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Ethics and Policy Implications

Advances in medicine often depend on the effective collection, storage, research use, and sharing of human biological specimens and associated data. But what about the sources of such specimens? When a blood specimen is drawn from a vein in your arm, is that specimen still you? Is it your property, intellectual or otherwise? Should you be allowed not only to consent to its use in research but also to specify under what circumstances it may be used? These and other questions are at the center of a vigorous debate over the use of human biospecimens in research.

Computational Models for Dimensional Psychiatry

Even as researchers look for neurobiological correlates of mental disorders, many of these disorders are still classified solely according to the manifestation of clinical symptoms. Neurobiological findings rarely help diagnose a specific disease or predict its outcome. Although current diagnostic categories are questionable (sometimes labeling common states of human suffering as disorders), traditional neuroimaging approaches are not sophisticated enough to capture the neurobiological markers of mental disorder.

Diversity and Free Expression in Education

Safe spaces, trigger warnings, microagressions, the disinvitation of speakers, demands to rename campus landmarks—debate over these issues began in lecture halls and on college quads but ended up on op-ed pages in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, on cable news, and on social media. Some of these critiques had merit, but others took a series of cheap shots at “crybullies” who needed to be coddled and protected from the real world. Few questioned the assumption that colleges must choose between free expression and diversity.

Concepts are thought categories through which we apprehend the world; they enable, but also constrain, reasoning and debate and serve as building blocks for more elaborate arguments. This book traces the links between conceptual innovation in the environmental sphere and the evolution of environmental policy and discourse. It offers both a broad framework for examining the emergence, evolution, and effects of policy concepts and a detailed analysis of eleven influential environmental concepts.

The emergence of powerful, always-on cloud utilities has transformed how consumers interact with information technology, enabling video streaming, intelligent personal assistants, and the sharing of content. Businesses, too, have benefited from the cloud, outsourcing much of their information technology to cloud services. Science, however, has not fully exploited the advantages of the cloud. Could scientific discovery be accelerated if mundane chores were automated and outsourced to the cloud?

Over the last two hundred years, mortality and fertility levels in the Western world have dropped to unprecedented levels. This demographic transition was accompanied by an economic transition that led to widespread education and economic growth after centuries of near-stagnation. At the same time, other changes have occurred in family structures, culture, and the organization of society. Economists have only recently begun to take into account the demographic transition from high mortality and high fertility when modeling and researching economic development.

Philosophy valorizes truth, holding that there can never be epistemically good reasons to accept a known falsehood, or to accept modes of justification that are not truth conducive. How can this stance account for the epistemic standing of science, which unabashedly relies on models, idealizations, and thought experiments that are known not to be true? In True Enough, Catherine Elgin argues that we should not assume that the inaccuracy of models and idealizations constitutes an inadequacy.

The dream of a universal translation device goes back many decades, long before Douglas Adams’s fictional Babel fish provided this service in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Since the advent of computers, research has focused on the design of digital machine translation tools—computer programs capable of automatically translating a text from a source language to a target language. This has become one of the most fundamental tasks of artificial intelligence.

Psychiatric Illness, Intentionality, and the Interpersonal World

In Real Hallucinations, Matthew Ratcliffe offers a philosophical examination of the structure of human experience, its vulnerability to disruption, and how it is shaped by relations with other people. He focuses on the seemingly simple question of how we manage to distinguish among our experiences of perceiving, remembering, imagining, and thinking.

In Panpsychism in the West, the first comprehensive study of the subject, David Skrbina argues for the importance of panpsychism—the theory that mind exists, in some form, in all living and nonliving things—in consideration of the nature of consciousness and mind. Panpsychism, with its conception of mind as a general phenomenon of nature, uniquely links being and mind. More than a theory of mind, it is a meta-theory—a statement about theories of mind rather than a theory in itself.

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