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ANTIVIVISECTION: A movement against invasive experimentation or teaching using live animals. Nowadays, the movement has taken more moderate forms, such as the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experimentation, which teaches the "Three R's": Replacement (of animals with tissue cultures and computer modeling), Reduction (of the number of animals used in each trial), and Refinement (of experimentation by less painful methods). The publish a scientific journal called Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, and other journals also exist. (FL)


ANXIETY: (Latin anxietas) anticipation of impending dread, danger or misfortune not associated with an apparent stimulus and accompanied by tension, restlessness and other adrenaline-generated physiological symptoms such as increased heart rate, throat tension, gut cramps, tremors, cold sweats and insomnia. Psychological symptoms are subjective and often "free-floating". Typical signs of psychological distress include irritability, sensitivity to constructive criticism, uneasiness about the future, feelings of uncertainty and helplessness, unconscious conflict regarding life’s essential values and goals. Anxiety disorders are complex and may take different forms (generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, panic anxiety, situational anxiety, for example) with separate etiological variables. Anti-anxiety drugs (anxiolytics), by helping to control the physiological symptoms, provide relief. The definitive treatment, however, rests with addressing the underlying cause(s) for example changes in health, self-concept or environment, maturational crises or subconscious conflicts. Anxiety differs from depression, but is typically linked to all forms of depressive illness. (See ANXIOLYTICS, DEPRESSION, FEAR, GENERAL ADAPTATION SYNDROME). (IP+MP)

ANXIOLYTICS: Anti-anxiety drugs, including sedatives and minor tranquillizers, used temporarily to treat panic and anxiety reactions in conjunction with counseling to address related underlying life-factors. (See ANXIETY) (MP)

ANZECC: Australia and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council.

APARTHEID: A political system in which people of different races are separated. In the past in South Africa for much of the twentieth century. (DM)

APATHY: A state of not caring; not wanting to know; complacency; indifference; to ignore; disinterested in contemplation; anesthetized by popular culture; a postmodern intellectual narcosis; compassion fatigue; too lazy; too busy; self-indulgence; limited choices in work and leisure-time; non-reflection, non-deliberation and subconscious blocking of distressing information. Apathy is less ethically excusable than ignorance. Apathy implies at least subconscious knowledge of the truth - if those who know will not take action, then those who don’t know certainly won’t, and those who are the subject of oppression or ethical concern usually can’t. (See IGNORANCE, UNCERTAINTY) (MP)

APE: A class of biological organisms that are primates. Homo sapiens, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans and so-called Great Apes. (See GREAT APE PROJECT). (DM)

APGAR SCORE: The evaluation of an infant’s physical condition, usually performed 1 minute and again 5 minutes after birth, based on a rating of directly important factors (heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, reflex irritability and body color) that reflect the infant’s ability to adjust to extrauterine life. The initial scores are for color and respiratory effort, and if the infant’s respiratory and circulatory changes have been completed satisfactorily, the muscle tone and reflex responses can be assesses. For example, Apgar 9/10 is a score of 9 at 1 minute and 10 at 5 minutes. The system was developed by the American Anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar (1909-1974) for the rapid identification of infants requiring immediate intervention (administration of oxygen, clearing of nasopharyngeal passage) or transfer to an intensive care unit. (IP)

APHRODITE: In Greek mythology the Goddess who represented sexual love and the joy of life. She represented two kinds of love - the satisfaction of the fleshly desires and the essential quality of good in the person who loves to perfection (see VENUS).(IP)

APOCALYPSE: The end of the world. (DM)

APOPTOSIS: (Greek: apo 'away' + ptosis 'falling') Programmed cell death is the mechanism whereby damaged, malfunctioning or unnecessary cells can be removed from the body. All animal cells carry an intrinsic genetic "death" program which is important in growth and development, and in the repair and maintenance of mature body tissues. Apoptosis is not a cause of aging; however defects in this system may contribute to age-related processes (Greek apo meaning away and ptosis falling). (IP)

APPLIED ETHICS: If theoretical ethics studies the meaning of ethical terminology and the foundations of ethical thinking, applied ethics studies the application of ethical reasoning in real life. The distinction is the same as that between Foundational Bioethics (studying the foundations of bioethical reasoning in culture, spirituality, religion, law and philosophy) and Applied Bioethics (including clinical medical and nursing ethics, environmental ethics, research ethics, etc.) There is a philosophical journal called Applied Ethics. (See APPLIED MATHEMATICS, APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY) (FL)

APPLIED MATHEMATICS: The study of the mathematical techniques used to solve problems; that is, the application of mathematics to existing systems. (See APPLIED ETHICS, APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY). (IP)

APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY: That part of psychology which places its knowledge to effect in practical situations. Important branches of psychology which emphasize practical rather than theoretical approaches are educational psychology, clinical psychology, child psychology and industrial/occupational psychology. (See APPLIED ETHICS, APPLIED MATHEMATICS). (IP)

AQUABOT: Aquatic robots, or autonomous underwater vehicles. These small devices can navigate in three dimensions and use sensors to collect oceanographic data, carry out underwater mapping, measure effluent pollutants, gather military intelligence or sweep mines. Future generations of aquabots may be schooled to create a moving sensor array, and of course may also potentially be weaponized. (See ROBOT) (MP)

AQUACULTURE: (Latin: aqua 'water' + culture) A form of agriculture where plants and animals are cultures in farms in fresh water bodies. When seawater is used then it is called mariculture. In fish farming areas fishes like Tilapia and other commercially valuable fishes can be cultured. In a marine ecosystem shell fishes like Perna viridis (green mussel) oysters are cultivated as a commercial enterprise. (JA)

AQUINAS, THOMAS (1225? -1274) : The greatest of the medieval Scholastic philosophers, canonised as Saint Thomas by the Catholic Church. His philosophy is called Thomism. The Scholastics were Catholics who were known for their detailed, logical debates, often dwelling on fine and seemingly sterile distinctions to the point that they have been accused of "hair splitting". It was joked about them that they would debate for years about how many angels could dance on the point of a pin. The joke is unfair. Aquinas' detailed method of question and argument did not always lead to results. But -- like mathematical games -- it engendered habits of careful and penetrating logical thinking, which became part of the European intellectual tradition.

Following the example of the Guide to the Perplexed of MAIMONIDES (q.v.), whose influence Aquinas sometimes acknowledges, Aquinas interpreted the Bible according to Aristotelian philosophy. Although this practice was at first objected to by other Church authorities, it eventually became so embedded in European Christian culture that disagreeing with Aristotle was considered to be at least as heretical as disagreeing with Jesus. This attitude remained until criticised by the mathematical and scientific philosophers of the Seventeenth Century, like Rene Descartes, and by the Protestant Reformation.

Aquinas was also familiar with Arabic philosophy, and disagreed with European followers of Ibn Roshd, who were referred to as the Latin Averroists. In his tract, On the Unity of the Intellect against the Averroists, Aquinas attacks Siger of Brabant. In the Aristotelian philosophy, that element of the soul, which is responsible for intellectual understanding, is called the Agent Intellect. Aristotle thought that the agent intellect is eternal. Ibn Roshd accepted this idea, and argued that there is only one agent intellect, which is shared by all humans. Maimonides' doctrine seems to have been similar, as he refers to the agent intellect as an angel. Siger of Brabant, however, went further and argued that the passive elements of intellection are also common to all humans. This is tantamount to monopsychism, the doctrine that there really is only one soul, in which we all share. This made Aquinas quite angry, because it seems to provide a philosophical basis for forgiving sinners too easily. For, as Latin Averroists seemed to believe, if Saint Paul's soul is saved, and if my soul is the same as that of Saint Paul, then my soul is already saved as well. So even if I sin all I like, I will get to heaven. Aquinas' On the Unity of the Intellect is a polemical diatribe against this doctrine. But monopsychism seems bioethically appealing nonetheless. It seems to affirm the unity and solidarity of all humans, encouraging love. And why shouldn't we welcome reasons for forgiving people? (FL)

Aquinas' Doctrine of Double Effect has had considerable influence on bioethics. It says that it is permissible to do an act which produces an unethical effect, when the act is performed with the intention of achieving another effect which itself is ethical. The unethical effect may be foreseen, but it must not be intended. Thus, priests have permitted birth control pills if the intended effect is to regulate the menstrual period, and not to prevent conception. The doctrine is used to permit giving patients high doses of opiods like morphine or heroin, even if death is a foreseen result, when what is intended is not death but relieving pain. This application of the doctrine has been hotly debated. (FL)

ARBITRARY: Uncertain; random; accidental; discretionary; outside of central relevance to the methodology, law or principle, therefore accepting of individual choice and subjectivity. (MP)

ARBITRATION: The hearing and resolution of a dispute by a person or legal body (arbitrator) chosen by the disputing parties or appointed by government statute. (See DISPUTE, FACILITATION, MEDIATION, NEGOTIATION) (MP)


ARETAIC ETHICS: The principle of centrality of employing moral agents as the basis of change. (JA)

ARISTOTLE (c. 384-322 BC) Perhaps the most famous of Greek philosophers, he influenced Islamic, Jewish and Christian philosophy. Author of works on logic, philosophy, natural science, ethics, politics and poetics. He believed in living according to a "middle road" between extremes (an idea which is also found in Buddhist writings, leading to the question whether it began in Greece or much farther East). He thought that the most ethical life is the life of intellectual activity, in which we become most similar to and beloved by the gods. His main ethical works, the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics, were the crowning finale to a massive corpus including logic, scientific method, philosophy of mathematics, physics, biology and metaphysics. This raises the question whether todays specialized BA, MA and PhD programmes in ethics are the best way to educate bioethicists. Perhaps they should start with more science and substantive philosophy, like Aristotle.

Aristotle said that it is a mark of maturity not to seek more precision than one's subject can allow, and that ethics -- more of an art than a science -- is incapable of the degree of precision which mathematics and physics allow. This implies harsh criticism for philosophers like the utilitarian, Bentham, who sought an ethical calculus which would give definitive answers to questions, as well as for those who try to quantify ethics through statistical surveys. (FL)

ARITHMETIC: The study and the understanding of the structure of the number system and the skills necessary to manipulate numbers in order to solve problems. Numbers may be manipulated to advantage from one form to another, for example, fractions to decimals. (See ALGEBRA, ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE, SCIENTIFIC METHOD, STATISTIC). (IP)


ARTHROPODA: Name of a phylum in the animal kingdom. Animals (arthropods) that have joined appendages. E.g. Fly, Crabs, Millipedes, Scorpions etc. (JA)

ARTIFICIAL: Created, produced or imitated by humans. Not occurring in nature, or not the genuine article. Artificial creations such as new chemical products, newly designed drugs or genetically modified organisms may have unpredictable effects on biological or ecological systems, as they have not been tested by any previous evolutionary process. (See ARTIFICIAL LIFE, GENETIC ENGINEERING) (MP)

ARTIFICIAL FEEDING: Feeding other than by mouth. The terms, Enteral feeding, Parenteral feeding, and Tube feeding are used. (DM)

ARTIFICIAL HABITAT: ‘Artificial habitat’ is sometimes used in environmental science to mean a partially human-composed ecosystem such as an artificial reef. More commonly the term is used for a self-contained human habitat, usually situated in an extreme environment. An underwater habitat is a dive-accessed, pressurized air-containing structure. The Biosphere 2 Project was a popular US attempt to test a large-scale artificial habitat which included humans and a number of ecosystems. Another artificial biosphere is the Eden Project in the UK. The International Space Station is a good example of an orbiting artificial habitat. More research on the safety of artificial habitats will be required before colonization of the moon becomes realistic. (See BIOSPHERE 2 PROJECT, HABITAT, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION) (MP)

ARTIFICIAL HYMEN: a synthetic membrane that is stitched in place to seal the vagina before the marriage ceremony. The operation is practiced in cultures where virginity (virtue) at marriage is regarded as desirable or even mandatory. (IP)

ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION: The introduction of sperm into a woman's vagina or uterus by noncoital methods, for the purpose of conception. The procedure is done either with semen from an anonymous donor (artificial insemination by donor or AID) or from semen provided by the partner or husband (artificial insemination by husband AIH). AID is recommended when the partner is infertile or in cases in which he is a carrier of a serious genetic defect. Assuming normal fertility in the female, tested donor semen results in a pregnancy in 70% of the cases and is, therefore, one of the major treatments for male infertility. The procedure does not carry an increased risk of spontaneous abortion or congenital anomalies. AIH has a much lower success rate but is useful in cases of paraplegia (sperm is collected by electroejaculation), obstructed vas deferens or epididymis (sperm is aspirated from the epididymis) and forced separation of couples (prisoners on long-term sentences). AI as a technique has been practiced for centuries as a tool in livestock production and its application has been broadened to include conservation programs for endangered species. The first recorded human birth after AIH was in 1790 when the Scottish physician John Hunter inseminated a woman with epididymal sperm from her husband who had urethral defect (see ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION BY HUSBAND, ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY). (IP, DM)

ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION BY HUSBAND: The procedure is used in cases of paraplegia, obstructed vas deferens or epididymis and forced separation. It is also used widely for idiopathic (cause unknown) infertility. Between 15-30% of women become pregnant during six insemination (menstrual) treatment cycles, significantly less successful compared with donor insemination purporting a reported 60% birth rate after six insemination cycles. (See ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION, DONOR INSEMINATION). (DM+IP)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the computer modeling and software simulation of human intelligence and other mental processes. Such intelligence would include holding a conversation, problem-solving, thought processing, object manipulation, playing chess, writing stories, translating, speech recognition, pattern recognition (vision), interactivity and learning. Current commercial AI has been slow to match the science fiction dreamers in simulating human mental functions. However, the evolution of technology is accelerating and tends to progress in sudden surges. ‘Expert Systems’ and ‘Decision-Support Systems’ are the practical application of AI research. They are used for solving problems and making decisions in a particular domain, for example ‘Cyc’ is an encyclopedic database of common-sense rules for application to artificial intelligence. Machine learning methods include neural computing (artificial neural networks), inductive reasoning (rule induction), analogical reasoning (case-based reasoning), and learning algorithms (genetic algorithms). AI can be thought of as the psychological side of robots. Robotics is the engineering application of AI. Bionics, cybernetics and the cyborg are medical applications of AI. Combination of all these technological features of intelligence is called the ‘top-down’ approach to AI, whereas the ‘bottom-up’ approach is the endowment of ‘Artificial Life’ with the powers of replication, adaptation, learning and self-evolution. Popular science fiction such as Hollywood’s Matrix have presented the possibility of the human species being superseded by the evolution of artificial intelligence. Despite skepticism, scientific risk-analysis and ethical debate is required because of the extreme consequences to humanity from such a scenario. Scientific and philosophical debate has not been able to rule out the possibility of silicon-based life - works such as The Emperor’s New Mind by Roger Penrose which have tried to refute the possibility have had their assumptions criticized. It seems that certain thresholds or previous limits to the creation of artificial intelligence are likely to be breached by advances in quantum computing, nanotechnology and/or molecular electronics. These advances combine immense increases in processing power with the replication and manipulation of molecules and atoms, and add carbon (organic molecules) to the traditional silicon of microcircuits. Whether or not all definitional requirements for ‘life’ or ‘intelligence’ are met, something much like these things is on the technological horizon. Even today, non-sentient information databases and other computerized technology are taking over our daily transactions – whether individually (automated workplace, privacy, ‘Big Brother’) or collectively (over-reliance on technology). (See ARTIFICIAL LIFE, BIG BROTHER, BIONICS, CYBORG, DEEP BLUE, EXPERT SYSTEM, INTELLIGENCE, ROBOT ETHICS, ROBOTICS, TURING TEST) (MP)

ARTIFICIAL LANGUAGES: Many ‘artificial’ or ‘auxiliary’ languages have been invented and used to facilitate international communication and understanding. These have included Volapük (‘World language’ 1880), Esperanto (‘Lingvo Internacia’ 1887), Idiom Neutral (1902), Lingua Internacional (1905), Ido (1907), Occidental (1922), Néo (1937), Interglossa (1943), Interlingua (1951), Globaqo (1956), Delmondo (1960), Glosa (1981) and Uropi (1986). Natural languages have been modified or simplified, for example Latino Sine Flexione (Latin without inflections) and BASIC English ('British American Scientific International Commercial English') with its selective 850 word vocabulary. Other languages have evolved (e.g. slang and jargon), merged (e.g. pidgins and creoles), been developed by necessity (e.g. sign language and shorthand) or for specialized purposes such as computer programming (e.g. Basic, Pascal and Java). Other artificial languages are just plain fun, for example Solresol ('Langue Musicale Universelle'), whose syllables are based on the musical tones such that it can be spoken, sung or played. (See ESPERANTO, LINGUISTICS, MULTIMODAL COMMUNICATION, PIDGIN, SEMIOTICS, TRANSLATION SOFTWARE) (MP)

ARTIFICIAL LIFE: Software and hardware which has similar characteristics to living organisms. The ‘top-down’ approach attempts to combine characteristics of life such as perception and mobility (robotics), with thinking abilities (artificial intelligence). Robots are forms of artificial life, and often made out to be quite cute, for example the camera and gyroscope-faced ‘Cog’ and ‘Kismet’, or the insect-like heat-sensing six-legged ‘Genghis’… but endowed with artificial intelligence in a terrain of unmanned vehicles and autonomous weapons it is a different story. The opposing mode of research into artificial life is the ‘bottom-up’ approach, which allows artificial life to create itself through the powers of evolution. Using nature as the model, programs such as ‘genetic algorithms’ and ‘cellular automata’ are created with the ability to replicate and therefore adapt to their software environment by natural selection. Soon they have changed into complex systems beyond the expectations of their creators. Examples of early experiments on the evolution of artificial organisms include AntFarm, PolyWorld, Ramps, L-systems and AL world. The other computer-world supporting artificial life is of course the internet, with its computer viruses, worms and intelligent agents. Software must be constantly created to act as an immune system against this internet environment - infection can be prevented using intranets and firewalls, and cured with virus detection and viral predators. But the next generation of genetic algorithms and artificial neural networks, and new computing technologies such as molecular electronics and quantum computing, are likely to greatly magnify powers of replication, adaptation, learning and even perhaps self-awareness in self-evolving systems. The fundamental difference between natural selection in organisms/cells and that of cellular automata is that biological evolution selects among random variations, whereas variation in artificial life may be heuristically directed. The potential ethical danger from this is that artificial life can evolve at an incredibly greater speed than any biological system. The internet provides a very difficult-to-control habitat with a rich informational database, and could perhaps eventually support a very diverse form of cyber-ecology or central intelligence. (See ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, CELLULAR AUTOMATA, COMPUTER VIRUS, INTELLIGENT AGENT, LIFE, ROBOTICS, ROBOT BUSH, WORM) (MP)

ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORKS: Computational models which emulate biological neural networks. Artificial neural networks contain components and functions analogous to neurons, for example the processing element (nucleus), network node (soma), inputs (dendrites), output (axon) and signal weight (synapse), though without all of the layers of complexity of biology. Artificial neural networks are associative memory systems using inductive reasoning, self-organization and parallel processing similar to the human brain. They are driven by data, and function by scanning many case studies for common patterns. They can function despite the presence of ambiguity by using induction, associative memory or fuzzy logic. (See GENETIC ALGORITHMS, NEURAL COMPUTING, NEURAL NETWORKS, SMART DUST, SWARM INTELLIGENCE) (MP)

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