Current debates about “Darwinizing culture” have typically focused on the validity of memetics. In this article we argue that meme-like inheritance is not a necessary requirement for descent with modification. We suggest that an alternative and more productive way of Darwinizing culture can be found in the application of phylogenetic methods. We review recent work on cultural phylogenetics and outline six fundamental questions that can be answered using the power and precision of quantitative phylogenetic methods. However, cultural evolution, like biological (...) evolution, is often far from treelike. We discuss the problems reticulate evolution can cause for phylogenetic analyses and suggest ways in which these problems can be overcome. Our solutions involve a combination of new methods for the study of cultural evolution , and the triangulation of different lines of historical evidence. Throughout we emphasize that most debates about cultural phylogenies can only be settled by empirical research rather than armchair speculation. (shrink)
Which offers the better philosophical explanation, a philosophy of nature or a philosophy of space? Yves Simon posed this question in a series of lectures at the University of Chicago in 1959. Aristotle champions the philosophy of nature which recognizes a world of substantiality, individuality, qualitative differences, and mutability. Such a world is best explained in terms of causes; causes of real things. Descartes advocates a philosophy of space which ignores or denies qualitatively distinct realities and establishes "appearance saving" (...) laws. Thus Simon establishes the protagonists of the great dialogue: Nature versus Space, real things versus phenomena, causality versus laws, Aristotle versus Descartes. Simon does not pretend to be neutral in this debate. He favors Aristotle's theory of causality with its metaphysical-based view of nature. The Cartesian physics pays too great a price in "saving the appearances." In fact, Simon contends, it leads to an erroneous notion of science. Simon is critical of modern thinkers who have defined science in such a way that "Nature" is excluded. He is critical of early positivists in general, and Comte and Mach in particular, for giving inadequate descriptions of science. Simon contends that an Aristotelian framework is helpful in understanding science's role. In his style and approach to Aristotle's philosophy of Nature, Simon is similar to Frederick Woodbridge in the latter's efforts to show the relevance of Aristotle's view of nature. Because of his terminal illness, Yves Simon was not able to revise and publish the lectures he began in 1959. This collection of rather informal talks shows why he was a popular teacher and lecturer.--J. J. R. (shrink)
As the perfect companion to introduction to ethics courses, Dell'Olio and Simon's reader includes the most influential ethical theories without overwhelming the beginning student. It contains a variety of readings encompassing contemporary and classic philosophers, male and female perspectives of both western and non-western ethical traditions, and readings in both theoretical and applied ethics as well as a section on 'living the good life.' Useful introduction with thought provoking study questions and suggestions for further readings accompany each chapter which (...) make it easier for students to understand and appreciate their reading. (shrink)
The central hypothesis of the collaboration between Language and Computing (L&C) and the Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical Information Science (IFOMIS) is that the methodology and conceptual rigor of a philosophically inspired formal ontology will greatly benefit software application ontologies. To this end LinKBase®, L&C’s ontology, which is designed to integrate and reason across various external databases simultaneously, has been submitted to the conceptual demands of IFOMIS’s Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). With this, we aim to move beyond the level (...) of controlled vocabularies to yield an ontology with the ability to support reasoning applications. (shrink)
A brief examination of the self-negating quality of the precautionary principle within the context of environmental ethics, and its consequent failure, as an ethical guide, to justify large-scale regulation of atmospheric cabon dioxide emissions.
The following analysis seeks to question Rousseau's assumptions concerning the desirability of an �education from things�. In particular, I will focus on the problematic relationship between, on one hand, the development of Emile's sense of freedom and independence, and on the other, his sense of moral autonomy. It is my contention that moral development necessarily entails both what Rousseau provides, namely a well-developed conception of individuality, and something that is sorely lacking in Rousseau's project. Turning to an analysis of the (...) preceptor's role in Emile's education, I will argue that it is precisely this type of connection and commitment to other human beings that Emile's education fails to foster. Ultimately, Emile emerges from his education prepared to deal with other humans on one level, but woefully lacking in other skills that are necessary for moral personhood. (shrink)
Society’s relationship with modern animal farming is an ambivalent one: on the one hand there is rising criticism about modern animal farming; on the other hand people appreciate certain aspects of it, such as increased food safety and low food prices. This ambivalence reflects the two faces of modernity: the negative (exploitation of nature and loss of traditions) and the positive (progress, convenience, and efficiency). This article draws on a national survey carried out in the Netherlands that aimed at gaining (...) a deeper understanding about the acceptance of modern dairy farming in Dutch society. People take two dimensions into account when evaluating different aspects of modern dairy farming: (1) the way living beings are used for production and (2) the way a dairy farm functions as a business. In both these dimensions people appeared to adopt cautious opinions: most people preferred relatively traditional and natural farms and were concerned about the use of nature and treatment of animals in modern production—although this did not imply an outright rejection of modern animal farming. The study also looked for (and sought to explain) differences of opinion between social groups. Besides socio-demographic factors such as age and gender, farming experience and value-orientation (such as socially minded and professional) appeared to be important variables. The values and convictions within modern society can help to explain why some people are greatly concerned about animal welfare while some show less concern. This diversity also helps to explain why general information campaigns are quite ineffective in allaying concerns about modern animal farming. (shrink)