44,700 research outputs found

    We Don't Need No Noumena? Freedom Through Rational Self-Cultivation in Kant

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    In this paper I argue that we find in Kant a more plausible alternative to his transcendental conception of freedom. In the Metaphysics of Morals in particular, we find a naturalistic conception of freedom premised upon a theory of rational self-cultivation. The motivation for a naturalising reading of Kant is two-fold. On the one hand, a naturalistic conception of freedom avoids the charges levelled against Kant’s 'panicky metaphysics', which both forces us to accept an ontologically extravagant picture of the world and the self, and also commits us to understanding freedom in nonspatiotemporal terms, thus excluding the possibility that the process of becoming free is progressive. And second, on a naturalistic reading we can repackage normativity back into Kant’s account of freedom, which has seemed to scholars unacceptably absent. I explain how the process of becoming free, on the naturalistic view, involves cultivating certain 'aesthetic preconditions of the mind’s receptivity to concepts of duty'.1 Happily, these conditions incur no unpalatable ontological penalties; rather, they constitute an achievement of the rational aspect of the self. Pointedly, this is not a self who is free only in virtue of having membership in the noumenal realm. Rather, effortful self-development entails a battle to become practically free, and thereby moral. The primary attraction to this reading of Kant is that it describes freedom as a naturalistic achievement, rather than a metaphysical given. Thus I show that by jettisoning, or at least naturalising, the picture of noumenal selfhood we not only find a theory that is poorer in panicky metaphysics, but much richer in normative force

    Analysis of mitochondrial control region DNA variation in New Zealand's brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Ecology at Massey University

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    Brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) were first introduced from Australia to New Zealand in 1858 to establish a fur industry. Currently numbering more than 65 million, they are recognised as the most important mammalian pest in New Zealand, because of the environmental and agricultural damage they cause. Possums act as a wildlife reservoir of bovine tuberculosis (Tb) and, as such, threaten New Zealand's multi-million dollar beef and dairy industry. Eliminating bovine Tb in livestock requires removal of contact with infected possums. This is mainly achieved through the intensive poisoning of areas of known wildlife Tb infection and the establishment around them of zones of low possum density (known as buffer zones) adjacent to at-risk farmland. Not only does this result in lower possum density, and thus fewer dispersing possums, but may also affect the movement patterns of possums. Measurement of gene frequency differences between populations associated with a buffer zone would allow a qualitative estimate of the effect of buffer zones on limiting possum movement. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region is an effective marker for detecting intraspccific genetic structure because it has a high mutation rate, lack of recombination and uniparental mode of inheritance. An extensive survey of brushtail possum mtDNA control region variation in New Zealand was conducted to quantify levels of variation and thus assess the utility of the mtDNA control region as a marker for detecting genetic differentiation between possum populations. Nine haplotypes were found among 70 possums from throughout New Zealand. Most of the variation (six haplotypes) was concentrated in the North Island, and the most widespread haplotype (occurring in all four islands surveyed) was also the most common - found in 67% of possums surveyed. The technique of single stranded conformation polymorphism (SSCP) was developed for the brushtail possum so that a quick, cost-effective and sensitive method for surveying mtDNA control region variation in large numbers of individuals was available. This assay was applied to screen the variation in possums separated by small spatial scales associated with two buffer zones in the South Island. A total of 234 possums were screened, with 98.7% found to possess the same haplotype. The other 1.3%, all from one location, possessed a second haplotype. The extremely low levels of variation makes it highly unlikely that surveys of variation in mtDNA will be able to detect an effect of buffer zones on possum movement, at least in the South Island. Areas of higher variation, such as certain parts on the North Island, would be better candidates for testing the effect of barriers such as buffer zones on genetic differentiation between possum populations

    Planetary astronomy

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    The goal is to use a variety of observational techniques and instruments to reduce, interpret, and synthesize groundbased astronomical data concerning the comets, asteroids, and other small bodies of the solar system in order to study the compositions, physical characteristics, population properties, and evolution of these bodies. This year's research has involved five distinct efforts. Chapman has studied asteroids, with emphasis on synthesizing groundbased databases to determine surface mineralogies and population characteristics; many new results on astronomy, size-distributions, and asteroid family traits have been obtained

    Planetary astronomy

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    Many asteroids are known to be non-spherical, as revealed by changes in their brightness as they rotate (light curves) and present varying cross-sections to view. Models of collisional evolution of the asteroid belt suggest that many of the larger asteroids are shattered rubble piles, consisting of fragments bound together by gravity. If these assemblages are sufficiently weak, they should relax to equilibrium shapes that depend only on their spin periods and densities. Thus, if shape of an asteroid is known, one might infer its density and internal structure

    The 1979 eclipse of zeta Aurigae

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    Observations of the system zeta Aurigae made around primary eclipse are described, and their significance is discussed in a preliminary fashion

    Spectrophotometric study of asteroids

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    Observations of particular faint asteroids of interest, in particular the Trojans, were carried out during an observation run at Kitt Peak National Observatory (1.3 meter telescope) in September 1973, and an attempt was made to study the compositional variation within Hirayama families. A particularly important study was initiated to observe spectrophotometrically certain asteroids which are considered as potential source bodies for meteorites. A program was also undertaken to coordinate the spectrophotometry program with polarimetric and thermal-infrared observation programs being conducted elsewhere

    Stochastic modelling of reaction-diffusion processes:\ud algorithms for bimolecular reactions

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    Several stochastic simulation algorithms (SSAs) have been recently proposed for modelling reaction-diffusion processes in cellular and molecular biology. In this paper, two commonly used SSAs are studied. The first SSA is an on-lattice model described by the reaction-diffusion master equation. The second SSA is an off-lattice model based on the simulation of Brownian motion of individual molecules and their reactive collisions. In both cases, it is shown that the commonly used implementation of bimolecular reactions (i.e. the reactions of the form A+B → C, or A+A → C) might lead to incorrect results. Improvements of both SSAs are suggested which overcome the difficulties highlighted. In particular, a formula is presented for the smallest possible compartment size (lattice spacing) which can be correctly implemented in the first model. This implementation uses a new formula for the rate of bimolecular reactions per compartment (lattice site)

    Exponentially slow transitions on a Markov chain: the frequency of Calcium Sparks

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    Calcium sparks in cardiac muscle cells occur when a cluster of Ca2+ channels open and release Ca2+ from an internal store. A simplified model of Ca2+ sparks has been developed to describe the dynamics of a cluster of channels, which is of the form of a continuous time Markov chain with nearest neighbour transitions and slowly varying jump functions. The chain displays metastability, whereby the probability distribution of the state of the system evolves exponentially slowly, with one of the metastable states occurring at the boundary. An asymptotic technique for analysing the Master equation (a differential-difference equation) associated with these Markov chains is developed using the WKB and projection methods. The method is used to re-derive a known result for a standard class of Markov chains displaying metastability, before being applied to the new class of Markov chains associated with the spark model. The mean first passage time between metastable states is calculated and an expression for the frequency of calcium sparks is derived. All asymptotic results are compared with Monte Carlo simulations
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