Submit to Biosemiotics?

Friday, 28 February 2020

Panel held on theme "Almost a human?" at documentary film festival "Human rights, human wrongs"

Yesterday evening I took part in a panel following screening of "Unlocking the cage" at Vega scene during the documentary film festival "Human rights, human wrongs" (Feb 24 - march 1). The event was titled "Nesten et menneske?" (Almost a human?) and focused on chimpanzees and other cognitively complex animals and whether these should have (more) legal rights. The panel also featured activist Siri Martinsen (leader of NOAH) and Alf Butenschøn Skre (senior advisor at Norwegian National Human Rights Institution - ENNHRI), and was chaired by journalist Anne Håskoll-Haugen. The event further featured author Alfred Fidjestøl presenting his book about the Norwegian chimpanzee Julius. Up to 50 people attended.
See also:

One meeting via Skype

Today I have attended an appointments committee meeting via Skype related to a position as head of department.

Abstract for 20th gathering in Biosemiotics (Olomouc): "Introducing a Three-Dimensional Interactive Semiotic Model of Environmental Change"

I have just submitted my paper abstract for the 20th gathering in biosemiotics, to be held in Olomouc, the Czech Republic, this July.

**

"Introducing a Three-Dimensional Interactive Semiotic Model of Environmental Change"

In this paper I present a three-dimensional interactive semiotic model of environmental change which incorporates some elements from my previous work and introduces new, related elements. The paper draws directly on work from my recently published article “What can be known about future Umwelten?” (Tønnessen 2019).  

This model is interactive because it demonstrates the constant interplay between different forms of causation and signals. It is three-dimensional because it takes three dimensions of living nature into consideration (see Table 1 below; taken from Tønnessen 2019: 419), namely the Innenwelt, the Umwelt and the Umgebung of a creature endowed with an Umwelt (typically an animal, a human being or a microorganism) (von Uexküll 1921). By applying a subjective perspective focused on the inner world (Innenwelt) and outer world (Umwelt) of animals and humans, and the subjective worlds´ relation to relevant aspects of the physical environment (Umgebung), the model builds directly on von Uexküll´s Umwelt theory.

The organism relates to its physical environment in two fundamentally different ways, namely by way of signification and by way of efficient causation, and it is thus involved in both semiotic and physio-chemical processes, with the former being endosemiotic in the Innenwelt and exosemiotic in the Umwelt.

The complex interplay between the three dimensions of living nature is illustrated in Figure 3 below (taken from Tønnessen 2019: 420). The interplay between the various dimensions involve environmental signals (originating from the Umgebung) which triggers Umwelt signals (originating from the Umwelt) which triggers Innenwelt signals (originating from the Innenwelt) which in turn triggers action and thus semiotic causation, or in other words “the bringing about of changes [in the Umgebung] under the guidance of interpretation” (Hoffmeyer 2008: 149).     

The change from one interplay cycle to another can be understood as an Umwelt transition, and seen in context, several Umwelt transitions can be understood as constituting an Umwelt trajectory. Change from one interplay cycle to another also constitutes an Innenwelt transition, and seen in context, several Innenwelt transitions constitute an Innenwelt trajectory: i.e., the course through time taken by the Innenwelt of a creature as defined by its changing relation to itself and its own body.

As we see in this complex, dynamic model of environmental change, changes in, e.g., identity, experience, and the physical environment are interrelated, and change in one dimension can be triggered by changes in the other two dimensions. While the physical environment is constantly affected by living creatures (via semiotic causation), it also changes irrespective of the actions of Umwelt creatures—via efficient causation. This in turn affects environmental signals that again, in ever new cycles, trigger new Umwelt signals, which trigger new Innenwelt signals, which trigger new actions and thus new forms of semiotic causation, and so on.   

References 
Hoffmeyer, Jesper 2008. Semiotic Scaffolding of living systems. In Marcello Barbieri (ed.), Introduction to Biosemiotics: The New Biological Synthesis (Dordrecht: Springer), 149–166.  
Tønnessen, Morten 2019. What can be known about future Umwelten? The American Journal of Semiotics 35(3-4): 401–429. DOI: 10.5840/ajs202012359 
von Uexküll, Jakob 1921. Umwelt und Innenwelt der Tiere (2nd edition). Berlin: Verlag von Julius Springer.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

One meeting; then off to Oslo

Today I attended the Faculty leadership meeting.
 
Later today I am to appear in a panel debate during the documentary film festival Human rights, human wrongs.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Writing day; 6.000 words written in February

Today I had an article writing day, with some 6 hours devoted to planning for my contributions to the book Semiotic Agency: Science beyond mechanism, which I co-write with Alexei Sharov, and literature search/work with the reference list for my companion chapter "Semiotics in ethology and zoology".

Total number of article writing days so far this Spring is 17,5. In February I had 8 writing days, resulting in ca. 6.000 words written (of which about 600 today).

"What can be known about future Umwelten?" published in issue; 2019 Cristin reporting finalized

My article "What can be known about future Umwelten?" has now been assigned to an issue of The American Journal of Semiotics. Specifically, it appears in no. 35 (3-4), the last, double issue of the 2019 volume. Full reference:
Tønnessen, Morten 2019. What can be known about future Umwelten? The American Journal of Semiotics 35(3-4): 401–429. Published online January 30th 2020. DOI: 10.5840/ajs202012359.
 Being included in my 2019 reporting to the Current Research Information System in Norway (Cristin), this means I have 3 articles qualifying for "publication points" - and altogether 2,6 publication poins for 2019.

7.000 reads on ResearchGate; score

I have been notified that my "research items" on ResearchGate has reached 7.000 reads.

My ResearchGate "score" is currently 18.49.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Two half writing days

I had half an article writing day on Sunday and another one today, with some 600 words written yesterday and another 300 words today. While yesterday´s work was related to my paper "The case for minimizing anthropogenic mortality in wildlife management", today´s was devoted to the chapter "Semiotics in ethology and zoology".

Total number of article writing days so far this Spring is 16,5.

To take part in panel discussion after screening of documentary "Unlocking the cage"

On Thursday February 27th, this week, I will take part in a panel discussion during the documentary film festival "Human rights, human wrongs" in Oslo. The panel discussion is held on Vega scene and follows the screening of the documentary "Unlocking the cage".

The debate is titled "Nesten et menneske?" (Almost a human being?).

Event info here.


Sunday, 23 February 2020

Paper proposal for IAEP 2020: "The case for minimizing anthropogenic mortality in wildlife management"

I have just composed and submitted my paper abstract "The case for minimizing anthropogenic mortality in wildlife management" to the organizers of the 2020 conference of the International Association for Environmental Philosophy, to be held in Toronto, Canada, October 10-12th.

***

The case for minimizing anthropogenic mortality in wildlife management  

PROPOSAL 
Recent research has established that humans currently act as an unsustainable super-predator, with kill rates that by far surpasses the kill rates of other predators (Darimont et al. 2015). This is a key factor behind the contemporary marginalization of wildlife globally and the escalating biodiversity crisis. Darimont et al. (2015) suggest that humans should regard other predators as representing models of sustainable behaviour and aim for reducing kill rates until they are at comparable levels. This may be characterized as the “sustainable predation” view. While I have some sympathy for that view, I instead propose the “minimizing predation” view, which holds that anthropogenic mortality in wildlife management (i.e. the extent of deaths among wildlife caused by humans) should be minimized. I suggest that this should be a central goal in wildlife management, and that society´s performance with regard to reducing anthropogenic mortality among wildlife should be seen as a key success factor in the assessment of conservation efforts. 

Conceptually, this discussion should take a wide, comprehensive notion of wildlife management as its starting point, since this is what makes most sense from a human ecology perspective. Conceived of in this way, wildlife management involves any management of wildlife by the hands of humans, regardless of whether the management is public or private, whether it is legal or illegal, and whether it is related to sustenance (hunting or fishing), regulation of animal populations, or any other lethal or non-lethal encounters between humans and wild animals. With such a comprehensive notion of wildlife management, any encounter between humans and wild animals falls within the scope of our discussion. 

The finding that humans are currently unsustainable super-predators is reflected in the fact that many today regard “wildlife management” as synonymous with making use of lethal management practices. I experienced this first-hand when I once called my local wildlife committee for advice on how to handle a baby seagull gone astray just outside my entrance door and was advised to get a firm grip around its neck and bang its head against the wall. Killing appears to be the gut reaction of many humans whenever they encounter wild animals that they perceive to cause problems. Whether one adopts the “sustainable predation” view or the “minimizing predation” view, changing the human mindset towards wild animals will require persistent and long-term action, and a vigorous focus on non-lethal ways to treat animals. 

The main arguments in favor of the “minimizing predation” view can be outlined as follows:  
  1. Humans have a moral responsibility that implies that the killing of animals must be justified in terms of needs and in light of possible alternative actions; if killings are not justified by the satisfaction of needs, or if alternative actions are practically and morally preferable, then the killings in question should not occur. 
  2. Given the currently historically high human population, even kill rates on par with those of other predators will likely result in an excessive human ecological dominance which may not be reconcilable with acknowledging the intrinsic value of all sentient beings and/or resolving the biodiversity crisis. 
  3. Pragmatically, reducing kill rates as much as possible is preferable to any fixed goal.  
On a final note, the discussion outlined here could at some later occasion fruitfully be expanded to also address issues related to liminal animals, many of which are treated as pest species (cf. the baby seagull); domesticated animals, most of which are killed routinely; and non-animal wildlife.  

Reference 
Darimont, Chris T., Caroline H. Fox, Heather M. Bryan and Thomas E. Reimchen. 2015. The unique ecology of human predators. Science 349 (6250): 858–861.   

SHORT ABSTRACT 
I argue that anthropogenic mortality (deaths caused by humans) among wildlife should be minimized, suggest that this should be a central goal in wildlife management, and that society´s performance with regard to reaching this goal should be seen as a key success factor in the assessment of conservation efforts. This “minimizing predation” view is contrasted with the “sustainable predation” view which implies that human kill rates should be reduced until they are on par with the kill rates of non-human predators. I outline a moral, an ecological, and a pragmatic argument in favor of the “minimizing predation” view.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Half article day; two article projects likely cancelled

Today I have had half an article writing day, with a little preparation done for my chapter "Neurosemiotics across species". I also realized that two year-old article projects (with data collection dating back some five years), "Proto-language in wolves" and "Synchronicity in human perception of animals", will likely not materialize, for one thing due to a poorly planned research design during data collection.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

15th article day this Spring

Today I have had an article writing day with work done on or related to three articles. I reviewed the latest version of "Learning to fly again” – What children in care`sfriluftsliv experiences tell us about the guidance they need to experiencejoyful leisure" (Joakim Jiri Haaland is first author), looked through, saved and spread the word about my article “Current human ecology in the Amazon and beyond: A multiscale ecosemiotic approach”, which was published online in Biosemiotics yesterday, and made some table of contents research and notes for my chapter “Neurosemiotics across species”.

To write chapter to handbook in neurosemiotics

I have confirmed that I accept the invitation to contribute with a chapter to a Routledge Handbook in Neurosemiotics (cf. previous post). The chapter is tentatively titled "Neurosemiotics across species".

Title of article with Joakim Jiri Haaland; to be made available for feedback

My article co-written with Joakim Jiri Haaland, whose ph.d. I supervise, is now titled "“Learning to fly again” – What children in care`s friluftsliv experiences tell us about the guidance they need to experience joyful leisure" (Joakim is first author, I am second author). A draft of the article is to be be made available for feedback tomorrow ahead of a midway seminar (50% seminar) in relation to Joakim´s ph.d. which will take place at Universiy of Stavanger´s Department of social studies on March 6th.

"Current Human Ecology in the Amazon and beyond: a Multi-Scale Ecosemiotic Approach" published online; reference

My article "Current Human Ecology in the Amazon and beyond: a Multi-Scale Ecosemiotic Approach" was published online (Open Access) in Biosemiotics yesterday.

Reference:
Tønnessen, Morten 2020. Current human ecology in the Amazon and beyond: A multi-scale ecosemiotic approach. Biosemiotics. Published online February 19th 2020. DOI: 10.1007/s12304-020-09379-8. 
The article includes these tables and figure (see also Figure 1 below):

Research administration meeting

Yesterday I attended a faculty research administration meeting devoted to work on a hearing statement on the Research Council of Norways strategy for 2020-2024, and revision of our application form for establishing research groups at the faculty follow feedback and input from union representatives.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Moscow report by Arran Gare (Gathering in biosemiotics)

An article by Arran Gare published in Sign Systems Studies summarizes the 19th gathering in biosemiotics, which was held in Moscow last summer. 


Excerpts:
A number of presenters grappled with issues raised by ecology. Morten Tønnessen examined biosemiotic relationality to show how it is required to understand ecological complexity. This, and other presentations on ecology, also grappled with environmental and political problems.

Three meetings; appointed member of work group to fix UIS quality system

Today I have attended three meetings in my capacity as Vice-Dean of research at University of Stavanger´s Faculty of social sciences: First a 3 hour work meeting on the faculty´s strategy with the faculty leadership group, next the monthly meeting of the doctoral committee for the ph.d. programme in social sciences, which I chaired, and finally a 2 hour meeting on the university´s follow-up work on NOKUT´s disallowance of the UIS´ quality system (I have been appointed to one of the five work groups that are established to geth things fixed).

Monday, 17 February 2020

A meeting

Today I attended an appointments committee meeting related to a position as head of department at our faculty.

Half writing day; Amazon/human ecology article proof-read

Today I have had half an article writing day, devoted to proof-reading my article "Current Human Ecology in the Amazon and beyond: a Multi-Scale Ecosemiotic Approach" which should appear online in Biosemiotics in a few days.

This brings accumulated number of writng days so far this Spring up to 14.

Friday, 14 February 2020

News story and photos from Fagdag

Yesterday´s Fagdag (academic day) at Faculty of social sciences is featured in a intranet news story by Live Kolstad Kvalsvik titled "Grepene som skaper god formidling" (the measures that results in quality dissemination).

Photos below: By Live Kolstad Kvalsvik



A meeting

Today I attended an appointments committee meeting related to a head of department position at our faculty.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

"Fagdag" and a meeting

Today I co-chaired the annual "fagdag" (academic day) of Faculty of social sciences along with Turid Borgen. The topic was dissemination (formidling). Some 60 people attended.

I also attended a work meeting in the research administration of the faculty.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Writing day - reference work; handbook

Today I have had an article writing day devoted to work on my chapter for the Bloomsbury semiotics reference work, "Semiotics in ethology and zoology", for which I developed a first table of contents, and consideration of an invitation to write a book chapter for a handbook in neurosemiotics.

This brings the number of writing days so far this Spring up to 13,5.

Reference for "The true value of „doing well“ economically" chapter

My economics chapter on what it means (and should mean) to be "doing well" economically is about to be published (official publication date is February 19th). Full reference:
Tønnessen, Morten 2020. The true value of „doing well“ economically. In Piero Formica & John Edmondson (eds.), Innovation and the Arts: The Value of Humanities Studies for Business, pp. 91–109. Emarald Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78973-885-820201005

Appointments committee meeting

Today I have attended the appointments committee meeting at Faculty of social sciences. Two positions to be announced, one person hired.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Three meetings and cake

Today I have attended the Faculty of social sciences´ leadership group meeting, which included a meeting with Innovation Norway. I also attended a meeting between our faculty and Faculty of science and technology (held to explore possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration), and (most of) the staff meeting at Department of social studies - which morphed into a celebration of Thonette Myking, who is about to retire.

Peer-review for IACS4

I have recently peer-reviewed two abstracts for the 4th conference of International Association for cognitive semiotics (IACS4), to be held in Germany this summer.

Council for animal ethics meeting attended

Yesterday I attended the meeting of Norway´s Council for animal ethics, in Oslo. A productive meeting.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Writing day; work on co-authored article on friluftsliv and child welfare

Today I have had a 5-hour article writing day devoted to work on the article I co-write with my Ph.d. student Joakim Jiri Haaland as second author. I have added some 900 words to the text, and contributed to framing and revision of the article structure.

This brings the number of writing days so far this Spring up to 12,5.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Call for candidates for MSCA IF 2020

Interested in coming to University of Stavanger to do a Post.Doc. under supervison by me or one of the other Greenhouse members? Info about application procedure etc. here. Statements of interests (which is only the first step in the process) are due February 28th.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Book contract signed with Springer Nature

Today I have signed our book contract with Springer Nature concerning the book Semiotic Agency: Science beyond mechanism (first author: Alexei Sharov; I am co-author). The book will appear in the Biosemiotics book series.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

A meeting and then some

Today I have attended another work meeting related to the soon to be established arrangement for research groups at our faculty. I have also had a work lunch with a colleague to explore potential for research collaboration.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Half writing day

Today I have had half an article writing day devoted to work on the article I co-write with my Ph.d. student Joakim Jiri Haaland, now titled “Learning to fly again” – What can children in care`s experiences with friluftsliv tell us about the guidance they need to experience joyful leisure?"

Chronicle in Stavanger aftenblad: Countdown to doomsday?

Today I have a chronicle in print in Stavanger Aftenblad, titled "Nedtelling til dommedag?" (Countdown to doomsday?). It appeared online last night.




Tuesday, 4 February 2020

11th article writing day; societal transformation paper finished

Yesterday and last night (sic) I had this Spring´s 11th article writing day, with some 10 hours devoted to my article “Anticipating the societal transformation required to solve the environmental crisis in the 21st century: Umwelt trajectories revisited“. A record-breaking (at least for this year) 3.000 words written.

Three-four meetings

Today I attended the faculty leadership meeting, which included a half hour meeting on the Research Council of Norway application process this Spring, a work meeting on the new arrangement for funds for research groups, and an appointments committee meeting for the position as Head of department of Department of media and social studies.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Half article writing day

Today I have had half an article writing day devoted to work on my article "Anticipating the societal transformation required to solve the environmental crisis in the 21th century: Umwelt trajectories revisited", with some 400 words added.

Total number of article writing days so far this Spring is 10.