Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Recent publications
The main ambition of the eight articles in this collection is to bring together two currently distinct bodies of literature—on scholarly virtues and vices in the sciences and the humanities, and on epistemic virtues and vices—and to jointly connect them to recent work in (revisionary) historiography of philosophy. This introduction briefly reflects on this ambition, providing background and context, and offers a short overview of the eight articles.
Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde (1930–2019) was one of Germany’s foremost postwar legal scholars. He coined or popularized key terms and ideas that have left their mark on postwar German political debate to an extent matched by only few, from the chain of legitimation to the concept of the constitution as an ordering frame , the importance of the idea of subsidiarity in the European Union’s political competency, and his insistence that society must continuously work toward agreement on the things that cannot be voted on: the ultimate agreements in society that lie beyond the ballot box. Böckenförde was a lifelong commentator on Catholic affairs in Germany and involved in several important inner-Catholic reform initiatives. At the age of thirty-one, he became known to a wider German public with an article that presented a critical historical appraisal of the role of the Catholic Church under National Socialism. While still a postdoc, he co-authored a widely publicized critique of Jesuit Gustav Gundlach’s justification on theological grounds of a war of nuclear deterrence. In 1968, he was the first to publish a German edition of De Libertate Religiosa , the final declaration of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), and provided an authoritative commentary.
Signal Detection Theory (SDT) is rarely used in higher education, yet has much potential in informing decision-making. In this methodological paper, we describe the potential of SDT for different higher education contexts and demonstrate its practical application. Both the commonly used regression analyses and SDT analyses provide information on the accuracy of a predictor, and thus which instrument(s) to use. SDT analyses, in addition, provide information on the effects of setting specific cut-off scores on outcomes of interest. SDT provides the sensitivity and specificity information for the chosen instrument(s) at specific cut-off scores (criteria in SDT). This allows for evidence-informed, deliberate choice of cut-off scores to steer toward desired outcomes. Depending on how undesirable false positives and false negatives are considered in a specific situation, a lower or higher cut-off score can be deemed adequate. Using SDT analyses in our example, we demonstrate how to use the results to optimize “real-life” student selection. However, selection is only one of many decision-making practices where SDT is applicable and valuable. We outline some of the areas within higher education decision-making and quality assurance, where SDT can be applied to answer specific questions and optimize decision-making.
Background Social interactions are important for well-being, and therefore, researchers are increasingly attempting to capture people’s social environment. Many different disciplines have developed tools to measure the social environment, which can be highly variable over time. The experience sampling method (ESM) is often used in psychology to study the dynamics within a person and the social environment. In addition, passive sensing is often used to capture social behavior via sensors from smartphones or other wearable devices. Furthermore, sociologists use egocentric networks to track how social relationships are changing. Each of these methods is likely to tap into different but important parts of people’s social environment. Thus far, the development and implementation of these methods have occurred mostly separately from each other. Objective Our aim was to synthesize the literature on how these methods are currently used to capture the changing social environment in relation to well-being and assess how to best combine these methods to study well-being. Methods We conducted a scoping review according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. Results We included 275 studies. In total, 3 important points follow from our review. First, each method captures a different but important part of the social environment at a different temporal resolution. Second, measures are rarely validated (>70% of ESM studies and 50% of passive sensing studies were not validated), which undermines the robustness of the conclusions drawn. Third, a combination of methods is currently lacking (only 15/275, 5.5% of the studies combined ESM and passive sensing, and no studies combined all 3 methods) but is essential in understanding well-being. Conclusions We highlight that the practice of using poorly validated measures hampers progress in understanding the relationship between the changing social environment and well-being. We conclude that different methods should be combined more often to reduce the participants’ burden and form a holistic perspective on the social environment.
The concept of the social determinants of health has become increasingly accepted and mainstream in anglophone public health over the past three decades. Moreover, it has been widely adopted into diverse geographic, sociocultural, and linguistic contexts. By recognizing the role of social conditions in influencing health inequalities, the concept challenges narrow behavioral and reductive biological understandings of health. Despite this, scholars and activists have critiqued the concept of the social determinants of health for being incomplete and even misrepresenting the true nature of health inequities. Arguably, these critiques have been most thoroughly developed among those working in the Latin American social medicine and collective health traditions who formulated the “social determination of health” paradigm and the concept of interculturality decades prior to the advent of the social determinants of health. We draw on Jaime Breilh's main works, with a focus on the recently published book, Critical Epidemiology and the People's Health, to (1) provide a broad overview of the social determination of health paradigm and its approach to interculturality and (2) clarify how these ideas and the broader collective health movement challenge assumptions within the social determinants of health concept.
In the current historical moment of rewriting the Chilean Constitution, there are new hopes for producing a different socio-legal, political-economic and public health order. The Chilean case holds important implications for global health practitioners, researchers and policy-makers because it clearly shows both the impacts of neoliberal processes on a worldwide scale and neoliberal policy responses. This article contributes to the field of global health policy critical analysis by offering scrutiny of Chile's international migrant healthcare policy from the perspective of its ideological assumptions. We apply Fairclough's analytical perspective to the Chilean migrant healthcare policy, identifying its components, argumentative premises and ideological assumptions that contribute to the reproduction of the processes of social determination. It allows us to identify bias mobilisation, exclusion, and subordinate inclusion processes that systematically lead to the omission of structural processes in the social determination of migrants' healthcare, contributing to their reproduction. We conclude by problematising the place of academia in said reproduction to the extent that the concepts and premises they use remain in the ideological territory of exclusion of the structural defined by the policy, disconnecting reflection and action in the health field from collective demands.
A growing body of research demonstrates that political involvement by Christian religious leaders can undermine the religion's social influence. Do these negative consequences of politicization also extend to Islam? Contrary to scholarly and popular accounts that describe Islam as inherently political, we argue that Muslim religious leaders will weaken their religious authority when they engage with politics. We test this argument with a conjoint experiment implemented on a survey of more than 12,000 Sunni Muslim respondents in eleven Middle Eastern countries. The results show that connections to political issues or politically active religious movements decrease the perceived religious authority of Muslim clerics, including among respondents who approve of the clerics' political views. The article's findings shed light on how Muslims in the Middle East understand the relationship between religion and politics, and they contribute more broadly to understanding of how politicized religious leaders can have negative repercussions for religion.
Background: Recent global meta-analyses show that 40% of dementia cases can be attributed to twelve modifiable risk factors. Objective: To investigate how health promotion strategies may differ in specific populations, this study estimated population attributable fractions (PAFs) of these risk factors for dementia in cognitively normal (CN) individuals and individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in United States and Greek cohorts. Methods: We re-analyzed data from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Centre (NACC, n = 16,147, mean age 75.2±6.9 years, 59.0% female) and the Hellenic Longitudinal Investigation of Aging and Diet (HELIAD, n = 1,141, mean age 72.9±5.0 years, 58.0% female). PAFs for the total samples and CN and MCI subgroups were calculated based on hazard ratios for the risk of dementia and risk factor prevalence in NACC (9 risk factors) and HELIAD (10 risk factors). Results: In NACC, 2,630 participants developed MCI (25.1%) and 3,333 developed dementia (20.7%) during a mean follow-up of 4.9±3.5 years. Weighted overall PAFs were 19.4% in the total sample, 15.9% in the CN subgroup, and 3.3% in the MCI subgroup. In HELIAD, 131 participants developed MCI (11.2%) and 68 developed dementia (5.9%) during an average follow-up of 3.1±0.86 years. Weighted overall PAFs were 65.5% in the total sample, 65.8% in the CN subgroup and 64.6% in the MCI subgroup. Conclusion: Translation of global meta-analysis data on modifiable risk factors should be carefully carried out per population. The PAFs of risk factors differ substantially across populations, directing health policy making to tailored risk factor modification plans.
Platelet adhesion and activation are mediated by integrin αIIbβ3 clustering, which is crucial for the hemostatic function of platelets. In an activated state, integrins provide the connection between the extracellular matrix and the actin cytoskeleton through a variety of cytoplasmic proteins, such as talin. Here, droplet‐based microfluidics is applied to generate cell‐sized giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) with a defined molecular composition to quantify the adhesion of integrin αIIbβ3‐containing protocells in relation to the number of integrin–talin head domain (THD) complexes. Furthermore, it is shown that THD induces integrin clustering in protocells adhering to fibrinogen. The formation of this molecular link, which has, so far, only been observed in vivo, is an essential step in synthetic cell design to recapitulate integrin‐mediated bidirectional signaling across the membrane. These results pave the way for further quantitative investigations of protein–protein interactions between integrins and associated proteins and their assembly within such defined, but complex, synthetic cells. An essential future step to mimic the complex interaction between cells and their environment will be to combine synthetic approaches with peptide chemistry to guide the molecular mechanisms involved in integrin binding and activation. Integrin αIIbβ3‐containing giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) generated by droplet‐based microfluidics with a defined molecular composition allow the quantification of their adhesion to fibrinogen‐coated surfaces in relation to the number of integrin–talin head domain(THD) complexes. Furthermore, the induction of integrin clustering at the adhesion area by THD is shown for the first time for a synthetic cell system.
Even in well-studied organisms, it is often challenging to uncover the social and environmental determinants of fitness. Typically, fitness is determined by a variety of factors that act in concert, thus forming complex networks of causal relationships. Moreover, even strong correlations between social and environmental conditions and fitness components may not be indicative of direct causal links, as the measured variables may be driven by unmeasured (or unmeasurable) causal factors. Standard statistical approaches, like multiple regression analyses, are not suited for disentangling such complex causal relationships. Here, we apply structural equation modeling (SEM), a technique that is specifically designed to reveal causal relationships between variables, and which also allows to include hypothetical causal factors. Therefore, SEM seems ideally suited for comparing alternative hypotheses on how fitness differences arise from differences in social and environmental factors. We apply SEM to a rich data set collected in a long-term study on the Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis), a bird species with facultatively cooperative breeding and a high rate of extra-group paternity. Our analysis reveals that the presence of helpers has a positive effect on the reproductive output of both female and male breeders. In contrast, per capita food availability does not affect reproductive output. Our analysis does not confirm earlier suggestions on other species that the presence of helpers has a negative effect on the reproductive output of male breeders. As such, both female and male breeders should tolerate helpers in their territories, irrespective of food availability.
The purpose is to avert the systematic financial risks from the Internet financial bubble and improve the efficiency of legal service companies’ credit risk assessment ability. Firstly, this study analyzes the commonly used classification model, Support Vector Machine (SVM), and linear regression model, Logistic model, and then puts forward the integrated SVM-Logistic + Fuzzy Multicriteria Decision-Making (FMCDM) to evaluate and analyze the credit risk level of listed companies. In the proposed integrated model, the SVM model classifies the data sample from listed companies, and the Logistic model is used for regression analysis on the credit risk assessment. Based on the credit risk indexes and weight uncertain factors of sample companies, FMCDM based on fuzzy set is applied to obtain the evaluation indexes. Then, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is used to obtain the weight of key indexes. Finally, the fit analysis is carried out according to the existing risk status of the sample company and the risk status results of the proposed integrated model. The results show that the integrated SVM-Logistic model is complementary and has high intensive evaluation. According to the fitness value obtained by FMCDM, the company's credit risk status can be accurately evaluated, and the intermediate threshold of corporate credit default risk measurement is 0.56152; if Fit is lower than the threshold, the company’s credit is low, and if Fit is higher than the threshold, the company’s credit is high. Therefore, the data mining technology based on integrated SVM-Logistic model + FMCDM has high precision and feasible application in the credit risk assessment from legal service companies. This study creates a new method model for legal service companies in the field of corporate credit risk assessment and can provide references and ideas for corporate credit risk assessment.
Compared to other regions, the drivers of diversification in Africa are poorly understood. We studied a radiation of insects with over 100 species occurring in a wide range of habitats across the Afrotropics to investigate the fundamental evolutionary processes and geological events that generate and maintain patterns of species richness on the continent. By investigating the evolutionary history of Bicyclus butterflies within a phylogenetic framework, we inferred the group's origin at the Oligo-Miocene boundary from ancestors in the Congolian rainforests of central Africa. Abrupt climatic fluctuations during the Miocene (ca. 19-17 Ma) likely fragmented ancestral populations, resulting in at least eight early-divergent lineages. Only one of these lineages appears to have diversified during the drastic climate and biome changes of the early Miocene, radiating into the largest group of extant species. The other seven lineages diversified in forest ecosystems during the late Miocene and Pleistocene when climatic conditions were more favourable-warmer and wetter. Our results suggest changing Neogene climate, uplift of eastern African orogens, and biotic interactions might have had different effects on the various subclades of Bicyclus, producing one of the most spectacular butterfly radiations in Africa.
Cultural evolution theory has long been inspired by evolutionary biology. Conceptual analogies between biological and cultural evolution have led to the adoption of a range of formal theoretical approaches from population dynamics and genetics. However, this has resulted in a research programme with a strong focus on cultural transmission. Here, we contrast biological with cultural evolution, and highlight aspects of cultural evolution that have not received sufficient attention previously. We outline possible implications for evolutionary dynamics and argue that not taking them into account will limit our understanding of cultural systems. We propose 12 key questions for future research, among which are calls to improve our understanding of the combinatorial properties of cultural innovation, and the role of development and life history in cultural dynamics. Finally, we discuss how this vibrant research field can make progress by embracing its multidisciplinary nature. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Foundations of cultural evolution’.
Pedestrian movements during large crowded events naturally consist of different modes of movement behaviour. Despite its importance for understanding crowd dynamics, intermittent movement behaviour is an aspect missing in the existing crowd behaviour literature. Here we analyse movement data generated from nearly 600 Wi-Fi sensors during large entertainment events in the Johan Cruijff ArenA football stadium in Amsterdam. We use the state-space modeling framework to investigate intermittent motion patterns. Movement models from the field of movement ecology are used to analyse individual pedestrian movement. Joint estimation of multiple movement tracks allows us to investigate statistical properties of measured movement metrics. We show that behavioural switching is not independent of external events, and the probability of being in one of the behavioural states changes over time. In addition, we show that the distribution of waiting times deviates from the exponential and is best fit by a heavy-tailed distribution. The heavy-tailed waiting times are indicative of bursty movement dynamics, which are here for the first time shown to characterise pedestrian movements in dense crowds. Bursty crowd behaviour has important implications for various diffusion-related processes, such as the spreading of infectious diseases.
Coastal areas in north-western Europe have been influenced by elevated nutrient levels starting in the 1960s. Due to efficient measures, both nitrate and phosphate levels decreased since the mid-1980s. The co-occurring declines in nutrient loadings and fish productivity are often presumed to be causally linked. We investigated whether four resident fish species (twaite shad, bull-rout, thick-lipped grey mullet and eelpout), that spend the majority of their life in the vicinity of the coast, differed in growth between the historic eutrophication period compared to the recent lower nutrient-level period. Based on Von Bertalanffy growth models of length at age, and the analysis of annual otolith increments, we investigated the difference in sex-specific growth patterns and related these to temperature, eutrophication level (Chlorophyll a), growth window and fish density. In all four species, annual otolith growth rates during the early life stages differed between the two periods, mostly resulting in larger lengths at age in the recent period. All species showed significant correlations between increment size and temperature, explaining the observed period differences. The lack of an effect of total fish biomass provided no evidence for density dependent growth. A correlation with chlorophyll was found in bull-rout, but the relationship was negative, thus not supporting the idea of growth enhanced by high nutrient levels. In conclusion, we found no evidence for reduced growth related to de-eutrophication. Our results indicate that temperature rise due to climate change had a greater impact on growth than reduced food availability due to de-eutrophication. We discuss potential consequences of growth changes for length-based indicators used in management.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the status quo in many areas of society, including education. At all educational levels, on-site lecturing had to switch instantaneously to an online mode of instruction. This transition was so straightforward, that the argument could be made for online education to become a permanent fixture, particularly if it is more efficient, cheaper, and more effective than traditional education. Extensive meta-analyses, however, show that most online teaching practices do not lead to better educational outcomes than the on-site alternatives. Worse yet, the traditional face-to-face mode of lecturing is ineffective in the absence of personalized interactions. The proposed solutions are offered by artificial intelligence research, including virtual reality, intelligent tutoring systems, and serious games—solutions that have so far not been extensively implemented in practice. The current health crisis provides our educational professionals with an opportunity to rethink their teaching practices and focus on applying these promising new alternatives.
While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our lives is still evident on a daily basis, there is a much larger disaster looming in our future. We are faced with massive evidence that civilization is threatened by a climate disaster, and drastic measures are needed to avoid a point of no return. Will humankind succeed in adopting the necessary measures in time? In this essay, we explore the potential of present-day AI systems to mitigate the apparent human inability to respond timely and adequately to the imminent peril threatening the existence of our civilization. We will argue that contrary to focusing on the widespread concerns of AI superseding humanity, the role of AI in climate change solutions needs to be prioritized and appreciated. To illustrate the potential of AI, we first contemplate the suboptimal human response to the nonlinear dynamics of the COVID-19 crisis. Subsequently, we generalize our observations to the climate crisis.
COVID-19 has been frequently described as a great equalizer. The reality, however, is that long-standing inequities have been further exacerbated. The result is a lack of presence of a lot of stories on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on societies and people. Thus speaks the website of Voice of Witness ( , 2020), a San Francisco based organization with a mission to advance human rights “by amplifying the voices of people impacted by injustice.” For obvious reasons, during the COVID-19 pandemic, public attention went almost exclusively to saving lives and overcoming problems in doing so. As a result, people felt their souls were left behind in the limbo of uncertainty without accompaniment. In this short chapter, the starting point of Voice of Witness is taken: an understanding of any crucial issue is incomplete without deep listening and learning from people who have experienced it firsthand.
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Amsterdam, Netherlands