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)
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.
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)
This special theme issue of Big Data & Society presents leading-edge, interdisciplinary research that focuses on examining how health-related information is circulating on social media. In particular, we are focusing on how computational and Big Data approaches can help to provide a better understanding of the ongoing COVID-19 infodemic and to develop effective strategies to combat it.
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)
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)
Biological ontologies are used to organize, curate, and interpret the vast quantities of data arising from biological experiments. While this works well when using a single ontology, integrating multiple ontologies can be problematic, as they are developed independently, which can lead to incompatibilities. The Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies Foundry was created to address this by facilitating the development, harmonization, application, and sharing of ontologies, guided by a set of overarching principles. One challenge in reaching these goals was that the (...) OBO principles were not originally encoded in a precise fashion, and interpretation was subjective. Here we show how we have addressed this by formally encoding the OBO principles as operational rules and implementing a suite of automated validation checks and a dashboard for objectively evaluating each ontology’s compliance with each principle. This entailed a substantial effort to curate metadata across all ontologies and to coordinate with individual stakeholders. We have applied these checks across the full OBO suite of ontologies, revealing areas where individual ontologies require changes to conform to our principles. Our work demonstrates how a sizable federated community can be organized and evaluated on objective criteria that help improve overall quality and interoperability, which is vital for the sustenance of the OBO project and towards the overall goals of making data FAIR. Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest. (shrink)
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.
My aim in this chapter is to push back against the tendency to emphasize Mill’s break from Bentham rather than his debt to him. Mill made important advances on Bentham’s views, but I believe there remains a shared core to their thinking—over and above their commitment to the principle of utility itself—that has been underappreciated. Essentially, I believe that the structure of Mill’s utilitarian thought owes a great debt to Bentham even if he filled in that structure with a richer (...) conception of human nature and developed it in more liberal directions. This commonality is revealed, in particular, in Mill’s own institutional designs and practical reform proposals in Considerations on Representative Government and related writings. If this is right, then the tendency of interpreters to highlight their differences rather than their similarities has been to the detriment of both Mill and Bentham scholarship, and so to our understanding of the rise of liberal utilitarianism. (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)