Journal of Applied Philosophy Annual Prize

Get a sample copy

The Journal of Applied Philosophy will henceforth award an annual prize of £1000 to the best article published in the year’s volume. The first award will be made in respect of Volume 28 (2011). The judgement as to the best article will be made by the editors of the journal.

Journal of Applied Philosophy provides a unique forum for philosophical research which seeks to make a constructive contribution to problems of practical concern. Open to the expression of diverse viewpoints, the journal brings critical analysis to these areas and to the identification, justification and discussion of values of universal appeal.  Journal of Applied Philosophy covers a broad spectrum of issues in environment, medicine, science, policy, law, politics, economics and education.

Advertisements

Do you really want to live forever?: The Science of Immortality

The immortality of the soul has been on the philosophical agenda arguably since day one. On the scientific agenda, however, it registers fairly low down. Until now, that is. In his new book, The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death, political philosopher John Gray explores the history of scientific attempts to prove the existence of, and to even achieve, immortality. A history, it seems, that is more rich and contemporary than one might at first expect of the traditionally pragmatic and non-metaphysical subject.

In a lengthy article for the Guardian, Gray gives a summary of some of the more eyebrow raising events which go to make up this particular part of the history of science. The first is the reaction of post-Darwinian scientists, who for one reason or another felt compelled to respond to the anti-spiritualist worldview that Darwin’s work entailed. They did so by meticulously examining thousands of automatic-writing scripts – a popular phenomena in 19th century clairvoyance whereby the medium channels a spirit in such a way that a message from beyond can be written out – in search for evidence that might suggest their authenticity, such as information about the purportedly channeled spirit that would otherwise be unknown to the medium, or the occurrence of “cross-overs”, where separate mediums appear to be channelling the same thing independently of each other. Continue reading “Do you really want to live forever?: The Science of Immortality”

Interview: What Is Nanotechnology and Why Does It Matter?

We recently interviewed Fritz Allhoff, co-author (along with Patrick Lin and nanoscientist Daniel Moore) of What Is Nanotechnology and Why Does It Matter?: From Science to Ethics. Fritz talks about his motivations for writing, and the unique approach of the book.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write What Is Nanotechnology…?

Fritz Allhoff: Back in 2004, my colleague Patrick (Pat) Lin and I started nanoethics.org, a non-partisan group that provided a forum for social and ethical implications of nanotechnology. Our previous work had been in applied ethics—particularly the ethics of emerging technologies—and nanotechnology was beginning to draw a lot of attention. We got funding from the US National Science Foundation for some of our work, and this monograph emerged from that grant.

PE: What makes this area interesting to you? Continue reading “Interview: What Is Nanotechnology and Why Does It Matter?”

No Flying Cars by 2010?!

There are some things everyone knows about the future: there will be flying cars, disease will be a thing of the past and there will be regular shuttles to Mars.  Unfortunately, in this context, “the future” isn’t well defined.  For many people living in the 1970’s, the year 2010 was “the future,” but for us, 2010 seems a lot more like “the present.”  So, frustratingly, having arrived at 2010, we still have to wait for a lunar vacation.

A recent article in Scientific American laments, “10 Science Letdowns of the New Millenium.”  Some disappointments are technological: there are no flying cars, no regular flights to Mars, and no sources of unlimited, cheap energy.  Others concern failures in research: there is no cure for cancer, no vaccine for aids, and the intricate workings of the brain still baffle our best scientists.  Still other failures Continue reading “No Flying Cars by 2010?!”

Consciousness. Know it when you see it?

Because doctors are shunning the latest diagnostic techniques available, and going instead with their instincts, they’re misdiagnosing levels of consciousness. Experimenters found that of 44 patients diagnosed as being in a vegetative state, 18 were found to be in a minimally conscious state (so, capable of feeling pain). And of 41 patients diagnosed as being in a minimally conscious state, 4 had emerged from it without their doctors noticing.

When a patient is apparently comatose, the techniques of the phenomenologist are unavailable to the practicing MD. Never mind anti-behaviourist scruples, detecting consciousness is, in practice, a process of skilled behavioural observation.

For the findings go here. For an article on the findings in The Economist, go here.

Related articles:
£1.99 - small The Search for Neural Correlates of Consciousness
By Jakob Hohwy, Monash University
(Vol. 2, April 2007)
Philosophy Compass

£1.99 - small Theories of Consciousness
By Uriah Kriegel, University of Arizona/University of Sydney
(Vol. 1, February 2006)
Philosophy Compass

Swine flu – a new case for Evidence Based Medicine

CDC-11215-swine-fluIt is winter now in Australia and what is feared will be happening in the northern hemisphere when winter arrives, is already the case in the southern hemisphere. Swine flu is becoming more virulent and the necessity to test the vaccines that have been developed since the outbreak of swine flu becomes more urgent. Two pharmaceutical companies in Australia have begun human trials and many volunteers have signed up. Among the volunteers are 400 children, some of them under one year old. It seems logical to test the vaccine on children, since they proved to be one of the most vulnerable groups. The question however is, if it is ethical to involve children in such a trial? Continue reading “Swine flu – a new case for Evidence Based Medicine”