In a series of essays, Miss Rand expounds her "Objectivist Ethics." Man will discover, if he is sufficiently rational, those goals and values which are peculiar to him alone, i.e., those which will enable him to survive, and which require complex thought processes. The result of this search is that the moral man is he who achieves his maximum happiness; relationships, whether economic or emotional, are to be based on trade, and no interests conflict if they are viewed in a (...) properly wide context. The essays are quite readable, although not so arresting as Miss Rand's novels; however, the ethics collapses when it is applied to a populous society whose environment is either agriculturally poor or highly mechanized. Given these conditions, if a man views his interest from the limited standpoint of Objectivism, there is a necessary conflict of interests.—J. M. B. (shrink)
This book is a collection of 18 essays portraying a "humanistic" outlook on several contemporary moral problems, and includes such essayists as Kurt Baier, Carl Rogers, B. F. Skinner, Sidney Hook, Abraham Edel, John Somerville, and Corliss Lamont. Although each was requested first to give his own definition of humanism and then to work out one application of it from his particular field or interest, these directions are not always strictly adhered to. Half of the essays had in fact, already (...) been published in some form in The Humanist. The 5 topical headings of the book show the diversity of fields and interests portrayed: Ethics, Religion and the Meaning of Life; The Good Life; The Individual: Law, Morality and Social Organization; Justice and Society; and Death. Although the essays are of unequal philosophical depth and acumen, this variety may be appealing for some uses of this as a text. However, two of the essays in particular stand out for this reviewer: "Ethics Without Religion" by Kai Nielsen, which perceptively outlines the problematic for as well as against an ethics not rooted in religion, and "The Enforcement of Morals" by Ernest Nagel which aptly analyzes the problem of the relation between the spheres of morality and law taking as a focus the noted Hart-Devlin debate of this issue. The thread which Kurtz believes unites all of these essays is their portrayal of a humanistic viewpoint, a viewpoint which he attempts to summarize in his own 14-page introduction, "What is Humanism?" But defining humanism is not an easy task. One must steer between a strictly negative view which defines it only in relation to what it opposes, and a broader but rather indefinite view of it as some form of man-centered philosophy. Although Kurtz wants to be positive in his own definition, he seems unable to move away from a negative and rhetorical presentation in which theism is simply stated to be incompatible with humanism. Moreover, his outline of a humanistic ethics is somewhat superficial. For example, he seems unaware of the problems involved in holding that ethical values are man’s own "creation" and at the same time are normative and objective. Nevertheless, the book may be of some help as a supplementary text to stimulate undergraduate students in discussion and study of the topics treated therein.—B.A.M. (shrink)
The author states that his purpose in this work is not primarily Peirce scholarship but epistemology. But the concentration is on Peirce’s theory of knowledge, a concentration which centers around what the author thinks is Peirce’s most valuable contribution to the subject—a solution to the problem of skepticism. In contrast to Descartes’ assertion that knowledge must be based on primitive intuitions, Peirce contends that all thought is in process, an organically intertwined system of inferences, a continuous flow of signs. Because (...) thinking is a process in time, it is always fallible. Rather than this being a hindrance to knowledge, Davis sees this as the key to Peirce’s escape from skepticism, for the knowledge so described is a continuous self-corrective process, a web which, if we but make the effort to untangle it, will continue to reward us with advance toward the truth. Of more revolutionary importance to the theory of knowledge, according to Davis, is Peirce’s theory of abduction, his answer to the problem of how synthetic knowledge is possible. Abduction is the act of making up explanatory hypotheses. It issues in insights which are the outgrowth of creativity and imagination. The test of these unifying ideas is their appropriateness or ability to satisfy our sensibilities. It is instinct, or that to which we are naturally bent, which guides the abductive process. Throughout this book great emphasis is placed on the importance of this to Peirce and to an adequate epistemology of instinct, feelings, the work of the heart, or sensibility. The scientist, as Davis sees it, is thus akin in method to the creative artist. While Davis intends also to show how this aspect of Peirce is consistent with his pragmatic maxim, their relationship is never quite clarified in this work. Nevertheless, the book is a well-written and very readable treatment of Peirce’s epistemology. It also includes a great many comparisons with similar and contrasting positions as found in a wide range of contemporary and classical philosophical treatises.—B.A.M. (shrink)
This book attempts to prepare the non-philosopher for the study of contemporary philosophical works. After a discussion of the course of science after Copernicus, Mr. Prosch turns to an exposition of, first, the metaphysical and epistemological positions of the British empiricists and Kant and, second, the ethical and political positions of Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, Kant, Rousseau, and Hegel. His discussion of Marxism, pragmatism, analytical philosophy and existentialism is written from a neutral position. The book may be too technical (...) to serve its purpose, but it is a well-organized and clear attempt.—J. M. B. (shrink)
The editor of this book has put together here a very manageable selection from the published articles of C. S. Peirce and has prefaced it with his own very fine 42-page introduction. Being published articles, these have the advantages of being those which Peirce himself thought to be complete. Moreover, they are also thus able to be arranged chronologically and topically. This Moore does by including articles which fall into four major groups: 1) On epistemology, from The Journal of Speculative (...) Philosophy, 1868; 2) On Peirce’s early pragmatism and on the nature of scientific inquiry, from Popular Science Monthly, 1873-1878; 3) On Peirce’s basic metaphysics, from The Monist, 1891-1893; and 4) On his later pragmatism, from The Monist, 1905-1906. In his introduction, the editor summarizes and interrelates some of the key questions in Peirce’s philosophy and in these writings—questions on the nature of potentiality, the validity of the process of scientific inquiry, and the problem of the definition of concepts. Much of this treatment revolves around Peirce’s grappling with the key problem of the nature of universals. In the medieval dispute between the extreme realists and the nominalists, Peirce takes a middle moderate realist position, "that the referent of a concept is to be found in the experience of a specific object". On either of the other views, scientific knowledge would be impossible. (shrink)
The author demonstrates that W. E. Hocking’s political philosophy deserves far more consideration than it has so far received not only for its being a study in political philosophy, something there is too little of in the American tradition, but also because of the importance of the problems which are the focus of the study, the problems of liberty and community. Thigpen organizes material from a wide range of sources in Hocking’s extensive bibliography into an orderly presentation that moves from (...) relevant matter in Hocking’s theory of man and of knowledge, through practical applications of this matter to such issues as the basis and purpose of a state, and problems of rights and freedom, to the questions of international relations and world peace. (shrink)
Graphical Abstract2013 marks the 50th annual Drew festival in Uto City, Japan, celebrating the work of University of Manchester botanist, Dr. Kathleen Drew-Baker. Her insight into the reproductive biology of algae was the key to efficient farming of the seaweed “nori” which is a familiar component of Japanese food.
The United States District Court of Kansas, in Gudenkauf v. Stauffer, Znc., granted the defendants motion for summary judgment for the plaintiff's claims of pregnancy-related discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, but the court denied a similar motion for the plaintiff's claim under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The court found summary judgment to be appropriate for the ADA claim based on its finding that the plaintiff's pregnancy did not constitute an (...) impairment as required by the statute; as for the FMLA claim, it determined that the defendants failure to grant the plaintiff's leave request did not violate the statute. However, the court determined that summary judgment was inappropriate for the PDA claim because of material questions of fact about whether the defendant had acted with discriminatory intent.In considering the motions for summary judgment, the court accepted the following facts as incontrovertible. Plaintiff Michaela Gudenkauf worked for the defendant Stauffer, Inc. (shrink)
Context: Constructivist approaches to cognition have mostly been descriptive, and now face the challenge of specifying the mechanisms that may support the acquisition of knowledge. Departing from cognitivism, however, requires the development of a new functional framework that will support causal, powerful and goal-directed behavior in the context of the interaction between the organism and the environment. Problem: The properties affecting the computational power of this interaction are, however, unclear, and may include partial information from the environment, exploration, distributed processing (...) and aggregation of information, emergence of knowledge and directedness towards relevant information. Method: We posit that one path towards such a framework may be grounded in these properties, supported by dynamical systems. To assess this hypothesis, we describe computational models inspired from swarm intelligence, which we use as a metaphor to explore the practical implications of the properties highlighted. Results: Our results demonstrate that these properties may serve as the basis for complex operations, yielding the elaboration of knowledge and goal-directed behavior. Implications: This work highlights aspects of interaction that we believe ought to be taken into account when characterizing the possible mechanisms underlying cognition. The scope of the models we describe cannot go beyond that of a metaphor, however, and future work, theoretical and experimental, is required for further insight into the functional role of interaction with the environment for the elaboration of complex behavior. Constructivist content: Inspiration for this work stems from the constructivist impetus to account for knowledge acquisition based on interaction. (shrink)
Upshot: Albeit mostly supportive of our work, the commentaries we received highlighted a few points that deserve additional explanation, with regard to the notion of learning in our model, the relationship between our model and the brain, as well as the notion of anticipation. This open discussion emphasizes the need for toy computer models, to fuel theoretical discussion and prevent business-as-usual from getting in the way of new ideas.
Context: The design of academic conferences, in which settings ideas are shared and created, is, we suggest, of more than passing interest in constructivism, where epistemology is considered in terms of knowing rather than knowledge. Problem: The passivity and predominantly one-way structure of the typical paper presentation format of academic conferences has a number of serious limitations from a constructivist perspective. These limits are both practical and epistemological. While alternative formats abound, there is nevertheless increasing pressure reinforcing this format due (...) to delegates’ funding typically being linked to reading a paper. Method: In this special issue, authors reflect on conferences that they have organised and participated in that have used alternative formats, such as conversational structures or other constructivist inspired approaches, in whole or in part. We review and contextualize their contributions, understanding them in terms of their connections to constructivism and to each other. Results: While this issue is of relevance across disciplinary boundaries, contributions focus on two fields: that of cybernetics/systems, and that of design. We identify the way that conference organization is of particular importance to these fields, being in self-reflexive relationship to them: the environment of a design conference is something that we design; while a conference regarding systems or cybernetics is itself an instance of the sorts of process with which these fields are concerned. Implications: Building on this self-reflexivity and, also, the close connection of design and cybernetics/systems to constructivism, we suggest that conference organization is an area in which constructivism may itself be understood in terms of practice rather than theory (and so knowledge. This in turn helps connect ideas in constructivism with pragmatic fields, such as knowledge management, and recent discussions in this journal regarding second-order science. Constructivist content: As a setting for the creation of new ideas, the design of conferences is of importance where we understand epistemology in constructivist terms as a process of knowing. Moreover, the particular fields drawn on - design and cybernetics/systems - have close connections to constructivism, as can be seen, for instance, in the work of Ranulph Glanville, on which we draw here. (shrink)
In 2035 global egg demand will have risen 50% from 1985. Because we are not able to tell in the egg whether it will become a male or female chick, billons of one day-old male chicks will be killed. International research initiatives are underway in this area, and governments encourage the development of an alternative with the goal of eliminating the culling of day-old male chicks. The Netherlands holds an exceptional position in the European egg trade, but is also the (...) only country in the European Union where the downside of the egg sector, the practice of killing day-old male chicks, is a recurrent subject of societal debate. ‘Preventing the killing of young animals’ and ‘in ovo sex determination’ are the two alternative approaches available to solve this problem. It is clear that both approaches solve the problem of killing day-old male chicks, either by keeping them alive or by preventing them from living, but they also raise a lot of new animal welfare-related dilemmas. A thorough analysis was undertaken of these dilemmas and the results are presented in this article. The analysis resulted in an ethical framework based on the two main approaches in bioethics: a consequentialist approach and a deontological approach. This ethical framework was used to develop an online survey administered to ascertain Dutch public opinion about these alternative approaches. The results show that neither alternative will be fully accepted, or accepted by more than half of Dutch society. However, the survey does provide an insight into the motives that are important for people’s choice: food safety and a good treatment of animals. Irrespective of the approach chosen, these values should be safeguarded and communicated clearly. (shrink)
This study explored drug users’ attitudes toward and understanding of randomized controlled trials testing addiction therapies. A video portraying a fictional consent conference for a randomized controlled trial with placebo arm was shown to poor male and female drug users of diverse ethnic status and sexual orientation. The video stimulated focus group discussion in which participants’ comments often reflected “experimental realism”—a realistic view of the trial—and adequate understanding of the uncertain efficacy of the treatment being tested, as well as the (...) concepts of randomization and placebo control. However, participants’ comprehension of the nature of placebos was compromised by the widespread view that placebos are a way of testing a subject’s willpower and personal control over his or her addiction. Comments also showed a mistrust of the video investigator’s integrity and competence and signs of therapeutic misconception and misestimation. The study’s findings underscore the importance of tailoring informed consent encounters to the personal and sociohistorical context of participants’ lived experiences. (shrink)