The old story and the new story -- Have we changed the story? part 1 -- Have we changed the story? part 2 -- Why do we need the new story? -- Some questions in the new story -- Navigating the stories -- Boats and airplanes : a brief digression -- Three questions about God -- Is God angry? -- Is God angry? part 2 -- A small digression about judgment -- Is God distant? part 1 -- Is God distant? (...) part 2 -- Is God distant? part 3 -- Is God distant? part 4 -- Is God a bully? part 1 -- Is God a bully? part 2 -- Is God a bully? part 3 -- A short word on exclusivity -- The path of wisdom -- The eclipse of doctrine -- Ethos versus doctrine -- Where to begin? (shrink)
In a previous study, using experimental metapopulations of the flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, we investigated phase III of Wright's shifting balance process (Wade and Griesemer 1998). We experimentally modeled migration of varying amounts from demes of high mean fitness into demes of lower mean fitness (as in Wright's characterization of phase III) as well as the reciprocal (the opposite of phase III). We estimated the meta-populational heritability for this level of selection by regression of offspring deme means on the (...) weighted parental deme means.Here we develop a Punnett Square representation of the inheritance of the group mean to place our empirical findings in a conceptual context similar to Mendelian inheritance of individual traits. The comparison of Punnett Squares for individual and group inheritance shows how the latter concept can be rigorously defined and extended despite the lack of explicitly formulated, simple Mendelian laws of inheritance at the group level. Whereas Wright's phase III combines both interdemic selection and meta-populational inheritance, our formulation separates the issue of meta-populational heritability from that of interdemic selection. We use this conceptual context to discuss the controversies over the levels of selection and the units of inheritance. (shrink)
We develop an account of laboratory models, which have been central to the group selection controversy. We compare arguments for group selection in nature with Darwin's arguments for natural selection to argue that laboratory models provide important grounds for causal claims about selection. Biologists get information about causes and cause-effect relationships in the laboratory because of the special role their own causal agency plays there. They can also get information about patterns of effects and antecedent conditions in nature. But to (...) argue that some cause is actually responsible in nature, they require an inference from knowledge of causes in the laboratory context and of effects in the natural context. This process, cause detection, forms the core of an analogical argument for group selection. We discuss the differing roles of mathematical and laboratory models in constructing selective explanations at the group level and apply our discussion to the units of selection controversy to distinguish between the related problems of cause determination and evaluation of evidence. Because laboratory models are at the intersection of the two problems, their study is crucial for framing a coherent theory of explanation for evolutionary biology. (shrink)
Pezdek and Lam [Pezdek, K. & Lam, S. . What research paradigms have cognitive psychologists used to study “False memory,” and what are the implications of these choices? Consciousness and Cognition] claim that the majority of research into false memories has been misguided. Specifically, they charge that false memory scientists have been misusing the term “false memory,” relying on the wrong methodologies to study false memories, and misapplying false memory research to real world situations. We review each of these claims (...) and highlight the problems with them. We conclude that several types of false memory research have advanced our knowledge of autobiographical and recovered memories, and that future research will continue to make significant contributions to how we understand memory and memory errors. (shrink)
Two controversies exist regarding the appropriate characterization of hierarchical and adaptive evolution in natural populations. In biology, there is the Wright-Fisher controversy over the relative roles of random genetic drift, natural selection, population structure, and interdemic selection in adaptive evolution begun by Sewall Wright and Ronald Aylmer Fisher. There is also the Units of Selection debate, spanning both the biological and the philosophical literature and including the impassioned group-selection debate. Why do these two discourses exist separately, and interact relatively little? (...) We postulate that the reason for this schism can be found in the differing focus of each controversy, a deep difference itself determined by distinct general styles of scientific research guiding each discourse. That is, the Wright-Fisher debate focuses on adaptive process, and tends to be instructed by the mathematical modeling style, while the focus of the Units of Selection controversy is adaptive product, and is typically guided by the function style. The differences between the two discourses can be usefully tracked by examining their interpretations of two contested strategies for theorizing hierarchical selection: horizontal and vertical averaging. (shrink)
Current management of people with prolonged disorders of consciousness is failing patients, families and society. The causes include a general lack of concern, knowledge and expertise; a legal and professional framework which impedes timely and appropriate decision-making and/or enactment of the decision; and the exclusive focus on the patient, with no legitimate means to consider the broader consequences of healthcare decisions. This article argues that a clinical pathway based on the principles of the English Mental Capacity Act 2005 and using (...) time-limited treatment trials could greatly improve patient management and reduce stress on families. There needs to be early and continuing use of formal best interests meetings, starting between 7 and 21 days after onset of unconsciousness. The treatment options need to evolve as the clinical state and prognosis becomes more certain. A formal discussion of treatment withdrawal should occur when the upper bound of predicted recovery falls below a level the patient would have considered acceptable, and it should always be discussed when the condition is considered permanent. Any decision to stop treatment should be contingent on a formal second opinion from an independent expert who should review the clinical situation and expected prognosis, but not the best interests decision. The article also asks how, if at all, the adverse effects on the family and the resource implications of long-term care of people left in a prolonged state of unconsciousness should be incorporated in the process. (shrink)
We argue that the gap between an authentically ethical conviction of sustainability and a behaviour that avoids confronting the terrifying reality of its ethical point of reference is characteristic of the field of business sustainability. We do not accuse the field of business sustainability of ethical shortcomings on the account of this attitude–behaviour gap. If anything, we claim the opposite, namely that there resides an ethical sincerity in the convictions of business scholars to entrust capitalism and capitalists with the mammoth (...) task of reversing, the terrifying reality of ecological devastation. Yet, the very illusory nature of this belief in capitalism’s captains to save us from the environmentally devastating effects of capitalism gives this ethical stance a tragic beauty. While sincere and authentic, it nevertheless is an ethical stance that relies on an “exclusionary gesture of refusing to see”, what in psychoanalysis is referred to as a fetishist disavowal of reality. We submit that this disavowal is fetishistic because the act is not simply one of repressing the real. If it was, we would rightly expect that we could all see the truth if we only provide more or better information to fill the subject’s lack of knowledge. The problem is that the fetishist transfers a fantasy of the real as the real. In the case of destructive capitalism, the fetishist disavows that particular reality by believing in another, thus subjectively negating the lack. Therefore, from the perspective of psychoanalytic theory, we submit that the gap between attitude and behaviour is best understood not only as an ethical flaw, but also as an essential component of an ethics that makes possible the field of business sustainability. (shrink)
In June 2008 the UK government, supported by the Royal College of Nursing, stated that nursing care would be measured for compassion. This paper considers the implications of this statement by critically examining the relationship of compassion to care from a variety of perspectives. It is argued that the current market-driven approaches to healthcare involve redefining care as a pale imitation, even parody, of the traditional approach of the nurse as “my brother’s keeper”. Attempts to measure such parody can only (...) measure artificial techniques and give rise to a McDonald’s-type nursing care rather than heartfelt care. The arguments of this paper, although applied to nursing, also apply to medicine and healthcare generally. (shrink)
This book traces the development of conceptions of God and the relationship between God's being and activity from Aristotle, through the pagan Neoplatonists, to thinkers such as Augustine, Boethius and Aquinas and Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor and Gregory Palamas. The result is a comparative history of philosophical thought in the two halves of Christendom, providing a philosophical backdrop to the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches.
Professor Charles Foster1 argues that the recent decision by the Supreme Court2 on the process of making decisions about medical treatment in people who lack capacity due to a prolonged disorder of consciousness is fostering medical paternalism. He considers that the judgment shows ‘ deference to the guidelines of various organisations ’ and then that ‘ The guidance has effectively become a definitive statement of the relevant obligations,’ concluding that ‘ This usurps the function of the law.’ Healthcare teams make (...) all decisions concerning medical care provided; no-one else can. Both the clinicians themselves, and any guidance provided to them, must comply with the Mental Capacity Act 2005.3 Lady Black’s judgment makes clear that ‘ The basic protective structure is established by the MCA 2005 ’ and that the associated Code of Practice4 ‘ contains valuable guidance ’. She specifically highlights that the decision-maker must ensure that ‘ account has been taken of the patient’s previously expressed wishes and those of people close to him, as well as the opinions of other medical personnel. The MCA 2005 requires this to happen, and is reinforced by the professional guidance available to doctors.’ The Act says: ‘ He must consider, so far as is reasonably ascertainable— 1. the person’s past and present wishes and feelings (and, in …. (shrink)
Despite its many strengths, Engelhardt’s After God displays two surprising features: an affinity for voluntaristic ethics and a tendency to oppose Eastern Orthodoxy to philosophy. Neither of these is in keeping with the mainstream of Eastern Orthodox tradition. Here, I offer a modest corrective. I begin with the figure of Socrates as presented in the Apology and Phaedo, highlighting the role that faith plays for Socrates and the reasons why he was widely admired by the early Church. I then describe (...) more broadly the attitude of the Greek Church Fathers to philosophy, showing that, although they were cautious of its potential errors, they nonetheless embraced the ideal of philosophy as a way of life dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom. For many, in fact, Christianity is itself simply the true philosophy, an attitude that led many of the most eminent patristic and Byzantine theologians to draw extensively on philosophical sources. Finally, I discuss the Euthyphro dilemma, contrasting the voluntaristic approach favored by Engelhardt with the Platonic approach adopted by the mainstream of Orthodox tradition. (shrink)
Donepezil, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, has been widely cited in media and bioethics literature on cognitive enhancement (CE) as having the potential to improve the cognitive ability of healthy individuals. In both literatures, this claim has been repeatedly supported by the results of a small study published by Yesavage et al. in 2002 on non-demented pilots (30-70 years old). The factors contributing to this specific interpretation of this study's results are unclear.
Although epistasis is at the center of the Fisher-Wright debate, biologists not involved in the controversy are often unaware that there are actually two different formal definitions of epistasis. We compare concepts of genetic independence in the two theoretical traditions of evolutionary genetics, population genetics and quantitative genetics, and show how independence of gene action (represented by the multiplicative model of population genetics) can be different from the absence of gene interaction (represented by the linear additive model of quantitative genetics). (...) The two formulations converge with weak selection but not with strong selection or, for multiple loci, when the aggregated interaction terms are not negligible. As a result of the different formulations of gene interaction, the presence or absence of linkage disequilibrium,/D/, does not necessarily indicate the presence or absence of fitness epistasis. Indeed, linkage disequilibrium is generated in ‘additive’ models in quantitative genetics whenever two (or more) loci experience simultaneous selection. As a research strategy, it is often practical, for theoretical or experimental reasons, to minimize gene interaction by assuming independence of gene action in regard to fitness, or by assuming linear additive effects of multiple loci on a phenotype. However, minimizing the role of epistasis in theoretical investigations hinders our understanding of the origins of diversity and the evolution of complex phenotypes. (shrink)
The transhumanist literature encompasses diverse nonnovel positions on questions of disability and obligation reflecting long-running political philosophical debates on freedom and value choice, complicated by the difficulty of projecting values to enhanced beings. These older questions take on a more concrete form given transhumanist uses of biotechnologies. This paper will contrast the views of Hughes and Sandberg on the obligations persons with "disabilities" have to enhance and suggest a new model. The paper will finish by introducing a distinction between the (...) responsibility society has in respect of the presence of impairments and the responsibility society has not to abandon disadvantaged members, concluding that questions of freedom and responsibility have renewed political importance in the context of enhancement technologies. (shrink)
This paper is a response to Peter Allmark's thesis that 'there can be no "caring" ethics'. It argues that the current preoccupation in nursing to define an ethics of care is a direct result of breaking nursing tradition. Subsequent attempts to find a moral basis for care, whether from subjective experimental perspectives such as described by Noddings, or from rational and detached approaches derived from Kant, are inevitably flawed. Writers may still implicitly presuppose a concept of care drawn from the (...) Judaeo-Christian tradition but without explicit recourse to its moral basis nursing is left rudderless and potentially without purpose. The very concept of 'care' cut off from its roots becomes a meaningless term without either normative or descriptive content. (shrink)
Most characterizations of mystical experience emphasize its private, esoteric, and non-sensory nature. Such an understanding is far removed from the original meaning of the term mystikos. For the ancient Greeks, the ”mystical’ was that which led participants into the awareness of a higher reality, as in the initiatory rites of the ancient mystery cults. This usage was taken over by the early Church, which similarly designated the Christian sacraments and their rites as ”mystical’ because they draw participants into a higher (...) level of reality. I argue that the Divine Liturgy is a form of ”mystical experience’ in this sense, and that philosophers have missed a great deal by excluding such communal acts from the scope of mystical experience. (shrink)
The nature of religion -- The moral instinct -- The evolution of religious behavior -- Music, dance, and trance -- Ancestral religion -- The transformation -- The tree of religion -- Morality, trade, and trust -- The ecology of religion -- Religion and warfare -- Religion and nation -- The future of religion.
We address the controversy in the literature concerning the definition of holobionts and the apparent constraints on their evolution using concepts from community population genetics. The genetics of holobionts, consisting of a host and diverse microbial symbionts, has been neglected in many discussions of the topic, and, where it has been discussed, a gene-centric, species-centric view, based in genomic conflict, has been predominant. Because coevolution takes place between traits or genes in two or more species and not, strictly speaking, between (...) species, it may affect some traits but not others in either host or symbiont. Moreover, when interacting species pairs are embedded in a larger community, indirect ecological effects can alter the expected pairwise dynamics. Mode of symbiont transmission and the degree of host inbreeding both affect the extent of microbial mixing across host lineages and thereby the degree to which selection on one trait of either partner affects other aspects of a holobiont phenotype. We discuss several potential defining criteria for holobionts using community genetics and population genetics models, suggesting their application and limitations. Using community genetics models, we show how conflict between genomes can be self-limiting, while cooperation and mutualism tend to be self-accelerating. It is likely that this bias in the evolutionary dynamics of interaction between hosts and symbionts is an important feature of holobionts. This bias in the evolutionary dynamic could contribute to explaining the absence of cheaters from natural mutualisms, although cheaters are predicted by gene-centered conflict theory to cause the evolutionary instability of mutualisms. Additionally, it may help explain the more frequent origin of mutualisms from parasitic than from free-living systems, an evolutionary trajectory opposite to that predicted by genome conflict theory. (shrink)
The existence of consciousness in animals may have been overlooked. Continuity in consciousness between humans and animals is predicted by evolutionary theory. However, there are specific methodological difficulties associated with investigating such a phenomenon: it cannot be directly measured; animals, unlike humans, cannot directly tell us about their conscious experience; experiments which have made comparisons to human consciousness cannot detect consciousness of a different form; application of the law of parsimony in science has traditionally led to the conclusion that it (...) does not exist. (shrink)