The main aim of the paper is to reinforce the notion that emergence is a basic characteristic of the molecular sciences in general and chemistry in particular. Although this point is well accepted, even in the primary reference on emergence, the keyword emergence is rarely utilized by chemists and molecular biologists and chemistry textbooks for undergraduates. The possible reasons for this situation are discussed. The paper first re-introduces the concept of emergence based on very simple geometrical forms; and considers some (...) simple chemical examples among low and high molecular weight compounds. On the basis of these chemical examples, a few interesting philosophical issues inherent to the field of emergence are discussed – again making the point that such examples, given their clarity and simplicity, permit one to better understand the complex philosophical issues. Thus, the question of predictability is discussed, namely whether and to what extent can emergent properties be predicted on the basis of the component’s properties; or the question of the explicability (a top down process). The relation between reductionism and emergentism is also discussed as well as the notion of downward causality and double causality (macrodeterminism); namely the question whether and to what extent the emergent properties of the higher hierarchic level affect the properties of the lower level components. Finally, the question is analyzed, whether life can be considered as an emergent property. More generally, the final point is made, that the re-introduction of the notion of emergence in chemistry, and in particular in the teaching, may bring about a deeper understanding of the meaning of chemical complexity and may bring chemistry closer to the humanistic areas of philosophy and epistemology. (shrink)
For over a decade, a small group of scientists and philosophersmembers of the Mind and Life Institutehave met regularly to explore the intersection between science and the spirit. At one of these meetings, the themes discussed were both fundamental and profound: can physics, chemistry, and biology explain the mystery of life? How do our philosophical assumptions influence science and the ethics we bring to biotechnology? And how does an ancient spiritual tradition throw new light on these questions? Pier (...) class='Hi'>Luigi Luisi not only reproduces this dramatic, cross-cultural dialogue, in which world-class scientists, philosophers, and Buddhist scholars develop a holistic approach to the scientific exploration of reality, but also adds scientific background to their presentations, as well as supplementary discussions with prominent participants and attendees. Interviews with His Holiness the Karmapa, the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, and the actor and longtime human rights advocate Richard Gere take the proceedings into new directions, enriching the material with personal viewpoints and lively conversation about such topics as the origin of matter, the properties of cells, the nature of evolution, the ethics of genetic manipulation, and the question of consciousness and ethics. A keen study of character, Luisi incorporates his own amusing observations into this fascinating dialogue, painting a very human portrait of some of our greatestand most intimidatingthinkers. Deeply textured and cleverly crafted, _Mind and Life_ is an excellent opportunity for any reader to join in the debate surrounding this cutting-edge field of inquiry. (shrink)
As biological and biomedical research increasingly reference the environmental context of the biological entities under study, the need for formalisation and standardisation of environment descriptors is growing. The Environment Ontology (ENVO) is a community-led, open project which seeks to provide an ontology for specifying a wide range of environments relevant to multiple life science disciplines and, through an open participation model, to accommodate the terminological requirements of all those needing to annotate data using ontology classes. This paper summarises ENVO’s motivation, (...) content, structure, adoption, and governance approach. (shrink)
This book is a companion volume to the Royal Economic Society edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, edited by Piero Sraffa with the collaboration of Maurice Dobb. It completes the record on Ricardian value theory by showing Ricardo's reaction to Malthus's pamphlet The Measure of Value Stated and Illustrated of 1823. Ricardo's Notes are, in Sraffa's words, 'the only considerable item' not appearing in the Royal Economic Society edition of his works. In addition, the recent publication by (...) Cambridge of the variorum edition of Malthus's Principles of Political Economy, edited by J. M. Pullen, makes it possible to understand Malthus's pamphlet as an intermediate step between the 1820 and 1836 editions of the Principles. In his introduction PierLuigi Porta highlights the place of these Notes in the development of Ricardo's thinking. When taken with Ricardo's paper on 'Absolute Value and Exchangeable Value', these Notes provide the essentials of Ricardian value theory. (shrink)
The study of biodiversity spans many disciplines and includes data pertaining to species distributions and abundances, genetic sequences, trait measurements, and ecological niches, complemented by information on collection and measurement protocols. A review of the current landscape of metadata standards and ontologies in biodiversity science suggests that existing standards such as the Darwin Core terminology are inadequate for describing biodiversity data in a semantically meaningful and computationally useful way. Existing ontologies, such as the Gene Ontology and others in the Open (...) Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) Foundry library, provide a semantic structure but lack many of the necessary terms to describe biodiversity data in all its dimensions. In this paper, we describe the motivation for and ongoing development of a new Biological Collections Ontology, the Environment Ontology, and the Population and Community Ontology. These ontologies share the aim of improving data aggregation and integration across the biodiversity domain and can be used to describe physical samples and sampling processes (for example, collection, extraction, and preservation techniques), as well as biodiversity observations that involve no physical sampling. Together they encompass studies of: 1) individual organisms, including voucher specimens from ecological studies and museum specimens, 2) bulk or environmental samples (e.g., gut contents, soil, water) that include DNA, other molecules, and potentially many organisms, especially microbes, and 3) survey-based ecological observations. We discuss how these ontologies can be applied to biodiversity use cases that span genetic, organismal, and ecosystem levels of organization. We argue that if adopted as a standard and rigorously applied and enriched by the biodiversity community, these ontologies would significantly reduce barriers to data discovery, integration, and exchange among biodiversity resources and researchers. (shrink)
Ever since Adam Smith, economists have been preoccupied with the puzzle of economic growth. The standard mainstream models of economic growth were and often still are based either on assumptions of diminishing returns on capital with technological innovation or on endogenous dynamics combined with a corresponding technological and institutional setting. An alternative model of economic growth emerged from the Cambridge School of Keynesian economists in the 1950s and 1960s. This model - developed mainly by Luigi Pasinetti - emphasizes the (...) importance of demand, human learning and the growth dynamics of industrial systems. Finally, in the past decade, new mainstream models have emerged incorporating technology or demand-based structural change and extending the notion of balanced growth. This collection of essays reassesses Pasinetti's theory of structural dynamics in the context of these recent developments, with contributions from economists writing in both the mainstream and the Cambridge Keynesian traditions and including Luigi Pasinetti, William Baumol, Geoffrey Harcourt and Nobel laureate Robert Solow. (shrink)
This book is the first of its kind to provide a comprehensive overview of happiness in Economics. Although it is comparatively unusual to put happiness and economics together, the association appears increasingly exciting and fruitful. A number of studies have been produced following Richard Easterlins and Tibor Scitovskys pioneering works throughout the 1970s. The essays collected in this book provide an authoritative and comprehensive assessment both theoretical, applied and partly experimental of the whole field moving from the so-called paradoxes of (...) happiness in Economics. The book breaks new ground, particularly on the more recent directions of research on happiness, well-being, interpersonal relations and reciprocity. The meaning of happiness is thoroughly explored and the tension between a hedonic-subjective idea of happiness and a eudaimonic-objective one is discussed. This volume opens with Richard Easterlins own assessment of the main issues. Other authors include Robert H. Frank, Robert Sugden, Bruno S. Frey, Alois Stutzer, Richard Layard, Martha C. Nussbaum, Matt Matravers, Bernard M.S, van Praag, Oded Stark, You Q. Wang, Ruut Veenhoven, Charlotte Phelps, Stefano Zamagni, and Luigi Pasinetti. (shrink)
Folk-economic beliefs may be regarded as “evidential fictions” that exploit the natural tendency of human cognition to organize itself in narrative form. Narrative counter-arguments are likely more effective than logical debunking. The challenge is to convey sound economic reasoning in narratively conspicuous forms – an opportunity for economics to rethink its role and agency in public discourse, in the spirit of its old classics.
A collection of essays dedicated to PierLuigi Lecis' retirement. Contributors include: Mariano Bianca, Silvana Borutti, Vinicio Busacchi, Massimo Dell'Utri, Rosaria Egidi, Roberta Lanfredini, Giuseppe Lorini, Diego Marconi, Francesco Orilia, Paolo Parrini, Alberto Peruzzi, Simonluca Pinna, Pietro Salis, Paolo Spinicci.
Context: At the conference “The Ethical Meaning of Francisco Varela’s Thought,” which took place on 28 May 2011 in Sassari, Italy, Humberto Maturana, Michel Bitbol, and PierLuigi Luisi participated in two discussions. Purpose: In this edited transcription of the discussions, the participants talk about several aspects of autopoiesis, the observer, ontology, making distinctions and distinguishing different domains, perception and illusion, and transcendence. Results: The discussions shed light on how constructivist concepts are perceived by individual authors. Concepts such (...) as “transcendence” and “objectivity” are understood in different ways. Constructivist content: The concepts discussed are highly relevant for constructivist approaches. (shrink)
Neurodiversity has remained a controversial concept over the last decade. In its broadest sense the concept of neurodiversity regards atypical neurological development as a normal human difference. The neurodiversity claim contains at least two different aspects. The first aspect is that autism, among other neurological conditions, is first and foremost a natural variation. The other aspect is about conferring rights and in particular value to the neurodiversity condition, demanding recognition and acceptance. Autism can be seen as a natural variation on (...) par with for example homosexuality. The broad version of the neurodiversity claim, covering low-functioning as well as high-functioning autism, is problematic. Only a narrow conception of neurodiversity, referring exclusively to high-functioning autists, is reasonable. We will discuss the effects of DSM categorization and the medical model for high functioning autists. After a discussion of autism as a culture we will analyze various possible strategies for the neurodiversity movement to claim extra resources for autists as members of an underprivileged culture without being labelled disabled or as having a disorder. We will discuss their vulnerable status as a group and what obligation that confers on the majority of neurotypicals. (shrink)
Lying is a common phenomenon amongst human beings. It seems to play a role in making social interactions run more smoothly. Too much honesty can be regarded as impolite or downright rude. Remarkably, lying is not a common phenomenon amongst normally intelligent human beings who are on the autism spectrum. They appear to be ‘attractively morally innocent’ and seem to have an above average moral conscientious objection against deception. In this paper, the behavior of persons with autism with regard to (...) deception and truthfulness will be discussed in the light of two different ethical theories, illustrated by fragments from autobiographies of persons with autism. A systemizing ‘Kantian’ and an empathizing ‘ethics of care’ perspective reveal insights on high-functioning autism, truthfulness and moral behavior. Both perspectives are problematic from the point of view of a moral agent with autism. High-functioning persons with autism are, generally speaking, strong systemizes and weak empathizers. Particularly, they lack ‘cognitive empathy’ which would allow them to understand the position of the other person. Instead, some tend to invent a set of rules that makes their behavior compatible with the expectations of others. From a Kantian point of view, the autistic tendency to always tell the truth appears praiseworthy and should not be changed, though it creates problems in the social life of persons with autism. From a care ethics perspective, on the other hand, a way should be found to allow the high-functioning persons with autism to respect the feelings and needs of other persons as sometimes overruling the duty of truthfulness. We suggest this may even entail ‘morally educating’ children and adolescents with autism to become socially skilled empathic ‘liars’. (shrink)
In this paper, for the benefit of reflection processes in clinical and in local, regional, and national priority-setting, we aim to develop an ethical theoretical framework that includes both ethical principles and medium-range narratives. We present our suggestion in the particular case of having to choose between treatment interventions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and treatment interventions for other conditions or diseases, under circumstances of scarcity. In order to arrive at our model, we compare two distinct ethical approaches: a generalist (...) approach and a particularist approach. Our focus is on Sweden, because in Sweden prioritization in healthcare is uniquely governmentally regulated by the “ethics platform.” We will present a scenario to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the generalist principled perspective of the ethics platform and the particularist perspective of narrative ethics. We will suggest an alternative approach to prioritization, which we dub a “principles plus medium-range narratives” approach. Notwithstanding the undeniably central role of principles in distributive justice, we claim that medium-range narratives concerning individuals or groups who stand to benefit or lose from ADHD prioritization practices should also be read or listened to and taken into account at all levels of priority-setting. These narratives are expected to ethically optimize clinical priority-setting, as well as that undertaken at local, regional, and national levels. (shrink)
A preimplantation genetic test to discriminate between severe and mild autism spectrum disorder might be developed in the foreseeable future. Recently, the philosophers Julian Savulescu and Guy Kahane claimed that there are strong reasons for prospective parents to make use of such a test to prevent the birth of children who are disposed to autism or Asperger’s disorder. In this paper we will criticize this claim. We will discuss the morality of selection for mild autism in embryo selection in a (...) hypothetical in vitro fertilization (IVF) situation where preimplantation genetic diagnosis is performed and compare this with a similar selection for congenital deafness. To do this we first discuss relevant human differences. We then introduce the principle of human capabilities (PC) and compare this principle with the principle of procreative beneficence (PB) introduced by Savulescu and Kahane. We apply the two principles to selection for mild autism and selection for congenital deafness. We argue that PC allows for the selection for mild autism but rules out selection for congenital deafness. PB will not give clear answers; the ruling of PB depends to a large extent on expected social, cultural and political developments. We will argue that PC is preferable to PB. We will discuss arguments for the value of mild autism for individuals who have this condition and argue that they are able to lead a life with human dignity provided autism-friendly social circumstances are present. Neither PC nor PB yields strong reasons for prospective parents to seek to prevent the birth of children who are disposed to mild autism spectrum disorder. (shrink)