Rapid advances in high throughput genomic technologies and next generation sequencing are making medical genomic research more readily accessible and affordable, including the sequencing of patient and control whole genomes and exomes in order to elucidate genetic factors underlying disease. Over the next five years, the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) Initiative, funded by the Wellcome Trust (United Kingdom) and the National Institutes of Health (United States of America), will contribute greatly towards sequencing of numerous African samples for (...) biomedical research. (shrink)
In this article, we discuss the development of the concept of a ‘law’ (of nature) in the work of the Dutch natural philosopher and experimenter Petrus van Musschenbroek (1692–1761). Since Van Musschenbroek is commonly described as one of the first ‘Newtonians’ on the Continent in the secondary literature, we focus more specifically on its relation to Newton’s views on this issue. Although he was certainly indebted to Newton for his thinking on laws (of nature), Van Musschenbroek’s views can be seen (...) to diverge from Newton’s on crucial points. We show, moreover, how his thinking on laws of nature was shaped by both international and local factors. We start with a brief discussion of Newton’s concept of ‘laws of nature’ in order to set the stage for Van Musschenbroek’s. We then document the development of Van Musschenbroek’s views on laws of nature in chronological order. We demonstrate how his thinking on laws of nature was tied to institutional, theological and scientific factors. We conclude by pointing to the broader significance of this case study for our understanding of the development of the concept ‘law of nature’ during the eighteenth century. (shrink)
The contributions to this volume all deal with the crucial problem of change in the religious traditions of the ancient world. They range from broad overviews to detailed case-studies, discussing examples from Greek, Roman, Jewish, Christian and Manichaean literature.
According to the modal interpretation, the standard mathematical framework of quantum mechanics specifies the physical magnitudes of a system, which have definite values. Probabilities are assigned to the possible values that these magnitudes may adopt. The interpretation is thus concerned with physical properties rather than with measurement results: it is a realistic interpretation. One of the notable achievements of this interpretation is that it dissolves the notorious measurement problem. The papers collected here, together with the introduction and concluding critical appraisal, (...) explain the various forms of the modal interpretation, survey its achievements, and discuss those problems that have yet to be solved. Audience: Philosophers of science, theoretical physicists, and graduate students in these disciplines. (shrink)
This article has two general aims. It first of all critically reconsiders the empirical turn’s dismissal of transcendentalism in the philosophy of technology, in particular through the work of Ihde and Verbeek, and defends the continuing relevance of the notion of the transcencental in thinking about technology today, illustrating this mainly through a reading of Stiegler’s understanding of the human condition as a technical condition and his view of human evolution as proceeding from a process of technical exteriorization. The crucial (...) issue that is missed by postphenomenology and the empirical turn is that technology itself in its empiricity occupies the place of the transcendental. It thus fails to consider the transcendental operativity of technical artifacts within its own empiricist stance. Secondly, it argues for the continuing importance and usefulness of the idea of Technology with a capital T, equally discarded by the representatives of the empirical turn, in particular against the emerging backdrop of the Anthropocene as the age of decisive anthropogenic forcing of the planet and the growing dominance of what has recently been called the technosphere in Earth system science. With Stiegler I show that a proper, inherent dynamic of technology must be acknowledged historically, anthropologically, techno-evolutionarily as well as phenomenologically. I conclude by demonstrating that our time of planetary crisis summons us to redirect our attention to technology from the empirical to the transcendental, and from the micro-level to the macro-level again. (shrink)
The debate on the conventionality of simultaneity and the debate on the dimensionality of the world have been central in the philosophy of special relativity. The link between both debates however has rarely been explored. The purpose of this paper is to gauge what implications the former debate has for the latter. I show the situation to be much more subtle than was previously argued, and explain how the ontic versus epistemic distinction in the former debate impacts the latter. Despite (...) claims to the contrary, I conclude that special relativity leaves the debate on the dimensionality of the world underdetermined. (shrink)
n various publications over the past years, Floridi has developed a theory of semantic information as well-formed, meaningful, and truthful data. This theory is more or less orthogonal to the standard entropy-based notions of information known from physics, information theory, and computer science that all define the amount of information in a certain system as a scalar value without any direct semantic implication. In this context the question rises what the exact relation between these various conceptions of information is and (...) whether there is a real need to enrich these mathematically more or less rigid definitions with a less formal notion of semantic information. I investigate various philosophical aspects of the more formal definitions of information in the light of Floridi’s theory. The position I defend is that the formal treatment of the notion of information as a general theory of entropy is one of the fundamental achievements of modern science that in itself is a rich source for new philosophical reflection. This makes information theory a competitor of classical epistemology rather than a servant. In this light Floridi’s philosophy of information is more a reprise of classical epistemology that only pays lip service to information theory but fails to address the important central questions of philosophy of information. Specifically, I will defend the view that notions that are associated with truth, knowledge, and meaning all can adequately be reconstructed in the context of modern information theory and that consequently there is no need to introduce a concept of semantic information. (shrink)
In this dialogue with Yuk Hui, Pieter Lemmens explains the discipline called philosophy of technology and gives a concise overview of the most important contemporary approaches within this field. He also offers a critical evaluation of what are probably the two most salient characteristics of contemporary philosophy of technology, the so-called “empirical turn” and the “ethical turn,” which are deeply related and partly reflect the discipline’s on-going alignment with the global neoliberal agenda of exclusively profit-driven technological innovation. He also (...) critically reflects on recent developments in the molecular and informational life sciences such as genomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics and synthetic biology. (shrink)
Human freedom is in tension with nomological determinism and with statistical determinism. The goal of this paper is to answer both challenges. Four contributions are made to the free-will debate. First, we propose a classification of scientific theories based on how much freedom they allow. We take into account that indeterminism comes in different degrees and that both the laws and the auxiliary conditions can place constraints. A scientific worldview pulls towards one end of this classification, while libertarianism pulls towards (...) the other end of the spectrum. Second, inspired by Hoefer, we argue that an interval of auxiliary conditions corresponds to a region in phase space, and to a bundle of possible block universes. We thus make room for a form of non-nomological indeterminism. Third, we combine crucial elements from the works of Hoefer and List; we attempt to give a libertarian reading of this combination. On our proposal, throughout spacetime, there is a certain amount of freedom that can be interpreted as the result of agential choices. Fourth, we focus on the principle of alternative possibilities throughout and propose three ways of strengthening it. (shrink)
This paper investigates the impact of negative screening on the investment universe as well as on financial performance. We come up with a novel identification process and as such depart from mainstream socially responsible investing literature by concentrating on individual firms’ conduct and by studying a much wider range of issues. Firstly, we study the size and financial performance of fourteen potentially controversial issues: abortion, adult entertainment, alcohol, animal testing, contraceptives, controversial weapons, fur, gambling, genetic engineering, meat, nuclear power, pork, (...) stem cells, and tobacco. We investigate an international sample of more than 1,600 stocks for more than twenty years. We then analyze the impact of applying negative screens to a market portfolio. Our findings suggest that the choice for negative screening strategies does matter for the size of the investment universe as well as for risk-adjusted return performance. Investing in controversial stocks in many cases results in additional risk-adjusted returns, whereas excluding them may reduce financial performance. These findings suggest that there are opportunity costs to negative screening. (shrink)
Introduction -- 1. The settling of a language -- 2. The Whorf hypothesis -- 3. Relativism or a universal theory? -- 4. What does language have to do with logic and mathematics? -- 5. A test bed for grammatical theories -- 6. The Chomsky hierarchy in perpsective -- 7. Reflexivity and identity in language and cognition -- 8. The generalized logic hierarchy and its cognitive implications -- 9. The intensionalization of extensions.
Life sciences and emerging technologies raise a plethora of issues. Besides practical, bioethical and policy issues, they have broader, cultural implications as well, affecting and reflecting our zeitgeist and world-view, challenging our understanding of life, nature and ourselves as human beings, and reframing the human condition on a planetary scale. In accordance with the aims and scope of the journal, LSSP aims to foster engaged scholarship into the societal dimensions of emerging life sciences (Chadwick and Zwart 2013) and via this (...) thematic series, the journal provides a podium for authors who intend to address concrete issues from a ‘continental philosophical’ perspective, which may in- clude (post)phenomenology, hermeneutics, dialectics, (post)structuralism, psychoanalysis, critical theory and similar approaches. The series aims to contribute to a diagnostics of the present and a prognostics of the future, focusing on critical normative challenges (such as embodiment, intimate technologies, social justice, biopower, nanomedicine, human enhancement and the anthropocene) and building on the work of key authors such as Hegel (1830), Heidegger (1953, 1953/1954), Bachelard (1938), Canguilhem (1975), Lacan (1966, 1969-1970/1991), Habermas (1968), Serres (1972), Foucault (1969), Žižek (2006/2009), Stiegler (2010), Sloterdijk (2001, 2009) and others, but targeting con- crete up-to-date events and case studies against the backdrop of broader developments within the techno-scientific culture. (shrink)
The revised edition contains a new chapter which provides an elegant description of the semantics. The various classes of lambda calculus models are described in a uniform manner. Some didactical improvements have been made to this edition. An example of a simple model is given and then the general theory (of categorical models) is developed. Indications are given of those parts of the book which can be used to form a coherent course.
Essentialism is one of the most pervasive problems in mental health research. Many psychiatrists still hold the view that their nosologies will enable them, sooner or later, to carve nature at its joints and to identify and chart the essence of mental disorders. Moreover, according to recent research in social psychology, some laypeople tend to think along similar essentialist lines. The main aim of this article is to highlight a number of processes that possibly explain the persistent presence and popularity (...) of essentialist conceptions of mental disorders. One such process is the general tendency of laypeople to essentialize conceptual structures, including biological, social, and psychiatric categories. Another process involves the allure of biological psychiatry. Advocating a categorical and biological approach, this strand of psychiatry probably reinforced the already existing lay essentialism about mental disorders. As such, the question regarding why we essentialize mental disorders is a salient example of how cultural trends zero in on natural tendencies, and vice versa, and how both can boost each other. (shrink)
To this day, a hundred and fifty years after Mendeleev's discovery, the overal structure of the periodic system remains unaccounted for in quantum-mechanical terms. Given this dire situation, a handful of scientists in the 1970s embarked on a quest for the symmetries that lie hidden in the periodic table. Their goal was to explain the table's structure in group-theoretical terms. We argue that this symmetry program required an important paradigm shift in the understanding of the nature of chemical elements. The (...) idea, in essence, consisted of treating the chemical elements, not as particles, but as states of a superparticle. We show that the inspiration for this came from elementary particle physics, and in particular from Heisenberg's suggestion to treat the proton and neutron as different states of the nucleon. We provide a careful study of Heisenberg's last paper on the nature of elementary particles, and explain why the Democritean picture of matter no longer applied in modern physics and a Platonic symmetry-based picture was called for instead. We show how Heisenberg's Platonic philosophy came to dominate the field of elementary particle physics, and how it found its culmination point in Gell-Mann's classification of the hadrons in the eightfold way. We argue that it was the success of Heisenberg's approach in elementary particle physics that sparked the group-theoretical approach to the periodic table. We explain how it was applied to the set of chemical elements via a critical examination of the work of the Russian mathematician Abram Ilyich Fet the Turkish-American physicist Asim Orhan Barut, before giving some final reflections. (shrink)
In this reply I try to show that, contrary to Milberry’s apparent assertion, the general intellect of the multitude does not have the explanatory robustness she accredits to it. Digital network technologies are currently overwhelmingly effective in proletarianizing and disempowering the cognitariat and only an active technopolitics of deproletarianization could reverse this hegemonic situation. In my response to Verbeek, I attempt to correct his misinterpretation of the Stieglerian approach as being dialectical in nature and show that, far from reinstating the (...) humanist dichotomy between human beings and technologies, my analysis assumes their original, albeit fundamentally ambiguous and even ‘uncanny’ [unheimlich] interconnection. I conclude with pointing out some implications of this view for a ‘really realistic’ political theory of technology. (shrink)
Maladapting Minds discusses a number of reasons why philosophers of psychiatry should take an interest in evolutionary explanations of mental disorders and, more generally, in evolutionary thinking. First of all, there is the nascent field of evolutionary psychiatry. Unlike other psychiatrists, evolutionary psychiatrists engage with ultimate, rather than proximate, questions about mental illnesses. Being a young and youthful new discipline, evolutionary psychiatry allows for a nice case study in the philosophy of science. Secondly, philosophers of psychiatry have engaged with evolutionary (...) theory because evolutionary considerations are often said to play a role in defining the concept of mental disorder. The basic question here is: Can the concept of mental disorder be given an objective definition, or is it rather a normative concept? Thirdly and finally, evolutionary thinking in psychiatry has often been a source of inspiration for a philosophical view on human nature. Thus evolutionary psychiatrists have suggested, for example, that man's vulnerability to mental disorders may well be one of the defining features of our species. -/- Written by leading authors in philosophy, psychiatry, biology and psychology, this volume illustrates that many debates in contemporary philosophy of psychiatry are profoundly influenced by evolutionary approaches to mental disorders. Conversely, it also reveals how philosophers can help contribute to the burgeoning field of evolutionary psychiatry. It is important reading for a wide range of readers interested in mental health care and philosophy. (shrink)
Information is a recognized fundamental notion across the sciences and humanities, which is crucial to understanding physical computation, communication, and human cognition. The Philosophy of Information brings together the most important perspectives on information. It includes major technical approaches, while also setting out the historical backgrounds of information as well as its contemporary role in many academic fields. Also, special unifying topics are high-lighted that play across many fields, while we also aim at identifying relevant themes for philosophical reflection. There (...) is no established area yet of Philosophy of Information, and this Handbook can help shape one, making sure it is well grounded in scientific expertise. As a side benefit, a book like this can facilitate contacts and collaboration among diverse academic milieus sharing a common interest in information. . First overview of the formal and technical issues involved in the philosophy of information . Integrated presentation of major mathematical approaches to information, form computer science, information theory, and logic . Interdisciplinary themes across the traditional boundaries of natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. (shrink)
‘The art of living with ICTs ’ today not only means finding new ways to cope, interact and create new lifestyles on the basis of the new digital technologies individually, as ‘consumer-citizens’. It also means inventing new modes of living, producing and, not in the least place, struggling collectively, as workers and producers. As the so-called digital revolution unfolds in the context of a neoliberal cognitive and consumerist capitalism, its ‘innovations’ are predominantly employed to modulate and control both production processes (...) and consumer behavior in view of the overall goal of extracting surplus value. Today, the digital networks overwhelmingly destroy social autonomy, instead engendering increasing social heteronomy and proletarianization. Yet it is these very networks themselves, as technical pharmaka in the sense of French ‘technophilosopher’ Bernard Stiegler, that can be employed as no other to struggle against this tendency. This paper briefly explores this possibility by reflecting upon current diagnoses of our ‘technological situation’ by some exemplary post-operaist Marxists from a Stieglerian, pharmacological perspective. (shrink)
This book is about how to understand quantum mechanics by means of a modal interpretation. Modal interpretations provide a general framework within which quantum mechanics can be considered as a theory that describes reality in terms of physical systems possessing definite properties. Quantum mechanics is standardly understood to be a theory about probabilities with which measurements have outcomes. Modal interpretations are relatively new attempts to present quantum mechanics as a theory which, like other physical theories, describes an observer-independent reality. In (...) this book, Pieter Vermaas summarises the results of this work. The book will be of great value to undergraduates, graduate students and researchers in philosophy of science, and physics departments with an interest in learning about modal interpretations of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
This article deals with the biotechnology revolution in agriculture and analyzes it in terms of Bernard Stiegler’s theory of techno-evolution and his thesis that technologies have an intrinsically pharmacological nature, meaning that they can be both supportive and destructive for sociotechnical practices based on them. Technological innovations always first disrupt existing sociotechnical practices, but are subsequently always appropriated by the social system to be turned into a new technical system upon which new sociotechnical practices are based. As constituted and conditioned (...) by a technical system, human cultures are necessarily systems of care. Humans take care of themselves and the world through technologies. Agriculture is a very old system of care, stable for more than 10,000 years, but at the moment it is experiencing a profound rupture thanks to the invention of genetic engineering technologies, that promise to revolutionize it. However, their current deployment under capitalist conditions everywhere leads to processes of proletarianization, due to the fact that they enable the expropriation of farmers of the means of production, depriving them of the possibility of appropriating these new technologies and frustrating the invention of a new agricultural system of care. This has lead to a widespread rejection of the new technologies, which is a grave error though, as these technologies can become the basis of a new system of care. But only under the condition that they are wrought from corporate control and redeployed instead to initiate a process of deproletarianization. It is argued that current initiatives in open source and commons-based biotech are probably the most promising harbingers of such a process of deproletarianization. (shrink)
Since virtue and the virtues have been important in Reformed theology for most of its history, this essay is devoted to the question of how this tradition may contribute to and interact with contemporary virtue ethics. Reformed concepts of sanctification as open to moral growth, covenant as a narrative context of divine commandments, and unio cum Christo as defining human teleology and virtuousness provide valuable contributions to the development of such an ethics. On the other hand, Reformed conceptions of reform, (...) natural law, common grace and christological eschatology offer theological arguments for overcoming Hauerwas’s problematic overemphasis on the distinctiveness of the church’s ethic. (shrink)
In this paper we present an action-theoretic account of artefact using and designing and describe our ICE-theory of function ascriptions to technical artefacts. By means of this account and theory we analyse the thesis of the dual nature of technical artefacts according to which descriptions of technical artefacts draw on structural and intentional conceptualisations. We show that the ascription of technical functions to technical artefacts can connect the intentional and structural parts of descriptions of artefacts, but also separate these parts. (...) Our conclusion is that the concept of technical functions forms a ‘conceptual drawbridge’ between the intentional and structural natures of technical artefacts.Keywords: Intentional and structural descriptions; Technical artefacts; Function theory; Action theory; Use; Design. (shrink)
In this paper we consider the emerging position in metaphysics that artifact functions characterize real kinds of artifacts. We analyze how it can circumvent an objection by David Wiggins (Sameness and substance renewed, 2001, 87) and then argue that this position, in comparison to expert judgments, amounts to an interesting fine-grained metaphysics: taking artifact functions as (part of the) essences of artifacts leads to distinctions between principles of activity of artifacts that experts in technology have not yet made. We show, (...) moreover, that our argument holds not only in the artifactual realm but also in biology: taking biological functions as (part of the) essences of organs leads to distinctions between principles of activity of organs that biological experts have not yet made. We run our argument on the basis of analyses of artifact and biological functions as developed in philosophy of technology and of biology, thus importing results obtained outside of metaphysics into the debate on ontological realism. In return, our argument shows that a position in metaphysics provides experts reason for trying to detect differences between principles of activities of artifacts and organs that have not been detected so far. (shrink)
The making and taking of psychotropic drugs, whether on medical prescription or as self-medication, whether marketed by pharmaceutical companies or clamoured for by an anxious population, has been an integral part of the twentieth century. In this modern era of speed, uncertainty, pleasure and anguish the boundaries between healing and enhancing the mind by chemical means have been redefined. Long before Prozac would become a household name for an ‘emotional aspirin’ did consumers embrace the idea and practice of taking psychotropics (...) not only to treat mental illness but also to make them feel better about living in a modern world. The Freudian promise that each individual can remake him- or herself in the pursuit of health and happiness was helpful in promoting and legitimizing the idea and practice of seeking wellness on prescription. We will argue that the modern consumer-driven political culture of medicine will continue to transverse the boundaries of therapy and enhancement of the mind into the largely unexplored territories of human cognition and behaviour. However exciting, this endeavour will come at the cost of further widening the problem of iatrogenic addiction in the age of happiness pills as ‘botox’ for the mind. (shrink)
This essay complements Roberto Esposito’s analysis of the political category of the person by outlining the role of literature, and especially the genre of the novel, in consolidating this category and allowing it to do its political and affective work. The essay shows how Ben Lerner’s 2014 novel 10:04 dismantles three central features of the traditional novel’s poetics of the person: its investment in the notion of literary character, its use of fictionality, and its structural reliance on the narrative future. (...) Lerner’s novel, like Esposito’s biopolitical work, aims to overcome the hierarchical divisions within human life that are endemic to the category of the person and that have historically fostered biopolitical violence. Both projects intimate a less destructive politics—what Lerner calls “the transpersonal” and Esposito “the impersonal.”. (shrink)
Aristotle's philosophically most explicit and sophisticated account of the concept of a (primary-)universal proof is found, not in "Analytica Posteriora" 1.4, where he introduces the notion, but in 1.5. In 1.4 Aristotle merely says that a universal proof must be of something arbitrary as well as of something primary and seems to explain primacy in extensional terms, as concerning the largest possible domain. In 1.5 Aristotle improves upon this account after considering three ways in which we may delude ourselves into (...) thinking we have a primary-universal proof. These three sources of delusion are shown to concern situations in which our arguments do establish the desired conclusion for the largest possible domain, but still fail to be real primary-universal proofs. Presupposing the concept of what may be called an immediate proof, in which something is proved of an arbitrary individual, Aristotle in response now demands that a proof be immediate of the primary thing itself and goes on to sketch a framework in which an intensional criterion for primacy can be formulated. For the most part this article is a comprehensive and detailed commentary on Aristotle's very concise exposition in 1.5. One important result is that the famous passage 74a17-25 referring to two ways of proving the alternation of proportions cannot be used as evidence for the development of pre-Euclidean mathematics. (shrink)
Evolutionary psychiatrists invariably consider schizophrenia to be a paradox: how come natural selection has not yet eliminated the infamous ‘genes for schizophrenia’ if the disorder simply crushes the reproductive success of its carriers, if it has been around for thousands of years already, and if it has a uniform prevalence throughout the world? Usually, the answer is that the schizophrenic genotype is subject to some kind of balancing selection: the benefits it confers would then outbalance the obvious damage it does. (...) In this paper, however, I will show that the assumptions underlying such evolutionary accounts of schizophrenia are at least implausible, and sometimes even erroneous. First of all, I will examine some factual assumptions, in particular about schizophrenia’s impact on reproductive success, its genetics, its history, and its epidemiology. Secondly, I will take a critical look at a major philosophical assumption in evolutionary psychiatric explanations of schizophrenia. Indeed, evolutionary psychiatrists take it for granted that schizophrenia is a natural kind, i.e. a bounded and objectively real entity with discrete biological causes. My refutation of this natural kind view suggests that schizophrenia is in fact a reified umbrella concept, covering a heterogeneous group of disorders. Therefore, schizophrenia, as we now know it, simply doesn’t have an evolutionary history. (shrink)
Abstract Moral education in South Africa has always been a matter of priority to parents and educationalists alike. Although it is not taught as a separate subject in the schooling process, much attention is paid to it throughout the school curriculum. Particularly in religious education and in social studies time is devoted to matters of moral conduct. The basis for moral education has almost right through been a Christian approach to life. This is the case in schools for black and (...) for white pupils. A great number of devoted teachers go to great lengths to prepare young people for life in such a way that they may become steadfast citizens of the country. The role of parents, youth organizations, churches and ?? in the case of black youths ?? tribal customs, should, however, not be underestimated in the moral training of young people. (shrink)
Cet article relate le commencement des apports du jésuite Pieter Frans Smulders avant la première période du Concile Vatican II. Ce commencement s'est produit de la mi-août à début septembre 1962, avec l'analyse incisive par Smulders des sept schémas conciliaires initiaux comme faisant partie d'une consultation avant Concile au bénéfice de l'Archevêque Giuseppe Beltrami, Nonce apostolique des Pays-Bas. Cette analyse apparaît en annexe.
Poursuivant une précédente recherche sur les travaux de P. Smulders , L'A. présente les résultats d'une étude sur la genèse du «Dei Verbum», examinant les acticités théologiques de Pieter Smulders au cours de la première période du deuxième Concile du Vatican, où il travailla comme expert théologique au service de la Conférence épiscopale d'Indonésie. Il élabore une analyse critique du projet «De fontibus revelationis» élaboré par Smulders à l'usage des évêques.