The assertion that an experiment by Afshar et al. demonstrates violation of Bohr’s Principle of Complementarity is based on the faulty assumption that which-way information in a double-slit interference experiment can be retroactively determined from a future measurement.
Few ethical issues create as much controversy as invasive experiments on animals. Some scientists claim they are essential for combating major human disease, or detecting human toxins. Others claim the contrary, backed by thousands of patients harmed by pharmaceuticals developed using animal tests. Some claim all experiments are conducted humanely, to high scientific standards. Yet, a wealth of studies have recently revealed that laboratory animals suffer significant stress, which may distort experimental results. -Where, then, does the truth lie? -How useful (...) are such experiments in advancing human healthcare? -How much do animals suffer as a result? -And do students really need to dissect or experiment on animals? -What are the effects on their attitudes towards them? Bioethicist and veterinarian Andrew Knight presents more than a decade of ground-breaking scientific research, analysis and experience to provide evidence-based answers to a key question: is animal experimentation ethically justifiable? (shrink)
Marine ecosystems are under increasing pressure from human activity, yet successful management relies on knowledge. The evidence-based policy (EBP) approach has been promoted on the grounds that it provides greater transparency and consistency by relying on ‘high quality’ information. However, EBP also creates epistemic responsibilities. Decision-making where limited or no empirical evidence exists, such as is often the case in marine systems, creates epistemic obligations for new information acquisition. We argue that philosophical approaches can inform the science-policy interface. Using marine (...) biosecurity examples, we specifically examine the epistemic challenges in the acquisition and acceptance of evidence to inform policy, discussing epistemic due care and biases in consideration of evidence. (shrink)
The advanced sensory, psychological and social abilities of chimpanzees confer upon them a profound ability to suffer when born into unnatural captive environments, or captured from the wild – as many older research chimpanzees once were – and when subsequently subjected to confinement, social disruption, and involuntary participation in potentially harmful biomedical research. Justifications for such research depend primarily on the important contributions advocates claim it has made toward medical advancements. However, a recent large-scale systematic review indicates that invasive chimpanzee (...) experiments rarely provide benefits in excess of their profound animal welfare, bioethical and financial costs. The approval of large numbers of these experiments – particularly within the US – therefore indicates a failure of the ethics committee system. By 2008, legislative or policy bans or restrictions on invasive great ape experimentation existed in seven European countries, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. In continuing to conduct such experiments on chimpanzees and other great apes, the US was almost completely isolated internationally. In 2007, however, the US National Institutes of Health National Center for Research Resources implemented a permanent funding moratorium on chimpanzee breeding, which is expected to result in a major decline in laboratory chimpanzee numbers over the next 30 years, as most are retired or die. Additionally, in 2008, The Great Ape Protection Act was introduced to Congress. The bill proposed to end invasive research and testing on an estimated 1,200 chimpanzees confined within US laboratories, and, for approximately 600 federally-owned, to ensure their permanent retirement to sanctuaries. These events have created an unprecedented opportunity for US legislators, researchers, and others, to consider a global ban on invasive chimpanzee research. Such a ban would not only uphold the best interests of chimpanzees, and other research fields presently deprived of funding, but would also increase the compliance of US animal researchers with internationally-accepted animal welfare and bioethical standards. It could even result in the first global moratorium on invasive research, for any non-human species, unless conducted in the best interests of the individual or species. (shrink)
We use the case of red meat food safety to illustrate the need to problematize policy. Overtime, there have been numerous red meat scandals and scares. We show that the statutes and regulations that arose out of these events provided the industry with a means of demonstrating safety, facilitating large-scale trade, legitimizing conventional production, and limiting interference into its practices. They also created systemic fragility, as evidenced by many recent events, and hindered the development of an alternative, small-scale sector. Thus, (...) the accumulated rules help to structure the sector, create superficial resilience, and are used in place of an actual policy governing safety. We call for rigorous attention to not only food safety, but also the role and effect of agrifood statutes and regulations in general, and engagement in policy more broadly. (shrink)
The potential for scalable quantum computing depends on the viability of fault tolerance and quantum error correction, by which the entropy of environmental noise is removed during a quantum computation to maintain the physical reversibility of the computer’s logical qubits. However, the theory underlying quantum error correction applies a linguistic double standard to the words “noise” and “measurement” by treating environmental interactions during a quantum computation as inherently reversible, and environmental interactions at the end of a quantum computation as irreversible (...) measurements. Specifically, quantum error correction theory models noise as interactions that are uncorrelated or that result in correlations that decay in space and/or time, thus embedding no permanent information to the environment. I challenge this assumption both on logical grounds and by discussing a hypothetical quantum computer based on “position qubits.” The technological difficulties of producing a useful scalable position-qubit quantum computer parallel the overwhelming difficulties in performing a double-slit interference experiment on an object comprising a million to a billion fermions. (shrink)
The Schrodinger's Cat and Wigner's Friend thought experiments, which logically follow from the universality of quantum mechanics at all scales, have been repeatedly characterized as possible in principle, if perhaps difficult or impossible for all practical purposes. I show in this paper why these experiments, and interesting macroscopic superpositions in general, are actually impossible in principle. First, no macroscopic superposition can be created via the slow process of natural quantum packet dispersion because all macroscopic objects are inundated with decohering interactions (...) that constantly localize them. Second, the SC/WF thought experiments depend on von Neumann-style amplification to achieve quickly what quantum dispersion achieves slowly. Finally, I show why such amplification cannot produce a macroscopic quantum superposition of an object relative to an external observer, no matter how well isolated the object from the observer, because: the object and observer are already well correlated to each other; and reducing their correlations to allow the object to achieve a macroscopic superposition relative to the observer is equally impossible, in principle, as creating a macroscopic superposition via the process of natural quantum dispersion. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Zukowski and Markiewicz showed that Wigner’s Friend (and, by extension, Schrodinger’s Cat) can be eliminated as physical possibilities on purely logical grounds. I validate this result and demonstrate the source of the contradiction in a simple experiment in which a scientist S attempts to measure the position of object |O⟩ = |A⟩S +|B⟩S by using measuring device M chosen so that |A⟩M ≈ |A⟩S and |B⟩M ≈ |B⟩S. I assume that the measurement occurs by quantum amplification (...) without collapse, in which M can entangle with O in a way that remains reversible by S for some nonzero time period. This assumption implies that during this “reversible” time period, |A⟩M ̸= |A⟩S and |B⟩M ̸= |B⟩S – i.e., the macroscopic pointer state to which M evolves is uncorrelated to the position of O relative to S. When the scientist finally observes the measuring device, its macroscopic pointer state is uncorrelated to the object in position |A⟩S or |B⟩S, rendering the notion of “reversible measurement” a logical contradiction. (shrink)
I show in this paper why the universality of quantum mechanics at all scales, which implies the possibility of Schrodinger's Cat and Wigner's Friend thought experiments, cannot be experimentally confirmed, and why macroscopic superpositions in general cannot be observed or measured, even in principle. Through the relativity of quantum superposition and the transitivity of correlation, it is shown that from the perspective of an object that is in quantum superposition relative to a macroscopic measuring device and observer, the observer is (...) already sufficiently well correlated to the measuring device that once the object correlates to the measuring device, there is no time period in which the observer can perform an appropriate interference experiment to show that the measuring device is in a superposition. (shrink)
The universality assumption (“U”) that quantum wave states only evolve by linear or unitary dynamics has led to a variety of paradoxes in the foundations of physics. U is not directly supported by empirical evidence but is rather an inference from data obtained from microscopic systems. The inference of U conflicts with empirical observations of macroscopic systems, giving rise to the century-old measurement problem and subjecting the inference of U to a higher standard of proof, the burden of which lies (...) with its proponents. This burden remains unmet because the intentional choice by scientists to perform interference experiments that only probe the microscopic realm disqualifies the resulting data from supporting an inference that wave states always evolve linearly in the macroscopic realm. Further, the nature of the physical world creates an asymptotic size limit above which interference experiments, and verification of U in the realm in which it causes the measurement problem, seem impossible for all practical purposes if nevertheless possible in principle. This apparent natural limit serves as evidence against an inference of U, providing a further hurdle to the proponent’s currently unmet burden of proof. The measurement problem should never have arisen because the inference of U is entirely unfounded, logically and empirically. (shrink)
The possibility of algorithmic consciousness depends on the assumption that conscious states can be copied or repeated by sufficiently duplicating their underlying physical states, leading to a variety of paradoxes, including the problems of duplication, teleportation, simulation, self-location, the Boltzmann brain, and Wigner’s Friend. In an effort to further elucidate the physical nature of consciousness, I challenge these assumptions by analyzing the implications of special relativity on evolutions of identical copies of a mental state, particularly the divergence of these evolutions (...) due to quantum fluctuations. By assuming the supervenience of a conscious state on some sufficient underlying physical state, I show that the existence of two or more instances, whether spacelike or timelike, of the same conscious state leads to a logical contradiction, ultimately refuting the assumption that a conscious state can be physically reset to an earlier state or duplicated by any physical means. Several explanatory hypotheses and implications are addressed, particularly the relationships between consciousness, locality, physical irreversibility, and quantum no-cloning. (shrink)
The assertion by Yu and Nikolic that the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment of Kim et al. empirically falsifies the consciousness-causes-collapse hypothesis of quantum mechanics is based on the unfounded and false assumption that the failure of a quantum wave function to collapse implies the appearance of a visible interference pattern.
A potentially new interpretation of quantum mechanics posits the state of the universe as a consistent set of facts that are instantiated in the correlations among entangled objects. A fact (or event) occurs exactly when the number or density of future possibilities decreases, and a quantum superposition exists if and only if the facts of the universe are consistent with the superposition. The interpretation sheds light on both in-principle and real-world predictability of the universe.
This article provides an empirically based, interdisciplinary approach to the following two questions: Do animals possess behavioral and cognitive characteristics such as culture, language, and a theory of mind? And if so, what are the implications, when long-standing criteria used to justify differences in moral consideration between humans and animals are no longer considered indisputable? One basic implication is that the psychological needs of captive animals should be adequately catered for. However, for species such as great apes and dolphins with (...) whom we share major characteristics of personhood, welfare considerations alone may not suffice, and consideration of basic rights may be morally warranted—as for humans. Although characteristics supporting the status of personhood are present to differing degrees among the diverse array of animal species, this is a barrier to moral consideration only if anthropocentric, exclusive, and monolithic viewpoints about the necessary prerequisites for personhood are applied. We examine the flaws inherent within such positions and argue for inalienable species-appropriate rights. (shrink)
This handbook presents a much-needed and comprehensive exploration of the rapidly growing fields of animal welfare and law. In recent years there has been increasing attention paid to our complex, multifaceted relationships with other animals, and in particular, the depth and breadth of various societal uses of animals. This has led to a reconsideration of their moral and social status, which has sometimes challenged the interests of those who use animals. In such a contested domain, sound evidence and reasoning become (...) particularly important. Through firm commitment to such principles, this book explores the biological foundations for the moral consideration of animals, and for evolving conceptualisations of animal welfare. It reviews in detail the welfare concerns associated with numerous forms of animal use. The inclusion of key recent developments such as climate change, pandemics and antimicrobial resistance, ensure this text is among the most current in its field. The ethical implications of the various uses of animals by society are considered, and chapters provide important recommendations for reforms of practice, law or policy. The status of animal law internationally, and in major world regions, is reviewed. Finally, the book considers human behavioural change, and strategies for improving stakeholder communication and education. The handbook is essential reading for students and scholars of animal welfare, animal law and animal ethics everywhere, and for policymakers and other professionals working in the animal welfare sector. (shrink)
Introduction -- Systems of evidence -- Science in practice -- Risk -- Pesticides -- Genetic engineering in agriculture -- Climate change -- Nuclear power -- The intersection of policy, science and risk.
It could be argued that there is now a crisis of confidence in the professions. Although many professionals individually undertake their roles with care and diligence, there have been so many systematic failures involving professionals across a range of sectors, both in the UK and globally, that the special status enjoyed by the professions is being widely questioned. In this article, I argue that recent cases are symptomatic of a lack of ethical reasoning in professional practice, yet professions enjoy an (...) elevated status based on claims that ethics, typically communicated in codes of conduct, are central to their purpose. I argue that to help solve this crisis, philosophical literacy needs to be promoted in school, initial professional education and continuing professional development. Passing tests to superficially demonstrate an understanding of a code is quite different from reasoning through practical dilemmas in the professional workplace with judgements informed by philosophical ideas. (shrink)