Advancements in novel neurotechnologies, such as brain computer interfaces and neuromodulatory devices such as deep brain stimulators, will have profound implications for society and human rights. While these technologies are improving the diagnosis and treatment of mental and neurological diseases, they can also alter individual agency and estrange those using neurotechnologies from their sense of self, challenging basic notions of what it means to be human. As an international coalition of interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners, we examine these challenges and make (...) recommendations to mitigate negative consequences that could arise from the unregulated development or application of novel neurotechnologies. We explore potential ethical challenges in four key areas: identity and agency, privacy, bias, and enhancement. To address them, we propose democratic and inclusive summits to establish globally-coordinated ethical and societal guidelines for neurotechnology development and application, new measures, including “Neurorights,” for data privacy, security, and consent to empower neurotechnology users’ control over their data, new methods of identifying and preventing bias, and the adoption of public guidelines for safe and equitable distribution of neurotechnological devices. (shrink)
Originally published in 1904, Whittaker’s A Treatise on the Analytical Dynamics of Particles and Rigid Bodies soon became a classic of the subject and has remained in print for most of these 108 years. In this paper, we follow the book as it develops from a report that Whittaker wrote for the British Society for the Advancement of Science to its influence on Dirac’s version of quantum mechanics in the 1920s and beyond.
Edmund T. Whittaker’s second edition of his A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity is famous for his treatment of Einstein as an almost irrelevant character in the emergence of what he called “the relativity theory of Poincaré and Lorentz.” Historians of science have given a number of explanations, which include Whittaker’s scientific conservatism as an old classical physicist, his commitment to the ether, the pre-eminent role he attributed to mathematics over physics, and foundational philosophical disagreements, (...) to name a few. And in the background, often more implicit than forthright, the accusation of antisemitism looms over Whittaker. In this paper I intend to shed new light on this controversy by taking into consideration the abundant correspondence between Whittaker and his son preserved in the archives of the Fisher Library, University of Toronto. With it, we will get a more complex and personal view of the context in which his attempt at dethroning Einstein took place. Together with the abovementioned reasons, this correspondence shows that the problematic status quo of general relativity in the early 1950s, a period that has been described as the low-mark of general relativity, was very influential in the historical treatment he gave to Einstein. This is an aspect hardly mentioned in the historical work on this controversy and, from this correspondence, it appears to be central to understanding Whittaker at the time of drafting the new History. His possible antisemitic bias will also be addressed, though with the insufficient information on this subject the matter cannot be settled. (shrink)
This review was first published in Modern Language Quarterly : A Journal of Literary History, in Volume 74, Issue 3 | September 2013. Meredith MARTIN. The Rise and Fall of Meter : Poetry and English National Culture, 1860 – 1930. Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 2012. 274 pp. At the turn of the twentieth century, Robert Bridges made newspaper headlines with Milton's Prosody for attempting to renovate England's increasingly simplified notions of meter by justifying the supposed - Recensions.
Chanter’s book offers a wide array of articles assessing whether Levinas’s thoughts about the feminine and otherness hold any promise for feminist approaches in philosophy. Setting the tone for the book, Chanter’s introduction begins by charting the parameters of a controversial debate surrounding Levinas’s writings. As a launching pad, Chanter employs de Beauvoir’s well-known footnote about Levinas’s treatment of the feminine, noting how many of the commentators’ problematize de Beauvoir’s interpretation of Levinas’s early writings. De Beauvoir chastises Levinas for defining (...) women against the backdrop of men such that the female sex seems derivative, secondary. Woman, writes de Beauvoir, “is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential. He’s the Subject, he is the Absolute—She is the Other”. As most of the contributors to this volume reveal, Levinas’s writings are more complicated than de Beauvoir intimates. Because she fails to place Levinas’s comments in the context of his overall framework, de Beauvoir neglects to recognize that Levinas’s ideas about the feminine disturb and call into question the primacy accorded to patriarchal visions of totality connected with a “virile” and conquering masculine ego. Further, Levinas refuses to define the feminine vis-à-vis masculinity. Far from “reducing women to replicas of men”, Levinas highlights that the feminine is not a complement to the masculine, nor is it comparable to it under a unifying scheme which could judge it as inferior. (shrink)
This paper charts some early history of the possible worlds semantics for modal logic, starting with the pioneering work of Prior and Meredith. The contributions of Geach, Hintikka, Kanger, Kripke, Montague, and Smiley are also discussed.
_Wittgenstein, Mind and Meaning_ offers a provocative re-reading of Wittgenstein's later writings on language and mind, and explores the tensions between Wittgenstein's ideas and contemporary cognitivist conceptions of the mental. This book addresses both Wittgenstein's later works as well as contemporary issues in philosophy of mind. It provides fresh insight into the later Wittgenstein and raises vital questions about the foundations of cognitivism and its wider implications for psychology and cognitive science.
This book addresses how Plato, Kant, and Iris Murdoch view the connection aesthetic experience has to morality. While offering an examination of Iris Murdoch’s philosophy, it analyses deeply the suggestive links between Plato’s and Kant’s philosophies. Meredith Trexler Drees considers not only Iris Murdoch’s concept of unselfing, but also its relationship with Kant’s view of Achtung and Plato’s view of Eros. In addition, Trexler Drees suggests an extended, and partially amended, version of Murdoch’s view, arguing that it is more (...) compatible with a religious way of life than Murdoch herself realized. This leads to an expansion of the overall argument to include Kant’s affirmation of religion as an area of life that can be improved through Plato’s and Murdoch’s vision of how being good and being beautiful can be part of the same life-task. (shrink)
Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing is a technology which provides information about fetal genetic characteristics very early in pregnancy by examining fetal DNA obtained from a sample of maternal blood. NIPT is a morally complex technology that has advanced quickly to market with a strong push from industry developers, leaving many areas of uncertainty still to be resolved, and creating a strong need for health policy that reflects women’s social and ethical values. We approach the need for ethical policy-making by studying the (...) use of NIPT and emerging policy in the province of Ontario, Canada. Using an adapted version of constructivist grounded theory, we conducted interviews with 38 women who have had personal experiences with NIPT. We used an iterative process of data collection and analysis and a staged coding strategy to conduct a descriptive analysis of ethics issues identified implicitly and explicitly by women who have been affected by this technology. The findings of this paper focus on current ethical issues for women seeking NIPT, including place in the prenatal pathway, health care provider counselling about the test, industry influence on the diffusion of NIPT, consequences of availability of test results. Other issues gain relevance in the context of future policy decisions regarding NIPT, including funding of NIPT and principles that may govern the expansion of the scope of NIPT. These findings are not an exhaustive list of all the potential ethical issues related to NIPT, but rather a representation of the issues which concern women who have personal experience with this test. Women who have had personal experience with NIPT have concerns and priorities which sometimes contrast dramatically with the theoretical ethics literature. These findings suggest the importance of engaging patients in ethical deliberation about morally complex technologies, and point to the need for more deliberative patient engagement work in this area. (shrink)
There is considerable debate amongst philosophers as to the basic philosophical problem Wittgenstein is attempting to solve in _Philosophical Investigations_. In this bold and original work, Meredith Williams argues that it is the problem of "normative similarity". In _Blind Obedience_ Williams demonstrates how Wittgenstein criticizes traditional, representationalist theories of language by employing the ‘master/novice’ distinction of the learner, arguing that this distinction is often overlooked but fundamental to understanding philosophical problems about mind and language. The book not only provides (...) revealing discussions of Wittgenstein’s corpus but also intricate analyses of the work of Brandom, Dummett, Frege, Sellars, Davidson, Cavell and others. These are usefully compared in a bid to better situate Wittgenstein’s non-intellectualist, non-theoretical approach and to highlight is unique features. (shrink)
This book develops and empirically tests a social theory of political participation. It overturns prior understandings of why some people vote more often than others. The book shows that the standard demographic variables are not proxies for variation in the individual costs and benefits of participation, but for systematic variation in the patterns of social ties between potential voters. Potential voters who move in larger social circles, particularly those including politicians and other mobilizing actors, have more access to the flurry (...) of electoral activity prodding citizens to vote and increasing political discussion. Treating voting as a socially defined practice instead of as an individual choice over personal payoffs, a social theory of participation is derived from a mathematical model with behavioral foundations that is empirically calibrated and tested using multiple methods and data sources. (shrink)
Nineteenth-century optical toys that showcase illusions of motion such as the phenakistoscope, zoetrope, and praxinoscope, have enjoyed active “afterlives” in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Contemporary incarnations of the zoetrope are frequently found in the realms of fine art and advertising, and they are often much larger than their nineteenth-century counterparts. This article argues that modern-day optical toys are able to conjure feelings of wonder and spectacle equivalent to their nineteenth-century antecedents because of their adjustment in scale. Exploring a range (...) of contemporary philosophical toys found in arts, entertainment, and advertising contexts, the article discusses various technical adjustments made to successfully “scale up” optical toys, including the replacement of hand-spun mechanisms with larger sources of motion and the use of various means such as architectural features and stroboscopic lights to replace traditional shutter mechanisms such as the zoetrope’s dark slots. Critical consideration of scale as a central feature of these installations reconfigures the relationship between audience and device. Large-scale adaptations of optical toys revise the traditional conception of the user, who is able to tactilely manipulate and interact with the apparatus, instead positing a viewer who has less control over the illusion’s operation and is instead a captive audience surrounded by the animation. It is primarily through their adaptation of scale that contemporary zoetropes successfully elicit wonder as scientific spectacles from their audiences today. (shrink)
There are clear associations between the overall quantity of input children are exposed to and their vocabulary acquisition. However, by uncovering specific features of the input that matter, we can better understand the mechanisms involved in vocabulary learning. We examine whether exposure to wh-questions, a challenging quality of the communicative input, is associated with toddlers' vocabulary and later verbal reasoning skills in a sample of low-income, African-American fathers and their 24-month-old children. Dyads were videotaped in free play sessions at home. (...) Videotapes were transcribed and reliably coded for sheer quantity of fathers' input as well as the number of wh-questions fathers produce. Children's productive vocabulary was measured at 24 months using the McArthur Bates Communicative Development Inventory MCDI, and children's verbal reasoning skills were measured 1 year later using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Results indicate that the overall quantity of father talk did not relate to children's vocabulary or reasoning skills. However, fathers' use of wh-questions related to both vocabulary and reasoning outcomes. Children's responses to wh-questions were more frequent and more syntactically complex, measured using the mean length of utterance, than their responses to other questions. Thus, posing wh-questions to 2-year-olds is a challenging type of input, which elicits a verbal response from the child that likely helps build vocabulary and foster verbal reasoning abilities. (shrink)