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Sunday, 22 October 2017

"Thinking about animals..." book on Amazon bestseller list for Nature Literature Criticism

According to, our book Thinking about animals in the age of the Anthropocene is currently #37 (Kindle version) and #39 (Hardcover version) in the category Nature Literature Criticism.

This does not indicate a very high sale, since the overall sales ranking in Books is #3,578,294.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Kick-off partially attended

Today I attended part of the kick-off for the new "linjeforening" (student course NGO) of the students of MEES.

General meeting in Minding animals Norway announced

I have just announced the annual meeting of Minding Animals Norway, which will take place at Domus Nova in Oslo on November 20th at 20.00.

Program for the Norwegian animal ethics conference 2017 - with wolf theme

The program for the 6th Norwegian animal ethics conference (2017), to be held in Oslo on Tuesday November 21st, has been announced. I will be chairing.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Ecosemiotics conference in Poland

The conference "Ecosemiotic paradigm for nature & culture: Transdisciplinary Explorations in the Cybernetics of Learning, Adapting, Understanding & Knowing" will be held in Mikołów, Poland, July 9–12, 2018. A call for papers is currently being distributed by email.

Contribution to philosophical program area research application

I have recently contributed with text on subjectivity and perception to a in-process program area research application among philosophers at University of Stavanger with some external collaborators.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

2 hours of teaching followed

Today I am attending half (two hours) of Torvald Øgaard´s research methods class in "Philosophy of science and research methods". Meanwhile, I have drafted assignments for seminar work in research methods, which I will be responsible for the two coming weeks.

16th seminar, truth discussed

Today I have given a seminar - the 16th Ex.Phil. seminar this autumn at Department of social studies, and the final one in this fourth round. This week´s topic for discussion was: How can you know whether someone is telling the truth?

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Wolf book "Ulvetider" finished

Yesterday - or rather this night - I finished (because I had to finish) contributing to the book Ulvetider [Time of the wolf], which is about to appear on Vega forlag. I have co-written the book with Lars Lenth and Petter Bøckman.

Seminar #15

Today I have given another Ex.Phil. seminar at Department of social studies - no. 15 this autumn.

"The semiotics of animal representations" intro chapter cited in Hübben 2017

My co-edited book The Semiotics of Animal Representations (Rodopi 2014, edited with Kadri Tüür) has been cited in 

Hübben, Kelly 2017. Mr. Dog Is a Conservative. In: Anna Feuerstein & Carmen Nolte-Odhiambo (eds), Childhood and Pethood in Literature and Culture - New Perspectives on Childhood Studies and Animal Studies. New York & Abingon: Routledge.

Excerpt (p. 2-3 in that chapter):
As Kadri Tüür and Morten Tønnessen argue, representation in general is a form of meaning making distinct from communication and signification; on the other hand, the dynamic meaning-making process of representation takes place within cultural frameworks, where there is some room for overlap between representation, signification, and communication (12). Tüür and Tønnessen perceive the relation between real animals and their representations as two-directional, so that "the way we represent reality tends to influence the way we perceive reality (we only see what we are looking for)" (11). For representation of pets in picture books, it is significant to acknowledge this connection to the reality of human-animal interactions, since picture books, especially those that target a young readership, have a socializing and educational function (Stephens 158).

Anthropocene lecture by Sverker Sörlin attended

Yesterday I attended an open lecture by environmental historian Sverker Sörlin at Museum of Archaeology, on the Anthropocene, organized by GreenHouse, the environmental humanities initiatives at University of Stavanger. Some 50-60 people showed up and were enlightened.

Monday, 16 October 2017

6 hours of teaching

Today I have (soon) taught for 6 hours in Examen Philosophicum at Department of social studies. First a lecture, on philosophy of science, then two seminars with discussion and work with multiple choice questions.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Code biology conference 2018 - Granada

The Fifth International Conference in Code Biology will take place in Granada, Spain, June 5-9th 2018. Abstract deadline is January 15th.

Selected readings list announced in MPH130

I have just reviewed and announced the selected compulsory readings in ethics and philosophy of science for the UiS course "Philosophy of science and health care ethics". Teaching starts November 29th.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

To attend Paris inequality conference after all

I have decided to attend the First conference, on global economic inequality, after all, even not presenting a paper. I see the conference, which is held in Paris December 14-15th, as very relevant for the research I am now starting on into the relation between prosperity and welfare.

See also:

Research methods teaching followed

Today, for the second time, I have followed teaching in research methods in "Philosophy of science and research methods", in preparation of seminar teaching starting in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Google Scholar: 212 citations, h-index of 8

According to Google Scholar (cf. my verified profile), I now have 212 citations, up 9 since late August. My h10-index remains 6 (meaning 6 of my papers have been cited at least 10 times), but my h-index is now 8, up from 7 at last count. This implies that my 8 most cited papers have been cited at least 8 times each. No. 8 is "Is a wolf wild as long as it does not know that it is being thoroughly managed?"

2017 currently stands with 28 citations, vs. 45 in 2015 and 58 in 2016.

See also:

Cuba planning meeting

Today I have attended a planning meeting ahead of our research seminar at Universidad de la Habana on January 26-27th. We hope our Cuban partners can arrange a few field visits in the couple of days immediately before the seminar.

Monday, 9 October 2017

NASS webpage updated

I have made some updates on the webpage of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (NASS), including uploading the latest newsletter (Spring 2017), and the list of current board members.

Kazakhstan Center seeking peer-reviewers

I have received an email from The National Center of Science and Technology Evaluation (NCSTE), Kazakhstan, where I am invited to review research applications for 250 USD a piece. However, the deadline indicated is only 2 days per proposal, which is not enough given my usual, quite busy work schedule.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Wolf book finished

Today I have finished a book manuscript, Ulvetider - rovdyret som splitter Norge [Time of the wolf - the carnivore that divides Norway], along with my two co-authors, Lars Lenth and Petter Bøckman. Next now is rapid editing by our publishing house editor, and proof reading, then - off to print.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Another work lunch

A couple of weeks ago I attended a work lunch with colleagues (other teachers) in the master programme Energy, Environment and Society at University of Stavanger.

Peer-review for Journal of Comparative Social Work - and 11 others

At some point this year I conducted a peer-review for Journal of Comparative Social Work

Altogether I have done peer-reviews for at least 12 different journals.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Seminar teaching planned

Today I met with a colleague to plan for seminar teaching on research methods in "Philosophy of science and research methods."

Podcast from yesterday´s radio interview

Here is the podcast (downloadable) from yesterday´s Verdibørsen program, featuring an interview with me on utopian realism.

Research methods teaching followed

Today I have followed Torvald Øgaard´s teaching in "Philosophy of science and research methods". Torvald is lecturing in research methods, I am responsibile for the rest of teaching including seminars in research methods, thus this is to prepare my seminar teaching.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Meeting on course description revisions

Today I attended a meeting at Department of social studies on revision of course descriptions in the courses in the bachelor degree in child welfare.

Work lunch with research theme

Today I discussed aspects of a program area research application with a colleague during a work lunch.

Interview on utopian thinking on Verdibørsen; aired

This morning I was interviewed in studio at NRK Rogaland by Mathias Nylenna (via connection to Oslo) for NRK P2´s program Verdibørsen. The topic was utopian thinking, in light of Rutger Bregman´s book "Utopia for realists", which has just appeared in Norwegian. The interview was aired in today´s program.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Seventh lecture

Today I gave the seventh lecture in this autumn´s Examen Philosophicum at Department of social studies, on the topic "what can we know?"

Sunday, 1 October 2017

"Existential universals" article reformatted etc.

I have just reformatted my article "Existential universals: Biosemiosis and existential semiosis", and added abstract and a bionote. The paper has been submitted to Chinese Semiotic Studies.

"Animals in changing environments" research project formally closed at UiS

The Norwegian part of the EEA research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis" has now been officially closed at the University of Stavanger administration. The final payment from our Estonian partner came a week or two ago.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Abstract: "Prosperity and welfare – a comparison of Brazil, Cuba and Norway"

Below is my abstract for our upcoming research seminar in Havana in collaboration with Universidad de la Habana.

By Morten Tønnessen, Associate professor of philosophy at University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies

There are several reasons why Brazil, Cuba and Norway are of special interest in an investigation of connections between prosperity and welfare: Brazil is one of the BRIC-countries (Wilson & Purushothaman 2003) and has undergone tumultuous economic, social and political changes the last two decades or so. Cuba is internationally known for its excellent results within the health care system given limited resources. And Norway currently has the highest score concerning human development according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

A possible starting point for comparisons is the Human Development Index (HDI), which is calculated based on data on GNI[1] per capita (PPP[2]), life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling (for adults) and expected years of schooling (for children). The overall HDI score for Cuba was 0,676 in 1990 and 0,775 in 2015 (ranked as no. 68), versus 0,611 in 1990 and 0,754 in 2015 for Brazil (ranked as no. 79), and 0,849 in 1990 and 0,949 in 2015 for Norway (ranked as no. 1). In comparison, the global average score in 2015 was 0.717. Both Cuba and Brazil have a «High human development», whereas Norway has «Very high human development» according to the UNDP.

However, since HDI includes GNI per capita as one of its factors, the index itself can not be used directly to look into connections between prosperity on one hand and welfare on the other. In 2015, GNI per capita was 67,614 USD in Norway, 14,145 in Brazil and 7,455 in Cuba (2011 PPP$), compared with a global average of 14,447. This can be taken to imply that whereas Norway had an average prosperity level per capita of 4–5 times the global average, Brazil´s average prosperity level was roughly on par with the global average, and Cuba´s average prosperity level was around half of the global average.

For most countries, there is a fairly good correlation between their HDI ranking and their GNI per capita ranking. This indicates that the welfare level often corresponds to a country´s prosperity level. In the HDI data for 2015, however, Cuba stands out with a «GNI per capita rank minus HDI rank» of 48, reflecting that Cuba is ranked as having the 69th highest HDI, with only the 117th highest GNI per capita. In fact, no country has a higher «GNI per capita rank minus HDI rank». This fact makes Cuba a particularly interesting country when comparing prosperity and welfare levels.

Life expectancy at birth can be considered as a key indicator of health conditions, and is 81.7 years in Norway, 79.6 in Cuba and 74.7 in Brazil, compared with a global average of 71.6. The life extectancy in Cuba is in the top two for countries grouped as having «High human development», and is actually higher than that of the United States (79.2) and Qatar (78.3), with their GNI per capita of 53,245 PPP$ and 129,916 PPP$ respectively.

Actual welfare levels depend not only on GNI per capita – a gross average – but also on a country´s level of inequality. Here, Norway stands out as a country with high equality, e.g. with one of the lowest Gini coefficients (for income inequality) in the world, whereas Brazil still has a high Gini coefficient and considerable equality challenges by other measures too (World Bank 2016). Unfortunately, there are no data for Cuba in this data set.

In addition to making use of data from the Human Development Index, I will consider alternative indices such as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) and Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW).

A few preliminary observations: Even though there is usually a clear correlation between the prosperity level and the welfare level of a country, there are important exceptions representing deviations from this correlation. The circumstances and specific approaches of these countries may have important lessons for welfare policies.

During our research seminar in Havana, I will be very interested in getting response on my preliminary analysis and receiving suggestions concerning relevant explanations, data and literature.

Wilson, Dominic & Roopa Purushothaman 2003. Dreaming With BRICs: The Path to 2050. Global Economics Paper No: 99. Goldman Sachs.
World Bank (2016). World Development Indicators database. Washington, DC. Accessed 14 October 2016.

[1] Gross National Income.
[2] Purchasing Power Parity.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Meeting with animal protection NGOs to prepare council work

Today I took part in a meeting at the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance (Dyrevernalliansen) with them, The Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (Dyrebeskyttelsen) and Guri Larsen, currently deputy representative for animal protection organizations in the Norwegian Council of Animal Ethics (Rådet for dyreetikk), to discuss my role as representative for animal protection NGOs there.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

New editorial in process

I am currently contributing to another editorial for Biosemiotics, meant for volume 10, issue 3, along with fellow Editors-in-Chief Alexei Sharov and Timo Maran.

Work lunch with The GreenHouse network

Today I attended the first work lunch with the research network, which has applied for establishment of a program area at University of Stavanger, The GreenHouse. During and after the meeting I agreed to be part of two SAMKUL research applications with deadline in November.

Wikipedia page about Biosemiotics

Here is the current Wikipedia page about the Springer journal Biosemiotics (since 2008), for which I am one of three Editors-in-Chief (since 2013).

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Book launch in Kristiansand

This evening I have taken part, on stage, at a meeting where Vega publishing house, along with Jutitzen publishing house, launched its autumn book releases. I was interviewed for some 10 minutes on the book Ulvetider, co-written with Lars Lenth and Petter Bøckman, which will appear in about a month. Some 50-60 people from local book stores were present.

4 hours of teaching

Today I have taught for altogehter 4 hours - first I moderated two student presentations in the MA course "Philosophy of science and research methods" (topics: deep ecology; the Anthropocene), then a seminar in Ex.Phil., the fourth and last this week.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

2 + 2 hours of teaching

Today I have been moderating two student presentations in "Philosophy of science and research methods", and am currently giving an Ex.Phil. seminar.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Biosemiotics #8 in category "History & Philosophy of Science"

According to citation data from Thompson Web of Science, in 2016 Biosemiotics was the ranked as no. 8 in terms of Impact Factor (0,964) in the category "History & Philosophy of Science".