From the time of Descartes a strong tendency emerged to exclude the consideration of metaphysical questions as a necessary step towards developing truly scientific disciplines. Within human geography, positivism had a significant influence in moulding the discipline as "spatial science", resulting in a reductionist vision of humanity. Since the 1970s, in reaction to the limitations of this narrow vision and also to the deterministic perspective of marxism, humanistic approaches became important, but have failed to adequately deal with the exclusion of (...) metaphysical issues. The more recent emergence of postmodern influences within human geography, while being critical of the rigidities associated with Enlightenment thinking, and suggesting a greater tolerance of "difference", appears reluctant to reconsider the exclusion of metaphysics. This paper suggest that such a reconsideration could contribute significantly towards increasing human geography's capacity to help policy makers deal more adequately with some of the major issues facing humanity. (shrink)
This study presents the findings from aninternational survey of college students whichexamined perceptions and attitudes towarddishonesty in academic and business contexts. Data were collected from undergraduate studentsstudying business and economics in eighttransitional economies of Eastern Europe andCentral Asia and from students in the UnitedStates. The results indicate that academiccheating is a common activity in all of thecountries surveyed. Even though most studentsreported fearing the punishment of beingcaught, substantial numbers of studentsindicated that academic cheating is sociallyacceptable and not ethically wrong. When (...) askedto rate their perceived degree of dishonestywith respect to behavior in an academic settingrelative to analogous behavior in a businesssetting, students in both the United States andthe transitional economies viewed dishonesty ina business context more severely thandishonesty in an academic context. Theevidence also suggests that when compared tostudents in the transitional economies,American students apply a relatively higherstandard of honesty toward behavior in both theacademic and business settings. (shrink)
Throughout the biological and biomedical sciences there is a growing need for, prescriptive ‘minimum information’ (MI) checklists specifying the key information to include when reporting experimental results are beginning to find favor with experimentalists, analysts, publishers and funders alike. Such checklists aim to ensure that methods, data, analyses and results are described to a level sufficient to support the unambiguous interpretation, sophisticated search, reanalysis and experimental corroboration and reuse of data sets, facilitating the extraction of maximum value from data sets (...) them. However, such ‘minimum information’ MI checklists are usually developed independently by groups working within representatives of particular biologically- or technologically-delineated domains. Consequently, an overview of the full range of checklists can be difficult to establish without intensive searching, and even tracking thetheir individual evolution of single checklists may be a non-trivial exercise. Checklists are also inevitably partially redundant when measured one against another, and where they overlap is far from straightforward. Furthermore, conflicts in scope and arbitrary decisions on wording and sub-structuring make integration difficult. This presents inhibit their use in combination. Overall, these issues present significant difficulties for the users of checklists, especially those in areas such as systems biology, who routinely combine information from multiple biological domains and technology platforms. To address all of the above, we present MIBBI (Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations); a web-based communal resource for such checklists, designed to act as a ‘one-stop shop’ for those exploring the range of extant checklist projects, and to foster collaborative, integrative development and ultimately promote gradual integration of checklists. (shrink)
Although research into the biosemiotic mechanisms underlying the purposeful behavior of brainless living systems is extensive, researchers have not adequately described biosemiosis among neurons. As the conscious use of signs is well-covered by the various fields of semiotics, we focus on subconscious sign action. Subconscious semiotic habits, both functional and dysfunctional, may be created and reinforced in the brain not necessarily in a logical manner and not necessarily through repeated reinforcement. We review literature that suggests hypnosis may be effective in (...) changing subconscious dysfunctional habits, and we offer a biosemiotic framework for understanding these results. If it has been difficult to evaluate any psychological approach, including hypnosis, this may be because contemporary neuroscience lacks a theory of the sign. We argue that understanding the fluid nature of representation in biological organisms is prerequisite to understanding the nature of the subconscious and may lead to more effective of treatments for dysfunctional habits developed through personal experience or culture. (shrink)
After presenting the major objections raised against standard formulations of the H-D method of theory testing, I identify what seems to be an important element of truth underlying the method. I then draw upon this element in an effort to develop a plausible formulation of the H-D method which avoids the various objections.
If “Big Gods” evolved in part because of their ability to morally regulate groups of people who cannot count on kin or reciprocal altruism to get along, then powerful gods would tend to be good gods. If the mechanism for this cooperation is some kind of fear of supernatural punishment, then we may expect that mighty gods tend to be punishing gods. The present study is a statistical analysis of superhuman being concepts from 20 countries on five continents to explore (...) whether the goodness of a god is related to its mightiness. Gods that looked more like the God of classical theism and gods that were low in anthropomorphism were more likely to be regarded as morally good and to be the target of religious practices. Mighty gods were not, however, especially likely to punish or to be a “high god.”. (shrink)
This essay examines whether the Catholic magisterium's use of Aquinas to condemn homosexual acts is actually Thomistic. Rather than being aligned with the magisterium, Aquinas advances a moral epistemology better illuminated by the work of philosopher Judith Butler. Deploying Butler as a means of immanent critique, I show how magisterial attempts to argue against lesbian and gay sex fail on their own terms. Reading Aquinas alongside Butler shows us why we need not choose between fidelity to Thomistic natural law and (...) affirmation of lesbians and gays. (shrink)
A single Sanskrit commentary exists for the Caṇḍamahāroṣaṇatantra—the Padmāvatī of Mahāsukhavajra—the only palm-leaf witness of which is preserved in a late thirteenth-century manuscript in Kathmandu. The tantra is relatively late, unmentioned outside Nepal, and the only in-depth study to date examines only the first eight of its twenty five chapters. No study or edition of the Padmāvatī exists. Here we present the first edition and translation of a complete chapter, the sixth paṭala, a section dealing mainly with transgressive sexual practices. (...) Some of the ideas and pragmatic details presented by the author, Mahāsukhavajra, are unique in Vajrayāna literature. (shrink)
Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est continues the magisterium's twentieth-century shift from an act-oriented, procreative approach to sexual ethics to what I will term a heterosexually personalistic one. Situating a heterosexual anthropology within a heterosexual cosmology, Benedict argues that just as God loves humanity with heterosexual eros, so must human beings love each other heterosexually. Although Benedict depends upon the explanatory power of heterosexuality, he perhaps unwittingly ends up depicting God's love not as iconically heterosexual, but as queer. In (...) casting God's love as queer, I do not, even analogously, impute to God a type of homosexuality as Benedict does a heterosexuality. Instead, by drawing attention to the discursive specificity and historical instability of both homosexuality and heterosexuality, I use “queer” to recognize God's love as beyond categorization and as strange; it cannot be corralled into or contained by the historically specific notions of heterosexual and homosexual. But this essay does not merely deconstruct Benedict's heterosexually personalistic cosmology. It uncovers in Benedict's Eucharistic transfiguration of marital love a new and promising way of situating discussions about the ethics of sex. (shrink)
It is shown that two arguments given by Alvin Plantinga, which he offers to refute the existentialist thesis that propositions, states of affairs, and properties are ontologically dependent upon the objects they are directly about, are unsound. The existentialist position is then defended on the basis of both some intuitive considerations and a rigorous argument that does not presuppose any particular theory of the nature of propositions, states of affairs, and properties.