This standard work in thanatology is updated with ten essays new to the second edition, and features a new introduction by Donnelly. The collection addresses certain basic issues inherent in a philosophy of death.
Mereological principles are sometimes used to support general claims about the structure and arrangement of objects in the world. I focus initially on one such mereological principle, the weak supplementation principle (WSP). It is not obvious that (WSP) is prescribed by ordinary thinking about parthood. Further, (WSP) is not needed for a fairly strong formal characterization of the part–whole relation. For these reasons, some arguments relying on (WSP) might be countered by simply denying (WSP). I argue more generally that there (...) is no reason to assume that one core mereology functions as a common basis for all plausible metaphysical theories. (shrink)
This paper provides an axiomatic formalization of a theory of foundational relations between three categories of entities: individuals, universals, and collections. We deal with a variety of relations between entities in these categories, including the is-a relation among universals and the part-of relation among individuals as well as cross-category relations such as instance-of, member-of, and partition-of. We show that an adequate understanding of the formal properties of such relations – in particular their behavior with respect to time – is critical (...) for formal ontology. We provide examples to support this thesis from the domain of biomedicine. (shrink)
In this paper, I focus on three issues intertwined in current debates between endurantists and perdurantists—(i) the dimension of persisting objects, (ii) whether persisting objects have timeless, or only time-relative, parts, and (iii) whether persisting objects have proper temporal parts. I argue that one standard endurantist position on the first issue is compatible with standard perdurantist positions on parthood and temporal parts. I further argue that different accounts of persistence depend on the claims about objects' dimensions and not on the (...) auxiliary claims about parthood and temporal parts. (shrink)
It is often assumed that indeterminacy in mereological relations—in particular, indeterminacy in which collections of objects have fusions—leads immediately to indeterminacy in what objects there are in the world. This assumption is generally taken as a reason for rejecting mereological vagueness. The purpose of this paper is to examine the link between mereological vagueness and existential vagueness. I hope to show that the connection between the two forms of vagueness is not nearly so clear-cut as has been supposed.
According to the prevalent 'sum view' of stuffs, each portion of stuff is a mereological sum of its subportions. The purpose of this paper is to re-examine the sum view in the light of a modal temporal mereology which distinguishes between different varieties of summation relations. While admitting David Barnett's recent counter-example to the sum view, we show that there is nonetheless an important sense in which all portions of stuff are sums of their subportions. We use our summation relations (...) to develop, as an alternative to the sum view, an analysis of stuffs that distinguisher between the ways in which different sorts of stuffs are sums of their subportions. (shrink)
I am skeptical of our ability to predict, or even forecast, the future—of human rights or any other important social practice. Nonetheless, an understanding of the paths that have brought us to where we are today can facilitate thinking about the future. Thus, I approach the topic by examining the reshaping of international ideas and practices of state sovereignty and human rights since the end of World War II. I argue that in the initial decades after the war, international society (...) constructed an absolutist conception of exclusive territorial jurisdiction that was fundamentally antagonistic to international human rights. At the same time, though, human rights were for the first time included among the fundamental norms of international society. And over the past two decades, dominant understandings of sovereignty have become less absolutist and more human rights–friendly, a trend that I suggest is likely to continue to develop, modestly, in the coming years. (shrink)
Evidence from visual-search experiments is discussed that indicates that there is spatially parallel encoding based on three-dimensional (3-D) spatial relations between complex image features. In one paradigm, subjects had to detect an odd part of cube-like figures, formed by grouping of corner junctions. Performance with cube-like figures was unaffected by the number of corner junctions present, though performance was affected when the corners did not configure into a cube. It is suggested from the data that junctions can be grouped to (...) form 3-D shapes in a spatially parallel manner. Further, performance with cube-like figures was more robust to noncollinearity between junctions than was performance when junctions grouped to form two-dimensional planes. In the second paradigm, subjects searched for targets defined by their size. Performance was affected by a size illusion, induced by linear-perspective cues from local background neighbourhoods. Search was made more efficient when the size illusion was consistent with the real size difference between targets and nontargets, and it was made less efficient when the size illusion was inconsistent with the real size difference. This last result occurred even though search was little affected by the display size in a control condition. We suggest that early, parallel visual processes are influenced by 3-D spatial relations between visual elements, that grouping based on 3-D spatial relations is relatively robust to noncollinearity between junctions, and that, at least in some circumstances, 3-D relations dominate those coded in two-dimensions. (shrink)
The prime number theorem, established by Hadamard and de la Vallée Poussin independently in 1896, asserts that the density of primes in the positive integers is asymptotic to 1/ln x. Whereas their proofs made serious use of the methods of complex analysis, elementary proofs were provided by Selberg and Erdos in 1948. We describe a formally verified version of Selberg's proof, obtained using the Isabelle proof assistant.
We propose an ontological theory that is powerful enough to describe both complex spatio-temporal processes and the enduring entities that participate therein. For this purpose we introduce the notion a directly depicting ontology. Directly depicting ontologies are based on relatively simple languages and fall into two major categories: ontologies of type SPAN and ontologies of type SNAP. These represent two complementary perspectives on reality and employ distinct though compatible systems of categories. A SNAP (snapshot) ontology comprehends enduring entities such as (...) organisms, geographic features, or qualities as they exist at some given moment of time. A SPAN ontology comprehends perduring entities such as processes and their parts and aggregates as they unfold themselves through some temporal interval. We give an axiomatic account of the theory of directly depicting ontologies and of the core parts of the metaontological fragment within which they are embedded. (shrink)
Standard theories in mereotopology focus on relations of parthood and connection among spatial or spatio-temporal regions. Objects or processes which might be located in such regions are not normally directly treated in such theories. At best, they are simulated via appeal to distributions of attributes across the regions occupied or by functions from times to regions. The present paper offers a richer framework, in which it is possible to represent directly the relations between entities of various types at different levels, (...) including both objects and the regions they occupy. What results is a layered mereotopology, a theory which can handle multiple layers (analogous to the layers of a lasagna) of spatially or spatiotemporally coincident but mereologically non-overlapping entities. (shrink)
Transgenic plants are now being used to develop pharmaceutical and industrial products in addition to their use in crop improvement. Using confinement requirements, these transgenic plants are grown and processed under conditions that prevent intermixing with commodity crops. Regulatory agencies in the United States have provided guidance of zero tolerance of these new industrial crops with commodity crops. While this is a worthy goal, it is theoretically unattainable. In spite of the best containment practices, there is a potential risk using (...) any system of production due to unforeseen incidences including natural disasters or exposure to workers. The precautionary principle has been used for numerous regulated articles in addressing the potential risks of new products and technology based on a risk assessment in similar situations. We present here a risk assessment model that could be used as a start to develop an accepted model for the industry. The model is based on current risk models used for other regulated articles, but adapted for these types of products. This could be used to determine action levels in the event of an unintended exposure or to ensure that detection or confinement methods are adequate to avoid risks. As an example, aprotinin, a therapeutic protein now being produced in maize, was evaluated for potential risk to humans using this model. (shrink)