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A leading expert on public bioethics advocates for a new conception of human identity in American law and policy. The natural limits of the human body make us vulnerable and therefore dependent, throughout our lives, on others. Yet American law and policy disregard these stubborn facts, with statutes and judicial decisions that presume people to be autonomous, defined by their capacity to choose. As legal scholar O. Carter Snead points out, this individualistic ideology captures important truths about human freedom, but it also means that we have no obligations to each other unless we actively, voluntarily embrace them. Under such circumstances, the neediest must rely on charitable care. When it is not forthcoming, law and policy cannot adequately respond. What It Means to Be Human makes the case for a new paradigm, one that better represents the gifts and challenges of being human. Inspired by the insights of Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor, Snead proposes a vision of human identity and flourishing that supports those who are profoundly vulnerable and dependent-children, the disabled, and the elderly. To show how such a vision would affect law and policy, he addresses three complex issues in bioethics: abortion, assisted reproductive technology, and end-of-life decisions. Avoiding typical dichotomies of conservative-versus-liberal and secular-versus-religious, Snead recasts debates over these issues and situates them within his framework of embodiment and dependence. He concludes that, if the law is built on premises that reflect the fully lived reality of life, it will provide support for the vulnerable, including the unborn, mothers, families, and those nearing the end of their lives. In this way, he argues, policy can ensure that people have the care they need in order to thrive. In this provocative and consequential book, Snead rethinks how the law represents human experiences so that it might govern more wisely, justly, and humanely.
"Fascinating and exhilarating-Sean B. Carroll at his very best."-Bill Bryson, author of The Body: A Guide for Occupants From acclaimed writer and biologist Sean B. Carroll, a rollicking, awe-inspiring story of the surprising power of chance in our lives and the world Why is the world the way it is? How did we get here? Does everything happen for a reason or are some things left to chance? Philosophers and theologians have pondered these questions for millennia, but startling scientific discoveries over the past half century are revealing that we live in a world driven by chance. A Series of Fortunate Events tells the story of the awesome power of chance and how it is the surprising source of all the beauty and diversity in the living world. Like every other species, we humans are here by accident. But it is shocking just how many things-any of which might never have occurred-had to happen in certain ways for any of us to exist. From an extremely improbable asteroid impact, to the wild gyrations of the Ice Age, to invisible accidents in our parents' gonads, we are all here through an astonishing series of fortunate events. And chance continues to reign every day over the razor-thin line between our life and death. This is a relatively small book about a really big idea. It is also a spirited tale. Drawing inspiration from Monty Python, Kurt Vonnegut, and other great thinkers, and crafted by one of today's most accomplished science storytellers, A Series of Fortunate Events is an irresistibly entertaining and thought-provoking account of one of the most important but least appreciated facts of life.
All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge", wrote Albert Einstein. In Structural Intuitions, a fascinating exploration of the commonalities between two seemingly disparate realms, renowned art historian Martin Kemp applies Einstein's notion both to science and to art. Kemp argues that in both fields, work begins at the intuitive level, curiosity aroused by our recognition of patterns or order. Kemp's ""structural intuitions,"" then, are the ways we engage fundamental perceptual and cognitive mechanisms to bring order to our observed world. Through stimulating juxtaposition, Kemp considers connections between naturally occurring patterns, cognitive processes, and artistic and scientific expression, drawing on an array of examples from the Renaissance through the present. Taking a broadly historical approach, Kemp examines forms and processes such as the geometry of Platonic solids, the dynamics of growth, and the patterns of fluids in motion while placing the work of contemporary artists, engineers, and scientists in dialogue with that of visionaries such as Leonardo da Vinci and D'Arcy Thompson. Richly illustrated, lucidly written, and wonderfully thought-provoking, Structural Intuitions is essential reading for anyone seeking insight into common ground in the arts and sciences.
Steve Fuller has a reputation for setting the terms of debate
within science and technology studies. In his latest book, New
Frontiers in Science and Technology Studies he charts the debates
likely to be of relevance in the coming years.
Why do the debates about evolution persist, despite the plentiful evidence for it? Breaking down the notion that public resistance to evolution is strictly due to its perceived conflict with religion, this concise book shows that evolution is in fact a counterintuitive idea that is difficult to understand. Kostas Kampourakis, an experienced science educator, takes an insightful, interdisciplinary approach, providing an introduction to evolutionary theory written with clarity and thoughtful reasoning. Topics discussed include evolution in the public sphere, evolution and religion, the conceptual obstacles to understanding evolution, the development of Darwin's theory, the most important evolutionary concepts, as well as evolution and the nature of science. Understanding Evolution presents evolutionary theory with a lucidity and vision that readers will quickly appreciate, and is intended for anyone wanting an accessible and concise guide to evolution.
Is the universe fine-tuned for complexity, life, or something else? This comprehensive overview of fine-tuning arguments in physics, with contributions from leading researchers in their fields, sheds light on this often used but seldom understood topic. Each chapter reviews a specific subject in modern physics, such as dark energy, inflation, or solar system formation, and discusses whether any parameters in our current theories appear to be fine-tuned and, if so, to what degree. Connections and differences between these fine-tuning arguments are made clear, and detailed mathematical derivations of various fine-tuned parameters are given. This accessible yet precise introduction to fine-tuning in physics will aid students and researchers across astrophysics, atomic and particle physics and cosmology, as well as all those working at the intersections of physics and philosophy.
Early in her extraordinary career, Deborah Stone wrote Policy Paradox, a landmark work on politics. Now, in Counting, she revolutionises how we approach numbers and shows how counting shapes the way we see the world. Most of us think of counting as a skill so basic that we see numbers as objective, indisputable facts. Not so, says Stone. In this playful-yet-probing work, Stone reveals the inescapable link between quantifying and classifying, and explains how counting determines almost every facet of our lives-from how we are evaluated at work to how our political opinions are polled to whether we get into higher education or even out of prison. But numbers, Stone insists, need not rule our lives. Especially in this age of big data, Stone's work is a pressing and spirited call to reclaim our authority over numbers, and to take responsibility for how we use them.
Why are we alive? Most things in the universe aren't. And if you trace the evolutionary history of plants and animals back far enough, you will find that, at some point, neither were we. Scientists have wrestled with this problem for centuries, and no one has been able to offer a credible theory. But in 2013, at just 30 years old, biophysicist Jeremy England published a paper that has utterly upended the ongoing study of life's origins. In Every Life Is on Fire, he describes, for the first time, his highly publicized theory known as dissipative adaptation. In any disordered system, matter clumps together and breaks apart, mostly randomly, without consequence. But some of the clumps that form are momentarily better at doing one specific job: dissipating energy. These structures are less likely to fall apart. Over time, they become better at both withstanding the disorder surrounding them and creating copies of themselves. From this deep insight, grounded in thermodynamics, England is able to isolate the emergence of the first life-like behaviors. Scientists have always thought that life began as a stroke of spectacular luck. But in fact, life may be inevitable, a product of the iron physical laws of the universe. England is both a world-class physicist and an ordained rabbi, and so his enquiry doesn't end with the physics of life. We ask questions like "How did life begin?" not just for the fun of scientific inquiry, but because we want a deeper understanding of who we are and why we're here. Even if physics can explain how life-like behaviors emerged, England doubts that reducing life down to the energy flows of a bunch of microscopic particles can ever give us a satisfying answer to what it means to be alive?. He believes that life is fundamentally a philosophical distinction, not a natural one. So before we can seriously look for life's physical origins, we must first make basic choices about what we think life means. This is something researchers often fail to recognize, and it is why, throughout In Every Life Is on Fire, England informs the premises of his theory with a careful exploration of what life is for. For anyone who reads this book, no matter their creed, In Every Life Is On Fire offers a rare work of popular science that explores not just what science does, but how it imbues our lives with meaning.
Dr Francis S. Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, is one of the world's leading scientists, working at the cutting edge of the study of DNA, the code of life. Yet he is also a man of unshakable faith in God. How does he reconcile the seemingly unreconcilable? In THE LANGUAGE OF GOD he explains his own journey from atheism to faith, and then takes the reader on a stunning tour of modern science to show that physics, chemistry and biology -- indeed, reason itself -- are not incompatible with belief. His book is essential reading for anyone who wonders about the deepest questions of all: why are we here? How did we get here? And what does life mean?
Quantum physicist, New York Times bestselling author, and BBC host Jim Al-Khalili offers a fascinating and illuminating look at what physics reveals about the world Shining a light on the most profound insights revealed by modern physics, Jim Al-Khalili invites us all to understand what this crucially important science tells us about the universe and the nature of reality itself. Al-Khalili begins by introducing the fundamental concepts of space, time, energy, and matter, and then describes the three pillars of modern physics-quantum theory, relativity, and thermodynamics-showing how all three must come together if we are ever to have a full understanding of reality. Using wonderful examples and thought-provoking analogies, Al-Khalili illuminates the physics of the extreme cosmic and quantum scales, the speculative frontiers of the field, and the physics that underpins our everyday experiences and technologies, bringing the reader up to speed with the biggest ideas in physics in just a few sittings. Physics is revealed as an intrepid human quest for ever more foundational principles that accurately explain the natural world we see around us, an undertaking guided by core values such as honesty and doubt. The knowledge discovered by physics both empowers and humbles us, and still, physics continues to delve valiantly into the unknown. Making even the most enigmatic scientific ideas accessible and captivating, this deeply insightful book illuminates why physics matters to everyone and calls one and all to share in the profound adventure of seeking truth in the world around us.
Recent advances suggest that the concept of information might hold the key to unravelling the mystery of life's nature and origin. Fresh insights from a broad and authoritative range of articulate and respected experts focus on the transition from matter to life, and hence reconcile the deep conceptual schism between the way we describe physical and biological systems. A unique cross-disciplinary perspective, drawing on expertise from philosophy, biology, chemistry, physics, and cognitive and social sciences, provides a new way to look at the deepest questions of our existence. This book addresses the role of information in life, and how it can make a difference to what we know about the world. Students, researchers, and all those interested in what life is and how it began will gain insights into the nature of life and its origins that touch on nearly every domain of science.
A book to share an inspired vision by restoring 'beautiful, aesthetic poetry into the history of science'. This unorthodox work has been called ' - an heroic intellectual tour de force - reflecting the act of genius' but hyperbole probably does duty for description which the work defies. It breaks all the rules and is unlike any other. It is so comprehensive in its sweep, original in its writing, ground-breaking in its synthesis, that to isolate any aspect is to misrepresent its nature. That science has reached the end of its habitual road, and must apply itself to the 'hard problem' of consciousness, and a synthesis with spirituality has now become commonplace and the subject of innumerable hand-wringing books. This book differs from these others by retracing the scientific journey to reveal how and why science has reached the current impasse. Instead of lamenting the consequences of the road less travelled by science, the road of inner, spiritual understanding, it reveals the presence of quiet inspiration all along. The torch bearers that lit the scientific journey: the Keplers and Faradays that apprehended new relationships were the scientific mystics, the counterparts of spiritually revealed truth. This work exposes the similarity between religious and scientific genius, by taking the journey afresh. In the good-natured and sometimes teasing company of Reason and Soul the reader is invited on a journey through the landscape of Western thought. From the emergence of early man on the Serengeti plains, through Mesopotamia, the pre-Socratic Aegean, the Dark and Middle ages to the Renaissance and Enlightenment what the epic journey reveals is the process of Involution, the recovery of evolutionary memory. The inspirations of genius are the knots in the scientific rosary, and other languages - painting and music - keep pace, all equally reflective of that recovery towards all embracing holism. Science, it is proposed, is the incremental transfer of the memory of evolution encoded in DNA to the collective intellect which has built the scientific paradigm, a model of memory. The entire chronology of scientific recovery is needed to reveal the mirror that involution provides of evolution; from the 'at-one-ment' of primitive man for whom the gods lay in the manifested natural world, through the increasing separation of intellect that came to perceive the natural world as separate, 'outside' the mind of man. The incremental penetration of collective memory to the dawn of creation has recovered everything in intellectual theory, but at the price of a false separation between mind and matter, Man and God. If this sounds formidable as a proposition, it is because it is. By increments, it returns oblivious science to the perennial philosophy, familiar to the ancients. The book traverses the human adventure with swift ease, delivering the history of Western thought with light-hearted poetic economy. Comprehensive footnotes demonstrating 'a rare depth of perceptive scholarship' (Lorimer) are there for those who like their facts; (they take no scientific knowledge for granted) but it is the high poetic vision of the wood and not the trees that is central. Poetry has always been the language of mysticism and this is mystical science, amused, self-mocking and a lot of fun In the words of Philip Franses (Editor, The Holistic Science Journal) -- The genius of involution is not just a mechanism of science relating to the whole but a completely different realisation of the beautiful within living process -- ' Thus the reader is invited to share an experience - and not just another theory. 'A poetic narrative of extraordinary subtlety' touches more deeply than that.
Seed magazine brings together a unique gathering of prominent scientists, artists, novelists, philosophers + other thinkers who are tearing down the wall between science + culture.
We are on the cusp of a twenty-first-century scientific renaissance. Science is driving our culture and conversation unlike ever before, transforming the social, political, economic, aesthetic, and intellectual landscape of our time. Today, science is culture. As global issues--like energy and health--become increasingly interconnected, and as our curiosities--like how the mind works or why the universe is expanding--become more complex, we need a new way of looking at the world that blurs the lines between scientific disciplines and the borders between the sciences and the arts and humanities. In this spirit, the award-winning science magazine Seed has paired scientists with nonscientists to explore ideas of common interest to us all. This book is the result of these illuminating Seed Salon conversations, edited and with an introduction by Seedfounder and editor in chief Adam Bly. Science Is Culture includes:
E. O. Wilson + Daniel C. Dennet
Steven Pinker + Rebecca Goldstein
Noam Chomsky + Robert Trivers
David Byrne + Daniel Levitin
Jonathan Lethem + Janna Levin
Benoit Mandelbrot + Paola Antonelli
Lisa Randall + Chuck Hoberman
Michel Gondry + Robert Stickgold
Alan Lightman + Richard Colton
Laurie David + Stephen Schneider
Tom Wolfe + Michael Gazzaniga
Marc Hauser + Errol Morris
Science is the study of our world, as it is in its messy reality. Nonetheless, science requires idealization to function--if we are to attempt to understand the world, we have to find ways to reduce its complexity. Idealization and the Aims of Science shows just how crucial idealization is to science and why it matters. Beginning with the acknowledgment of our status as limited human agents trying to make sense of an exceedingly complex world, Angela Potochnik moves on to explain how science aims to depict and make use of causal patterns--a project that makes essential use of idealization. She offers case studies from a number of branches of science to demonstrate the ubiquity of idealization, shows how causal patterns are used to develop scientific explanations, and describes how the necessarily imperfect connection between science and truth leads to researchers' values influencing their findings. The resulting book is a tour de force, a synthesis of the study of idealization that also offers countless new insights and avenues for future exploration.
This handbook offers the first comprehensive reference guide to the interdisciplinary field of model-based reasoning. It highlights the role of models as mediators between theory and experimentation, and as educational devices, as well as their relevance in testing hypotheses and explanatory functions. The Springer Handbook merges philosophical, cognitive and epistemological perspectives on models with the more practical needs related to the application of this tool across various disciplines and practices. The result is a unique, reliable source of information that guides readers toward an understanding of different aspects of model-based science, such as the theoretical and cognitive nature of models, as well as their practical and logical aspects. The inferential role of models in hypothetical reasoning, abduction and creativity once they are constructed, adopted, and manipulated for different scientific and technological purposes is also discussed. Written by a group of internationally renowned experts in philosophy, the history of science, general epistemology, mathematics, cognitive and computer science, physics and life sciences, as well as engineering, architecture, and economics, this Handbook uses numerous diagrams, schemes and other visual representations to promote a better understanding of the concepts. This also makes it highly accessible to an audience of scholars and students with different scientific backgrounds. All in all, the Springer Handbook of Model-Based Science represents the definitive application-oriented reference guide to the interdisciplinary field of model-based reasoning.
"Dusek's book is an intellectual feast where we find magic, witches, mysterious correlations, trigrams of the I Ching, forces and fields, peasants and Platonists, wild nature, primitives and sophisticates, and how they hang together." --Robert S. Cohen, professor of physics and philosophy emeritus, Boston University While many books have claimed parallels between modern physics and Eastern philosophy, none have dealt with the historical influences of both Chinese traditional thought and nonmechanistic, holistic Western thought on the philosophies of the scientists who developed electromagnetic filed theory. This is the basic question of The Holistic Inspirations of Physics: To what extent is classical field theory a product of organic and holistic philosophies and frameworks? Electromagnetic theory has been greatly influenced by holistic worldviews, Val Dusek posits, highlighting three intellectual traditions that made the development of electromagnetic theory possible: Chinese science, Western Renaissance occultism, and German Romanticism. Among the specific contributions discussed in detail are the Chinese invention of the compass and discovery of the earth's magnetic field and magnetic declination. Western alchemist ideas of active forces and "occult" influences contributed to Newton's theory of universal gravitation as action at a distance, rather than as a result of purely mechanical collisions and contact action. Dusek's wide-ranging, erudite account also delves into the philosophical concepts that were originated by women and were later absorbed into mainstream field theory. Val Dusek teaches philosophy at the University of New Hampshire. He has written many articles on philosophy and science.
Today's "machine-learning" systems, trained by data, are so effective that we've invited them to see and hear for us-and to make decisions on our behalf. But alarm bells are ringing. Recent years have seen an eruption of concern as the field of machine learning advances. When the systems we attempt to teach will not, in the end, do what we want or what we expect, ethical and potentially existential risks emerge. Researchers call this the alignment problem. Systems cull resumes until, years later, we discover that they have inherent gender biases. Algorithms decide bail and parole-and appear to assess Black and White defendants differently. We can no longer assume that our mortgage application, or even our medical tests, will be seen by human eyes. And as autonomous vehicles share our streets, we are increasingly putting our lives in their hands. The mathematical and computational models driving these changes range in complexity from something that can fit on a spreadsheet to a complex system that might credibly be called "artificial intelligence." They are steadily replacing both human judgment and explicitly programmed software. In best-selling author Brian Christian's riveting account, we meet the alignment problem's "first-responders," and learn their ambitious plan to solve it before our hands are completely off the wheel. In a masterful blend of history and on-the ground reporting, Christian traces the explosive growth in the field of machine learning and surveys its current, sprawling frontier. Readers encounter a discipline finding its legs amid exhilarating and sometimes terrifying progress. Whether they-and we-succeed or fail in solving the alignment problem will be a defining human story. The Alignment Problem offers an unflinching reckoning with humanity's biases and blind spots, our own unstated assumptions and often contradictory goals. A dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, it takes a hard look not only at our technology but at our culture-and finds a story by turns harrowing and hopeful.
History and Philosophy of Science reprints a distinguished selection of important texts published in this field over the last century. This set presents a unique opportunity to gain comprehensive coverage of all aspects of the history and philosophy of science. It covers all major fields of scientific thought throughout history from Physics, Biology, and Cosmology to ESP and Alchemy. It includes texts on all the great historical scientific figures including Darwin, Copernicus, Archimedes and Hooker and covers all main themes in science taking in creation, evolution, the development of scientific methodology and the future of science. For further information on this collection please email [email protected]
The Cavendish Laboratory is arguably the most famous physics laboratory in the world. Founded in 1874, it rapidly gained a leading international reputation through the researches of the Cavendish professors beginning with Maxwell, Rayleigh, J. J. Thomson, Rutherford and Bragg. Its name will always be associated with the discoveries of the electron, the neutron, the structure of the DNA molecule and pulsars, but these are simply the tip of the iceberg of outstanding science. The physics carried out in the laboratory is the central theme of the book and this is explained in reasonably non-technical terms. The research activities are set in their international context. Generously illustrated, with many pictures of the apparatus used and diagrams from the original papers, the story is brought right up to date with descriptions of the science carried out under the leadership of the very different personalities of Mott, Pippard and Edwards.
It seems quite natural to explain the activities of human and non-human animals by referring to their special faculties. Thus, we say that dogs can smell things in their environment because they have perceptual faculties, or that human beings can think because they have rational faculties. But what are faculties? In what sense are they responsible for a wide range of activities? How can they be individuated? How are they interrelated? And why are different types of faculties assigned to different types of living beings? The six chapters in this book discuss these questions, covering a wide period from Plato up to contemporary debates about faculties as modules of the mind. They show that faculties were referred to in different theoretical contexts, but analyzed in radically different ways. Some philosophers, especially Aristotelians, made them the cornerstone of their biological and psychological theories, taking them to be basic powers of living beings. Others took them to be inner causes that literally produce activities, while still others provided a purely functional explanation. The chapters focus on various models, taking into account Greek, Arabic, Latin, French, German and Anglo-American debates. They analyze the role assigned to faculties in metaphysics, philosophy of mind and epistemology, but also the attack that was often launched against the assumption that faculties are hidden yet real features of living beings. The short "Reflections" inserted between the chapters make clear that faculties were also widely discussed in literature, science and medicine.
From Stone Age to space age, people have looked up at the stars and been inspired by their beauty, their patterns, and their majesty. Beneath the Night is a history of humanity, told through our relationship with the night sky. From prehistoric cave art and Ancient Egyptian zodiacs to the modern era of satellites and space exploration, Stuart Clark explores a fascination shared across the world and throughout millennia. It is one that has shaped our scientific understanding; helped us navigate the terrestrial world; provided inspiration for our poets, artists and philosophers; and it has given us a place to project our hopes and fears. In the stars, we can see our past - and ultimately, our fate. This is the awe-inspiring story of the universe, and our place within it.
Integrating both scientific and philosophical perspectives, this book provides an informed analysis of the challenges of formulating a universal theory of life. Among the issues discussed are crucial differences between definitions and scientific theories and, in the context of examples from the history of science, how successful general theories develop. The central problem discussed is two-fold: first, our understanding of life is still tacitly wedded to an antiquated Aristotelian framework for biology; and second, there are compelling reasons for considering that familiar Earth life, which descends from a last universal common ancestor, is unrepresentative. What is needed are examples of life as we don't know it. Potential sources are evaluated, including artificial life, extraterrestrial life, and a shadow biosphere right here on Earth, and a novel strategy for searching for unfamiliar life in the absence of a definition or general theory is developed. The book is a valuable resource for graduate students and researchers studying the nature, origins, and extent of life in the universe.
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