The media attention and subsequent scientific backlash engendered by the claim, announced by spokespeople for the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements project, that 80% of the human genome has a “biochemical function” highlights the need for a clearer understanding of function concepts in biology. This article provides an overview of two major function concepts that have been developed in the philosophy of science – the “causal role” concept and the “selected effects” concept – and their relevance to ENCODE. Unlike some previous (...) critiques, the ENCODE project is not considered problematic because it employed a causal role definition of function, but because of how this concept was misused. In addition, several unique challenges that arise when dealing with transposable elements, but which were ignored by ENCODE, are highlighted. These include issues surrounding TE-level versus organism-level selection, the origins versus the persistence of elements, and accidental versus functional organism-level benefits. Finally, some key questions are presented that should be addressed in any studies aiming to ascribe functions to major portions of large eukaryotic genomes, the majority of which is made up of transposable elements. (shrink)
Presymptomatic testing for Huntington's disease has given rise to several ethical problems relating to such issues as confidentiality, the privacy of the individual, the testing of minors and informed consent in connection with blood sample donation. A multidisciplinary conference of staff from genetic centres involved with presymptomatic testing was organised in Cardiff to discuss these and other problems. Recommendations on good practice are described under four headings: pre- and post-test counselling; confidentiality in relation to test results; collection and storage of (...) DNA, and criteria for testing. (shrink)
Since the late 1980s, in defiance of Sri Lanka’s major monastic fraternities and the government, Buddhist women and men have begun to organize across distinctions of national boundary and Buddhist tradition to reinstate a defunct bhikkhun? ordination lineage for renunciant women. Drawing on fieldwork from the winter of 2015–16, this article considers some of the strategies by which Sri Lanka’s bhikkhun?s and their supporters constitute the burgeoning lineage as both legitimate and necessary for the continued health and vitality of an (...) otherwise ailing Buddhist s?sana. I argue that Sri Lanka’s bhikkhun?s engage in highly-visible forms of adherence to vinaya rules and social expectations for ideal monastic behavior set against a popular discourse about the laxity of male renunciants. Such engagement is both political and soteriological; while it is aimed at fulfilling legitimizing gendered expectations of women’s piety, it is expressed primarily in terms of the eradication of personal and societal suffering through forms of practice that accord with the ideal of a pious monastic. Thus, in contrast to discourses which locate bhikkhun?s as subjects whose presence weakens the s?sana’s duration and strength, in this new discourse Sri Lanka’s bhikkhun?s become virtuous agents of social service and moral restoration. The article concludes by identifying emerging connections between this discourse and an alreadygendered xenophobic Buddhist nationalism. (shrink)
Various writers in the Western liberal and libertarian tradition have challenged the argument that enforcement of law and protection of property rights are public goods that must be provided by governments. Many of these writers argue explicitly for the provision of law enforcement services through private market relations.
Considerable variation exists not only in the kinds of transposable elements (TEs) occurring within the genomes of different species, but also in their abundance and distribution. Noting a similarity to the assortment of organisms among ecosystems, some researchers have called for an ecological approach to the study of transposon dynamics. However, there are several ways to adopt such an approach, and it is sometimes unclear what an ecological perspective will add to the existing co-evolutionary framework for explaining transposon-host interactions. This (...) review aims to clarify the conceptual foundations of transposon ecology in order to evaluate its explanatory prospects. We begin by identifying three unanswered questions regarding the abundance and distribution of TEs that potentially call for an ecological explanation. We then offer an operational distinction between evolutionary and ecological approaches to these questions. By determining the amount of variance in transposon abundance and distribution that is explained by ecological and evolutionary factors, respectively, it is possible empirically to assess the prospects for each of these explanatory frameworks. To illustrate how this methodology applies to a concrete example, we analyzed whole-genome data for one set of distantly related mammals and another more closely related group of arthropods. Our expectation was that ecological factors are most informative for explaining differences among individual TE lineages, rather than TE families, and for explaining their distribution among closely related as opposed to distantly related host genomes. We found that, in these data sets, ecological factors do in fact explain most of the variation in TE abundance and distribution among TE lineages across less distantly related host organisms. Evolutionary factors were not significant at these levels. However, the explanatory roles of evolution and ecology become inverted at the level of TE families or among more distantly related genomes. Not only does this example demonstrate the utility of our distinction between ecological and evolutionary perspectives, it further suggests an appropriate explanatory domain for the burgeoning discipline of transposon ecology. The fact that ecological processes appear to be impacting TE lineages over relatively short time scales further raises the possibility that transposons might serve as useful model systems for testing more general hypotheses in ecology. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to offer a formal criterion for physical computation that allows us to objectively distinguish between competing computational interpretations of a physical system. The criterion construes a computational interpretation as an ordered pair of functions mapping (1) states of a physical system to states of an abstract machine, and (2) inputs to this machine to interventions in this physical system. This interpretation must ensure that counterfactuals true of the abstract machine have appropriate counterparts which are (...) true of the physical system. The criterion proposes that rival interpretations be assessed on the basis of simplicity. Simplicity is construed as the Kolmogorov complexity of the interpretation. This approach is closely related to the notion of algorithmic information distance and draws on earlier work on real patterns. (shrink)
In The Problem of Political Authority, Michael Huemer argues that the contractarian and consequentialist groundings of political authority are unsuccessful, and, in fact, that there are no adequate contemporary accounts of political authority. As such, the modern state is illegitimate and we have reasons to affirm political anarchism. We disagree with Huemer’s conclusion. But we consider Huemer’s critiques of contractarianism and consequentialism to be compelling. Here we will juxtapose, alongside Huemer’s critiques, a theistic account of political authority from Nicholas Wolterstorff’s (...) book The Mighty and the Almighty. We think that Wolterstorff’s model does better than contractarianism and consequentialism at answering Huemer’s critiques. We also think that an abductive basis for God’s existence emerges from the inadequate authority accounts that Huemer surveys. (shrink)
According to dispositionalism, fundamental properties are dispositions—powers that don’t reduce to other properties, laws, or anything else. As dispositions manifest, natural regularities result, so this view appears to explain the uniformity of nature. However, in this paper I’ll argue that there are types of regularities that can’t be explained by dispositionalism. The basic idea is this. All accounts of fundamental dispositions endow properties with a certain sort of structure. This allows explanations of only those regularities that align with such structures. (...) In this paper, I identify a type of natural regularity that cannot fit dispositionalist structures and show why the possibility of such regularities is problematic. (shrink)
Tyler Burge presents a collection of his seminal essays on Gottlob Frege (1848-1925), who has a strong claim to be seen as the founder of modern analytic philosophy, and whose work remains at the centre of philosophical debate today. Truth, Thought, Reason gathers some of Burge's most influential work from the last twenty-five years, and also features important new material, including a substantial introduction and postscripts to four of the ten papers. It will be an essential resource for any (...) historian of modern philosophy, and for anyone working on philosophy of language, epistemology, or philosophical logic. (shrink)
The canonical history of mathematics suggests that the late 19th-century “arithmetization” of calculus marked a shift away from spatial-dynamic intuitions, grounding concepts in static, rigorous definitions. Instead, we argue that mathematicians, both historically and currently, rely on dynamic conceptualizations of mathematical concepts like continuity, limits, and functions. In this article, we present two studies of the role of dynamic conceptual systems in expert proof. The first is an analysis of co-speech gesture produced by mathematics graduate students while proving a theorem, (...) which reveals a reliance on dynamic conceptual resources. The second is a cognitive-historical case study of an incident in 19th-century mathematics that suggests a functional role for such dynamism in the reasoning of the renowned mathematician Augustin Cauchy. Taken together, these two studies indicate that essential concepts in calculus that have been defined entirely in abstract, static terms are nevertheless conceptualized dynamically, in both contemporary and historical practice. (shrink)
Modern concepts of vocation often refer to some ambiguous understanding of personal occupation or religious life. These interpretations appear to be in tension with the Christian understanding of vocation as the call of God given to a community to a certain way of living. Christian physicians live into this communal vocation when they remain present to the suffering as a sign of God’s faithfulness. This vocational practice of medicine is threatened by a distorted understanding of the body that stems from (...) what Max Weber called the “disenchantment” of the world. By bringing an understanding of the medicine that stems from Weber’s disenchantment into conversation with the language and beliefs of the church, this essay will seek to explore practices that might serve to re-enchant an understanding of the body and the practice of medicine as a form of Christian vocation. (shrink)
In Burge 2005, Tyler Burge reads disjunctivism as the denial that there are explanatorily relevant states in common between veridical perceptions and corresponding illusions. He rejects the position as plainly inconsistent with what is known about perception. I describe a disjunctive approach to perceptual experience that is immune to Burge's attack. The main positive moral concerns how to think about fallibility.
To date, B&S researchers have pursued their normative aims through strategic and moral arguments that are limited because they adopt a rational actor behavioral model and firm-level focus. I argue that it would be beneficial for B&S scholars to pursue alternate approaches based on critical realism (CR) and neoinstitutional theory (IT). Such a shift would have a number of benefits. For one, CR and IT recognize the complex roots of firm behavior and provide tools for its investigation. Both approaches also (...) note the importance of social context and IT, in particular, points to tangible sites where changes in (and outcomes of) corporate practices can be assessed. CR also has an emancipatory ethos which harkens a role for scholars in social change, while IT provides mechanisms to ground this ethos in tangible activities that go beyond appealing to managers’ strategic or moral sensibilities. (shrink)
In Wunder (2013) I observed a probabilistic blunder in Plantinga (2011) and argued that correcting it, while noting Plantinga’s acceptance of logically non-contingent theism, had negative consequences for many other of his probabilistic claims. Professor Plantinga kindly replied to my correspondence, but the fruits of that conversation could not be incorporated into Wunder (2013). This article will explain the blunder and summarize my earlier arguments before addressing Plantinga’s main replies. I conclude that these replies fail to circumvent most of the (...) problems observed earlier: perhaps most significantly, the Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism and theism’s logical non-contingency still appear jointly to imply theism’s necessary falsehood. (shrink)
In all probability, future generations will outnumber us by thousands or millions to one. In the aggregate, their interests therefore matter enormously, and anything we can do to steer the future of civilization onto a better trajectory is of tremendous moral importance. This is the guiding thought that defines the philosophy of longtermism. Political science tells us that the practices of most governments are at stark odds with longtermism. But the problems of political short-termism are neither necessary nor inevitable. In (...) principle, the state could serve as a powerful tool for positively shaping the long-term future. In this chapter, we make some suggestions about how to align government incentives with the interests of future generations. First, in Section II, we explain the root causes of political short-termism. Then, in Section III, we propose and defend four institutional reforms that we think would be promising ways to increase the time horizons of governments: 1) government research institutions and archivists; 2) posterity impact assessments; 3) futures assemblies; and 4) legislative houses for future generations. Section IV concludes with five additional reforms that are promising but require further research: to fully resolve the problem of political short-termism we must develop a comprehensive research program on effective longtermist political institutions. (shrink)
Non‐Humean theories of natural necessity invoke modally‐laden primitives to explain why nature exhibits lawlike regularities. However, they vary in the primitives they posit and in their subsequent accounts of laws of nature and related phenomena (including natural properties, natural kinds, causation, counterfactuals, and the like). This article provides a taxonomy of non‐Humean theories, discusses influential arguments for and against them, and describes some ways in which differences in goals and methods can motivate different versions of non‐Humeanism (and, for that matter, (...) Humeanism). In short, this article provides an introduction to non‐Humeanism concerning the metaphysics of laws of nature and natural necessity. (shrink)
A well-publicized study entitled (Bartels and Pizarro, 2011) purportedly provides evidence that utilitarian solutions to a particular class of moral dilemmas are endorsed primarily by individuals with psychopathic traits. According to the authors, these findings give researchers reason to refrain from classifying utilitarian judgements as morally optimal. This article is a two-part response to the study. The first part comprises concerns about the methodology used and the adequacy of the data for supporting the authors’ conclusions. The second part seeks to (...) undermine the suggestion that if anti-social individuals are the ones most likely to endorse utilitarian solutions to the target dilemmas, we should be sceptical about those solutions. I argue that the character of individuals most likely to make a given moral judgement is an unreliable indicator of the quality of that judgement. (shrink)
Among psychologists, it is widely thought that infants well under age 3, monkeys, apes, birds, and dogs have been shown to have rudimentary capacities for representing and attributing mental states or relations. I believe this view to be mistaken. It rests on overinterpreting experiments. It also often rests on assuming that one must choose between taking these individuals to be mentalists and taking them to be behaviorists. This assumption underestimates a powerful nonmentalistic, nonbehavioristic explanatory scheme that centers on attributing action (...) with targets and on causation of action by interlocking, internal conative, and sensory states. Neither action with targets, nor conative states, nor sensing entails mentality. The scheme can attribute conative states and relations, efficiency, sensory states and relations, sensory retention, sensory anticipation, affect, and appreciation of individual differences. The scheme can ground explanations of false belief tests that do not require infants or nonhuman animals to use language. After the scheme is explained and applied, it is contrasted with other, superficially similar schemes proposed in the literature---for example, those of Gergely and Csibra, Wellman and Gopnik, Perner and Roessler, Flavell, and Apperly and Butterfill. Better methods for testing are briefly discussed. (shrink)
In this paper I aim to show why pediatric suffering must be understood as a judgment or evaluation, rather than a mental state. To accomplish this task, first I analyze the various ways that the label of suffering is used in pediatric practice. Out of this analysis emerge what I call the twin poles of pediatric suffering. At one pole sits the belief that infants and children with severe cognitive impairment cannot suffer because they are nonverbal or lack subjective life (...) experience. At the other pole exists the idea that once child suffering reaches some threshold it is ethical to eliminate the sufferer. Concerningly, at both poles, any particular child vanishes from view. Second, in an attempt to identify a theory of suffering inclusive of children, I examine two prominent so-called experiential accounts of suffering. I find them both wanting on account of their absurd entailments and their flawed assumptions regarding the subjective experiences of people who cannot communicate expressively. Finally, I extend arguments found in Alastair MacIntyre’s Dependent Rational Animals to argue that child suffering can be understood only as a set of absences—absences of conditions such as love, warmth, and freedom from pain. An evaluation of these absences reveals the exquisite dependency of children. It also discloses why pediatric suffering is necessarily a social and political event. Unlike adults, children will never be either the authors or the mitigators of their own suffering. Rather, children must rely wholly on others in order to resist suffering, grow, and flourish. (shrink)
The concept of artificial intelligence is not new nor is the notion that it should be granted legal protections given its influence on human activity. What is new, on a relative scale, is the notion that artificial intelligence can possess citizenship—a concept reserved only for humans, as it presupposes the idea of possessing civil duties and protections. Where there are several decades’ worth of writing on the concept of the legal status of computational artificial artefacts in the USA and elsewhere, (...) it is surprising that law makers internationally have come to a standstill to protect our silicon brainchildren. In this essay, it will be assumed that future artificial entities, such as Sophia the Robot, will be granted citizenship on an international scale. With this assumption, an analysis of rights will be made with respect to the needs of a non-biological intelligence possessing legal and civic duties akin to those possessed by humanity today. This essay does not present a full set of rights for artificial intelligence—instead, it aims to provide international jurisprudence evidence aliunde ab extra de lege lata for any future measures made to protect non-biological intelligence. (shrink)
Increased investment in ethics education has prompted a variety of instructional objectives and frameworks. Yet, no systematic procedure to classify these varying instructional approaches has been attempted. In the present study, a quantitative clustering procedure was conducted to derive a typology of instruction in ethics education. In total, 330 ethics training programs were included in the cluster analysis. The training programs were appraised with respect to four instructional categories including instructional content, processes, delivery methods, and activities. Eight instructional approaches were (...) identified through this clustering procedure, and these instructional approaches showed different levels of effectiveness. Instructional effectiveness was assessed based on one of nine commonly used ethics criteria. With respect to specific training types, Professional Decision Processes Training and Field-Specific Compliance Training appear to be viable approaches to ethics training based on Cohen’s d effect size estimates. By contrast, two commonly used approaches, General Discussion Training and Norm Adherence Training, were found to be considerably less effective. The implications for instruction in ethics training are discussed. (shrink)
Do philosophic views affect job performance? The authors found that possessing a belief in free will predicted better career attitudes and actual job performance. The effect of free will beliefs on job performance indicators were over and above well-established predictors such as conscientiousness, locus of control, and Protestant work ethic. In Study 1, stronger belief in free will corresponded to more positive attitudes about expected career success. In Study 2, job performance was evaluated objectively and independently by a supervisor. Results (...) indicated that employees who espoused free will beliefs were given better work performance evaluations than those who disbelieve in free will, presumably because belief in free will facilitates exerting control over one’s actions. (shrink)
According to structuralism, all natural properties are individuated by their roles in causal/nomological structures. According to quidditism, at least some natural properties are individuated in some other way. Because these theses deal with the identities of natural properties, this distinction cuts to the core of a serious metaphysical dispute: Are the intrinsic natures of all natural properties essentially causal/nomological in character? I'll argue that the answer is ‘no’, or at least that this answer is more plausible than many critics of (...) quidditism have recognized. In section 1, I distinguish between two versions of quidditism. Bare quidditism holds that worlds with distinct properties and isomorphic structures must be qualitatively identical in the following sense: inhabiting one world would be indistinguishable from inhabiting the other. In contrast, qualitative quidditism allows such worlds to have qualitative differences. In section 2, I discuss an epistemological position that allows us to bett... (shrink)
One widely used method for allocating health care resources involves the use of cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) to rank treatments in terms of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) gained. CEA has been criticized for discriminating against people with disabilities by valuing their lives less than those of non-disabled people. Avoiding discrimination seems to lead to the ’QALY trap’: we cannot value saving lives equally and still value raising quality of life. This paper reviews existing responses to the QALY trap and argues that all (...) are problematic. Instead, we argue that adopting a moderate form of prioritarianism avoids the QALY trap and disability discrimination. (shrink)
Predictive modeling in education draws on data from past courses to forecast the effectiveness of future courses. The present effort sought to identify such a model of instructional effectiveness in scientific ethics. Drawing on data from 235 courses in the responsible conduct of research, structural equation modeling techniques were used to test a predictive model of RCR course effectiveness. Fit statistics indicated the model fit the data well, with the instructional characteristics included in the model explaining approximately 85% of the (...) variance in RCR instructional effectiveness. Implications for using the model to develop and improve future RCR courses are discussed. (shrink)
One reason to posit governing laws is to explain the uniformity of nature. Explanatory power can be purchased by accepting new primitives, and scientists invoke laws in their explanations without providing any supporting metaphysics. For these reasons, one might suspect that we can treat laws as wholly unanalyzable primitives. (John Carroll’s *Laws of Nature* (1994) and Tim Maudlin’s *The Metaphysics Within Physics* (2007) offer recent defenses of primitivism about laws.) Whatever defects primitive laws might have, explanatory weakness should not be (...) one of them. However, in this essay I’ll argue that wholly primitive laws cannot explain the uniformity of nature. The basic argument is based on the following idea: though a primitive law that P makes P likely, the primitive status of the law provides no reason to think that P must describe (or otherwise give rise to) a natural regularity. After identifying the problem for primitive laws, I consider an extension of the objection to all theories of governing laws and suggest that it may be avoided by a version of the Dretske/Tooley/Armstrong theory according to which laws are relations between universals. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis article analyses the theory of sexuality, personality and politics developed by the literary critic John Addington Symonds. Sections 1 and 2 introduce Symonds’ changing reputation as a modernist theorist of ‘sexual inversion’. Section 3 examines his conceptualization of the processes whereby an individual can sublimate sexual urges to create a harmonious and unalienated personality which acknowledges the need to combine transgressive self-expression with social convention. Section 4 demonstrates how this theory led Symonds to endorse an eroticized form of democratic (...) socialism, while Section 5 explores the culmination of Symonds’ thought in a form of pantheistic idealism. This research is significant in that it extends our understanding of socialism and sexuality into areas that are marginalized and yet historically important. (shrink)
David Armstrong accepted the following three theses: universals are immanent, laws are relations between universals, and laws govern. Taken together, they form an attractive position, for they promise to explain regularities in nature—one of the most important desiderata for a theory of laws and properties—while remaining compatible with naturalism. However, I argue that the three theses are incompatible. The basic idea is that each thesis makes an explanatory claim, but the three claims can be shown to run in a problematic (...) circle. I then consider which thesis we ought to reject and suggest some general lessons for the metaphysics of laws. (shrink)
Belief in evolved belief systems stems from using a population-genetic model of evolution that misconstrues the developmental relationship between genes and behaviour, confuses notions of and and ignores the fundamental role of language in the development of human beliefs. We suggest that theories about the evolution of belief would be better grounded in a developmental model of evolution.
This article describes the Vaccine/Injury Project Corpus, a collection of legal decisions awarding or denying compensation for health injuries allegedly due to vaccinations, together with models of the logical structure of the reasoning of the factfinders in those cases. This unique corpus provides useful data for formal and informal logic theory, for natural-language research in linguistics, and for artificial intelligence research. More importantly, the article discusses lessons learned from developing protocols for manually extracting the logical structure and generating the logic (...) models. It identifies sub-tasks in the extraction process, discusses challenges to automation, and provides insights into possible solutions for automation. In particular, the framework and strategies developed here, together with the corpus data, should allow “top–down” and contextual approaches to automation, which can supplement “bottom-up” linguistic approaches. Illustrations throughout the article use examples drawn from the Corpus. (shrink)
You’re imagining, in the course of a different game of make-believe, that you’re a bank robber. You don’t believe that you’re a bank robber. You are moved to point your finger, gun-wise, at the person pretending to be the bank teller and say, “Stick ‘em up! This is a robbery!”.
I want to reflect on some functions of memory and their relations to traditional issues about personal identity. I try to elicit ways in which having memory, with its presupposition of agent identity over time, is integral to being a person, indeed to having a representational mind.
What does free will mean to laypersons? The present investigation sought to address this question by identifying how laypersons distinguish between free and unfree actions. We elicited autobiographical narratives in which participants described either free or unfree actions, and the narratives were subsequently subjected to impartial analysis. Results indicate that free actions were associated with reaching goals, high levels of conscious thought and deliberation, positive outcomes, and moral behavior (among other things). These findings suggest that lay conceptions of free will (...) fit well with the view that free will is a form of action control. (shrink)
The paper develops a conception of epistemic warrant as applied to perceptual belief, called "entitlement", that does not require the warranted individual to be capable of understanding the warrant. The conception is situated within an account of animal perception and unsophisticated perceptual belief. It characterizes entitlement as fulfillment of an epistemic norm that is apriori associated with a certain representational function that can be known apriori to be a function of perception. The paper connects anti-individualism, a thesis about the nature (...) of mental states, and perceptual entitlement. It presents an argument that explains the objectivity and validity of perceptual entitlement partly in terms of the nature of perceptual states–hence the nature of perceptual beliefs, which are constitutively associated with perceptual states. The paper discusses ways that an individual can be entitled to perceptual belief through its connection to perception, and ways that entitlement to perceptual belief can be undermined. (shrink)
Given the growing public concern and attention placed on cases of research misconduct, government agencies and research institutions have increased their efforts to develop and improve ethics education programs for scientists. The present study sought to assess the impact of these increased efforts by sampling empirical studies published since the year 2000. Studies published prior to 2000 examined in other meta-analytic work were also included to provide a baseline for assessing gains in ethics training effectiveness over time. In total, this (...) quantitative review consisted of 66 empirical studies, 106 ethics courses, 150 effect sizes, and 10,069 training participants. Overall, the findings indicated that ethics instruction resulted in sizable benefits to participants and has improved considerably within the last decade. A number of specific findings also emerged regarding moderators of instructional effectiveness. Recommendations are discussed for improving the development, delivery, and evaluation of ethics instruction in the sciences. (shrink)
In McDowell, I responded to Burge's attack on disjunctivism. In Burge Burge rejects my response. He stands by his main claim that disjunctivism is incompatible with the science of perception, and in a supplementary spirit he argues against the detail of my attempt to defend disjunctivism. Here I explain how disjunctivism is compatible with the science, and I respond to some of Burge's supplementary arguments.