and (...) gene expression, and not surprisingly, evolutionary biologists have long been fascinated with its proper place in evolutionary theory...Enter Jablonka and Lamb, who provide a thoughtful review of the recent molecular literature and suggest a number of potential consequences.' -EvolutionSince first publication of this controversial book, much of the initial opposition to the ideas it contained has been replaced by a general, although often grudging, acceptance of them. Advances in knowledge, especially at the molecular level, have enhanced general awareness and interest in epigenetics and the evolution of systems that store and transmit information and put any of the authors' speculations on a more solid basis. This paperback edition contains a new Preface that sets out the major changes in the scientific world and in the authors' own thinking that have occurred since the book was published. A new Appendix provides a selected bibliography of the many books and articles about epigenetic inheritance and its role in evolution that have appeared since first publication. (shrink)
To investigate the current status of hospital clinical ethics committees (CEC) and how they have evolved in Canada over the past 20 years, this paper presents an overview of the findings from a 2008 survey and compares these findings with two previous Canadian surveys conducted in 1989 and 1984. All Canadian hospitals over 100 beds, of which at least some were acute care, were surveyed to determine the structure of CEC, how they function, the perceived achievements of these committees and (...) opinions about areas with which CEC should be involved. The percentage of hospitals with CEC in our sample was found to be 85% compared with 58% and 18% in 1989 and 1984, respectively. The wide variation in the size of committees and the composition of their membership has continued. Meetings of CEC have become more regularised and formalised over time. CEC continue to be predominately advisory in their nature, and by 2008 there was a shift in the priority of the activities of CEC to meeting ethics education needs and providing counselling and support with less emphasis on advising about policy and procedures. More research is needed on how best to define what the scope of activities of CEC should be in order to meet the needs of hospitals in Canada and elsewhere. More research also is needed on the actual outcomes to patients, families, health professionals and organisations from the work of these committees in order to support the considerable time committee members devote to this endeavour. (shrink)
A prominent political historian has recently identified unwarranted optimism and unwarranted pessimism as democracy's “dual dangers.” While this historical analysis highlights the difficulties that accompany democratic hope, our prevailing conceptual vocabulary obscures the resources needed to address them. This essay attempts to recover these resources by excavating insights from Thomas Aquinas, who supplies one of the most systematic accounts of hope in the history of religious and political thought. By appropriating the conceptual structure of Thomas's theological virtue of hope, this (...) essay reconstructs a democratic virtue that perfects acts of hoping in fellow citizens to achieve democratic goods and thereby enables citizens to respond properly to difficulties that tempt presumption and despair. (shrink)
Much of the literature on clinical ethical conflict has been specific to a specialty area or a particular patient group, as well as to a single profession. This study identifies themes of hospital nurses’ and physicians’ clinical ethical conflicts that cut across the spectrum of clinical specialty areas, and compares the themes identified by nurses with those identified by physicians. We interviewed 34 clinical nurses, 10 nurse managers and 31 physicians working at four different Canadian hospitals as part of a (...) larger study on clinical ethics committees and nurses’ and physicians’ use of these committees. We describe nine themes of clinical ethical conflict that were common to both hospital nurses and physicians, and three themes that were specific to physicians. Following this, we suggest reasons for differences in nurses’ and physicians’ ethical conflicts and discuss implications for practice and research. (shrink)
In his theory of evolution, Darwin recognized that the conditions of life play a role in the generation of hereditary variations, as well as in their selection. However, as evolutionary theory was developed further, heredity became identified with genetics, and variation was seen in terms of combinations of randomly generated gene mutations. We argue that this view is now changing, because it is clear that a notion of hereditary variation that is based solely on randomly varying genes that are unaffected (...) by developmental conditions is an inadequate basis for evolutionary theories. Such a view not only fails to provide satisfying explanations of many evolutionary phenomena, it also makes assumptions that are not consistent with the data that are emerging from disciplines ranging from molecular biology to cultural studies. These data show that the genome is far more responsive to the environment than previously thought, and that not all transmissible variation is underlain by genetic differences. In Evolution in Four Dimensions (2005) we identify four types of inheritance (genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and symbol-based), each of which can provide variations on which natural selection will act. Some of these variations arise in response to developmental conditions, so there are Lamarckian aspects to evolution. We argue that a better insight into evolutionary processes will result from recognizing that transmitted variations that are not based on DNA differences have played a role. This is particularly true for understanding the evolution of human behavior, where all four dimensions of heredity have been important. (shrink)
Nurses and physicians may experience ethical conflict when there is a difference between their own values, their professional values or the values of their organization. The distribution of limited health care resources can be a major source of ethical conflict. Relatively few studies have examined nurses' and physicians' ethical conflict with organizations. This study examined the research question ‘What are the organizational ethical conflicts that hospital nurses and physicians experience in their practice?’ We interviewed 34 registered nurses, 10 nurse managers, (...) and 31 physicians as part of a larger study, and asked them to describe their ethical conflicts with organizations. Through content analysis, we identified themes of nurses' and physicians' ethical conflict with organizations and compared the themes for nurses with those for physicians. (shrink)
Hospitals in many countries have had clinical ethics committees for over 20 years. Despite this, there has been little research to evaluate these committees and growing evidence that they are underutilized. To address this gap, we investigated the question ‘What are the barriers and facilitators nurses and physicians perceive in consulting their hospital ethics committee?’ Thirty-four nurses, 10 nurse managers and 31 physicians working at four Canadian hospitals were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide as part of a larger investigation. (...) We used content analysis of the interview data related to barriers and facilitators to use of hospital ethics committees to identify nine categories of barriers and nine categories of facilitators. These categories as well as their subcategories are discussed and those specific to nurses or physicians are identified. The need to increase health professionals' use of clinical ethics committees through reducing barriers and maximizing facilitators is discussed. (shrink)
A multiple-case study of four hospital ethics committees in Canada was conducted and data collected included interviews with key informants, observation of committee meetings and ethics-related hospital documents, such as policies and committee minutes. We compared the hospital committees in terms of their structure, functioning and perceptions of key informants and found variation in the dimensions of empowerment, organizational culture of ethics, breadth of ethics mandate, achievements, dynamism, and expertise.
In responding to three reviews of Evolution in Four Dimensions (Jablonka and Lamb, 2005, MIT Press), we briefly consider the historical background to the present genecentred view of evolution, especially the way in which Weismann’s theories have influenced it, and discuss the origins of the notion of epigenetic inheritance. We reaffirm our belief that all types of hereditary information—genetic, epigenetic, behavioural and cultural—have contributed to evolutionary change, and outline recent evidence, mainly from epigenetic studies, that suggests that non-DNA heritable variations (...) are not rare and can be quite stable. We describe ways in which such variations may have influenced evolution. The approach we take leads to broader definitions of terms such as ‘units of heredity’, ‘units of evolution’, and ‘units of selection’, and we maintain that ‘information’ can be a useful concept if it is defined in terms of its effects on the receiver. Although we agree that evolutionary theory is not undergoing a Kuhnian revolution, the incorporation of new data and ideas about hereditary variation, and about the role of development in generating it, is leading to a version of Darwinism that is very different from the gene-centred one that dominated evolutionary thinking in the second half of the twentieth century. (shrink)
This paper compares Pierre Hadot’s work on the history of philosophy as a way of life to the work of Albert Camus. I will argue that in the early work of Camus, up to and including the publication of The Myth of Sisyphus, there is evidence to support the notions that, firstly, Camus also identified these historical moments as obstacles to the practice of ascesis, and secondly, that he proceeded by orienting his own work toward overcoming these obstacles, and thus (...) toward a modern rehabilitation of ascesis. Moreover, in contrast to Hadot’s Platonism, Camus located the source of this practice in the pre-philosophical stage of Athenian tragedy. This points to a further contrast between these two figures, which has historical and cultural precedents, in the distinction between this pre-Platonic form of ascesis - favoured by Camus - and the latter Christian form of asceticism - favoured by Hadot, with the status of Platonic ascesis rendered in terms of prefiguring this Christian form of asceticism. (shrink)
The commentaries on Evolution in Four Dimensions reflect views ranging from total adherence to gene-centered neo-Darwinism, to the acceptance of non-genetic and Lamarckian processes in evolution. We maintain that genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and cultural variations have all been significant, and that the developmental aspects of heredity and evolution are an important bridge that can unite seemingly conflicting research programs and different disciplines.
Adaptive evolution is usually assumed to be directed by selective processes, development by instructive processes; evolution involves random genetic changes, development involves induced epigenetic changes. However, these distinctions are no longer unequivocal. Selection of genetic changes is a normal part of development in some organisms, and through the epigenetic system external factors can induce selectable heritable variations. Incorporating the effects of instructive processes into evolutionary thinking alters ideas about the way environmental changes lead to evolutionary change, and about the interplay (...) between genetic and epigenetic systems. (shrink)
One of the most controversial aspects of Augustine’s political thought is his use of imperial power to coerce religious dissenters. While scholars have sought to situate Augustine’s justifications of coercion within his historical, social, and political contexts, even the most helpful approaches do not alleviate concerns that Augustine’s defense of coercion violates individual liberty. This paper argues that one reason for this is that many defenders and detractors tend to view Augustine’s defense through a largely liberal lens, assuming a modern (...) conception of liberty and legitimacy that is alien to his late antique context. In contrast, this paper highlights how Augustine appropriates republican principles from his Roman predecessors to justify coercion and place limits on its use. In particular, it focuses on Augustine’s commitments to: liberty as non-domination; legitimate authority and the rule of law as constraints on arbitrary power; and contestability, publicity, and immanent critique as means of preventing domination and holding power accountable. By showing how the content and form of Augustine’s reasoning align with republican principles, this paper suggests that his defense of coercion appears less inimical to liberty in his Roman context than his modern interpreters typically assume. The paper concludes by considering how this republican approach might help to preserve liberty and prevent domination in our own time. (shrink)
By synthesizing evolutionary, attachment, and acoustic perspectives, Soltis has provided an innovative model of infant cry acoustics and parental responsiveness. We question some of his hypotheses, however, because of the limited extant data on infant crying among hunter-gatherers. We also question Soltis' distinction between manipulative and honest signaling based upon recent contributions from attachment theory.
Western scholarly literature suggests that (1) weaning is initiated by mothers; (2) weaning takes place within a few days once mothers decide to stop nursing; (3) mothers employ specific techniques to terminate nursing; (4) semi-solid foods (gruels and mashed foods) are essential when weaning; (5) weaning is traumatic for children (it leads to temper tantrums, aggression, etc.); (6) developmental stages in relationships with mothers and others can be demarcated by weaning; and (7) weaning is a process that involves mothers and (...) children exclusively, with weaned children moving from close relationships with their mothers to strengthened relationships with other children. In many respects, these presumptions are consistent with contemporary Euroamerican practices: nursing stops early (usually before six months) relative to other cultures and takes place over a few days or weeks with the help of bottles and baby foods. Because bottles are available, weaning seldom appears traumatic, but it is seen as an important step in the establishment of independence between mothers and infants. By contrast, weaning from the bottle is often perceived as traumatic. Despite considerable academic and popular interest, weaning has seldom been studied systematically, especially in small-scale cultures. Qualitative and quantitative data from a study of Bofi foragers in Central Africa are used here to evaluate the cross-cultural applicability of the assumptions summarized above. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Investigating Extended Embodiment Using a Computational Model and Human Experimentation” by Yuki Sato, Hiroyuki Iizuka & Takashi Ikegami. Upshot: First, we comment on a potential weakness highlighted by the use of self-reporting in the human-coupled windmill experiment as described in the target article. Second, we suggest that the authors treat their windmill models as soft-assembled dynamical systems. This would allow them to investigate extended body schemes by looking for 1/f noise in the interface between (...) the agent and the windmills. (shrink)
This article examines the relationship between the philosophical marginalisation of pessimism in Joshua Foa Dienstag's Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit (2006) and the concept of mimesis in the work of Luiz Costa Lima, particularly in his Control of the Imaginary (1988). My aim is threefold: (1) to compare the shared background and peripheral contexts of Dienstag's and Costa Lima's work; (2) to discuss the significance of Cervantes's Don Quixote in this comparative analysis; and (3) to characterise Costa Lima's thinking vis-à-vis conventional (...) institutional thinking. The nature of my subject requires a narrative approach in which the writer remains on the margin of the material, bringing the reader into the same position; to proceed otherwise, as articles conventionally do, would be to adopt a position of authority, institutionality, and hierarchy that is at odds with the material. It is a position that avers conclusions and prefers ongoing questioning. (shrink)
The rapidity with which new sciences are being formed and the older ones are becoming further specialized calls for a complementary effort to interrelate the sciences. A genuine synthetization must be completely open to all future discoveries and developments within science. Such an openness would be possible only if scientific understanding possesses certain invariable patterns according to which the synthetization could be constructed. Lonergan's Insight (New York, 1958) seems to have uncovered these basic and irrevisable patterns. Not only do they (...) demonstrate the complementarity of classical and statistical methods but the isomorphic Emergent Probability operative in world-process may well provide the framework for an open synthetization. In the present essay this possibility is demonstrated by interrelating, according to it, certain generic fields of the scientific endeavor, from physics to cultural anthropology. (shrink)