Virtual issue on honor of Jesper Hoffmeyer
5 weeks ago
UTOPISM. *** In the long run, nothing else is realistic. *** Welcome to the English language blog of Morten Tønnessen, Professor of philosophy at University of Stavanger's Department of Social Studies.
Tønnessen, Morten 2011. Visjon 2040: Fra overlagt rovdrift til Utopi Buane [Vision 2040: From deliberate exploitation to Utopia Buane]. Available online (Academia.edu, ResearchGate (DOI: 10.13140/2.1.4708.9289), Scribd). 18 pp.
Tønnessen, Morten 2013. Analyse av partiprogrammer for 2013–2017 – utført for Dyreetikkonferansen 2013 [Analysis of political party programs for 2013–2017 – conducted for the Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference 2013]. NGO report. Oslo 2013: Dyreetikkonferansen. Available online (incl. via ResearchGate, DOI: 10.13140/2.1.3693.1203). 21pp.
Tønnessen, Morten 2014. Menneskedyret og dets plass i verden [The human animal and its place in the world]. Published online in the blog of Minding Animals Norway July 23rd 2014; ResearchGate July 23rd 2014 (DOI: 10.13140/2.1.3365.4402).
Biosemiotics is dedicated to building a bridge between biology, philosophy, linguistics and the communication sciences. If it is true that biosemiotics is "the study of signs, of communication and of information in living organisms" (Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 1997, p. 72), it is also true that, in time, it has acquired a more general scope. Today, its main challenge is the attempt to naturalize biological meaning, in the belief that signs are fundamental, constitutive components of the living world. Biosemiotics has triggered revision of fundamentals of both biology and semiotics: biology needs to recognize the semiotic nature of life and reformulate its theories accordingly, and semiotics has to accept the existence of signs in animals, plants, and even individual cells. Biosemiotics has become in this way the leading edge of the research on the fundamentals of life, and is a young exciting field on the move.
By providing both a place for – and access to – exceptional peer-reviewed papers on the emerging discipline of biosemiotics, the journal will offer an instrument of its development by publishing papers in all relevant areas of the natural sciences and the humanities. In particular, the journal is focused on publishing original papers that explore deep links between biology and semiotics. Special issues are dedicated to some of the most interesting and provoking ideas in biosemiotics. In addition, the journal helps the readers to navigate in the current literature by publishing subject reviews and book reviews.
Sarv, Anu 2013. Õppejõu enese reﬂeksioon ja professionaalne identiteet [Self-reflection and professional identity of a university teacher] (= Dissertationes Semioticae Universitatis Tartuensis 17). Tartu: Tartu University Press.
16. Morten Tønnessen. Umwelt transition and Uexküllian phenomenology. An ecosemiotic analysis of Norwegian wolf management. Tartu, 2011. 231 p. [Introduction available online]
Introducing biosemiotic ethics
Morten Tønnessen, Associate professor in philosophy at University of Stavanger, Norway
In this paper, which sets the scene for the session “Biosemiotic ethics”, I start out by outlining various contributions to biosemiotic ethics (Hoffmeyer 1993, Kull 2001, Tønnessen 2003, Beever 2011, Beever and Tønnessen 2013, Acampora 2014, Tønnessen and Beever, forthcoming), and also refer briefly to semioethics and existential semiotics.
Next I ask: How does biosemiotic ethics differ from other approaches within normative ethics? Relatedly: How have contributions to biosemiotic ethics drawn on other approaches in normative ethics? In this second section of the paper I will particularly relate to Bentham 1823 and Singer 2002 , and ask: In what ways does a biosemiotic ethics potentially take us beyond sentience-centered approaches? Does biosemiotic ethics represent a new form of consequentialism, or should it be placed within some other tradition?
In the third and concluding section of the paper, I raise a number of questions which should be investigated in the future development of biosemiotic ethics, namely: What ramifications do different views on the semiotic threshold have within the context of normative ethics? Is there (something akin to) normativity in the very constitution of the Umwelt? Does the semiosphere at large (qua biosphere) have intrinsic value? And what, in terms of biosemiosis, is the origin of value?
Acknowledgement: This work has been carried out thanks to the support of the research project “Animals in Changing Environments: Cultural Mediation and Semiotic Analysis” (EEA Norway Grants/Norway Financial Mechanism 2009–2014 under project contract no. EMP151).
Acampora, Ralph R. 2014. The (proto-)ethical significance of semiosis: When and how does one become somebody who matters? In Kadri Tüür and Morten Tønnessen (eds) 2014: The Semiotics of Animal Representations (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi), 343–362.
Beever, Jonathan 2011. Meaning matters: The biosemiotic basis of bioethics. Biosemiotics 5(2): 181–191.
Beever, Jonathan and Morten Tønnessen 2013. “Darwin und die englische Moral”: The moral consequences of Uexküll’s Umwelt theory. Biosemiotics 6(3): 437–447.
Bentham, Jeremy 1823. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (2nd edition).
Hoffmeyer, Jesper 1993. Biosemiotics and ethics. In Nina Witoszek and Elisabeth Gulbrandsen (eds) 1993: Culture and Environment: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Oslo: Centre for Development and the Environment), 152–176.Kull, Kalevi 2001. Biosemiotics and the problem of intrinsic value of nature. Sign Systems Studies 29(1): 353–365.Singer, Peter 2002 . Animal Liberation. New York: Random House, Inc.Tønnessen, Morten 2003. Umwelt ethics. Sign Systems Studies 31 (1): 281–299.
Tønnessen, Morten and Jonathan Beever, forthcoming (2015). Beyond sentience: Biosemiotics as foundation for animal and environmental ethics. In John Hadley and Elisa Aaltola (eds): Animal ethics and Philosophy: Questioning the Orthodoxy (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers).