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Owning the Genome

A Moral Analysis of DNA Patenting

DNA patenting has emerged as a hot topic in science policy and bioethics as private companies and government agencies spend billions of dollars on genetic research and development in a race to identify, sequence, and analyze DNA from human, animal, and plant species. David B. Resnik’s Owning the Genome explores the ethical, social, philosophical, theological, and policy issues surrounding DNA patenting and develops a comprehensive approach to the topic. Resnik considers arguments for and against DNA patenting and concludes that only a patent on a whole human genome would be inherently immoral, while the morality of other DNA patents depends on their consequences for science, medicine, agriculture, industry, and society. He also stresses the importance of government regulations and policies in order to minimize the harmful effects of patenting while promoting the beneficial ones.

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The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age

Darin Barney

Just what is the “participatory condition”? It is the situation in which being involved in doing something and taking part in something with others has become both environmental and normative. The fact that we have always participated does not mean we have always lived under the participatory condition. What is distinctive about the present is the extent to which the everyday social, economic, cultural, and political activities that comprise simply being in the world have been thematized and organized around the priority of participation.

Structured along four axes investigating the relations between participation and politics, surveillance, openness, and aesthetics, The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age comprises fifteen essays that explore the promises, possibilities, and failures of contemporary participatory media practicesas related to power, Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring uprisings, worker-owned cooperatives for the post-Internet age; paradoxes of participation, media activism, open source projects; participatory civic life; commercial surveillance; contemporary art and design; and education.

This book represents the most comprehensive and transdisciplinary endeavor to date to examine the nature, place, and value of participation in the digital age. Just as in 1979, Jean-François Lyotard proposed that “the postmodern condition” was characterized by the questioning of historical grand narratives, The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age investigates how participation has become a central preoccupation of our time.

Contributors: Mark Andrejevic, Pomona College; Bart Cammaerts, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); Nico Carpentier, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB – Free University of Brussels) and Charles University in Prague; Julie E. Cohen, Georgetown Universit; Kate Crawford, MIT; Alessandro Delfanti, University of Toronto; Christina Dunbar-Hester, Rutgers University; Rudolf Frieling, California College of Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute; Salvatore Iaconesi, “La Sapienza” University of Rome and ISIA Design Florence; Jason Edward Lewis, Concordia University; Rafael Lozano-Hemmer; Graham Pullin, University of Dundee, Trebor Scholz, The New School in New York City; Cayley Sorochan, McGill University; Bernard Stiegler, Institute for Research and Innovation in Paris; Krzysztof Wodiczko, Harvard; Jillian C. York, Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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Peeling Potatoes or Grinding Lenses

Spinoza and Young Wittgenstein Converse on Immanence and Its Logic

More than 250 years separate the publication of Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. In Peeling Potatoes or Grinding Lenses, Aristides Baltas contends that these works bear a striking similarity based on the idea of “radical immanence.” He analyzes the structure and content of each treatise, the authors’ intentions, the limitations and possibilities afforded by scientific discovery in their respective eras, their radical opposition to prevailing philosophical views, and draws out the particulars, as well as the implications, of the arresting match between the two.

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Perspectives on Science

Vol. 6 (1998) through current issue

Perspectives on Science publishes science studies that integrate historical, philosophical, and sociological perspectives. Its interdisciplinary approach is intended to foster a more comprehensive understanding of the sciences and the contexts in which they develop. Each issue is comprised of theoretical essays, case studies and review essays.

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Philosophy of Biology

Peter Godfrey-Smith

This is a concise, comprehensive, and accessible introduction to the philosophy of biology written by a leading authority on the subject. Geared to philosophers, biologists, and students of both, the book provides sophisticated and innovative coverage of the central topics and many of the latest developments in the field. Emphasizing connections between biological theories and other areas of philosophy, and carefully explaining both philosophical and biological terms, Peter Godfrey-Smith discusses the relation between philosophy and science; examines the role of laws, mechanistic explanation, and idealized models in biological theories; describes evolution by natural selection; and assesses attempts to extend Darwin’s mechanism to explain changes in ideas, culture, and other phenomena. Further topics include functions and teleology, individuality and organisms, species, the tree of life, and human nature. The book closes with detailed, cutting-edge treatments of the evolution of cooperation, of information in biology, and of the role of communication in living systems at all scales.

Authoritative and up-to-date, this is an essential guide for anyone interested in the important philosophical issues raised by the biological sciences.

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Physics and Whitehead

Quantum, Process, and Experience

Featuring discussions and dialogue by prominent scientists and philosophers, this book explores the rich interface of contemporary physics and Whitehead-inspired process thought. The contributors share the conviction that quantum physics not only corroborates many of Whitehead’s philosophical theses, but is also illuminated by them. Thus, though differing in perspective or emphasis, the contributions by Geoffrey Chew, David Finkelstein, Henry Stapp and other scientists conceptually dovetail with those of Philip Clayton, Jorge Nobo, Yutaka Tanaka and other process philosophers.

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The Politics of Invisibility

Public Knowledge about Radiation Health Effects after Chernobyl

Olga Kuchinskaya

Before Fukushima, the most notorious large-scale nuclear accident the world had seen was Chernobyl in 1986. The fallout from Chernobyl covered vast areas in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in Europe. Belarus, at the time a Soviet republic, suffered heavily: nearly a quarter of its territory was covered with long-lasting radionuclides. Yet the damage from the massive fallout was largely imperceptible; contaminated communities looked exactly like noncontaminated ones. It could be known only through constructed representations of it. In The Politics of Invisibility, Olga Kuchinskaya explores how we know what we know about Chernobyl, describing how the consequences of a nuclear accident were made invisible. Her analysis sheds valuable light on how we deal with other modern hazards -- toxins or global warming -- that are largely imperceptible to the human senses.Kuchinskaya describes the production of invisibility of Chernobyl's consequences in Belarus -- practices that limit public attention to radiation and make its health effects impossible to observe. Just as mitigating radiological contamination requires infrastructural solutions, she argues, the production and propagation of invisibility also involves infrastructural efforts, from redefining the scope and nature of the accident's consequences to reshaping research and protection practices. Kuchinskaya finds vast fluctuations in recognition, tracing varyingly successful efforts to conceal or reveal Chernobyl's consequences at different levels -- among affected populations, scientists, government, media, and international organizations. The production of invisibility, she argues, is a function of power relations.

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The Positive Mind

Its Development and Impact on Modernity and Postmodernity

By Evaldas Nekrasas

This book is a radical reappraisal of positivism as a major movement in philosophy, science and culture. In examining positivist movement and its contemporary impact, I had the following goals. First, to provide a more precise and systematic definition of the notion of positivism. Second, to describe positivism as a trend of thought concerned not only with the theory of knowledge and philosophy of science, but also with problems of ethics, social, and political philosophy, and show that its representatives usually thought that the problems of the latter cannot be solved without solving the former first. Third, to examine the development of positivism as a movement which preserves a certain tradition and hence possesses some coherence, although the forms of this movement changed in different historical circumstances: it was born in the eighteenth century during the Enlightenment, took the form of social positivism in the nineteenth century, was transformed at the turn of the twentieth century with the emergence of empirio-criticism, and became logical positivism (or logical empiricism) in the twentieth century. Fourth, to reveal the external and internal factors of this evolution. Fifth, to disclose the relation of positivism to other trends of philosophy. Sixth, to determine the influence the positive mind had not only upon philosophy, but upon other cultural phenomena, such as the natural and social sciences, law, politics, arts, religion, and everyday life. Keywords: Positivism-History

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Posthuman Metamorphosis

Narrative and Systems

Bruce Clarke

From Dr. Moreau's Beast People to David Cronenberg's Brundlefly, Stanislaw Lem's robot constructors in the Cyberiad to Octavia Butler's human/alien constructs in the Xenogenesis trilogy, Posthuman Metamorphosis examines modern and postmodern stories of corporeal transformation through interlocking frames of posthumanism, narratology, and second-order systems theory. New media generate new metamorphs.New stories have emerged from cybernetic displacements of life, sensation, or intelligence from human beings to machines. But beyond the vogue for the cyborg and the cybernetic mash-up of the organic and the mechanical, Posthuman Metamorphosis develops neocybernetic systems theories illuminating alternative narratives that elicit autopoietic and symbiotic visions of the posthuman.Systems theory also transforms our modes of narrative cognition. Regarding narrative in the light of the autopoietic systems it brings into play, neocybernetics brings narrative theory into constructive relation with the systemic operations of observation, communication, and paradox.Posthuman Metamorphosis draws on Bruno Latour, Donna Haraway, Niklas Luhmann, Cary Wolfe, Mieke Bal, Katherine Hayles, Friedrich Kittler, and Lynn Margulis to read narratives of bodily metamorphosis as allegories of the contingencies of systems. Tracing the posthuman intuitions of both pre- and post-cybernetic metamorphs, it demonstrates the viability of second-order systems theories for narrative theory, media theory, cultural science studies, and literary criticism.

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The Practical Einstein

Experiments, Patents, Inventions

József Illy

Albert Einstein may be best known as the wire-haired whacky physicist who gave us the theory of relativity, but that’s just one facet of this genius’s contribution to human knowledge and modern science. As József Illy expertly shows in this book, Einstein had an eminently practical side as well. As a youth, Einstein was an inveterate tinkerer in the electrical supply factory his father and uncle owned and operated. His first paid job was as a patent examiner. Later in life, Einstein contributed to many inventions, including refrigerators, microphones, and instruments for aviation. In published papers, Einstein often provided ways to test his theories and fundamental problems of the scientific community of his times. He delved deeply into a variety of technological innovations, most notably the gyrocompass, and consulted for industry in patent cases and on other legal matters. Einstein also provided explanations for common and mundane phenomena, such as the meandering of rivers. In these and other hands-on examples culled from the Einstein Papers, Illy demonstrates how Einstein enjoyed leaving the abstract world of theories to wrestle with the problems of everyday life. While we may like the idea of Einstein as a genius besotted by extra dimensions and too out-of-this world to wear socks, The Practical Einstein gives ample evidence that not only is this characterization incomplete, it is also an unfair representation of a man who sought to explore the intricacies of nature, whether in theory or practice.

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