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REDEMPTIVE INTERVENTION reverses an immediate consequence of unwise human action

REDUCE: The first and perhaps most important term in the mantra "Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle", referring to the necessity of lowering the levels and rates of human consumption. Valuable resources are wasted by unnecessary products and packaging, conspicuous consumption, and desires artificially induced by advertising. Such things must be reduced at both the personal and production levels. (See CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION, DEMATERIALIZATION, RECYCLING, RE-USE). (MP)

REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM: Latin for “reduction to absurdity”, reductio ad absurdum, related to quasi-reductio, refers to refutation of an argument by reducing it to simpler elements thus exposing hidden absurdity. (See FALLACY, PROOF) (MP)

REDUCTIONIST: based on the assumption that the whole can be explained in terms of its parts; for example, science is reductionist.

REFERENDUM: A people’s vote which determines an issue of policy directly, as distinct from an election of political representatives to make the decision. The ‘Citizen’s Initiated Referendum’ is a form of direct democracy which comes about when a certain significant proportion of the community indicates a desire for change, for example to criminal or civil law, potentially bypassing the politicians almost entirely. (See DIRECT DEMOCRACY) (MP)



REFUSAL TO TREAT: Refusal by a health professional or a health facility to treat a patient because of bias or fear of infection (differentiate from SELECTION FOR TREATMENT, in which questions of resource allocation or of the efficacy of treatment are involved, and from TREATMENT REFUSAL, which originates with the patient rather than with the health professional). (DM)

REGIONAL ETHICS COMMITTEES: Committees established to protect the welfare of patients or research subjects at two or more facilities in the same geographic area. (DM)

REGIONAL MANAGEMENT: Policy direction, integrated management and monitoring of indicators at the appropriate macro-scales of bioregions (bioregionalism), habitats (conservation), ecosystems (ecology) or catchments (total catchment management), across terrestrial and marine environments (coastal zone management), and across large political boundaries (regional security). (See BIOREGION, BIOREGIONALISM, INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT, MACRO-, TOTAL CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT) (MP)

REGRESSION ANALYSIS: Regression analysis determines the relationship between two variables (the regression equation), and uses the least-squares method to find the line of best fit. Linear regression determines the straight line of best fit, and curvilinear regression determines the curve of best fit. Analysis of covariance combines analysis of variance with regression analysis. (See ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE, CHI-SQUARE TEST, CORRELATION, FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION, STATISTICS) (MP)

REHABILITATION: Restoration of function, to the maximum degree possible, of persons suffering from disease or injury. (DM)

REINCARNATION: According to the Doctrine of Reincarnation, or Transmigration of Souls, the soul lived in another body before birth, and will be reborn in yet another one after death. According to surprisingly similar theories in Israeli Kabala (Jewish Mysticism) and in Hinduism, souls are reborn any number of times in order to learn lessons or to undergo repair (tikkun, in Hebrew). This process will continue until the soul reaches perfection. One might be reborn as another human being, or as an animal, plant, rock or whatever. According to some versions, the people with whom one is in contact today are people with whom we were in contact in previous lives and places. We have met again in order to work out various tasks, lessons or repairs. Believers in reincarnation sometimes say that when we meet a stranger, and immediately find ourselves understanding one another and discussing deeply, we are not starting a new conversation but continuing one from a previous life.

In clinical ethics, a believer in reincarnation might hesitate to stop life saving treatment of, for example, a neonate with extremely severe anomalies: for perhaps living in such a way for even a short period of time will provide exactly the lesson which that soul needs. And if it doesn't do it in this lifetime, it will have to do so in another. So nothing will have been gained by stopping treatment.

Reincarnation is a doctrine, which can neither be proved nor disproved. We must wait to see what happens after death. And perhaps we won't see anything at all. Or perhaps we shall be surprised in amazing way. About that which we cannot know, a scientific attitude demands that we admit our ignorance, and approach life's decisions with the humble awareness that possibilities of which we can know nothing might be true.

Although belief in reincarnation is widespread among religious Jews, not all accept it. One distinguished opponent was Rabbi Saadia Gaon. (FL)



RELIGION: Religion is about human meaning - an attempt to explain the peculiarity of our existence on this intermediate plane between gods and animals, between the infinite and oblivion. Religion is based on belief not scientific fact. (See LIVING RELIGION, RELIGIONS, RELIGIOUS EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND RELIGION) (IP)

RELIGIONS: The world contains a diversity of religions and belief systems which can be classified in a number of ways. Early religious belief systems included various forms of shamanism, animism, Gnosticism, paganism and polytheism. Of the major monotheistic religions, Judaism gave rise to Christianity based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and Islam based on those of Muhammad. Muslims may be Sunni or Shiah (Shiite), Christians may be Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox. Asian religions include Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shinto. Followers of the philosophy of Buddha may be Mahayana, Hinayana (Therevada) or Zen Buddhists. More recently there has been a resurgence of monism ("all is one" philosophy), pantheism (the universe is a manifestation of God), indigenous beliefs (respect for the Earth) and New Age spirituality (self-styled belief systems). Other religions include Zoroastrianism, Kabbala (mystical Judaism), Sufism (mystical Islam), Brahmanism, Jains, Sikhs, Hare Krishna, Baha'i, Mormon, Anglican, Jehova's Witness, Rastafarians, Scientology, Falun Gong and various 'cult' followings. Also, atheism is non-belief in God, and agnosticism is an open mind in recognition that such things are beyond one's capacity to know. The religions of the world are a diversity of philosophies with a common theme, and should not be used as an excuse for prejudice or conflict. Movements such as theology, comparative religion and international religious forums, institutions and Unions of Churches are progressing global culture towards a time of religious tolerance and respect where philosophical ideas are shared rather than enforced or used to promote division. (MP)

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION: In many parts of the world the topic of religious education remains a most controversial issue. Historically the early education of children was provided in India by the Brahmins (Hindu religious leaders), in Buddhist countries by the monks, in Islamic countries by the Mullahs and in Christian countries by the priests. However, the rise of secularism has created controversy as to the control of education. In countries such as the Netherlands and Australia groups of parents wishing to set up denominational schools receive by the government tax-funded running costs. Typically, as in the UK and Australia, the only prescribed subject in the curriculum of public (local education authority) schools is a general religious instruction where an agreed syllabus is worked out in consultation with various denominations. Parents, if they want, have the right to withdraw their children from this religious education. In the USA interpretations of the constitution have separated Church and State and parochial schools receive no public funding (See BIBLE, EDUCATION, MEDICAL EDUCATION, QURAN). (IP)

REMOTE SENSING: The collection of information about the Earth surface from a distance, for example with aeroplane photos or satellite data. Spatially referenced data is displayed and analysed by image processing software, interactive mapping systems and Geographic Information Systems. Remote sensing allows monitoring of military activities, land uses, vegetation types, geology, habitat integrity, ecological impacts and other changes related to environment and development. (See GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS) (MP)

REMUNERATION: Payment for a service or for a commodity such as a body part. (DM)

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Energy supplies derived from natural sources able to regenerate themselves, thereby enabling sustainable long-term consumption of energy by humans. (See BIOMASS ENERGY, GEOTHERMAL ENERGY, HYDROELECTRIC POWER, RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES, SOLAR ENERGY, WIND ENERGY) (MP)

RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES: New technologies which generate power from sustainably managed renewable sources. The development of renewable energy technologies should be encouraged and subsidised. Long-term supply of private and industrial energy will require the replacement of old, polluting technologies such as coal-fired power stations, with new renewable energy technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, alternatively-powered vehicles and energy generated from the sea. (See RENEWABLE ENERGY) (MP)

RENEWABLE RESOURCES: Natural resources which are able to replenish or regenerate themselves within a similar time frame to their utilization by humans, thereby enabling sustainable long-term consumption. Examples include sustainably managed fisheries and the cultivation of plantation timbers. (See NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCES, RENEWABLE ENERGY, RESOURCE) (MP)

REPETITIVE STRAIN INJURY: RSI is long-lasting injury to the muscles, joints, tendons or bone structure caused by extended or excessive repeated motions, for example in those who operate machines or computer keyboards. Ergonomic furniture, stretching, task rotation and frequent breaks help prevent RSI. The responsible worker and ethical workplace will ensure that working environment and schedules will not cause RSI in subsequent life. (See ERGONOMICS) (MP)


REPLICATION: 1. In statistics and experimental design, replication is the use of a significantly large number of experimental subjects, repeats of the treatments or observations, and duplication of the research methods. (See CONTROL GROUPS, EXPERIMENTAL GROUPS, REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE) 2. One of the defining qualities of life, replication is the ability to make copies of oneself. (See LIFE, REPLICATOR) 3. The synthesis of new DNA strands from existing DNA. In human beings and other eucaryotes, replication occurs in the nucleus of a cell. (See DNA) (DM & MP)

REPLICATOR: A complex structure able to copy and reproduce itself using materials from its surrounding environment. This often implies identical replication, although many replicators copy with variation. Examples of replicators include some chemicals (e.g. crystal structures), genetic code (e.g. RNA, DNA), organisms (e.g. plants, humans), information (e.g. memes, ideas) and software programming (e.g. computer viruses, artificial life). Replication is one of the essential definitional components of life. (See ORIGIN OF LIFE, REPLICATION) (MP)

REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE: A sample from a statistical population must be characteristic of that population for accurate inferences to be made. For the sample to be representative it must include sufficient instances of all the different categories or classes typical of the population as a whole. This is usually achieved through random sampling, and may either be improved or biased by stratifying the random sampling across specified groups, areas or times which have been deemed representative. (See SAMPLE, STATISTIC) (MP)


REPRODUCTIVE CLONING: Use of CLONING (q.v.) technology to produce one or more individuals genetically identical (apart from the genes in MITOCHONDRIA (q.v.) and CHLOROPLASTS (q.v.)) to another individual. In the late 1990s reproductive cloning was used to produce clones of the adults of a number of mammalian species, including sheep, mice and pigs. The most famous of these was DOLLY (q.v.). Many countries rushed to outlaw the possibility of reproductive cloning in humans. Most bioethicists supported such bans though a minority were more ambivalent. (MR)

REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM: All couples and individuals have the basic right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information, education, and means to do so. As stated in the 1984 UN recommendation on basic human rights. (DM)

REPTILIA: The class of vertebrates breathing air with lungs, and having external scales or horny plates. Extant taxa include the turtles, crocodiles, lizards, and snakes, though reptilian phylogeny is a matter of some controversy. (RW)

REQUIRED REQUEST: An organ procurement policy based on the requirement that health personnel routinely make inquiry of family members about the possibility of removing organs from a patient who has been declared legally dead. (DM)


RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: Research and Development (often abbreviated to R&D) is the exploratory process of research and scientific discovery. Allocations of research funding (or more correctly, the lack thereof) are one of the most popular subjects for jokes and complaints in the scientific and academic communities. The ‘Frascati Manuals’ are periodic OECD publications used to define and classify terms for use in international comparisons of scientific R&D expenditure. Research and development of new technologies should first include ethical considerations of the potential environmental impacts or misuse of each scientific and technological advance. (See ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT, EXPLORATORY RESEARCH, PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE, SCIENTIFIC THINKING, TECHNOLOGY) (MP)

RESEARCH ETHICS COMMITTEES: Institutional committees established to protect the welfare of research subjects. (See ETHICS COMMITTEE). (DM)

RESIDENTIAL FACILITIES: Facilities that provide supervision and assistance in activities of daily living. (DM)

RESILIENCE: ecology: The tendency of an ecosystem to maintain a stable state despite disturbance. (RW)


RESOLUTION: Degree of molecular detail on a physical map of DNA, ranking from low to high. (DM)

RESOURCE: A source of supply for some human necessity, deficiency or desire. Resources may be stocks or reserves, information, aid or support, material, energy or features of the natural environment. Excessive demands on natural resources are currently placing global ecosystems under threat, particularly as a result of habitat destruction and degradation with its associated loss of biodiversity. Resource consumption can only endure over the long term if current non-renewable resources are able to be replaced with the sustainable management of alternative renewable resources. (See NATURAL CAPITAL, RENEWABLE RESOURCES.) (MP)

RESOURCE ALLOCATION: Societal or institutional decisions about the distribution of available resources, for example water allocation between the needs of irrigation farmers and riverine ecosystems, or resource allocation to and within government policies, research programs, education institutions, health care and medical resources. (See RESOURCE) (DM & MP)

RESOURCE-BASED PRICING: Pricing of goods and services which reflects the environmental and social costs of the associated extraction of natural resources and production of the product. This provides a monetary disincentive to production processes which are environmentally damaging. (See RESOURCE) (MP)


RESPECT: Show regard, consideration or esteem for; that is, refrain from interfering with (see RESPECT FOR LIFE). (IP)

RESPIRATION: (Latin respirare 'to breathe'). The term can be applied to the events which occur at the level of the whole organism (i) or its constituent cells (ii). (i) The breathing pattern or rhythmic inflation and deflation of the lungs which maintains a steady concentration of oxygen and carbon dioxide for cellular metabolism. The control of respiration is partly chemical and partly nervous. (ii) Cellular respiration - the oxidation of the end products of glycolysis (the enzymic breakdown of glucose to pyruvic acid) to carbon dioxide and water (the tricarboxylic acid cycle) with the generation of 36 molecules of ATP per glucose molecule. Aerobic respiration involves the molecular exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide within the body's tissues. (See PHOTOSYNTHESIS). (IP)

RESPONSIBLE: 1. legally or ethically accountable for the care or welfare of another 2. involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority; that is, answerable for one’s own behavior by being capable of making rational or ethical decisions 3. being the source or cause of something 4. able to be trusted or depended upon, being reliable 5. based upon good judgment or sound thinking. (IP)

RESPONSIBILITY: The act of being responsible (e.g. reliable); accountability (e.g. in law); ownership of the success or otherwise of an undertaking (e.g. business practices); responsibilities are the equal partner of rights - those with human rights are the ones who have the power and therefore the responsibility for those without rights. (See RESPONSIBLE) (MP)

RESTORATION ECOLOGY: Rehabilitation of ecological components of land previously degraded by humans. Reconstruction of a damaged site involves environmental reclamation including the removal of infrastructure, clearing of potential pollutants, and contouring of the land surface and topsoil. Ecological rehabilitation then includes local ecosystem research, bioremediation, nursery, planting and maintenance of appropriate trees, reforestation, habitat restoration, fauna management and ecosystem monitoring. Restoration ecology is an important final component of any extractive development process such as mining or forestry. Restored ecological systems are usually less natural and diverse than originals, and should be considered an adjunct to habitat preservation. Many ecologists are philosophically predisposed to conservation rather than restoration. (See BIOREMEDIATION, TREE-PLANTING) (MP)

RESTRICTION ENZYME, ENDONUCLEASE: A protein that recognizes specific, short nucleotide sequences and cuts DNA at those sites. There are over 400 such enzymes in bacteria that recognize over 100 different DNA sequences. See RESTRICTION ENZYME CUTTING SITE. (DM)

RESTRICTION ENZYME CUTTING SITE: A specific nucleotide sequence of DNA at which a restriction enzyme cuts the DNA. Some sites occur frequently in DNA, every several hundred base pairs, but others occur much less frequently, may be every 10,000 base pairs. (DM)

RESUSCITATION: The reviving of patients from unconsciousness or apparent death, e.g., by restoration of breathing after respiratory arrest or of heartbeat after cardiac arrest. (See DNR, EMERGENCY CARE, RESUSCITATION ORDERS). (DM)

RESUSCITATION ORDERS: Instructions, policies, and decision making regarding the reviving of patients whose respiration and/or heartbeat have stopped. (See DNR). (DM)

RETROVIRUS: A family of Viruses whose genetic material is RNA and is further characterized by the presence of reverse transcriptase in the virion. They can convert RNA to DNA and back to RNA. HIV is a retrovirus. (DM).

RE-USE: This term in the phrase "Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle" refers to using goods and materials again rather than discarding or replacing them. Appreciate items for their usefulness and function rather than their newness and fashion. This form of direct recycling requires no expenditure of energy in the processes of remanufacture. (See RECYCLING, REDUCE) (MP)


REVIEW COMMITTEE ON GENETIC MANIPULATION (RCGM): A Competent authority/committee of the Department of Biotechnology to monitor the safety related aspects in respect or on-going research projects and activities involving genetically engineered organism/hazardous microorganism. It is members may be drawn from other Government departments such as Indian Council of Medical Research. The function of review committee may include prescribing the procedures, restricting or prohibiting production, sale importation and use of such genetically engineered organisms and their cellular components. (JA)

REVERSE GENETICS: Process that involves production of DNA from RNA in the reverse direction to the central dogma of molecular biology. Applied to consider the genetic technology of producing living organisms from dead (frozen /preserved in alcohol) organism's DNA materials. E.g. Frozen mammoth. (DM, JA)

REVERSE TRANSCRIPTASE: An enzyme capable of directing the production of a single-strand DNA copy form an RNA template. (DM)

REVOLUTIONARY: An adjective describing revolution, or a noun describing an individual involved in ideological activism and revolution. From the authoritarian communalistic perspective, the revolutionary is a violent or reactionary menace. For the individualist however, the word often puts a positive connotation on the act of civil disobedience or resistance against oppression. (See ACTIVISM, FREEDOM FIGHTER, TERRORISM) (MP)

RFLP, RESTRICTION FRAGMENT LENGTH POLYMORPHISM: Variation in DNA fragment sizes cut by restriction enzymes; polymorphic sequences that are responsible for RFLPs are used as markers on genetic linkage maps. (DM)

RHYTHM METHOD OF CONTRACEPTION: The avoidance of sexual intercourse near the middle of a 28-day cycle when an egg is most likely to be present in the oviduct but this method is not safe and is best combined with some other method of contraception. (See NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING METHODS). (IP)


RIBOSOMAL RNA, rRNA: A class of RNA found in the ribosomes of cells. give function.

RIBOSOME: The small cellular organelle where polypeptides are assembled from amino acids based on messenger RNA templates. (RW)

RICIN: A deadly toxin obtained from castor bean Ricinus communis that produces agglutination of red blood cells and hemorrhage of the respiratory and gastrointestinal mucosa. The toxin has been used as a biological weapon in the hands of terrorists (see BIOLOGICAL WARFARE). (IP)

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