It is a commonplace in the theory of knowledge (epistemology) that if one genuinely knows then it is not a matter of luck that one's belief is true. A lucky guess, for example, is not knowledge. In our day-to-day lives we often ascribe knowledge to ourselves, and thereby regard ourselves as being able to possess non-lucky true belief. It is this picture of our epistemic standing that is challenged by sceptical arguments. On the standard construal of them, these arguments purport to show that widespread knowledge is impossible on the grounds that where our beliefs are true this is substantively due to luck, despite our conviction to the contrary. According to the sceptic, then, when we believe truly we are not substantially better off, epistemically speaking, than the person who makes a lucky guess. We care about resolving the sceptical problem because knowledge is valuable to us; more valuable than simply having beliefs that are only luckily true. Explaining why knowledge is valuable, however, is notoriously difficult. Suppose we grant that all true belief is instrumentally valuable because it enables us to achieve our goals. While contentious, this claim has some plausibility, since even a true belief about something inconsequential, such as the number of sweets in a jar, could potentially be of use (to enable one to win a prize at a village fair perhaps). It is not clear, however, that the value of knowledge is different in either degree or kind from the value of mere true belief. As the charge goes, so long as one's belief is true, then what does it matter what its epistemic pedigree is? A man who merely truly believes that he is in the best pub in town gets to drink at the same bar as the man who knows that he is. But if knowledge is no more valuable than true belief, then why do we care about the sceptical challenge? The goal of this project is to offer an account of the value of knowledge and in doing so cast light on the sceptical problem. Knowledge, I argue, is indeed of greater value (instrumentally and otherwise) than mere true belief, but this greater degree of value does not account for the importance of resolving sceptical arguments, nor does it captures their enduring appeal. Instead, 1 argue for the provocative thesis that the true focus of scepticism is not on the possibility of knowledge simplifier, as it is usually understood, but rather on the possibility of a particular type of knowledge that is different not only in degree of value from mere true belief, but also different in kind by being of intrinsic value (i.e., its value is not dependent upon something else of value). Furthermore, I maintain that this distinction between knowledge simplifier and a sub-class of knowledge which is intrinsically valuable is mirrored in a parallel distinction between two varieties of epistemic luck; one variety which is incompatible with knowledge simplifier, and one variety which is only incompatible with that sub-class of knowledge which is intrinsically valuable. This way of understanding the sceptical problem has important ramifications for the main anti-sceptical proposals in the contemporary literature. Moreover, since many of these proposals are also advanced as theories of knowledge in their own right, the implications of this approach extend right into mainstream epistemology. This research will result in five full-length articles. Three of these articles are already destined for prominent academic journals and publishers. The remaining two articles will be submitted to world-class philosophy journals.
The purpose of the proposed research is to investigate the importance of sea-level feedbacks (SLF) in stabilizing marine-based ice sheets during their retreat. The proposed investigation will combine new late Pleistocene/Holocene relative sea-level constraints to be collected from raised shorelines, existing offshore marine cores, and isolation basins from across northwestern Scotland to refine the glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) models for the British Isles. The proposal will also investigate SLF feedbacks at a more local level and at the scale of a Late Pleistocene ice stream that once flowed through the Minch of northwestern Scotland. Specifically, we will test three hypotheses: 1.) SLF did not provide a stabilizing influence for the Minch Ice Stream during its retreat following the Last Glacial Maximum, 2.) along indented ice-sheet margins, SLF are governed not by the local ice front but by the regional GIA signal, and 3.) the influence of SLF in stabilizing marine ice streams is a function of the rheology of the Earth beneath it. One of the largest uncertainties related to future projections of sea-level rise is the influence of ice sheets. Model projections differ by as much as 2 m over the next 100 years depending on how existing ice sheets behave with respect to ongoing sea-level rise and warming. Our understanding of the feedbacks between ice sheet behavior and sea-level changes at the scale of extant ice streams of concern (e.g. Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, Jakobshavn Isbrae in Greenland) is limited to numerical models that have rarely been tested against real-world examples at decadal to century time-scales. The retreat of ice streams following the Last Glacial Maximum provides an excellent test ground for the factors controlling the behavior of ice streams during their retreat. The data generated as part of this project will not only examine ice-sheet behavior but also contribute to GIA models used to predict future sea-level changes and past studies of climate, paleogeography, and archeology. It will also provide some of the first absolute ages on raised shorelines across northwestern Scotland.
This PhD project concerns one of the most pressing issues of our time; the 'Climate Emergency', and the proposed use of tree planting to mitigate climate change. Planting trees for carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration is a mitigation strategy for climate change that is rapidly gaining momentum in national and international policy contexts (UNEP 2011; New York Declaration on Forests 2014). Recent high profile publications (e.g. Bastin et al. 2019; Lewis et al. 2019) have emphasized the benefits of afforestation, but have attracted serious criticism for oversimplifying the underpinning science, exaggerating the carbon (C) sequestration potential and failing to acknowledge the possible adverse consequences of tree planting in a range of contrasting environmental, ecological and social contexts (see commentson Bastin et al. 2019).Scotland is currently a relatively sparsely wooded country (~17% of the land area),but could support a much greater woodland coverage, as it has in the past. The Scottish Government has therefore defined annual targets to increase woodland cover - with an assumed parallel increase in C storage - and hence contribute to climate change mitigation.
What is this project about? This project aims to increase the number of people who survive after an "out of hospital cardiac arrest" by helping make sure that people who are trained in resuscitation feel able and confident enough to help. We will do this using text-messages to deliver behaviour change techniques. Why is it important? Every year in the United Kingdom, over 60,000 people have an "out of hospital cardiac arrest". A cardiac arrest is when someone's heart stops suddenly. When this happens outside a hospital e.g. at home or in a car park, this is known as an "out of hospital cardiac arrest" (OHCA). It results in death if the person is not resuscitated immediately. Currently, only one in ten people (10%) survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest in the UK. However, some areas in Europe have achieved higher rates of survival (up to a quarter, or 25% survive) which we'd like to match. What is currently being done about this? The areas in Europe that have achieved the highest rates of survival have achieved high rates of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) (giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and compressing the person's chest) by members of the public. If CPR can be started immediately, people are 4 times more likely to survive. In the UK, we are training as many members of the public as possible to perform CPR but this alone is not quite enough because only a small proportion of the people trained in CPR actually attempt it when they encounter someone in cardiac arrest. The reasons people give for not attempting CPR include things like lack of confidence in their CPR skills, being uncertain whether the person is actually having a cardiac arrest and being worried about doing harm. How will this study help? We can improve people's confidence by using something called "behaviour change techniques". They have been shown to be successful in helping people to stop smoking, lose weight or take more exercise, etc. and we think they can help with the behaviour of doing CPR. Delivering the behaviour change techniques using text-messages will allow us to stay in touch with people for a long time after their initial CPR training and to use videos, images etc. to make our messages appealing and more effective. We hope this approach will help people trained in CPR to remain confident, competent and ready to start CPR if required. What's involved in this study? We are a team with expertise in CPR training, resuscitation and behaviour change techniques. We will work with members of the public (some will have been trained in CPR), experts in CPR training, creative professionals (e.g graphic designers) to develop a text-message based programme for people to receive as part of their CPR training. The research will help us work out how to make the messages useful to those who receive them and to work out what should be included (e.g. simple text messages, aminations or short videos); when and how often we should contact people; how interactive the messages should be, etc. Once we have developed this programme of support, we will test it in a small number of people (20), so we can improve it, based on what they tell us. What happens after the study? We will apply for other funding, so that we can test our programme of support in a very large number of people. This will show how effective it is in helping people trained in CPR to be confident, competent and ready to start CPR if someone has an out of hospital cardiac arrest.
The control of insect pests in agriculture using conventional chemical insecticides has led to widespread insecticide resistance evolution and triggered extensive biodiversity loss. In response to these problems many agricultural sectors are increasingly switching to biological control agents (such as pathogens and parasitoids) as part of an integrated pest management approach. However, in contrast to the volume of research into chemical insecticide resistance, the possibility that target pests may evolve resistance to these biological control agents has received relatively little attention. Insect populations harbour substantial genetic variation for infection susceptibility, providing strong potential for resistance evolution . Evolutionary responses to parasites are often assumed to be due to changes in components of the immune system coded for by the nuclear genome. However, other factors often strongly influence the susceptibility of insect hosts to infection and may provide novel routes to resistance evolution. For example, behaviour can have major impacts on infection susceptibility : insects that avoid contact with parasites may be at a significant evolutionary advantage. Also, insect resistance to parasitism is often strongly influenced by the presence of maternally inherited symbiotic microbes that live inside the insect's tissues: these "influential passengers" can be the principal determinant of infection susceptibility in many systems, meaning that resistance can evolve through the spread of a novel symbiont rather than via genomic evolution . The glasshouse whitefly Trialeurodes vaporariorum is a major pest of agriculture worldwide; in the UK it especially affects greenhouse horticulture. It damages plants by removing resources through sap-sucking, depositing honeydew on foliage thereby promoting fungal growth and by vectoring a range of viral infections. This insect is particularly problematic for commercial greenhouse tomato growers in the UK; growers deploy a range of control agents against whitefly, two of which are the parasitoid wasp Encarsia formosa and biopesticides formulated from the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. Whilst agricultural monocultures can rapidly select for resistance phenotypes in pests, we are especially interested in how ecological heterogeneity can be enhanced in horticulture by planting multiple plant species/varieties and whether this can impede resistance evolution.