The Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI) is an ontology that provides terms with precisely defined meanings to describe all aspects of how investigations in the biological and medical domains are conducted. OBI re-uses ontologies that provide a representation of biomedical knowledge from the Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) project and adds the ability to describe how this knowledge was derived. We here describe the state of OBI and several applications that are using it, such as adding semantic expressivity to (...) existing databases, building data entry forms, and enabling interoperability between knowledge resources. OBI covers all phases of the investigation process, such as planning, execution and reporting. It represents information and material entities that participate in these processes, as well as roles and functions. Prior to OBI, it was not possible to use a single internally consistent resource that could be applied to multiple types of experiments for these applications. OBI has made this possible by creating terms for entities involved in biological and medical investigations and by importing parts of other biomedical ontologies such as GO, Chemical Entities of Biological Interest (ChEBI) and Phenotype Attribute and Trait Ontology (PATO) without altering their meaning. OBI is being used in a wide range of projects covering genomics, multi-omics, immunology, and catalogs of services. OBI has also spawned other ontologies (Information Artifact Ontology) and methods for importing parts of ontologies (Minimum information to reference an external ontology term (MIREOT)). The OBI project is an open cross-disciplinary collaborative effort, encompassing multiple research communities from around the globe. To date, OBI has created 2366 classes and 40 relations along with textual and formal definitions. The OBI Consortium maintains a web resource providing details on the people, policies, and issues being addressed in association with OBI. (shrink)
Vann McGee has presented a putative counterexample to modus ponens. I show that (a slightly modified version of) McGee’s election scenario has the same structure as a famous lottery scenario by Kyburg. More specifically, McGee’s election story can be taken to show that, if the Lockean Thesis holds, rational belief is not closed under classical logic, including classical-logic modus ponens. This conclusion defies the existing accounts of McGee’s puzzle.
Vann McGee has argued against solutions to the liar paradox that simply restrict the scope of the T sentences as little as possible. This argument is often taken to disprove Paul Horwich’s preferred solution to the liar paradox for his Minimal Theory of truth. I argue that Horwich’s theory is different enough from the theory McGee criticized that these criticisms do not apply to Horwich’s theory. On the basis of this, I argue that propositional theories, like MT, cannot (...) be evaluated using the same methods as sentential theories. (shrink)
This paper calls for a re-appraisal of McGee's analysis of the semantics, logic and probabilities of indicative conditionals presented in his 1989 paper Conditional probabilities and compounds of conditionals. The probabilistic measures introduced by McGee are given a new axiomatisation built on the principle that the antecedent of a conditional is probabilistically independent of the conditional and a more transparent method of constructing such measures is provided. McGee's Dutch book argument is restructured to more clearly reveal that (...) it introduces a novel contribution to the epistemology of semantic indeterminacy, and shows that its more controversial implications are unavoidable if we want to maintain the Ramsey Test along with the standard laws of probability. Importantly, it is shown that the counterexamples that have been levelled at McGee's analysis|generating a rather wide consensus that it yields `unintuitive' or `wrong' probabilities for compounds |fail to strike at their intended target; for to honour the intuitions of the counterexamples one must either give up the Ramsey Test or the standard laws of probability. It will be argued that we need to give up neither if we take the counterexamples as further evidence that the indicative conditional sometimes allows for a non-epistemic `causal' interpretation alongside its usual epistemic interpretation. (shrink)
Vann McGee has proposed a counterexample to the Ramsey Test. In the counterexample, a seemingly trustworthy source has testified that p and that if not-p, then q. If one subsequently learns not-p, then one has reason to doubt the trustworthiness of the source and so, the argument goes, one has reason to doubt the conditional asserted by the source. Since what one learns is that the antecedent of the conditional holds, these doubts are contrary to the Ramsey Test. We (...) argue that the counterexample fails. It rests on a principle of testimonial dependence that is not applicable when a source hedges his or her claims. (shrink)
In 1992, the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) passed a mandate that all its approved hospitals put in place a means for addressing ethical concerns.Although the particular process the hospital uses to address such concernsmay vary, the hospital or healthcare ethics committee (HEC) is used most often. In a companion study to that reported here, we found that in 1998 over 90% of U.S. hospitals had ethics committees, compared to just 1% in 1983, and that many (...) have some and a few have sweeping clinical powers in hospitals. (shrink)
The semantics Vann McGee gives for his 1989 conditional logic is based on Stalnaker’s 1968 semantics but replaces the familiar concept of truth at a world with the novel concept of truth under a hypothesis. Developed here is a semantics of the standard type, in which sentences are true at worlds, only with additional constraints imposed on the accessibility relation and the selection function. McGee conditionals of the form A ⇒ X are translated into Stalnaker conditionals of the (...) form \A > X. An interpretation of the semantics is provided, and a few implications for the theory of indicative conditionals and their probabilities are noted. (shrink)
Reading and reflecting on real cases helps ethics come alive for students. Good cases grip our attention, engage our imagination, and show the real-life implications of abstract ethical theories, ideals, commitments, and policies. Finding good case studies is both difficult and time-consuming for instructors, so I was excited to learn about Glenn McGee’s book Bioethics for Beginners: 60 Cases and Cautions from the Moral Frontier of Healthcare. According to the publisher, its target audiences are “courses in bioethics, medical ethics, (...) and applied ethics.” The book sounded promising.McGee’s book contains ten chapters, or “cautions,” plus a conclusion. Each chapter consists of anywhere from three to nine loosely associated “cases.” The cases average about one and a half pages each, but they vary significantly in length. The shortest cases are less than a page while the longest is twelve pages .All sixty cases, as well as the two sections that compose the conclus .. (shrink)
Revolutions in semiconductor device miniaturization, bioelectronics, and applied neural control technologies are enabling scientists to create machine-assisted minds, science fiction's “cyborgs.” In a paper published in 1999, we sought to draw attention to the advances in prosthetic devices, to the myriad of artificial implants, and to the early developments of this technology in cochlear and retinal implants. Our concern, then and now, was to draw attention to the ethical issues arising from these innovations. Since that time, breakthroughs have occurred at (...) a breathtaking pace. Scientists, researchers, and engineers using differing methodologies are pursuing the possibilities of direct interfaces between brains and machines. Technological innovations as such are neither good nor evil; it is the uses devised for them that create moral implications. As there can be ethical problems inherent in the proper human uses of technologies and because brain chips are a very likely future technology, it is prudent to formulate policies and regulations that will mitigate their ill effects before the technologies are widespread. Unlike genetic technologies, which have received widespread scrutiny within the scientific community, national governments, and international forums, brain–machine interfaces have received little social or ethical scrutiny. However, the potential of this technology to change and significantly affect humans is potentially far greater than that of genetic enhancements, because genetic enhancements are inherently limited by biology and the single location of an individual, whereas hybrids of human and machine are not so restricted. Today, intense interest is focused on the development of drugs to enhance memory; yet, these drugs merely promise an improvement of normal memory, not the encyclopedic recall of a computer-enhanced mind combined with the ability to share information at a distance. The potential of brain chips for transforming humanity are astounding. This paper describes advances in hybrid brain–machine interfaces, offers some likely hypotheses concerning future developments, reflects on the implications of combining cloning and transplanted brain chips, and suggests some potential methods of regulating these technologies. (shrink)
A mathematical theory T is categorical if, and only if, any two models of T are isomorphic. If T is categorical, it can be shown to be semantically complete: for every sentence ϕ in the language of T, either ϕ follows semantically from T or ¬ϕ does. For this reason some authors maintain that categoricity theorems are philosophically significant: they support the realist thesis that mathematical statements have determinate truth-values. Second-order arithmetic (PA2) is a case in hand: it can be (...) shown to be categorical and semantically complete. The status of second-order logic is a controversial issue, however. Worries about the purported set-theoretic nature and ontological commitments of second-order logic have been influential in the debate. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 10.1 (2000) 103-108 [Access article in PDF] Letters "Small Sacrifices" in Stem Cell Research Madam: I agree with Professors McGee and Caplan (in their article "The Ethics and Politics of Small Sacrifices in Stem Cell Research," KIEJ, June 1999) that the question of the nature and status of the source of stem cells must be addressed. However, in their eagerness to convince us (...) of the smallness of the sacrifices, I think the authors use some unfortunate rhetorical devices and move much too quickly over some necessary distinctions.The rhetorical display is unfortunate if the article is intended to be a fair and rational development of an argument--e.g., those who hold a position in opposition to the authors do not argue they "inveigh." The section on the political area of the controversy seems particularly dismissive of other's positions.However, I will focus on just two areas where I think a more nuanced consideration would make the question of the moral legitimacy of the "small sacrifices" of embryos less obvious than the authors' rhetoric would suggest.First, they claim that opponents of such research assume some sort of "super status" for an embryo. The rights generally conceded to born human beings may not be as "weak" as they characterize. But even considering only the "negative right against unwarranted violence," I think the authors misdescribe the situation. Contrary to their assertion, I do not know when "adults and even children are... forced to give life... in the defense or at least interest of the community's highest ideals and most pressing interests" (p. 153). Could they be speaking of capital punishment, justified in the name of protecting the community? But then why mention children?It is true that not everyone can be guaranteed every means to preserving and enhancing life. But this limitation on positive rights is not a "forced giving." Adults may be compelled to risk life--e.g. in a draft for the sake of a war. But, again, the more or less justifiable imposition of a risk is not the same as selecting out one particular individual or class to be directly killed. Neither adults nor born children are compelled to be killed for the sake of organ "donation," even if a greater number might be saved. If one grants equivalent status to the embryo (as the authors seem to do here for the sake of argument), opponents do not have to claim a "super status" for embryos, just the ordinary human right not to be killed even for "compassionate" motives.A second area where I think the authors move too quickly is in their impoverished definition of the essential humanity of the early embryo as exhaustively represented by the physical structure of its DNA. The authors seem to recognize [End Page 103] that, ordinarily, there is more to personhood than sheer physical structure. For example, they mention memories and habits (p. 154). They could also speak of relationships, attitudes, and the like. Since an early embryo has no such components of personality as we experience it, the authors hold that its identity could only be contained in its DNA. Since this DNA is preserved, even spread far and wide, by the use of stem cells, it almost seems as if we are doing the early embryo a favor by breaking it up.However, just because the embryo does not have any conscious memories or other attributes of character or personality, that does not mean its identity is constituted only by its physical structure described statically. The early embryo is not just a bundle of discrete structures, and its DNA is not just an inert lump made up of certain smaller lumps. Both the embryo and its DNA are active. Thus the identity of even an early embryo includes both its current processes and the innate potential for further activity and development. Although lacking a conscious will, the early embryo is already in a sense an agent, already doing things--growing, changing, and heading toward something that... (shrink)
When one examines the emerging debate about genetic patenting, it becomes clear that those who oppose so-called misunderstand genetics or apply inappropriate moral and jurisprudential theory. In this brief essay I examine some arguments against gene patents of the variety, and conclude that patents on methods for detecting the presence of a genetic correlation with disease-related (and other) phenotypes can be appropriate, and that with several precautions the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office should continue granting patent protection to investigators who (...) generate genetic disease diagnostic innovations. (shrink)
Genetic counselors are on the front lines of the genetic revolution, presented with tests of varying predictive values and reliability, unfair testing distribution mechanisms, tests for conditions where no treatment exists, and companies that oversell the usefulness of their tests to physicians and nurses. Many scholars, both genetic testing task forces as well as the newly formed National Bioethics Advisory Commission, have all noted that genetic counseling programs and services are critical for adequate genetic testing. At the same time, in (...) our own work at the University of Pennsylvania we have encountered many requests for new materials for training genetic counselors in ethics and providing ethics resources for genetic counseling. One of us has noted elsewhere that it is crucial that resources from the Human Genome Project, the Centers for Disease Control, and other public agencies be devoted to providing better resources for genetic counselors facing difficult ethical issues. Although the American Board of Genetic Counseling requires that training programs include some formal coursework in ethics, many wonder whether enough is being done to prepare genetic counselors for an ever-tougher job, and in particular there has been much concern expressed about whether is an outmoded ideal that hampers this profession as it attempts to grow and identify the value of its practice. On the basis of many comments to us by genetic counselors and on the basis of our review of the current literature, we hypothesized that accredited genetic counseling training programs are poised at the turn of the century to begin planning a new approach toteaching the philosophy of genetic counseling, one that integrates philosophical, theoretical, and ethical training throughout thecurriculum in genetic counseling. (shrink)
For years, _Multicultural Education_ has served as an essential resource for education professionals, featuring scholarly articles written by industry leaders and topics, following current trends in education instruction today. The text helps educators understand the concepts, paradigms, and explanations necessary for becoming effective practitioners in the ever-evolving classroom environment, highlighting cultural, raocial and language-focused topics. Each chapter now incorporates new theoretical, conceptual, and research developments within the field, providing an adaptable approach to classroom techniques. With growing classroom diversity, the text (...) also features a chapter that focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Statistical tables, figures and charts have been updated to present the most current information. (shrink)
The role of the healer is expanding. Attempts by physicians to enhance human capacity are but one among many new medical projects. The twentieth century ushered in significant changes in therapeutic modalities, and the past two decades have seen the role of the physician reshaped by economic, political, and dramatic new social mores. People ask new and different things of their clinicians. Under managed care, the primary care clinician is expected to have much more skill than was traditionally expected of (...) a general internist, and new incentives force physicians to much more explicitly ration the care they provide to patients and to patient populations. But perhaps no change in the contemporary world of health portends more long-term effects than the introduction of enhancement technologies. (shrink)
A lot of people owe kind words to Tom Murray. Not because they hurt his feelings, or because he is easily the nicest guy in bioethics. The debt stems from the palpable silence that accompanied the release of Murray's trenchant and beautiful book, TheWorthofaChild. Somehow, in the shuffle to write and rewrite books about cloning and octuplets and $50,000 eggs, Murray's astonishingly comprehensive treatment of the meaning of the parent–child relationship passed undetected across the radar screens of virtually everyone who (...) writes about reproduction and genetics. In the year since I read TheWorthofaChild, I have paused dozens of times while reading or listening to scholars lament the dearth of careful work on the changing nature of baby-making. Each time this happens I grow more surprised that Murray's Child, which is handsomely bound, well-indexed, and published in the best style by University of California Press, isn't mentioned. This review is one scholar's attempt to right the balance. TheWorthofaChild by Thomas Murray is the most rigorous, most even-handed, and most comprehensive book ever written about the ethical issues associated with making a baby. It is also a very good read, a sensitive and moving portrayal of the struggle to be good at making and raising a child. (shrink)
Classical American pragmatists, such as William James, John Dewey, and C. S. Peirce, have had little influence on the development of bioethics. Glenn McGee and the other authors whose essays make up this book believe that this is a mistake. They maintain that the work of these pragmatists constitutes an original and effective method for understanding and resolving bioethical dilemmas. Their collective goal is to convince the rest of us that they are right.
Clinical bioethics is big business. There are now hundreds of people who bioethics in community and university hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation and home care settings, and some who play the role of clinical ethics consultant to transplant teams, managed care companies, and genetic testing firms. Still, there is as much speculation about what clinically active bioethicists actually do as there was ten years ago. Various commentators have pondered the need for training standards, credentials, exams, and malpractice insurance for ethicists engaged (...) in clinical consultation. Much of the discussion seems to accept an implicit presumption that all clinical ethics consultation practices look pretty much alike. But is this accurate? What do clinical ethicists do, how and where do they do it, and what kind of clinical ethics is useful in the hospital and in other settings? (shrink)
In this article we attend to recent critiques of psychometric applications of life history theory to variance among humans and develop theory to advance the study of latent LH constructs. We then reanalyze data previously examined by Richardson et al., 2017, https://doi.org/10.1177/1474704916666840 to determine whether previously reported evidence of multidimensionality is robust to the modeling approach employed and the structure of LH indicators is invariant by sex. Findings provide further evidence that a single LH dimension is implausible and that researchers (...) should cease interpreting K-factor scores as empirical proxies for LH speed. In contrast to the original study, we detected a small inverse correlation between mating competition and Super-K that is consistent with a trade-off. Tests of measurement invariance across the sexes revealed evidence of metric invariance, consistent with the theory that K is a proximate cause of its indicators; however, evidence of partial scalar invariance suggests use of scores likely introduces bias when the sexes are compared. We discuss limitations and identify approaches that researchers may use to further evaluate the validity of the K-factor and other applications of LH to human variation. (shrink)
This paper focuses specifically on how religions shape attitudes towards ethics of tax evasion. Firstly, the paper begins with an overview of the four views on the ethics of tax evasion that have emerged over the centuries, then goes on to review some of the theoretical and empirical literature on the subject. The empirical part of the study examines attitudes toward tax evasion in 57 countries from the perspectives of six religions using the data from Wave 6 of the World (...) Values Survey. The sample population is more than 52,000. More than a dozen demographic variables were examined. The results study found that attitude toward cheating on taxes does differ by religion. (shrink)
We have long used mechanical devices to compensate for physical disability. Soon, however, it may be possible to augment mental capacity—to add memory or upgrade processing power. We should ponder the enormous moral implications of the machine‐assisted mind now, before it is accomplished.