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1568.Английский язык

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Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Устная и письменная речь
Учебное пособие для аспирантов
Рекомендовано учебно-методическим советом УГУЭС
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
УДК 811.111'271.1(076)
ББК 81.2Англ
В 15
Петрова Е.А., канд. филол. наук, доцент кафедры
иностранных и русского языков УЮИ МВД России;
Казанцева Е.А., канд. филол. наук, зав. кафедрой
«Специальная языковая подготовка»
Уфимского государственного университета экономики и сервиса
Валиахметова Э.К.
В 15 Английский язык. Устная и письменная речь: Учебное пособие для
аспирантов / Э.К. Валиахметова. – Уфа: Уфимский государственный
университет экономики и сервиса, 2013. – 63 с.
ISBN 978-5-88469-607-5
Пособие нацелено на отработку и закрепление навыков устной и
письменной речи на английском языке. Упражнения построены на базе общей,
деловой и научной лексики и призваны научить писать научные письма,
аннотации, резюме и рефераты прочитанного, составлять доклад и сообщение
по теме специальности, описывать графики, схемы и таблицы.
Предназначено для аспирантов и научных работников и всех изучающих
английский язык.
ISBN 978-5-88469-607-5
© Валиахметова Э.К., 2013
© Уфимский государственный университет
экономики и сервиса, 2013
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
1. Speaking about oneself……………………………………………………………4
2. Speaking about native town……………………………………………………….5
3. Speaking about studies at the university…………………………………………..6
4. Speaking about work………………………………………………………………7
5. Speaking about scientific activity…………………………………………………8
1. Reading graphs…………………………………………………………………….9
2. Reading bar graphs………………………………………………………………12
3. Reading pie charts………………………………………………………………..15
4. Reading tables……………………………………………………………………19
1. How to write a summary…………………………………………………………22
2. How to write an annotation………………………………………………………23
3. How to write an abstract…………………………………………………………23
4. Texts for economic specialties…………………………………………………...27
5. Texts for humanitarian specialties……………………………………………….32
6. Texts for chemical specialties……………………………………………………51
7. Texts for engineering specialties………………………………………………...54
8. How to write scientific letters……………………………………………………58
Recommended sources for further development…………………………………...62
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I. Answer the following questions:
1. What is your name (surname, first name, patronymic)?
My name is…
I am …
2. How do you spell it?
I spell it as …
Its spelling is …
3. How old are you?
4. What do you do?
I am a …
I work as a … at …
5. Are you married?
I am married/ single/ divorced/ separated.
I’ve got a wife/ husband.
Her/ his name is …
She/ he is … years old.
She/ he works as/ is a …
6. Have you got children?
I’ve got a daughter/ son.
Her/ his name is …
She/ he is … years old.
She/ he goes to school/ kindergarten.
7. How do you spend your
free time?
I read books (scientific, historical, detective
stories, fictions, adventure novels, love
stories.). My favourite writer/ author is …
The last book I read is …
I like sports (climbing mountains, travelling,
hunting, fishing, skiing, skating, playing
basketball/ volleyball/ tennis/ football/
hockey/ chess/ draughts…).
I am interested in arts. I like dancing, singing,
listening to music, playing the piano/ guitar/
violin …, drawing, collecting stamps/ coins.
I am fond of needlework: knitting, sewing.
Speaking about yourself.
Example: My name is Gareeva Marina Damirovna. I spell my name as M A R
I N A. I am twenty-four. I work as an assistant lecturer at Ufa State University of
Economics and Service. I am married. My husband’s name is Igor. Igor is twenty4
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six. He is a businessman. We’ve got a son. His name is Victor. He is two. He stays
home with a baby-sitter. We spend together our spare time. We play with our kid, go
to the park or visit our parents. And I have hobbies. I like reading. I like Victoria
Tokareva’s novels. The last her book I read is Ты есть. It is a melodrama about
love and treachery. Besides I like sport. I’ve been playing tennis since 2002. I go to
the training twice a week – on Monday and Friday. And I am fond of dancing.
II. Answer the following questions:
1. Where are you from?
I am from …
I was born in …
My native town is …
2. What can you say about
your town?
Big/small, industrial/cultural/educational
There are many/ a few parks, squares,
Plants, factories, enterprises
Kindergartens, schools, technical schools,
3. Where do you live in Ufa?
My address is …(house, street, apartment/ flat )
I live at …
4. What sort of flat have you got?
Big/ small, light/ dark, a hall, a kitchen,
a balcony, a bathroom, a lavatory,
a living-room, a dining-room, a study,
a bedroom.
Look onto the South/North/East/West
5. What is your telephone number?
(two-five-three-double four-seven-eight )
Speaking about your native town.
Example: I am from Birsk. It is a small green town to the north of Ufa. It is
situated on the high bank of the Belaya. It is not big. There are only few enterprises
in it. The branches of some universities are located in Birsk. But there are many
technical schools in my native town. Many specialists of the agrarian sector are
trained there. There are a lot of shops in the town. And there are a few monuments.
The most popular of them is the monument to the founder of Birsk. It represents a
man with a dog lying at his feet. You can see it in the central square. My native town
is very green and clean. There are trees and flower-beds with beautiful flowers
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III. Answer the following questions:
1. What higher school did you graduate from?
Bashkir State University
Bashkir State Agrarian University
Ufa State Technical University
Ufa State Oil University
Ufa State University of Economics and
2. When did you live the university?
I graduated from it in …/last year/…years ago
I left it …
3. What subjects were you good at the university at?
Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Inorganic
Chemistry, Maths, Physics, Classical
Mechanics, Economics, Accounting, History,
Philosophy, Sociology, English, Natural
4. Were you a member of the students’ scientific society?
5. Did you take part at a students’ scientific conferences?
Speaking about your studies at the university.
Example: In 2005 I entered Bashkir State University, Economics Department.
I liked it very much. My group-mates were very friendly. And we spent our time
together. At the university we studied many subjects – Philosophy, History, English,
Maths, Sociology, Natural Science, Economics, Management and many others. I
liked all the subjects. But I was especially good at Economics. I attended the
meetings of the students’ scientific society. They were held once a week. We
discussed many problems of the present economy and prepared reports. When a
student I took part at students’ conferences – in 2010 and 2011. I spoke about the
economic problems of Bashkiria. Last year I graduated from the university and
became a specialist.
IV. Answer the following questions:
1. Where do you work?
I work as at a/the …
2. What time do you start your work?
I start my work at …
My working day starts at …
3. What time do you stop your work?
I stop working at …
My working day stops at …
4. Do you get on all right with your colleagues?
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5. What is your boss like?
He/She is very fair; always asks what I think
before making a decision; gives me a lot of
freedom; we solve problems together.
It’s very difficult to talk to him/her; he/she
gives me more work than I can do;
is not very fair.
6. What are the relations in your organization like?
Power Culture: Manager is tough-minded
And aggressive.
Role Culture: Employees don’t get out of
the limits of their roles.
Task Culture: The main concern is the
successful fulfillment of their projects.
Individual Culture: The most possible
freedom is valued.
7. What are your duties?
- I get and analyze information about
economic situation; give prognoses of
economic trends; take part in making
economic decisions.
- I check technical equipment and home
appliances on their work; fix them.
- I do experiments; describe them;
analyze their outcomes.
- I analyze historic past; study archives;
work with documents; try to find historic
parallels and interrelations.
- I interview people on various problems
of our society; analyze their answers and
draw conclusions.
Speaking about your work.
Example: I work as an economist at public corporation Nefaz. My working
day starts at 9 o’clock and finishes at 6 p.m. The relations in my organization are
like Task Culture. The main concern in it is the successful fulfillment of our projects.
I get on all right with my colleagues. And I like my boss. He is very fair; always asks
what I think before making a decision; gives me a lot of freedom; we solve problems
together. At work I do calculation of our output, I scrutinize business expenditures
and make up calculation of costs. The corollary of business organization efficiency
is drawn on the basis of my calculations. I am also engaged in marketing. The aim
of my work is to expand our outlet.
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V. Answer the following questions:
1. Who is your scientific supervisor?
My scientific supervisor is Doctor of
Science professor …. He/She works at …
2. How long have you been doing science?
I started my research in …
I've been doing science for … years/since ...
3. What is the subject of your thesis?
My dissertation is about …
I’m interested in the problem of …
4. What is the actuality of your research?
I am interested in … because it is
Important for …
5. What have you already done?
Speaking about your scientific activity.
Example: I work at Ufa State University of Economics and Service. I teach
Organic Chemistry and I am interested in doing science. My scientific supervisor is
Ivanov Ivan Ivanovich. He is a Doctor of Chemistry, professor. The subject of my
research is to study carbon oxide reactivity. Studying carbon properties is
perspective for getting new valuable materials on its basis, for example, plastics,
fuel, as a components of pharmaceutical compositions. I began my research a year
ago. I have studied scientific literature and carried out a test – I oxidized carbon
with nitrogen and detected the reaction products so far. Now I am to carry out some
more experiments and to analyze reaction products. Besides I study possible ways of
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1. Reading graphs.
Useful expressions:
The graph shows… – График демонстрирует…
The subject of the graph is … – Предметом графика является…
The format clearly illustrates the subject… – Графическое изображение
ясно иллюстрирует предмет графика …
The horizontal axes represent … – На горизонтальной оси показаны …
The vertical axes represent … – На вертикальной оси указаны …
The line on the graph illustrates the relationship between … and … – Кривая
графика демонстрирует соотношение между … и …
The trend/pattern revealed by this graph is … – Тенденция/модель,
просматриваемая на графике, свидетельствует о том, что …
One of the trends/patterns that becomes clear from this graph is … – Одна из
тенденция, ясных из изучения графика, состоит в том, что …
If this trend holds … – Если эта тенденция сохранится …
By studying this graph we can predict that … – Изучив этот график, мы
можем предсказать, что
What are some of the implications evident from studying this graph? – Какие
выводы становятся очевидными после изучения этого графика?
One is … – один …; another is … – другой …
In conclusion … – В заключение …
Describing graph trends:
Increased gradually, sharply, steadily – увеличилось постепенно, резко,
Rose slowly, rapidly, slightly – росло медленно, быстро, незначительно
Climbed/ went up minimally, dramatically – поднималось (росло)
минимально, драматически (резко, значительно)
Leapt/ shot up – возросло резко, значительно
Soared/ rocketed suddenly – стремительно возросло внезапно
Reach a high – достичь пика/кульминации
Slumped – резко упало
Plummeted – стремительно упало
Dropped sharply/ steeply, slightly – упало резко, незначительно
Fell rapidly, gradually, gently – упало быстро, постепенно, умеренно
Declined/ decreased dramatically, slowly – снизилось значительно
(поразительно, драматично), медленно,
Fluctuated/ fluttered – колебалось, было неустойчивым
Zig-zagged – двигалось зигзагообразно
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Undulated – колебалось волнообразно
Bottomed out – находиться на самом низком уровне/ достичь низкого
предела перед фазой оживления
Reached a low – упасть на самый низкий уровень
Stabilized – стабилизировалось
Leveled off – выровнялось
Remained constant/ stayed the same – оставалось постоянным
Describing future events:
… is projected to rise sharply – … предполагается резкое возрастание
… is forecast to drop slightly – … прогнозируется незначительное падение
… is expected to fall dramatically – ожидается значительное падение
… is predicted to decline steadily – … предсказывается умеренное
This graph shows the dynamics of sales by month in 2011 and 2012. The
horizontal axis represents months. The vertical axis represents the total amount of
sales. The graph shows that the amount of sales has its ups and downs over the
periods described. The graph shows that the amount of sales was low from January
to June and then bottomed out in October and December in 2011. And it increased
gradually in July and reached a high in August. But the total amount of sales at the
highest point in 2011 was lower than that in 2012. In 2012 sales rose rapidly and
reached its highest point in February. In other months sales fluctuated and the
lowest figures fall on the end of summer and autumn when in July sales started
dropping sharply. In 2012 sales fluctuated more dramatically than in 2011. Sales in
2011 had its lowest point in winter and spring but in 2012 the lowest point is
observed in autumn.
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Economic specialties:
Graph 2
Humanitarian specialties
Graph 3
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Chemical specialties
Graph 4. – Present calculated zero-temperature equations of state for Ta, Mo,
and V.
Engineering specialties
Graph 5
2. Reading bar graphs.
A bar graph like a line graph is designed to show different values of two or
more subjects. It uses horizontal and vertical bars that represent a different value.
The numbers along the side of a bar graph are scales identical to what is found on a
line graph.
Describing a bar graph you should cover the following areas:
1. The subject of the graph.
2. General tendencies you can observe.
3. Comparing and contrasting all the categories presented in the graph.
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Bar graph 1
The bar graph shows average temperature (in degrees C) by season in
Southern England, Wales and Scotland. The horizontal axis represents temperature.
The vertical axis represents seasons. The graph shows that the coldest winter can be
observed in Scotland whereas Southern England enjoys warm winters. As we can
see the average temperature in Scotland is within 5 degrees below zero that is in
Southern England is 5 degrees above zero. In summer Southern England and Wales
has the same temperature readings. That is 26 degrees above zero. In Scotland the
average summer temperature is a little lower – 24 degrees above zero.
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Read the bar graph:
Economic specialties
Bar Graph 2 Foreign Trade Turnover as provided by Bashkortostan Customs
(mln, US dollars)
2009 г.
438.4 458.3
Humanitarian specialties
Bar graph 3
2010 г.
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Chemical specialties
Bar graph 4
Engineering specialties
Bar graph 5
3. Reading pie charts.
A pie chart (or a circle graph) is a circular chart divided into sectors,
illustrating proportion. In a pie chart, the arc length of each sector (and consequently
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
its central angle and area), is proportional to the quantity it represents. When angles
are measured with 1 turn as unit then a number of percent is identified with the same
number of cent turns. The pie chart is perhaps the most widely used statistical chart
in the business world and the mass media. Pie charts can be an effective way of
displaying information in some cases, in particular if the intent is to compare the
size of a slice with the whole pie, rather than comparing the slices among them.
Pie chart 1
This pie chart shows people’s preferences in Mass Media. Nowadays 45% of
audience is captured by Internet. Print stands the second. 42% prefers it. Television,
radio and film documentary draw attention of 6%, 4% and 3% of audience
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Read the pie charts
Economic specialties:
Pie chart 2 – Sales by Region
Humanitarian specialties
Pie chart 3 – Favorite Movie genres in Mrs. Smith’s Class
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Chemical specialties
Pie chart 4
Engineering specialties
Pie chart 5
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4. Reading tables.
Useful expressions:
Column/ subcolumn – граф/ колонка/ столбец
Column/ subcolumn head – название графы
Line/ row – строчка
Indications for the last row:
And finally… – и наконец…
Last row… – последний ряд…
First you should answer the question “Why is it here?”. To do that read the
title, source, captions and any explanatory keys. Describe the physical structure of
the table. Include the number of columns, the heading of each column and any
associated subcolumn.
Explain whether the table will be read horizontally (by rows) or (vertical) by
columns. The horizontal reading is usual but, in some cases, the vertical reading
better conveys the content. On rare occasions it is necessary to read a table in both
Repeat the column headings with the figures under them for the first two
rows. If the table is long, repeat the headings every fifth row. Always repeat them
during the reading of the last row.
At the completion of the reading say “End Table 1”. If the table appears on a
page other than the one you are recording, add “Returning to text on page 6”.
Table 1
Key economic indicators. “TransTechService” Ltd. 2011-2012
Key economic indicators
rate, %
(+, -)
Profit figures, ths rbl
Cost of service, ths rbl
Average number of employees,
Working efficiency, ths rbl
Costs per 1 rouble of sales,
Yield for capital investment, rbl
Sales profitability, %
Profit tax, ths rbl
Net profit, ths rbl
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This table shows key economic indicators of TransTechService Ltd in 20112012. The table is divided into four columns. The first column shows the figures of
2011. The second column represents the figures of 2012. The third column indicates
the trends of economic development. And the last column shows growth rate. The
rows are key economic indicators. One of the trends that becomes clear from the
table is that profit figures in 2012 increased by 338170 thousand roubles in
comparison with the previous year, its growth rate is 167,75 %, whereas the cost of
service is 169,96 % up on last year. The latter increases at a higher rate than profit
figures. That leads to considerable cut in sales profitability.
The average number of employees increased, therefore, so did working
Read the tables:
Economic specialties:
Table 2
Calculation of the factor influence on changes in the wage fund in Sun Ltd
Job category
Office Workers
Industrial Workers
of Wage Fund, ths Annual
ths rbl
2011 2012
Wages, Wage Fund
ths rbl
Humanitarian specialties
Table 3
Criterion score for the sector “Scientific Potential”
Criterion Type
Publication in collected articles to + 5-score
scientific and practical, scientific and
theoretical conferences
Publication in Mass Media on professional + 10-score
Calendar year
Publication in Trade Mass Media on + 25-score
professional subject
Calendar year
Publication in Federal Mass Media on + 35-score
professional subject
Defending Candidate’s Dissertation and + 70-score
Candidate’s Degree commencement
Defending Doctoral Thesis and Doctor’s + 100-score
Degree commencement
Two years after publication
Calendar year
Standing criterion
Standing criterion
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Chemical specialties
Table 4
Engineering specialties
Table 5
A comparison of prices and features of Google Compute Engine
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1. How to Write a Summary
Writing a good summary demonstrates that you clearly understand a text...and
that you can communicate that understanding to your readers. By following an 8step method, you will be able to summarize texts quickly and successfully.
1) Divide…and conquer. First off, skim the text you are going to summarize
and divide it into sections. Focus on any headings and subheadings. Also look at any
bold-faced terms and make sure you understand them before you read.
2) Read. Now read the selection. At this point, you don’t need to stop to look
up anything that gives you trouble – just get a feel for the author’s tone, style, and
main idea.
3) Reread. Rereading should be active reading. Underline topic sentences and
key facts. Label areas that you want to refer to as you write your summary. Also
label areas that should be avoided because the details – though they may be
interesting – are too specific. Identify areas that you do not understand and try to
clarify those points.
4) One sentence at a time. You should now have a firm grasp on the text you
will be summarizing. Now write down the main idea of each section in one welldeveloped sentence. Make sure that what you include in your sentences are key
points, not minor details.
5) Write a thesis statement. This is the key to any well-written summary.
Review the sentences you wrote in step 4. From them, you should be able to create a
thesis statement that clearly communicates what the entire text was trying to
achieve. If you find that you are not able to do this step, then you should go back
and make sure your sentences actually addressed key points.
6) Ready to write. You can use the thesis statement as the introductory
sentence of your summary, and your other sentences can make up the body. Make
sure that they are in order. Add some transition words (then, however, also,
moreover) that help with the overall structure and flow of the summary. And once
you are actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys!), remember these tips:
 Write in the present tense.
 Make sure to include the author and title of the work.
 Be concise: a summary should not be equal in length to the original text.
 If you must use the words of the author, cite them.
 Don't put your own opinions, ideas, or interpretations into the summary.
The purpose of writing a summary is to accurately represent what the author wanted
to say, not to provide a critique.
7) Check for accuracy. Reread your summary and make certain that you have
accurately represented the author’s ideas and key points. Make sure that you have
correctly cited anything directly quoted from the text. Also check to make sure that
your text does not contain your own commentary on the piece.
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8) Revise. Once you are certain that your summary is accurate, you should
revise it for style, grammar, and punctuation. If you have time, give your summary
to someone else to read. This person should be able to understand the main text
based on your summary alone. If he or she does not, you may have focused too
much on one area of the piece and not enough on the author’s main idea.
2. How to Write an Annotation
An annotation is a brief summary of a book, article, or other publication. The
purpose of an annotation is to describe the work in such a way that the reader can
decide whether or not to read the work itself. An annotated bibliography helps the
reader understand the particular usefulness of each item. The ideal annotated
bibliography shows the relationships among individual items and may compare their
strengths or shortcomings.
The following points provide guidance for writing annotations. As appropriate
each of these issues might be assessed and commented on in the annotation.
1. Qualifications of the author, unless very well known.
2. The scope and main purpose of the publication (e.g., book, article, web
3. The intended audience and level of reading difficulty.
4. The author's bias or assumptions, upon which the work's rationale rests.
5. The method of obtaining data or doing research.
6. The author's conclusions.
7. Comparison with other works on the same subject.
8. Materials appended to the work — e.g., maps, charts, photos, etc.
9. The work's importance or usefulness for the study of a subject.
Not all of these points are necessary for every annotation, and they certainly
do not have to be noted in the order listed here, but they at least ought to be kept in
mind when writing an annotation.
3. How to Write an Abstract
An abstract is a short summary of your completed research. If done well, it
makes the reader want to learn more about your research.
These are the basic components of an abstract in any discipline:
1) Motivation/problem statement: Why do we care about the problem? What
practical, scientific, theoretical or artistic gap is your research filling?
2) Methods/procedure/approach: What did you actually do to get your results?
(e.g. analyzed 3 novels, completed a series of 5 oil paintings, interviewed 17
3) Results/findings/product: As a result of completing the above procedure,
what did you learn/invent/create?
4) Conclusion/implications: What are the larger implications of your findings,
especially for the problem/gap identified in step 1?
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By Sergei Schennikov, Rector of International Institute of Management LINK
Published: September 01, 2010
Business Education in the Modern Context
Nowadays, there is no need to prove the importance of good education for
people who want to build a career or run a business. The labor market is in urgent
need of professionals who are able to take charge of performance and output. Are
there any ways other than business school to improve staff proficiency and
competence in a short time? For me, the answer is negative.
Firstly, a business school provides a unique opportunity to enhance personal
expertise through communication with fellow students from other companies and
with experienced tutors. Secondly, we have to admit that the present state of affairs
is not going to change now. We will never go back to the past, when low quality
management was neutralized by the lack of competition. Instability and uncertainty
— even if we want to consider them features of the crisis period only — will remain
standard and become even more widespread. So, waiting to get through this period,
economizing on education, and hence on your own career, is out of question. You
have to act here and now, even more so since any crisis is a great time for
determined purposeful and efficient people to seize extra opportunities.
Today you can expect your education to equip you with a certain assurance in
the adequacy of your knowledge and skills regarding business and labor market
requirements. The modern student does not want to study unless the benefits of the
process are obvious. Neither employers nor employees are satisfied with the goals
formulated by higher education institutions within the 300-year-old academic
paradigm. The classic framework of the five-year “education in case” is gradually
giving way to another one — the model of continuous professional learning.
To put it more precisely, I am not speaking about business education in
general, but about cases when a business school is able to reach the level of goalsetting, which is different from the classic knowledge model and aimed at vital
competences. And that, in turn, requires educational institutions to make a thorough
and conscientious selection of ways and means of learning. Of course, learners
should have an active wish to develop the competences that are really useful in a
business environment. It is an open secret that you can meet people among
professors and students who are formal about learning objectives. The professors
prefer ornate rhetoric while lecturing, while the students “consume” learning, not
taking the trouble to do serious individual work. This is the differentiation pattern
within the educational space: Some people are able to change, but others are not.
Modern business education has become personal and practice-orientated. The
modern educational paradigm places students themselves at the center of the
learning process, as the active subject of goal-setting: Students themselves define the
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curriculum logic and account for the outputs of the learning process. This means that
the learning process should be directly connected to learners’ business performance
and how they consider their work context or problems. For example, the case-based
approach is the most popular one at business schools now. But however successful a
case can be, it is nothing like situations that come up in real life. Learners will find it
more important to deal with their own real-life problems and to build up their own
development program. This will facilitate developing universal skills for working in
a constantly changing environment, where mechanical copying of strange solutions
is unlikely to succeed.
At the same time you have to distinguish between the processes of purposeful
personal development and personal problem solving, although this borderline is
rather diffused. Otherwise you could suggest that life itself is the ultimate teacher.
Practice-orientated learning supposes targeted personal reflection and strategic goal
awareness, taking into consideration the unity of social, business and educational
factors. Moreover, the success of an educational institution rests on its ability to
manage the context of the learning experience. Based on this ability, learners can
receive benefits from the learning content, textbooks or courses.
Many employers and employees take professional skill training to be the
ultimate learning goal. There is, without doubt, a kernel of good sense in this. But at
the end of the day, only a thinking individual is able to make mature decisions,
gaining knowledge from the future, not from the past. For instance, all football
players can run fast and kick the ball, that is, they all have the necessary professional
skills. But at the same time, some players win and some lose. A successful player is
able to evaluate the real situation within the context of the whole field, make the
right decisions, and as a result influence the game’s outcome. Coordinated team
cooperation is another special issue. Business is like sport, only the rules are more
complicated. The ability to see the only true way through the confusion, the
capability to work in a team, intuition and the ability to act above-standard are all
signs of high-class performance in business, too.
There is no need to distinguish between senior management and the rest of the
staff on necessity of learning. It is absolutely evident that learning in an organization
is a united process, aimed at achieving an extra competitive advantage, a concerted
effort to achieve a leading position. It can often happen that line managers strive to
get a business education, but their managers see no need for studying. This
perception gap negatively influences the organization’s performance indicators.
Today, the issue of executive qualification is as vital as it has ever been, and the cost
of making uninformed decisions is too high.
Not every employer is immediately able to realize the value of an employee
with a good educational background, but they can see the difference by assessing
workers’ performance outcomes, their ability to benefit from both failures and
achievements. One of the major challenges of modern business education is teaching
people to learn from their own lives and manage their own development. By and
large, this is a clear manifestation of professionalism, yet still scarce in the Russian
labor market.
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In Business Education in the Modern Context (The Moscow Times,
September, 01, 2010) Sergei Schennikov argues that one of the major challenges of
modern business education is teaching people to learn from their own lives and
manage their own development, that is a clear manifestation of professionalism.
The classic framework of the five-year “education in case” is gradually giving
way to another one — the model of continuous professional learning. The modern
educational paradigm places students themselves at the center of the learning
process, Students themselves define the curriculum logic and account for the outputs
of the learning process. This means that the learning process should be directly
connected to learners’ business performance and how they consider their work
context or problems. The case-based approach is popular in business schools, but
learners will find it more important to deal with their own real-life problems and to
build up their own development program. This will facilitate developing universal
skills for working in a constantly changing environment. Practice-orientated learning
supposes targeted personal reflection and strategic goal awareness, taking into
consideration the unity of social, business and educational factors. Only a thinking
individual is able to make mature decisions, gaining knowledge from the future, not
from the past. Signs of high-class performance in business are the ability to see the
only true way through the confusion, the capability to work in a team, intuition and
the ability to act above-standard. The author notes that not every employer is
immediately able to realize the value of an employee with a good educational
background, but they can see the difference by assessing workers’ performance
outcomes, their ability to benefit from both failures and achievements.
Sergei Schennikov, Business Education in the Modern Context (The Moscow
News, September 1, 2010)
One of the major challenges of modern business education is teaching people
to learn from their own lives and manage their own development. This article is
about one of the modern and the most efficient models of education - the model of
continuous professional learning which facilitates developing universal skills for
working in a constantly changing environment and develops the capability to work
in a team, intuition and the ability to act above-standard. The author of the article is
one of the leading business trainers, the rector of International Institute of
Management LINK. The article may be of interest for business trainers and higher
school teachers.
Key words: business education, continuous professional learning, business
Business Education in the Modern Context
Author: Sergei Schennikov (Rector of International Institute of Management
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Nowadays, the labor market is in urgent need of professionals who are able to
take charge of performance and output, who are able to benefit from both failures
and achievements. The issue of executive qualification is as vital as it has ever been,
and the cost of making uninformed decisions is too high. This article is an
examination of the different approaches to business training. The author makes a
conclusion that the most efficient model of education is the model of continuous
professional learning. Learning in an organization must be a united process as its
aim is to achieve an extra competitive advantage, a leading position.
Write a summary, an annotation and an abstract for the following
Economic specialties
Businesses, Not Consumers, Sour On Economy
by Yuki Noguchi
December 6, 2012
When it comes to the economy, consumers and business owners have very
different takes right now. Consumers are feeling positive, but the mood among
businesses is at recession levels.
In a word, business owners are bummed.
"What we've found is that a lot of that optimism is not there right now," says
Dennis Jacobe, chief economist for Gallup, which polled these small-business types
just after the election.
A third of businesses surveyed said they plan to cut back on spending in the
next year; 1 in 5 say they'll be reducing staff. That's the highest percentage of
business owners planning layoffs since the survey started a decade ago.
Jacobe says a big reason is the fiscal cliff — those automatic tax increases and
spending cuts that will take effect starting next month if Congress doesn't act to
change it.
"Small-business owners face some of the things that are in the fiscal cliff right
now ... as they set up their payroll for next year," Jacobe says. "There are a bunch of
things that business owners have to think about as we're so close to the new year that
the fiscal cliff brings home to them."
Take Ray Gaster, president of a lumber company in Savannah, Ga., where the
housing market is rebounding. Gaster had planned to hire three more workers to his
staff of 31.
"Right now, we put some hiring decisions on hold because of the uncertainty
up in Washington, D.C., and we're not sure what kind of effect that's going to have
on housing and the general economy," Gaster says.
Consumers seem less focused on the fiscal cliff at this point, and therefore we
see a divergence in sentiment.
- Lynn Franco of the Conference Board
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In the short term, he says, he's pessimistic. And though he's found good
candidates, he doesn't want to hire them only to lay them off again.
Lynn Franco, a director at the Conference Board, which surveys both
businesses and consumers, says consumer sentiment has been going up in recent
"Consumers seem less focused on the fiscal cliff at this point, and therefore
we see a divergence in sentiment," she says.
Franco says consumers are looking past the still high unemployment rate to a
stock market that's done relatively well this year and a housing market that's begun
to recover. She also says business sentiment plummeted to recessionary levels
during the debt-ceiling negotiations last year, then rebounded fairly quickly, so
perhaps the same will happen if Congress and the White House can hammer out a
deal over the fiscal cliff soon.
Bruce Lackey, president of Happy Chicken Farms near Columbus, Ohio, says
he anticipates business taxes will increase next year regardless of whether the fiscal
cliff is reached or not. So he front-loaded a lot of big-ticket investments like trucks
and equipment to this year to take advantage of relatively low tax rates.
"Now I'm not going to have to purchase those for the next year and a half to
two years," Lackey says.
Lackey is reasonably upbeat. His business has fully rebounded from the
recession and is growing as the Ohio economy improves.
"If your business goes up and you need people, you're going to hire them," he
And if sales improve, slightly higher taxation levels won't keep him from
hiring more people next year.
On Friday, the Labor Department will issue its jobs report for November and
provide a new read on how the economy is doing.
That Other Invisible Hand
by George F. Smith
As Adam Smith explains, the free market brings its wonders to the world by
virtue of an invisible hand. Individuals cooperating under the international division
of labor and seeking generally to satisfy their own wants end up promoting the
general welfare, often without intending to or without realizing it.
Not to be outdone, government too has developed a systemic hand that is
usually not seen. Unlike the market, when this hand moves, we lose. Through
inflation, government snatches the market’s bounty for its own purposes, enervating
our lives accordingly.
As a “stealth tax,” inflation requires no legislation to impose, no agency to
collect, and diverts responsibility for damages onto politicians’ favorite whipping
boys. It gives government the ability to buy almost anything for nothing, while
creating endless problems that serve as a pretext for intervention. Inflation is the
foundation of arrogant government and a prescription for our own demise.
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Government inflates through its central bank, the Federal Reserve System.
The Fed does many other things, but its foremost responsibility is to make the dollar
buy less without leaving a trail.
Central banks such as the Fed are engines of inflation. Inflation is not some
curse of capitalism; it is government policy, and it destroys capitalism . Inflation,
economist Judy Shelton explains, chisels away at the foundation of free markets and
the laws of supply and demand. It distorts price signals, making retailers look like
profiteers and deceiving workers into thinking their wages have gone up. It pushes
families into higher income tax brackets without increasing their real consumption
Inflation is alluded to in the Fed’s charter, which calls on it “to furnish an
elastic currency.” Ben Bernanke once boasted about it: “[T]he U.S. government has
a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows
it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.”
If this sounds like counterfeiting, be advised that almost no one sees it that
way, especially government and Fed officials. According to the MSN Encarta
dictionary, a counterfeiter is a person who makes “a copy of something, especially
money, in order to defraud or deceive people.” Does that shoe fit the Fed? You
The Fed’s inflation is often part of a process called “monetizing the federal
debt,” a stultifying expression describing the hocus-pocus used to cover
government’s deficits. In simple language, government puts ink on pieces of paper
and calls them “securities,” in response to which the central bank puts ink on pieces
of paper, calls it money, and buys the securities (though indirectly).
Like magic, the federal government has new money to spend – thanks to the
tooth fairy known as the Fed.
When government imposed its central bank on us in 1913, pulling money
from a hat was more of a challenge than it is now. If the Fed printed too many paper
tickets, people would begin to wonder if the banking system could redeem them in
gold on demand, as stated on the tickets. The fear of a bank run acted as a brake on
Since inflation is the increase in the money supply, gold imposed a limit on
the amount of government debt the Fed could buy, which in turn put restrictions on
government spending. Restrictions on government spending put restrictions on
government expansion. If gold could be eliminated, those restrictions would go
When the Fed was being sold to the public, its advocates told people it would
prevent panics and recessions by virtue of its power to provide money and cheap
credit on demand. Eight years after its inception the country slid into a recession
(1921), and after another eight years the stock market crashed. By the time a new
administration took power in 1933, the economy was on its knees.
Assured the free market had failed them, a bewildered public turned to
government for deliverance. On April 5, 1933 President Roosevelt issued Executive
Order 6102, in which he ordered all persons to turn in their gold or face a possible
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10-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. He gave them until April 28 to comply.
For this and countless other New Deal interventions, most historians regard
Roosevelt as a demigod for “saving” capitalism.
After the gold heist, dollars were no longer redeemable, at least domestically.
Foreigners were allowed (though not encouraged) to swap their dollars for gold until
August 15, 1971, when President Nixon repudiated the government’s redemption
With gold completely severed from the dollar, our monetary system lost its
best defense against political caprice. Not surprisingly, inflation rose to double digits
by 1973. As economist Ludwig von Mises tells us, the gold standard makes the
supply of money depend on the profitability of mining gold. The pure fiat dollar
faces no obstacles to its production, other than the integrity of government and Fed
Nevertheless, spokespeople for government’s monetary monopoly assure us
the proliferation of printing press dollars helps the economy. As such, the Fed
doesn’t inflate, it accommodates. Inflation is a dirty word for its “accommodative
monetary policies.”
Fed Accommodation
What happens when the Fed “accommodates” us by increasing the stock of
First, it reduces the value of the dollar. More dollars means each one buys
less, putting upward pressure on prices. Technology and improvements in
production tend to push prices downward, but because of inflation fewer people can
afford admission to the market’s bounty.
As a rough idea of how far the dollar has plummeted, $5,000 in 1913 had
greater buying power than $110,000 in 2011.
Second, a depreciating dollar discourages savings. Why put money away if
it’s going to lose value? Instead, millions of investment neophytes put their funds in
the stock market in an attempt to protect themselves against Fed printing presses.
Has this been a successful hedge?
During the biggest bull market in history – 1984 to 2001 – the S&P rose 14.5
percent a year. But frequent trading by fund managers and high fees reduced the
average rate of return to 4.2 percent annually. According to Vanguard group founder
John Bogle, if you include the results of 2002, the average return from equities was
under 3 percent per year – less than the inflation rate.
Third, new injections of money spur a tinsel prosperity, and the Fed keeps
injecting new money to feed the boom. With so much borrowing and spending,
prices may rise even faster than the rate of currency inflation.
As the public broods over higher prices, a semantic shift takes place. Inflation
comes to mean not an increase in the money supply, but the rise in prices itself. 9
Thus, businesses that charge higher prices become the villains, while government
officials that threaten price controls are the avenging angels. Most people have no
idea what the Fed does, so government can scapegoat business and appear to be
defenders of the public weal. Nor do most people understand that price ceilings
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create shortages, by encouraging consumption and retarding production. Shortages,
in turn, bring on government-imposed quotas, which foster corruption, black
markets, and violent crime.
Fourth, as the influx of dollars drives prices higher some industries find
themselves at a disadvantage with foreign competitors, tempting them to lobby
Washington for protection from imports. Protective tariffs and quotas, of course,
push prices up further, while sometimes sparking trade wars as other countries
retaliate on American exports. And trade wars can lead to shooting wars.
In June, 1930, with the economy fighting the recession brought on by Fed
monetary policies, President Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, raising
tariff levels to the highest in U.S. history. Other countries immediately retaliated,
markets shut down, and economic conditions worsened worldwide.
Fifth, inflation raises nominal incomes, pushing people into higher tax
brackets, which increases government tax revenue. As people’s wealth goes out the
window in depreciating dollars, taxes consume more of what remains.
Sixth, inflation shifts wealth from people who can’t or don’t know how to
defend themselves from monetary destruction to those who can. As a simple
example, a person living on a fixed income may find his buying power so depleted
he sells a family heirloom to pay for an unanticipated expense. Or a bank that was
part of the lending spree that helped drive prices skyward may foreclose on the
homes of some of its borrowers, whose incomes were ravaged by monetary
Seventh, the Fed’s “accommodative” measures keep people working much
later in their careers because they cannot afford to live off their deteriorating
pensions. Dollar depreciation is a huge reason why both husband and wife work in
many families.
Eighth, because government often gets the new money first, it can fund
controversial measures such as war and bailouts without drawing taxpayer ire.
Government simply puts the funding on its charge card, prompting the alchemy of
Fed debt monetization. We get the bill, of course, but this way it’s spread over
everything else we buy, so we never see it itemized.
Ninth, because inflation has an uneven affect on prices, raising some faster or
sooner than others, people have a hard time distinguishing illusion from reality. As
cheap credit abounds, business people, investors, and cube dwellers hear the siren
call of can’t-miss profit opportunities. Fortunes are made then lost, and companies
that lose money find it harder to keep employees.
Tenth, government may pose as the savior of a group of voters they’ve
impoverished, such as the elderly, by subsidizing their medical expenses. New
entitlements create the need for more revenue, which fuels more inflation, pushing
the dollar closer to a complete collapse.
Eleventh, as Mises observed, “under inflationary conditions, people acquire
the habit of looking upon the government as an institution with limitless means at its
disposal: the state, the government, can do anything.” Through deficit spending the
state will devour limited resources trying to maintain this illusion.
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If gold is the barbarous relic its many detractors claim it is, we might expect
the Fed’s fiat currency to be a better deal. But even former Fed Chairman Greenspan
admits that it isn’t, telling a New York audience in 2002 that prices soared in the
decades following the gold heist of 1933.
Lord Keynes, the 20th century’s guru of deficit spending, never spelled out
how deficits should be financed, admitting only that increased taxation was not the
answer. Perhaps he had pangs of conscience about calling for inflation outright,
since he knew it would destroy society in a manner that not one man in a million
could diagnose.
Political issues dominate the news, but how little we hear about the policies
nurturing those issues, one of which is government’s power to confiscate wealth
with the Fed’s invisible hand.
We should wipe every trace of the Federal Reserve from our lives and allow
the market to freely choose our monetary standard, which most likely would be
gold. In the meantime, the FOMC should be prohibited from purchasing any more
Humanitarian specialties
The interrelations between the philosophy, history and sociology of science in
Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific development.
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science| December 01, 1992
Hoyningen-Huene, Paul
Without doubt, Thomas S. Kuhn has been one of the dominant figures in the
metasciences of the last three decades, be it the history, sociology or philosophy of
science. In short, Kuhn's influence on the philosophy of science consists in turn from
a normative-synchronous orientation to a more descriptive-developmental one, and
in sociology of science from norms independent of the subject matter of the
respective science to norms dependent on it. In spite of the fact that Kuhn has been
widely read, it seems worthwhile to scrutinize his views about the interrelations
among the philosophy, sociology and history of science since much of what is being
said about Kuhn is fairly superficial and in part just wrong. Kuhn has repeatedly
deplored the inaccurate reception of his work though he does not deny his own
contribution to it.(1) But the inspirational force of Kuhn's work on the interrelations
mentioned does not appear to have been exhausted, and the problems inherent in it
have apparently not been articulated sharply enough.
I shall deal with the interrelations among the philosophy, history, and
sociology of science in Kuhn in the following four sections. First, I shall discuss
why and in which sense the history of science provides a basis for the philosophy
and sociology of science. Second, I shall treat the interrelation between the
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philosophy and sociology of science. Third, this will lead to the question of the
rationality of theory choice since individual evaluations of competing theories can
diverge. Fourth, we will have to ask whether cognitive values and their change is
justifiable. I shall conclude with a summary.
The introductory chapter of Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions
(hereafter SSR) opens with the following, often-cited sentence:
History, if viewed as a repository for more than anecdote or chronology, could
produce a decisive transformation in the image of science by which we are now
possessed (SSR, p. 1).
Kuhn's theory consists in viewing history as a repository for more than
anecdote and chronology and in drawing consequences from this altered viewpoint,
namely a new image of science and its development. But what is meant by 'history'?
Kuhn means what he elsewhere calls 'the new internal historiography of science', a
kind of historiography that has been institutionalized and professionalized only
within the last three decades or so, mainly in the English-speaking world.(2) This
kind of historiography intends to make up for what had already happened in other
humanities in the second half of the nineteenth century: the overcoming of
ethnocentric and presentist biases, that is the projection of the present into the past.
It is those biases for which the so-called 'older internal historiography of science' has
been reproached, and against which the new historiography reacts. But this older
form of historiography determined, until recently, the common image of science
entertained by laypersons, scientists and philosophers. This presentist sort of
historiography allows the history of science to appear as accumulative growth of
knowledge in which later progress never essentially changes earlier knowledge,
apart from an increase in precision or from some non-essential restriction.
But this image of science is deceptive. It is, according to Kuhn, as authentic as
'an image of a national culture drawn from a tourist brochure or a language text'
(SSR, p. 1). In summary, this deceptive image originates through an assimilation of
past science to present science by the older historiographic tradition, and this
happens mainly in two ways. First, the selection of what will be part of the historical
narrative is guided by the content of present science: only those elements of past
science that are parts of present science are seen as historically valuable. Second,
what is historically valuable (by the said criterion) is represented by means of the
concepts of present science which may lead to serious distortion of older knowledge.
In short: the older historiography of science does not allow for the possible
strangeness and oddness of the older science, for its being substantially different
from today's science--like the older anthropology that evaluated foreign cultures in
terms of the values of the home culture.
According to Kuhn, we were possessed by such a deceptive image of science,
and the philosophy, sociology, and history of science oriented themselves from such
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an image--and they perpetuated it. But neither the philosophy nor sociology of
science must trust this deceptive image of science any longer, in the same way as
talk of primitive cultures has become highly problematic. But how can we gain an
undistorted image of past science? As in other areas where one tries to free oneself
from ethnocentric and presentist biases, the key to an understanding of a foreign
culture is a hermeneutic reading of suitable writings. Only contemporary writings
are suitable, such as published sources like articles and textbooks, or unpublished
material like letters, diaries, lab reports, etc. Hermeneutic reading of these sources
tries to draw their sense as far as possible from them, as opposed to projecting
concepts, problems and standards of today's science into them--even if this goal
cannot be totally reached. Only a historiography with such a methodological set-up,
which tries to recover the strangeness and oddness of some older science by
stubborn hermeneutics, only such a historiograhy is allowed to produce the data that
philosophy and sociology have to deal with. The image of science that results on the
basis of such a historiography is, however, quite different from the usual one, and,
more important in our context, it provokes quite different sociological and
philosophical questions. I remind you of three fairly central points.
First, the development of a certain discipline can only be understood with
reference to the relevant scientific community. It is not an abstract 'logic of scientific
discovery', a universal methodology, the scientific method, that governs scientific
work: science is not a rule-governed enterprise such that in a given situation the
decision to be made will be uniquely determined, one and the same for every
participating scientist. In the jargon of game theory: science is not a one-person
game. Rather, there is a system of cognitive values that influences individual
decisions without determining them. Moreover, this system of cognitive values
varies somewhat from community to community and in the course of time. This is
one of the crucial points where Kuhn departs from the philosophical tradition, and
he calls it the 'sociological basis of my position'. I will come back to this topic in
detail in the following section.
A second result of the new internal historiography is the, by now, well-known
distinction between two phases of scientific development, with respect to which very
different sociological and philosophical questions must be asked. During normal
science, for instance, fundamental theories are neither tested nor confirmed. It
follows that the questions of confirmation theory that were of prime importance in
standard philosophy of science cannot even be asked (compare Hoyningen-Huene
|1989~, Chapter 5). But also in extraordinary science, the typical confrontation of
empirical data with one theory does not occur since we have here a comparison of at
least two theories with respect to their relative problem-solving capacity (compare
Hoyningen-Huene |1989~, Section 7.4.a, pp. 231-3).
A similarly controversial result of the new historiography of science is the
assertion that concomitant to theory change there is a more or less subtle change of
scientific concepts which leads to a relationship of successive theories that Kuhn
calls 'incommensurable' (compare Hoyningen-Huene |1989~, Section 6.3, pp. 20217, and Hoyningen-Huene |1990~). Whatever the exact sense of this word is: if there
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is such a thing as conceptual shifts in the course of theory changes--and whether
there is primarily a historical question--if there are conceptual shifts, a host of new
questions must be asked in the philosophy of science. For instance: in which way is
communication and argument possible across the revolutionary divide (compare
Hoyningen-Huene |1989~, Section 7.5, pp. 245-51)? What can scientific progress
mean if it is not exclusively to be understood as cumulative (compare HoyningenHuene |1989~, Section 7.6, pp. 251-6)? What could scientific rationality be
(compare Hoyningen-Huene |1989~, Section 7.4.b, pp. 233-8)?, and more.
By sketching these three topics I wanted only to show that and how the
sociology and philosophy of science are dependent on the history of science. The
upshot is: the history of science already determines, among other things, the realm
of questions that can, in a sociological or philosophical perspective, be sensibly
asked with respect to science. But now I shall turn to the question how the
relationship between philosophy and sociology of science has to be conceived.
It is well known that Kuhn quite shocked the philosophy of science by a
number of assertions,(3) one of which disputes the autonomy of the philosophy of
science. This assertion can be articulated in two ways.
First, Kuhn asserts that the separation of the context of discovery from the
context of justification is not justified. It is well known that this separation is the
starting point of both logical positivism and critical rationalism. According to these
traditions, the context of discovery is the subject matter of empirical, metascientific
disciplines like psychology, sociology and the history of science. The philosophy of
science, on the other hand, deals with epistemological questions, with questions of
critical evaluation claims; its subject matter thus belongs to the context of
justification. The epistemological problems can and must be treated independently
of empirical questions. I will not analyse further, let alone defend Kuhn's assertion
that the separation of these so-called contexts cannot be upheld. The reason is that
the context distinction is affected by notorious obscurities which have seduced many
critics of the distinction, including Kuhn, to obscure criticism.(4)
In a different terminology but with identical intention, Kuhn has articulated
his criticism of the claim of autonomy of the philosophy of science in the following
|T~hough science is practiced by individuals, scientific knowledge is
intrinsically a group product and ... neither its peculiar efficacy nor the manner in
which it develops will be understood without reference to the special nature of the
groups that produce it. In this sense my work has been deeply sociological, but not
in a way that permits that subject to be separated from epistemology (Kuhn |1977a~,
p. XX).
The claim is that the philosophy and sociology of science cannot be practiced
independently of each other. But before coming to the argument for this claim, one
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possible misunderstanding must be removed. It is not meant that each and every
question in the sociology of science can only be answered after some marriage of
convenience with the philosophy of science. Of course, Kuhn would never deny
that, for instance, many of the questions that belong to the chapter of sociology
entitled 'Science and Society' can be treated autonomously by sociology. What is
meant, however, is first that the treatment of some allegedly pure philosophical
questions, such as those about the dynamics of theories or about scientific progress,
necessarily involves sociological aspects. Second, it is meant that the treatment of
some allegedly pure sociological questions, such as those about the values governing
the behaviour of scientific communities, necessarily involves epistemological
aspects. But what does the envisaged fusion of philosophy and sociology of science
look like in detail?
Kuhn uses two basic assumptions that import sociology into the philosophy of
science. The first assumption states, as I have already said earlier, that communities
and not individuals should be seen as the basic agents of science, its subject
(compare Hoyningen-Huene |1989~, pp. 19-23, 73, 88-9, 152-4, 196). The second
assumption is built upon the first one. It states that these communities must be
characterized by the specific cognitive values to which they are committed (compare
Hoyningen-Huene |1989~, Section 4.3.c, pp. 148-54). The opposite positions to
these assumptions are, of course, logical positivism and critical rationalism. In both
these positions, the principal agent, the subject of science, is the individual. This
individual is not committed to values but obeys rules--at least as long as he or she
behaves rationally. By 'rules' Kuhn means in this context algorithms, that is uniquely
executable instructions. But what is the difference between the subject of science
being individuals obeying rules and communities being committed to values?
Let us look at the situation where a single scientist has to make a decision
between competing theories or hypotheses, a situation for which the alternatives in
question can easily be juxtaposed. For both logical positivism and critical
rationalism it is a necessary condition of the rationality of such a decision that it
follows well-defined rules. As a consequence, every individual that rationally
reaches his or her decision must come to the same result. Whether the rules invoked
are deterministic or only probabilistic does not make a difference: whether the
decision for A and against B is cogent or only based on, say, 80 per cent probability
does not matter. In both cases, the only rational decision is the one for A. For
instance, if a rational decision in the theory choice situation is the one that
maximizes empirical content, and if there are methodological rules for determining
empirical content, then it is plain that the rational decision is independent of the
deciding individual, it is inter-subjective: everybody makes the same choice.
In opposition to this view, we shall not suppose any longer, according to
Kuhn, that rational scientific decisions are rule-governed, that is that they follow
algorithms. Rather, these decisions are influenced by the cognitive values to which
the respective community is committed. The important point here is that a decision
which is influenced by values is not necessarily determined by them. This implies
that different individuals influenced by the same values may come to different
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In order to understand the consequences of this conception of scientific
decisions, let us consider the values to which, according to Kuhn, a scientific
community is committed. Typically, there is a consensus with respect to accuracy,
that is that a statement derived from theories shall be accurate, both qualitatively and
quantitatively; this is a value of prime importance though it does not necessarily
have determinative force by itself. Another value is consistency, that is that a theory
shall have no internal contradictions, and that it should be consistent with other
accepted theories. Other values concern the desired large scope of a theory, its
simplicity, and its fruitfulness: the theory should point to the discovery of new
phenomena, or to new relationships between known phenomena.
Compared to classical philosophy of science, this is not a revolutionary list of
values. The point is, rather, that in general these (and possibly other) cognitive
values do not determine scientific decisions. There are two reasons for the missing
determinative power. First, each of these values can be interpreted somewhat
differently by different members of the same scientific community. For example,
what simplicity means exactly and which aspects of a theory are primarily meant is
not uniquely fixed by the commitment of a community to this value. Second, two
cognitive values can, in their application, contradict each other which makes relative
weighing necessary. But their relative weight is, again, not determined by the
commitment of the community to the list of values.
But if the cognitive values do not determine the decision of the scientist, how
can he or she ever reach a decision in the situation of theory choice? The answer is
that theory choice becomes possible through the influence of additional values
contributed by the individual scientist which may vary strongly from one member of
the community to the next. For example, the individual's professional experience
contributes in various ways, for instance the kind, length and success of the
individual's work experience in other fields. In addition, extra-scientific persuasions
of a philosophical or even religious kind may play a role. Finally, individual
personal characteristics may contribute to the decision--fear or joy of risk,
preferences, etc. Analysis of the theory choice of an individual scientist thus results
in two kinds of active values: cognitive values to which the whole community is
committed, and individual values varying within the community.
For Kuhn, the indeterminacy of systems of communal cognitive values is by
no means an imperfection that should in principle be removed; rather this
indeterminacy plays a vital role for scientific development. The main reason is that
actual theory choice in science is almost always risky: scientists must usually make
up their minds with which theory to work in a situation where these theories are not
yet fully worked out, that is where nobody is absolutely sure which theory will be
the final winner. In situations like this it is vital that some scientists work with one
theory and some with the other; otherwise the true potential of both theories can not
be ascertained. In Kuhn's words, the situation 'requires a decision process which
permits rational men to disagree' (Kuhn |1977b~, p. 332). Otherwise, science is in
danger either of becoming petrified within one tradition, or of jumping from one
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theory to the other without ever exhausting their respective potentials. The missing
determinative force of the cognitive values is just the right way to cope with the
unavoidable risk of choosing a theory at a comparatively early stage of its
development, or of sticking with its older opponent. The community as a whole is
undecided but prepares a decision by ascertaining the potential of the candidates.
Even if some functional advantage of the divergence of individual decisions in
the theory choice situation is granted, there remain pressing questions with respect
to the rationality of an enterprise in which individual decisions so strongly embody
subjective elements. Kuhn has very often been accused of making science an
irrational or subjectivist enterprise. It has also been said that his sociological or
historicist view just misses the essential element of science, namely its justified
claim to knowledge. Kuhn has repeatedly rejected these accusations, but with little
success. In the picture commonly labelled as Kuhn's, scientific revolutions are
events whose outcome is exclusively determined by propaganda, conversion and the
dying out of opponents, and not by sober comparative evaluation of the
achievements of theories, or other arguments that articulate good reasons for theory
choice. Thus, the question has to be asked whether in the Kuhnian framework theory
choice is a rational affair or not. In pursuing this question, I shall turn to the
philosophical aspects of Kuhn's theory which supposedly are united with the more
sociological ones treated so far.
I start with the question whether the individual decision in the theory choice
situation under the description given by Kuhn has to count as rational or irrational.
Let us consider the complex of values that influences this decision. Here we can
distinguish communal cognitive values and individually differing values. With
respect to the communal values, one is probably inclined to classify the decision as
rational; in this respect, the decision is based on values like accuracy, consistency,
scope, etc. which form a rational basis for theory choice. Being somewhat more
cautious, it may be said that the decision is rational in this respect if and only if these
values are a rational basis for theory choice. Whether they are or not will be
discussed in the following section. But how about the individually varying values
contributing to the decision? Surely, not all of these values can be classed as
irrational. No doubt, it is not irrational to be influenced by experience derived from
one's own scientific work in other areas, for instance by success with certain types of
theories. As a consequence, professional experience in other areas will contribute to
the individual value system active in the theory choice situation. An assessment of
individual values of aesthetic, religious, philosophical or psychological origin with
respect to reason is more difficult. Perhaps one would be inclined not to classify
them as unambiguously irrational as long as they only colour the communal values
without overpowering them--but, of course, the border between 'to colour' and 'to
overpower' is not sharp.
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All right, but perhaps the following consideration shows that the individual
choices, as depicted by Kuhn, can certainly not be classified as rational. This
consideration starts with something like the 'unity' or 'exclusiveness' of reason-whatever reason is. If something--a consideration, or an argument, or a position--if
this something legitimately counts as rational, then its opposite cannot, in the same
respect, also be rational. If it is rational to do A in a certain situation, then doing
non-A in the same situation cannot also be rational in the same respect. Therefore, if
it is rational with respect to the progress of science for one scientist to choose theory
A in the theory choice situation, then it cannot be rational for another scientist to
choose theory B in the same situation. Following this line of argument, one has to
conclude that Kuhn's statement that the theory choice situation 'requires a decision
process which permits rational men to disagree' is inconsistent.
I think that the consideration about the unity or exclusiveness of reason is
correct in general; but its application to the case in question is incorrect. The reason
is that the situation of theory choice is not identical in every respect for the different
scientists involved, although the choice is to be made between the same theories.
This is grounded in the fact that the factors reasonably seen as relevant for the
choice may vary from one scientist to the other, for instance the experience one has
had with certain types of theories. Of course, it is reasonable to allow for such
experiences in the theory choice situation. Therefore, the mere fact of a divergence
of theory choices among different scientists is no indication of irrationality; rather, it
may be a sign of different information bases used in the decision.
But, of course, the earlier consideration is still valid that the individual
decisions contain something a-rational and potentially irrational by incorporating
aesthetic, religious, philosophical, and psychological elements. But, looked at more
closely, it seems to me that this fact is less important than it appears with respect to
the question of the rationality of theory choice. The reason is that in the Kuhnian
framework the principal agent in science, its subject, is not the individual but the
group. Therefore, it seems to me, the question of the rationality of theory choice
must be asked with respect to groups, not with respect to individuals.
But, first of all, a paradox seems to emerge at this point. If the individual
scientists come to divergent decisions, what sense does it make to speak about the
decision of the group? 'The decision of the group' can only mean a more or less
uniform decision of its members--after all, the group does not exist beyond and
above its individual members. This paradox dissolves once one realizes which
processes of scientific development are our subject matter. We are, at the moment,
analysing processes which begin with disagreement concerning theory choice and
end with a new agreement about the comparatively best theory. During the
disagreement phase, different scientists have decided to work with different theories
(which is analytically true). This work generates in the course of time such an
amount of empirical and theoretical arguments in favour of one theory that a new
consensus concerning this theory emerges (compare Hoyningen-Huene |1989~,
Section 7.4.b, pp. 233-8). Only if such a consensus emerges, that is, only if the
community really reaches a decision, can the question about the rationality of this
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decision be asked.
But the new consensus has to be qualified in two respects. First, the same
result in the individual decision processes which constitutes the end of the
disagreement does not imply that the individual choices are also based on exactly
the same reasons. Rather, the individually varying values still contribute to the
choices, and they function as additional (or rather integrated) reasons for the choice.
But after the phase of disagreement, so many arguments in favour of one candidate
have piled up that whatever the individual value system consists in, everybody
makes the same choice. Or rather almost everybody, I should say, which brings me
to my second qualifications of the new consensus. The consensus reached may be a
little less peaceful than I have depicted it. To a certain degree, the new consensus
may eventually be reached in the way that some dissidents are excluded from the
community, or that the group separates. But this happens in the fringes of the
consensus-forming process; it is certainly not its main determinant. What is
essential, however, is the fact that the new consensus is mainly based on the
collective system of cognitive values. To cite Kuhn on this matter:
To understand why science develops as it does, one need not unravel the
details of biography and personality that lead each individual to a particular choice,
though that topic has vast fascination. What one must understand, however, is the
manner in which a particular set of shared values interacts with the particular
experiences shared by a community of specialists to ensure that most members of
the group will ultimately find one set of arguments rather than another decisive
(Kuhn |1970b~, SSR, p. 200).
Now we can turn to the question of the rationality of scientific development
once more. We wanted to clarify whether and, if yes, in which sense the decisions of
scientific communities in the theory choice situation can count as rational decisions.
A decision of this kind can, as we have seen, be justified relative to the system of
cognitive values. Is the decision therefore a rational decision? Obviously, the fact
that the decision can be justified with recourse to cognitive values, is not by itself
sufficient for its rationality. Rather, the cognitive values themselves must be good
reasons, 'rational' reasons which make the decision a rational one.
In which sense could the cognitive values to which a scientific community is
committed be good reasons for theory choice? The possibility of a positive answer
seems to be foreclosed in the framework of the Kuhnian theory. As Kuhn repeatedly
states it in the 1960s and 1970s: 'Some of the principles deployed in my explanation
of science are irreducibly sociological, at least at this time' (Kuhn |1970a~, p. 237).
Statements like these seem to indicate that Kuhn is unable to accept anything that
goes beyond an empirical account of cognitive values, primarily a philosophical
justification. But in fact, this is not at all Kuhn's view, at least not in the late 1970s
and the 1980s. In his argument with Carl Hempel who was his colleague at
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Princeton for many years, he provided extensive discussion of the problems of
justification of cognitive values (see especially Hempel |1977~, Section 8, |1981~,
|1983~, Kuhn |1983~).
It seems to me that Hempel and Kuhn agree on the possibility of a
justification of cognitive values, and perhaps also on the fundamentals of the means
of justification. The justification of cognitive values has to have recourse to an
ultimate goal of science: the commitment to cognitive values is then the means
which guarantees that theory choice is made in accordance with this ultimate goal.
Hempel states this view in the following way:
Science is widely conceived as seeking to formulate an increasingly
comprehensive, systematically organized, world view that is explanatory and
predictive. It seems to me that the desiderata |this is Hempel's term for cognitive
values, P.H.~ may best be viewed as attempts to articulate this conception somewhat
more fully and explicitly. And if the goals of pure scientific research are indicated
by the desiderata, then it is obviously rational, in choosing between two competing
theories, to opt for the one which satisfies the desiderata better than its competitor
(Hempel |1983~, p. 91).
Thus, with recourse to an ultimate goal of science the problem of the
justification of cognitive values can be approached within the Kuhnian image of
scientific development. This is, at the same time, also an approach to the rationality
of theory choice which is, as I have said earlier, essentially based on cognitive
What I find most fascinating about this approach is the prospect of a solution
of a related problem in which sociological and philosophical aspects are also
intertwined. It is the problem of the change of cognitive values in time, and of their
difference in different scientific communities at the same time. Kuhn has described
change and difference of cognitive values, but I think he has not answered the
question how change and difference of cognitive values can be understood. Let me
now focus on the question of change in time of cognitive values; the question of
value difference among communities can be treated analogously. What does the
change of a system of cognitive values consist of? Well, a single value may change
with respect to its content, and the weight of a value may change within the system
of values (Kuhn |1977b~, pp. 335-6). For example, in the course of the development
of modern science the value 'accuracy' seems to have changed from a more
qualitative sense to a more quantitative or numerical one, and the relative weight of
this numerically understood value 'accuracy' seems to have increased within the
system of values. The description of such a value change is, of course, a matter for
sociologically sensitive historians of science, or historically sensitive sociologists of
science. We, however, would like to discuss the problem of the explanation and,
possibly, the justification of such a value change.
There are two principal ways for an explanation of value change in science.
The first seeks the factors responsible for value change external to science. For
instance, extra-scientific values may change for whatever reasons, in turn causing
the scientific values to change. This case may be very interesting to the sociologist
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but it is less interesting to the philosopher. The second possibility is the
philosophically interesting one, namely that the cognitive values to which some
scientific community is committed change because of processes internal to science.
Typically, according to Kuhn, changes in the system of cognitive values occur
in the aftermath of theory changes (Kuhn |1977b~, p. 336). This fact strongly
suggests that changes in the cognitive values are somehow caused by the theory
change, that is that they have causes internal to science. Then the question arises
how this change of values can be understood as a consequence of theory change, and
whether such a change may count as justified. The latter question asks whether this
sort of value change may be rational. Thus, we have here a second-level question
about scientific rationality; the first-level question is the one about the rationality of
theory change which is governed by values, and the second-level question is the one
about the rationality of value change.
At first, the justification of value change by recourse to theory change seems
entirely impossible. Theories belong to the descriptive sphere whereas cognitive
values belong to the normative sphere, and a justified transition from the descriptive
to the normative does not seem to exist. Thus, how should theory change justify
value change? The puzzle dissolves once one pays attention to the fact that cognitive
values relate to the ultimate goal of science which was, in Hempel's words, 'an
increasingly comprehensive, systematically organized, world view that is
explanatory and predictive'. The values 'articulate this conception somewhat more
fully and explicitly', as Hempel says; thus they concretize this ultimate goal, or they
are something like execution procedures for it. In order to accomplish this task, the
values have to be realistic in the sense that they don't postulate something not
realizable. For instance, the cognitive values of empirical science must not postulate
that the theories sought after can be demonstrated like mathematical theorems;
though we would like theories of this kind, they seem to be beyond human reach.
Now, since the values must claim to be realizable execution procedures for the
ultimate goal of science, besides their normative content, they must also have factual
content. For realizability of posits depends on properties of the world; in other
words, certain properties of the world must enter the cognitive values. To give a
simple illustration: once one believes that the world is a deterministic mechanism,
the ultimate goal of science will, for instance, be concretized in the attribution of a
high value to deterministic theories. If, on the other hand, one does not believe in
strict determinism any longer, the value attributed to deterministic theories will
The result in this: since the cognitive values of science are a sort of execution
procedure for its ultimate goal, they must be realizable; the realizability of cognitive
values (in the sense given) depends on properties of the world; since the theories of
science formulate knowledge claims about the world, they inevitably and reasonably
enter the cognitive values of a particular community. Thus, if in a scientific
revolution knowledge claims about the world change, some of the cognitive values
also may change since they tell us how to realize the ultimate goal of science in the
real world.
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To conclude, let me summarize a few points. One aspect of the interrelation
between historical sociology and philosophy consists in a philosophical analysis of
data supplied by sociology about cognitive values and their change. Can the
observed change of values be understood and justified as a consequence of theory
change? Obviously, this analysis presupposes the existence of the required data. On
the other hand, without such a consideration the observed change of values is
meaningless with respect to the specificity of science. Thus both disciplines, or
rather perspectives, are mutually dependent. Finally, both disciplines react back
upon the historiography of science. Historiography invariably needs criteria for the
historically essential, that is what has to be researched and included in the historical
narrative (compare Hoyningen-Huene |1989~, pp. 24-5, with references). From the
model given, it would be useful for historians to pay increased attention to value
change as an essential part of scientific development (compare Kuhn |1977b~, p.
335). And wherever such a change is observed, one must ask the question whether it
is a consequence of processes internal to science or not.
Thus the circle of mutual dependencies among the three meta-scientific
disciplines closes. Let me make one final remark. Perhaps the line of argument
given may help to unite two complementary sides of science which do not seem to
fit together. I have in mind, on the one hand, the undoubtedly historical character of
the scientific enterprise, and, on the other hand, the scientific claim for knowledge
which has an atemporal element. The ultimate goal of science to produce general,
explanatory theories about the world may well be beyond historical change; yet it is
of vital importance to science. The cognitive values, however, that concretize this
goal in an operationally meaningful way are themselves in part historically relative
since they are dependent on what one believes about the world at some particular
moment of time.
Can Science Change our Notion of Existence?
Jody Azzouni
1. It’s a truism that science discovers things about the world we live in that we
didn’t expect (that we didn’t even see coming). Certainly the science of the early
modern period did just that: that our sun is only one among the stars, that other
planets have moons, that there are micro-organisms too small for the naked eye to
see; and science was both acclaimed and reviled as a result. Nearly as much of a
truism, as the one about science discovering new things, is that science transforms
the inherited concepts of ordinary life. We have ordinary ideas about motion,
roughly encapsulated in Aristotelian physics, perhaps belonging to a folk-physics
that’s conceptually innate (in some sense of “conceptually innate”).1 These concepts
were drastically transformed by Newton. More recently, most of the popular
literature of physics has been motivated by attempts to communicate to ordinary
people drastically-changed notions of space and time, shape and velocity, as much
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perhaps as it has been motivated by the desire to present what the world we live in is
actually like. Philosophers, of course, worry about whether basic notions of causality
and identity scale down to the quantum level; and many argue that they don’t.
Are all of our concepts open to mutation from empirical pressure? Quine
thought that this was even true of the concept of existence. Having attached our
concept of existence to the first-order quantifier, he serenely contemplated the
possibility of a future shift in logic accompanied by a shift in quantifier-apparatus,
or even a replacement of the quantifiers altogether with something else far too alien
to allow ontology to survive. Logic for Quine was open to mutation; so, therefore,
he thought, are all the concepts dependent on its structure.
2. What about those of us who reject attaching our fundamental notion of
existence to a technical formalism in this way? I’ve argued (2010a, forthcoming)
that there is an ordinary notion of existence, antecedent to formalization. We believe
things that exist have their properties independently of us in the sense that to
attribute a property Q to an object o truly is to do so because o is Q, and we have
discovered this fact. It’s not that o has the property Q by virtue of our determination
(in some way) of the truth value of the sentence “o is Q.” (So, in particular, o
doesn’t have the property Q because we’ve stipulated it to have Q or because our
senses project Q onto it, and so on.) This, however, isn’t a requirement on our
notion of existence (it isn’t an analytic entailment of our notion of existence). We
could discover that everything that exists is dependent for its existence on the mind
of God. That discovery wouldn’t force a change in our notion of existence; it would
just be a surprising discovery of a property of all existing things (except God,
There are, I think, constraints on our ordinary notion of existence. Things
either exist or they don’t; existence doesn’t come in degrees or in different qualities
(heavyweight, welterweight, lightweight; mathematical existence, physical
existence, fictional existence, etc.); nothing, in any case, partially exists. It’s also a
condition of our ordinary notion that existence isn’t one member of a family of
ontological notions; there are no differences between existence, being, and being
real (for example). Finally, things either are, or they aren’t; if they exist, they have
properties; if they don’t exist, they don’t have properties because they aren’t at all,
and nothing that isn’t can have properties.
Someone who points out these aspects of our ordinary notion of existence, and
insists on taking that notion seriously, has to explain why the ordinary notion
doesn’t conflict with our practice of uttering truths and falsehoods about things that
don’t exist: “Mickey Mouse was invented by Walt Disney,” is true; “Mickey Mouse
was invented by Cardinal Richelieu” is false. There is no Mickey Mouse, however,
to ground these truth-values; we have to explain, nevertheless, how there seem to be
truths and falsehoods about him. I’ve told a story elsewhere (2010b) that preserves
the truths and falsehoods we need, but doesn’t preserve the ontological force of
“about him” that we don’t need. I’m not going to talk about that now.
3. Tampering with the notion of existence dates back to Plato, at least; so it
may seem that there would be nothing unusual if science did something similar.
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Indeed, contemporary (analytic) metaphysicians are currently contemplating
characterizations of existence on which it comes in many shades (different kinds of
beings have different kinds of existence) or on which only fundamental things exist
in the heavyweight sense, but composite things (like armies) exist in a more
lightweight sense. Many think our ordinary notion of existence is already this way
(on the basis of how we ordinarily use the word “exist” and the phrase “there is”) or
they think that there are arguments—of a broadly metaphysical nature—that can
establish these claims. I’ve argued (2010a, forthcoming) that these views get our
ordinary words “exist” and “there is” wrong; but that such alternative notions of
existence can be invented seems to raise the issue of whether scientific results would
force an alternative notion of existence the way that scientific results have
compelled a change in the geometry we apply in our (fundamental) physics.
Some scientific discoveries don’t change the concepts involved in those dis coveries. It’s this that the old Putnam/Kripke thought experiments about blue gold
and robot cats seems to illustrate. And, indeed, the surprising things we discovered
about gold (that it’s an element with atomic number 79, that it can be a gas), and that
we continue to discover about so many other things, suggests that “natural kind”
terms are ones designed (as it were) to handle unexpected discoveries about the
things they apply to. Other notions, as I’ve indicated, don’t seem as flexible. Space,
for example. It’s not so much that the ordinary notion of space is implicitly
Euclidean; it’s rather that our ordinary notion of space is geometrically unstructured.
Our notion of empty space, I surmise, is that it’s nothing at all; we don’t think of
empty space as placing structural constraints on anything that’s in it. So it’s already
a shift in our concept of space to even think of it as Euclidean-structured (as
opposed to the various curved alternatives). For reasons, perhaps rooted in certain
confusions in the notion, space is a concept that’s much less flexible than the
concepts corresponding to the “natural-kind terms.”
A little bit more about our ordinary notion of space and how puzzling it is.
One can claim that it tacitly possesses a Euclidean structure. After all, the way we
expect to be able to move through space (and not, after a while, end up back where
we started despite moving in a straight line), the way we expect rulers to work (once
we know what they are), and so on, all suggests our notion of space is more than
compatible with Euclidean structure: it rules out (or seems to) otherwise empirical
alternatives. Maybe so, but that’s entirely compatible with the thought that this, after
all, is what empty space is like, where empty space isn’t seen as Euclideanstructured.
An analogy. B is blind, and has never seen colors; B has never seen anything.
A post-operative B sees all the colors—including black. It wouldn’t be correct to say
that, back when B was blind, B had the concept of the color black all along (because
B now says, looking at black: “That’s what everything used to Jody Azzouni (look
like”); it would be wrong to say that B was missing the concepts of all the other
colors, except for the concept of black. Consider a variation where it’s not the color
black that B says he saw before he gained sight—with “hindsight,” as it were—but
red. (B says, looking at something red: “That’s what everything used to look like.”)
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We wouldn’t want to say, in this case either, that B had the concept of the color red
all along.
4. To return to the main thread, whether a concept can accommodate a discovery without the concept changing as a result is perhaps a sticky business, based
as it is on sheer intuitions. Nevertheless, there seem to be clear cases where almost
all of us are shocked by a scientific result: it seems that our concepts are being
unduly tampered with because of it or even discarded; and there are other cases
where we’re surprised (as we’re surprised by carbon ash and diamonds turning out
to be the same element in different crystal forms); but we don’t think of our
concepts as having mutated as a result. I’ll try to stick to the clear cases.
One point seems clear: that philosophers can argue (without appearing to
contradict themselves) that everything is in space and time, or is material, or is
abstract or is dependent on God’s mind, and so on, shows that our notion of
existence is more like “gold” than it’s like “space” or “time”: the concept can handle
surprising discoveries. I call notions like this “criterion-transcendent” (Azzouni
2000, 2010a)—they don’t come with criteria that entail that the items that fall under
them have such and so properties (and not other properties). We believe (I think)
that everything (that exists) is mind-independent; but the claim that the things
around us nevertheless exist wouldn’t be disturbed by the discovery that Bishop
Berkeley was right, that everything in fact is dependent on the mind of God.
This is also worth saying a word or two more about. I claim that, currently, we
(collectively) take mind- and language-independence to be a condition on what
exists. When we discover that something is mind-dependent (when we discover that
something we thought was in front of us is instead an hallucination), we withdraw
the claim that it exists. Were we to discover that everything—ourselves included—is
dependent on the mind of God in the same way that we understand (the contents of )
an hallucination to be dependent on us (were we to discover that “esse is percipi”),
we could keep our condition for existence, and deny that anything other than God
existed. But the word “exist”—as we already use it—allows another possibility. We
could desert our current condition for existence for a different one, dependence on
God in such and such ways (and not in other ways—so that we could still
distinguish between chairs and our own hallucinations of chairs). Because our
conception of existence is criterion-transcendent, either possibility is allowed.
Therefore, our conception of existence allows at least two positions for philosophers
to adopt, neither of which they can show is right. First, that in Berkeleyean
circumstances only God exists. Second, that in those same circumstances,
everything (other than God) that exists is dependent on God in such and such ways.
5. It does seem that our concepts of weight and shape have shifted under pres sure from scientific developments. The ordinary conception of weight is that it isn’t
a relation but a monadic property of the weighted object; and this is important. It’s a
shift in the concept of weight to treat it instead as a complicated relation between the
masses of two objects and the distance between them; but it’s a shift that most of us
have become comfortable with (even though, it has to be said, we continue to
automatically think of “weight” monadically—as something many of us have far too
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much of, for example). More drastic, apparently, is the shift to a relational status of
the concept of shape—that it’s relative to velocity. (The faster an object goes,
relative to a viewer, the more its shape changes.) We didn’t expect that, and it
changes how we must think of shape; we have to stop thinking that shape is a
monadic property of an object that’s independent, in particular, of how fast it’s
moving, or in what direction. What’s considered conceptually innovative about
special relativity, often, is that the shape of an object is relative to an inertial frame;
I’m not disagreeing with this, but recasting the point in terms of the striking fact
that, within an inertial frame, an object changes shape if it accelerates. That wasn’t
expected; we didn’t see that coming. An interesting difference between scientific
concepts and ordinary concepts is this: ordinary concepts don’t appear to interlock
together the way that scientific ones do. (Scientific concepts interlock because
they’re based on mathematical antecedents that similarly interlock, the way that the
concepts of special
2 Some philosophers can’t resist, apparently, choosing to continue to think
otherwise— despite the emergence and even the popularization of the scientific
facts. Lewis (1986, 204) writes: “If we know what shape is, we know that it is a
property, not a relation.” Notice: our concept of shape has changed under pressure
from special relativity (and general relativity); it’s not that the result is a different
concept. A distinction should be drawn between changing a concept so that the same
concept is different (in certain respects), as opposed to changing it so that it’s now a
different concept. (He has gone through so much that he’s a “changed man,” as
opposed to; “that’s not the same man, that’s some other man.”) Again, things can
get sticky because, after all, these distinctions—with respect to concepts—are based
on sheer intuition. and general relativity interlock because of the mathematics
they’re based on.) This is another reason why it’s hard to measure conceptual
change: ordinary concepts seem affected in different ways by scientific theories
because they (intuitively) seem to intersect with scientific notions on a one-by-one
basis. The ordinary concepts of space, time, velocity, mass, etc., all seem separate in
their meanings and how we apply them to the world. As a result, it’s often hard to
appreciate how much their successor concepts holistically interlock in scientific
6. Let’s consider mutating our notion of existence—shifting it from a monadically-applicable notion to a (kind of ) relation. I’ll start with the currentlypopular suggestion that entities that exist in this world needn’t exist in other possible
worlds. Contemplating this idea doesn’t seem to stress our ordinary notion of
existence. We don’t think of my existence (for example) as relative to a possible
world; we instead think of me as in some possible worlds but not in other ones.
Nevertheless, some philosophers have thought otherwise, distinguishing—as a
result—being actual from mere relative-to-a-world-existence.
Intuitions about possible worlds are genuinely peculiar cases, surely made
problematic because the ordinary person thinks that he or she could (under certain
science-fiction/comic-book scenarios) meet his or her possible-world-mate. I’ll
come back to possible worlds and existence a little later. Let’s instead consider the
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idea that we could relativize the existence of something to a property within a
world—say, the velocity of an object. Imagine that items that reached certain speeds
vanished. (The idea would be that objects are physically present in those inertial
frames where they’re traveling below a certain speed; but that they aren’t physically
present in inertial frames where they would have to be traveling above that speed.)
There seem to be two possible interpretations. The first is that such objects
exist; but they are causally active (“causally present”) only within certain inertial
frames and not others. The second is that objects only exist if they travel below a
certain speed: that existence is relative to an inertial frame. What reasons would we
have for going with this second suggestion?
None, I think. Certainly we’d need, regardless, to distinguish between cases
where accelerating ourselves would “bring into existence” objects that didn’t exist
before and cases where doing so would produce no new objects (because there was
nothing to be made to exist there no matter what speed we traveled at). That
suggests instead that the things exist (although different speeds bring them out)—
that they have unusual properties that are linked to the geometry. So, instead of
characterizing existence itself as relation of some sort, or as inertial-frame relative,
we instead can characterize the objects as simply existing, but as having unusual
(surprising) properties.
This point, I think, reveals how existence is disanalogous to the rest of our
concepts. There isn’t ever going to be a reason for our notion of existence to be
modified by the press of scientific advances. This is because scientific changes,
when characterized in terms of a new concept of existence, will be trivially
transformable into characterizations of the discoveries in terms of the ordinary
notion of existence.
7. The alternative geometry case offers instructive comparisons. One reason it
might have been initially thought that the discovery of non-Euclidean geometries
had no empirical implications was the existence of relative consistency proofs: the
fact that models for (some) non-Euclidean geometries can be embedded in
Euclidean geometries. And this could have suggested that whatever physical theory
couched in whatever non-Euclidean terms could be successfully embedded into a
theory that instead took the background space to be Euclidean.
To think this, however, would be to overlook how such embeddings shouldn’t
be solely mathematical in their implications. If, all things being equal, a physical
theory functions successfully within a certain-dimensioned non-Euclidean manifold,
there’s no reason to embed it in a Euclidean super-space if that resulting embedding
officially offers no additional empirical implications. There’s no reason, that is, to
say that “space” is really Euclidean, but there’s no way we can ever detect that
because all physical interactions are restricted to a surface within that space. I’m
passing over a lot of complexity in saying only this much—including delicate issues
about “the underdetermination of theory by data” but I hope the point is clear
enough for me to apply its moral to the case of existence by showing that similar
considerations are never relevant when it comes to that concept.
Leaving aside the actual usage-facts of English and treating the alternative48
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notions of existence as candidate-notions we might think we should adopt (say
because of a discovery that objects operate in a way strangely relative to their
inertial-frame velocity), we need a reason to accept that instead of thinking of
objects as having such and such (complex) properties and relations, we should
instead think of them as existing in these circumstances rather than in those
For example, we can think of objects as existing relative to this world or
relative to that world (that the predicate “exist” is two-placed, containing one place
for a term designating an object and another one for a term designating a world), or
instead we can think of them as just existing, but “present in” certain worlds and not
in others. (“Present-in-a-world” is a property an object can have.) Similarly, we can
think of myself as existing, but as having the properties (or relations) of being
present during and in certain times and places, or instead as existing relative to those
certain places and times—so that existence is existence-at-a-time-and-place. It isn’t
an illusion—I submit—that this is a grammatical distinction without a metaphysical
difference. It’s not like the geometry case, where an attempt to dislodge the view
that space is “really” non-Euclidean fails because doing so by utilizing an
embedding introduces the question of whether the Euclidean superstructure is
physical or only adipose mathematical tissue. There seems to be no corresponding
question that arises because of the contrast between existence-relative-to-P on the
one hand, and monadic existence on the other hand, where the item instead has the
property of being at (and only at) P.
8. It might be argued that our ordinary notion of existence, contrary to what
I’ve been suggesting in this paper, is actually one that’s already relativized to time
(if not to space). We don’t think of a person as existing relative to the space he’s in.
We exist, and we have the property of being on Earth. It’s not that we exist-relativeto-Earth, but that we don’t exist-relative-to-Mars. However: Does Abraham Lincoln
exist and have the property of being at such and such times and not other times?
(Does Abraham Lincoln have the property of not being at the present moment?) Or
is it rather that his existence is existence-at-such-and-such-times, and not existenceat-other-times? I’m not sure ordinary language actually provides an answer to this
question. Part of the problem is that we don’t naturally say things like, “Abraham
Lincoln doesn’t exist anymore,” or “Abraham Lincoln was real but he isn’t real any
longer,” although we do say “Abraham Lincoln lived in the nineteenth century,” or
“Abraham Lincoln is no longer with us,” and so on. On the other hand, it might be
argued that the fact that our talk of existence is tense-laden the way that all our verbs
are, shows—however unnatural it is to say certain things—that the ordinary talk of
existence does invoke a concept of such that’s relative to times. It’s a really
interesting question what ordinary usage indicates about the role of tense in
ontology; but ordinary usage doesn’t always conform to our corresponding ordinary
In any case, my suggestion remains that this is a grammatical distinction
without a metaphysical difference; and so the (standard) logician’s practice of
treating “exist” as atemporal (as opposed to relative to time) is sustained at least
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insofar as it can be taken to introduce no metaphysical changes of significance.
9. In arguing that there can be no empirical grounds for distinguishing between scientific changes affecting the notion of existence as opposed to their affecting our notions of the properties that should be attributed to those objects, have I
involved myself in some sort of (illicit) verificationist maneuver? No: Some
grammatical distinctions really are without metaphysical significance. We recognize
that we can either modify the predicates that apply to an object, or we can modify
claims about when there is an object to apply predicates to. We may think there is a
robust difference here: surely (some may think) there is a difference between an
object existing (but only being physically efficacious in frames where it travels at
certain speeds) and its only existing at those speeds (only existing relative to a
frame). Surely (some might think) there is a difference between an object’s having
the property of being at certain times and not other times, and that object only
existing relative to those times and not existing relative to other times.
It may seem unclear where the burden of proof is here: on that philosopher
who demands that more content has to be given to this purported distinction before it
can be taken seriously in metaphysics, or on that philosopher who denies that any
more content is required for serious metaphysics than the description of the
distinction that I’ve just given. Not every distinction, however, that can be drawn in
how we formulate what we say should be taken to correspond to something
metaphysically significant; I think, therefore, the burden is on that philosopher who
thinks otherwise.
10. I’ve suggested that, despite the existence of alternative conceptions of existence, there is no reason to think that developments in science itself can ever
motivate an alternative notion of existence instead of the one we already have. In
part this is because the ordinary notion is criterion-transcendent: like the concepts
corresponding to natural-kind terms, it’s prepared for substantial discoveries and
upsets in the properties of the things that fall under it. In part it’s because the
distinction between treating “exists” as relational, or instead as treating the objects
that exist as possessing certain correspondingly complex properties, is ultimately a
mere grammatical distinction that offers no metaphysical friction to distinguish the
purported alternatives.
What about the battery of alternative ontological notions that I opened this
paper with: various species of being and nonbeing, for example? I claim the same is
true of them. It’s an illusion that we are really entertaining alternative ontological
schemes using such notions. We may speak of armies as having being (or as having
a lightweight form of existence) on the basis of the fact that they are composed of
soldiers (that exist, or that have a heavier grade of being). But these ways of
speaking trivially translate to a way of speaking where the only ontological resource
is the ordinary notion of existence. Instead, different claims are made about the
properties of the purported entities; or it may be that the way of speaking (of armies,
say) is one that involves ontologically-empty truths.
One question remains. Recall that at the outset of this paper, I noted that
Quine contemplated the possibility that ontology could vanish as a coherent topic.
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From quantifiers being part of a formalism that could be superseded by technical
innovations, Quine drew the surprising conclusion that ontology is a parochial topic
that could fail to make sense in future conceptual contexts.
There is a settled belief I have that human imagination—no matter how
talented particular individuals may be—is limited. Revolutions in thought are
always possible. Thinking about previous changes in science suggests that concepts
and theories, being relatively global, are especially vulnerable to change. The shift
out of Newtonian science during the twentieth century shows this: massive amounts
of the phenomena were preserved in this shift (e.g., the antics of objects at relatively
low speeds relative to our inertial frame). Preservation of massive amounts of data is
compatible, however, with enormous—even shocking—changes in theory and in the
concepts that occur in those theories.
All this is by way of conceding the truism that it’s hard to predict what may
happen to our concepts—even our scientific concepts—as scientific change
continues. Because of that I can’t be said to have established, let alone even
considered, the question of whether our concept of existence will be modified by
any possible scientific development. All I’ve done is considered the narrower
question of, given the way our science (and the language it’s couched in) looks
today, how our notion of existence is likely to be affected. And I’ve suggested there
isn’t much sense (against this background) to the idea of it changing at all.
So, then, what about the possibility of it ceasing to be even pertinent, of existence (and the concerns of ontology) being sidelined altogether by future scientific
developments? There’s little likelihood of this as well. We may discover that the
objects out there are very strange; we may even discover (although I doubt it) that
objects—all objects—are mind-dependent in some way. But we won’t discover that
our network of concepts has changed so much that the notion of “object” is no
longer coherent or relevant.
Acknowledgments: My thanks to Eric Schliesser for creating the occasion for
my writing this paper by inviting me to give a talk at the University of Ghent on July
4, 2011. My thanks to the audience for useful suggestions; thanks are especially due
to F.A. Muller.
Chemical specialties
Study: Roundup and other pesticides directly linked to Parkinson's,
neurodegenerative disorders
Thursday, November 01, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(Natural News) The dangers associated with pesticide exposure are much
more far-reaching than previously thought, as illustrated by a shocking study
recently published in the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology. It turns out that
chronic exposure to Monsanto's Roundup formula, the active ingredient of which is
glyphosate, as well as too many other common pesticides and herbicides is one of
the primary environmental factors responsible for causing neurodegenerative
disorders in humans.
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As originally reported by Sayer Ji over at, the study brings
to light the intricacies of how pesticide and herbicide chemicals induce cell death,
which can eventually cascade into a host of chronic neurological illnesses such as
Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's. Even at levels significantly lower than the
government-established safety thresholds, these persistent chemicals, which are
routinely sprayed on conventional food crops and produce throughout the U.S., can
cause permanent brain damage.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
Parkinson's disease alone is the 14th leading cause of death in America. Figures
from 2010, which are the latest available, illustrate a 4.6 percent increase in the
number of deaths from Parkinson's compared to the year prior. And a 2007 report
put out by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation estimates that by 2030, the number of
people worldwide with Parkinson's will more than double In this latest study,
Monsanto's Roundup was determined to be a primary factor in causing
neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's, which is particularly interesting in light
of another recent study which found that, even when diluted by a factor of 99.8
percent, Roundup chemicals are still fully capable of destroying both human cells
and DNA. Together, these findings speak volumes in regards to rising disease rates,
and lend solid credence to the notion that crop chemicals are a primary cause of
chronic disease in today's world.
"A previously healthy 44-year-old woman presented with rigidity, slowness
and resting tremor in all four limbs with no impairment of short-term memory, after
sustaining long term chemical exposure to glyphosate for three years as a worker in
a chemical factory," cites a 2011 case study published in the journal Parkinsonism
Related Disorders about glyphosate's toxicity.
"The chemical plant produced a range of herbicides including: glyphosate,
gibberellins, and dimethyl hydrogen phosphite; however, the patient worked
exclusively in the glyphosate production division. She only wore basic protection
such as gloves or a face mask for 50 hours each week in the plant where glyphosate
vapor was generated."
Helping good bacteria reach their target
6 November 2012 Elinor Hughes
Most probiotic bacteria that are added to foods, such as yoghurt, to aid the
digestive system are not reaching their intended target in the intestine. Instead, the
majority are being destroyed in the stomach before they can do any good. Now, UK
scientists have come up with a coating to overcome this problem.1
Probiotic bacteria are added to food such as yoghurt drinks to aid the digestive
system. Probiotics are bacteria that naturally live in the small and large intestine.
They provide health benefits by producing nutrients, compete with pathogenic
bacteria for binding sites and stimulate the immune system.
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scientist Vitaliy
Khutoryanskiy and
microbiologist Dimitris
Charalampopoulos and their colleagues at the University of Reading overcame the
problem of the bacteria dying before they could enter the intestines by building them
a coat of alginate and chitosan layer-by-layer. This coat protects the bacteria as it
travels through the stomach to the intestine.
‘Delivering probiotics via the oral route is considered to be beneficial for
treating disorders of the gastrointestinal tract including irritable bowel syndrome,
bacterial infections and diarrhoea caused by antibiotics,' says Khutoryanskiy.
'However, the majority of probiotic bacteria taken orally cannot pass through the
acidic environment in the stomach and remain viable. So, building on our previous
work,2 our idea was to protect these bacteria via encapsulation.'
The team dispersed live bacteria in an aqueous sodium alginate solution and
extruded it into a solution of calcium chloride to form calcium alginate beads
(alginate forms a gel in the presence of calcium ions). Then, they formed a coating
around the beads by depositing alternating layers of alginate, a negatively-charged
polysaccharide, and chitosan, a positively-charged polysaccharide, on their surface.
‘We have established that the formation of a multi-layered coating can result
in efficient protection of live bacteria within these capsules, but the levels of
protection and the viability of bacteria are dependent on the number of multilayers
deposited,’ says Khutoryanskiy. ‘Encapsulation in the alginate matrixes coated with
three layers gave us the highest levels of viable cells.’ They also demonstrated that
the capsules release viable bacteria in vitro under the pH conditions of the intestinal
In the future, the team hopes to study the delivery of viable bacteria using
their capsules in vivo in experimental animals. ‘We also need to evaluate the shelf
life and long-term stability of these capsules under various storage conditions,’ adds
‘Encapsulating probiotic bacteria for their protection and targeted release is
important, as probiotics are apparently important for our health,' says Yoav
Livney, associate professor at the biotechnology and food engineering department,
Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, Israel. 'Increasing their survival
through the stomach is a worthy goal.'
‘The study seems to have been well performed and the results are interesting,’
adds Livney, ‘particularly the fact that increasing the number of layers up to three
improved gastric survival of the bacteria. However, above three layers, survival
decreased. This was attributed by the authors to the increased swelling and reduced
cross-linking density of the capsules, allowing a greater influx of gastric fluid, which
the team suggests may be avoided by the re-hardening of the capsules in calcium
chloride solution.’
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Engineering specialties
By Curt Finch and Bruce McGraw
According to a 2008 Gartner report, 15 % of all IT projects failed that year
because of high cost variance, while 18 % were unsuccessful because they were
substantially late.* This means that in 2008, 1 in 3 technology projects failed. Why
such a dismal success rate? Such projects primarily involve the management of
human resources in order to accomplish the target schedule, cost, and quality, so it is
safe to assume that poor resource management played a large role. Unfortunately,
without effective resource management processes, such organizations are left asking
questions like:
 "Who is working on what?"
 "How do I get this project back on schedule?"
 "How much more work will it take to finish?"
The Problem with IT Projects Today
Resource Management
IT project teams are made up of knowledge workers who are categorized by
skill types or job functions. For example, a project team might require business
analysts, developers, team leads, project managers, architects, or database analysts.
Finding the right person to assign to a project or task can be the most challenging
problem confronting the organization. Typically, quality staff is scarce and therefore
heavily sought by competing projects. Without resource management processes, the
organization struggles with allocation of its staff across projects.
Project Management
In addition, project managers are responsible for keeping scope, budget, and
schedules on track. How can project managers achieve this when they don’t know
how many hours it takes to accomplish a task, or how many hours remain in the
project? Without an effective system in place, project managers must constantly
intrude on team members to get estimates. Likewise, the management team is
always asking for status reports and accurate information on projects so that they
can make critical decisions. Of course, the project manager is always the last to
know when one of his or her critical resources has been magically "re-assigned" to
another high profile project! In the words of a famous song, many project managers
are "stitched up, out of their mind, feeling strung out, lagging behind, trapped in,
can’t do a thing because they’re locked down…."**
Executive Decision-Making
From an executive perspective, it is impossible to make effective decisions
when one does not know what people are working on or how the projects are doing.
Additionally, if strategic projects do not have priority for critical, scarce resources, it
will cause stress for the organization as a whole.
Many organizations feel that it is enough to track project progress on a
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percentage complete basis. Unfortunately, this is not consistent with established
methodologies, which nearly always suggest that the only accurate measure of
progress is tracking work effort (i.e., time).
The Answer
Integrating Plans with Actuals
Projects are executed in order to bring in a positive return on investment
(ROI). The ROI might be lowering risk, enhancing the organization's strategy,
streamlining processes, complying with regulations, or otherwise improving the
state of the organization in some way. This potential return must be quantified in
financial terms, even if it is only a very rough estimate of the benefit provided. It
motivates people to understand why they are working so hard, and a big number is a
good motivation.
The other half of ROI is the investment or cost. Project managers and
executives cannot know if a project was successful or not unless they understand its
cost. In today's globalized knowledge worker world, project costs are mainly derived
from the cost of labor. Consequently, tracking time to projects and tasks is an
inescapable requirement for measuring project ROI.
If 10 % of a project's allocated budget has been spent and only 5% of the work
has been completed, there is a problem. Project managers who track employee
actuals and find this out early in the project have a fighting chance of recovery.
Those who don't will find out much later on that their projects are drastically over
budget. This is just one example of how real-time data enables project managers to
fix problems before they start.
Insight Into Resource Availability
In a 100 person organization, there are always five or ten people who are
overbooked. Everyone wants these people to work on their projects. Every time one
of them takes a vacation or becomes ill, the organization groans. Conversely, there
are other people who are under-utilized.
Even when project managers understand resource availability, it changes.
They might run around and get all of the vacation schedules recorded in a big
spreadsheet, only to find that a week later it has all been moved. What project
managers need is real-time access to team member schedules, tasks and available
time. This makes assigning people to tasks much easier. (Such a system must also be
web-based, since the team is probably not all in one workspace 24 hours a day. This
is why spreadsheets don't work very well. Not only are they unable to be audited,
but they don't allow for global access from various participants.)
Real Data for the CXO
It is extremely important to present project data to management in an easily
consumable way. Executives just want to know, at a glance, what is broken or about
to be broken. They are problem solvers, and they can only succeed if they have upto-date, accurate information. Such data will also allow executives to prioritize
projects based on their value to the organization at large.
The Bottom Line
When IT workers track their time by task and project, project managers can
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address problems as soon as they surface and executives can understand cost
expenditure. This will put an end to project failure, as well as eliminate the waste of
resources on projects that are not profitable to the organization. No IT organization
can afford to have 1 out of 3 of their projects fail, but with the right procedures in
place, they won't have to.
* (Apfel, Hanford, Light, Stang, Mieritz, & Fitzgerald, 2008)
** (Mayer & Hancock, 2005)
Mechanical Engineering Is on the Rise
The classic discipline is cutting-edge again
By Thomas K. Grose
March 26, 2008 RSS Feed Print
Ewan Pritchard and Advanced Energy's plug-in hybrid school bus.
During a childhood visit to the National Air and Space Museum in
Washington, D.C., Margaret Anderson caught the space-travel bug. She knew then
and there she wanted to work for NASA.
It wasn't just a passing fancy. Now 21, Anderson is a student at the Rochester
Institute of Technology, working simultaneously on her master's and bachelor's
degrees in mechanical engineering. And she's living her dream. Anderson is
employed at the space agency through a student co-op program and is working on
hybrid rockets—experimental power plants that combine solid and liquid fuel
technologies to find a cheaper, safer way into space.
If it sounds counterintuitive that a fledgling rocket scientist is earning degrees
in mechanical engineering, it seemed that way to Anderson at first. She admits she
was initially "disappointed" that RIT has made aerospace engineering part of its
mechanical engineering program. Now, though, she's "really glad I decided to do it."
Mechanical engineering, she says, has given her a wider understanding of
engineering, and that has helped her grapple with the myriad issues involved in
rocket technology.
Rocket science. Mechanical engineering is all about designing, building, and
maintaining machines of all types and sizes. It's an engineering classic, dating to the
early days of the industrial revolution, when engineering know-how was needed to
harness the potential of the steam engine. But despite its 19th-century pedigree,
M.E. is today at the heart of many cutting-edge technologies.
That makes it a hot choice for students. It's by far the most popular
undergraduate degree in engineering; according to the American Society for
Engineering Education, 16,063 undergrad degrees were awarded in 2006. At the
graduate level, it's the third-most-popular discipline among engineering master's and
is back in first place among doctorates.
Why the demand? M.E. students have to master key elements of chemical,
civil, and electrical engineering, as well as physics and advanced mathematics,
particularly calculus. "The breadth of mechanical engineering is unique," explains
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Larry Silverberg, the associate head of the mechanical and aerospace engineering
program at North Carolina State University. "And, no question, that's a selling
That's particularly true for M.E. students who go to graduate school, with its
focus on a narrow area of study. The broadness of the degree means they have a
wide array of possibilities to choose from. Traditionally, many mechanical engineers
headed for automotive and aerospace, but energy, robotics, and bioengineering are
growth areas, too, as is nanotechnology—which is, after all, the manipulation of
particles at the nano-level to build microsize machines.
Silverberg singles out three sectors critical to America's future: energy,
security and defense, and healthcare. "Mechanical engineering plays a big role in all
three of those," he says.
Ewan Pritchard, who is completing his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at
North Carolina State, is head of the hybrid program at Advanced Energy, a company
that recently unveiled the first commercially available plug-in hybrid vehicle, a
school bus. He's passionate about developing alternative-fuel vehicles, which is why
M.E. was his choice.
"The coming decade is going to be the decade of energy, and when you think
energy, you think mechanical engineering," says Pritchard, 35. That's because, as
Iowa State University M.E. Prof. Robert C. Brown explains, mechanical engineers
are not only experts in thermodynamics—the study and uses of energy—they know
how to apply its laws to bring machines to life.
There are four main subdisciplines within M.E.—thermodynamics and fluids,
solid mechanics, dynamics and controls, and manufacturing—so students learn early
on to work on interdisciplinary teams. And cross-disciplinary research dominates
both academia and industry today. "Most of the best research is at the edges of
disciplines," where they abut one another, says Joseph Beaman, chairman of the
M.E. department at the University of Texas-Austin. Many M.E. departments also
encourage students to take biology and business classes to enhance their
multidisciplinary capacity.
We're No. 1. The range of skills common to mechanical engineering
graduates also goes over well in the job market. At Austin, many M.E. students are
top prospects on the wish lists of companies scouting prospective hires. Edward
Hensel, head of mechanical engineering at rit, says "there's a powerful, pent-up
demand in industry for mechanical engineers. In more than 20 years as a teacher,
I've not seen the like of it before."
Research money is plentiful too, in part because of recent increases in
National Science Foundation funding for the physical sciences and engineering.
Silverberg says these have particularly favored M.E. "because so many of the critical
problems in the forefront now lie in the area of mechanical engineering." His
department's research expenditures increased 25 percent over the past five years to
$8 million a year. Indeed, North Carolina State recently added two new graduate
classes—one in nanomechanics, the other in biofluids—to accommodate M.E.'s
increasing involvement in nanotechnology and the life sciences.
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Anderson, meanwhile, should have her master's completed by spring 2009 and
expects to eventually earn a doctorate, too. She's also adamant she wants to keep
working at NASA: "It's better than I had hoped. I've really enjoyed it; I really feel
it's the right place for me." Clearly, it's mission accomplished for Anderson's
girlhood dream, thanks in large part to her mechanical engineering education.
How to write scientific letters
1. Words and expressions for writing a note of invitation.
- May I have the pleasure of inviting you (to) … – Могу я иметь
удовольствие пригласить Вас (на) …
- May we sincerely invite you (to) … – Можем мы искренне пригласить
Вас (на)…
- Officially invites you (to) … – Официально приглашаем Вас (на) …
- It gives me a great pleasure to invite you (to) … – Это дает мне большое
удовольствие пригласить вас (на) …
- It’s great pleasure (and honor) to give you an invitation to … – Большое
удовольствие (и честь), дать (вручить) вам приглашение на …
- to participate in the Congress (Conference, Symposium) on … –
участвовать в Конгрессе (на Конференции, в Симпозиуме) по …
- to attend the Congress (Conference, Symposium) – посетить Конгресс
(Конференцию, Симпозиум)…
- to be a participant of … – быть участником
- to be held in London from…to… – которая проводится в Лондоне
- which is scheduled on the 1st to the 5th of September – который намечен
(планируется) с 1-го по 5-е сентября
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
PRODUCTION, Moscow, 200...
10t h October, 200_
Dr. P. E. Pilet
Department of Food Chemistry
University of London, England
Dear Dr. Pilet,
On behalf of the Organizing Committee, I have the pleasure of inviting you
to attend the Symposium on the New Technologies of Wine Production to be held
in Moscow, March 18-22, 200_.
We are sure that your participation will contribute much to the success of
the Symposium and personal contact with you will enhance the exchange of
scientific information.
I am looking forward to hearing from you soon and hope that your response
will be favourable.
Sincerely yours
Dr. A. A. Stераnov,
Organizing Committee
Write a note of invitation to a conference on the subject of your research
2. Words and expressions for accepting an invitation
- I am very grateful (for) … – Я очень благодарен за …
- Thank you very much (for) … – Большое спасибо (за) …
- I wish to thank you (for) … – Желаю поблагодарить вас (за) …
- I would like to thank you (for) … – Я хотел бы благодарить вас за …
- May I express my gratitude to you (for) … – Могу ли я выразить свою
благодарность вам за …
- I wish to express my gratitude to you for … – Я желаю выразить свою
благодарность вам за …
- It is a great pleasure to accept your kind invitation … – Большое
удовольствие принять ваше доброе приглашение...
- I will be happy to participate in … – Я буду счастлив(а) участвовать в…
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Institute of Food Chemistry
St. Petersburg, Russia
22nd March, 200_
Dr. R.H. Lookenbill
Organizing Committee
Montana University
Missoula, USA
Dear Dr. Lookenbill,
Thank you for your letter of October the 10 t h together with the kind
invitation to participate in thе Symposium on History of Food Chemistry
to be held in Missoula next year.
I shall be happy to participate in this gathering and would be prepared
to give a talk.
I enclose my preliminary registration form and will send an abstract of
my paper before the end of the year.
Yours sincerely,
V. Yakovlev
Write a letter accepting an invitation to the conference
3. Words and expressions for declining an invitation
- I very much regret that I am unable to accept … – Я очень сожалею, что я
не могу принять…
- I am very sorry I must decline … – Я очень сожалею, что я должен
- I am afraid I must decline … – Боюсь, что я должен отклониться …
- as I have already accepted a previous invitation … – поскольку я уже
принял предыдущее приглашение …
- as I have an urgent business … – поскольку у меня срочное дело …
- as I see no prospects of attending the Conference (Congress, Symposium)
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
owing to (because of) my poor health (other obligations) … – поскольку я не
вижу никаких перспектив посещения Конференции (Конгресса, Симпозиума)
вследствие (из-за) моего плохого здоровья (других обстоятельств) …
- owing to a prior engagement for that time … – по причине
предшествующего приглашения на это время…
Montana University
1st October , 200_
Prof. R.Houseman
Food Chemistry Faculty
University of London
Dear Prof. R. Houseman,
I am greatly honoured by the letter of J.A.Phillips, of September 25th inviting
me to participate in the 14th International Conference on New Equipment Used
in Beer Brewing.
However, I am afraid I shall have to decline your kind invitation, for I see
no possibility of attending the Conference, owing to a prior engagement for
that time.
I would appreciate it greatly if you could send me the Proceedings of the
Please accept my best regards,
Yours truly,
Dr. Hill
Write a letter declining an invitation to the conference.
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
1. Хисамова Д.Д. Английский язык для виноделов / Д.Д. Хисамова,
Э.К. Валиахметова, Р.А. Зайнуллин. – Уфа: Уфимская государственная
академия экономики и сервиса, 2007. – 94 с.
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
ВАЛИАХМЕТОВА Эльвира Камиловна
Устная и письменная речь
Учебное пособие для аспирантов
Технический редактор: А. Ю. Кунафина
Подписано в печать 07.06.13. Формат 60×84 1/16.
Бумага писчая. Гарнитура «Таймс».
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Цена свободная. Заказ № 64.
Отпечатано с готовых авторских оригиналов
на ризографе в издательском отделе
Уфимского государственного университета экономики и сервиса
450078, г. Уфа, ул. Чернышевского, 145; тел. (347) 241-69-85.
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