Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close

Letters

Vol. 29 No. 21 · 1 November 2007

Search by issue:

Why Pigs Don’t Have Wings

My colleague Jerry Fodor has added his name to the list of those who have taken themselves to have ‘conceptual’ objections to the idea of adaptation by natural selection (LRB, 18 October). His problem is fortunately quite easily solved. He takes from Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin the question: if two traits occur together, how do we know which was ‘selected’ for without appeal to the mind of a designer? Fodor urges that when we take away the designer, the question is unanswerable, unless we make a metaphorical and flat-footed appeal to Mother Nature. But this is not so. Two traits may be found together in nature, but one can play a causal role in producing a reproductive advantage, when the other does not. It may be that all and only vertebrates with eyes weigh a little bit extra because they carry various proteins (crystallins) around that go to making up eyeballs. But the sensitivity to light is what gives the advantage, not the little bit of extra weight due to carrying crystallin. Otherwise flatfish might as well have eyes on their undersides, and we might have turned out blind, but with devices for holding crystallin in our armpits. Similarly Fodor triumphantly asks whether it is being white or being the same colour as the environment that is good for polar bears. A brief look at the life of polar bears, and other bears, and animals such as ptarmigan or mountain hares that change colour with the seasons, forces just one answer. Camouflage helps across the board; being white only helps when it coincides with it.

Simon Blackburn
Department of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

When one is consciously designing something, it makes perfect sense to say that some features are there on purpose, others mere side-effects of intentional decisions. Jerry Fodor thinks that no parallel distinction is available in the mindless world of evolution, hence there is no way to say which organic traits are adaptations, and which are merely side-effects of selection going on somewhere else. This, he believes, means that the very ideas of adaptation and natural selection are incoherent.

Yet Fodor’s comments later in his article suggest a perfectly good answer to a problem he says is insoluble. He tells us that ‘curly tails aren’t fitness-enhancing, they just happen to be linked to tameness, so selection for the second willy-nilly selects the first.’ To be sure, he is discussing an example of an artificially selected trait. Even so, the conceptual resource he uses to distinguish between the trait that is selected for, and the trait that is merely linked to one that is selected for, is fitness enhancement, and there is nothing in this concept that draws on notions of what a designer intentionally chooses. If Fodor’s test for adaptation works in the realm of artificial selection, it works in the realm of natural selection, too.

Further, Fodor suggests that most attempts to make adaptation respectable appeal to suspect metaphors of what Mother Nature is aiming at. Some do, but here is the philosopher of biology Elliott Sober’s solution to the problem, which he gave in 1984, and which is basically the same as Fodor’s own implicit proposal: ‘“Selection of" pertains to the effects of a selection process, whereas “selection for" describes its causes. To say there is selection for a given property means that having the property causes success in survival and reproduction.’ If a property doesn’t cause success in survival and reproduction, but is linked to one that does, then there is no selection for that property. This is precisely why Fodor thinks that although there is selection of curly tails, there is no selection for curly tails.

Finally, Fodor tells us that ‘the crucial test is whether one’s pet theory can distinguish between selection for trait A and selection for trait B when A and B are coextensive: were polar bears selected for being white or for matching their environment? Search me; and search any kind of adaptationism I’ve heard of.’ What adaptationists need is a test that tells them, for example, whether there is selection for polar bears having white fur, having warm fur, or both. The Fodor/Sober test can tell us that: if we dye the fur of polar bears green and there is no impact on their survival or reproduction, then this provides evidence that there is selection for warm fur, and that whiteness simply follows along because whiteness and warmth are linked. But it is not necessary that our test tell us whether there is selection for whiteness or for matching the environment. If you dyed the fur of polar bears green, then they would also fail to match their environment. If we then observe that they do worse in terms of survival and reproduction, our test suggests that there is selection both for being white, and for matching the environment. But that is hardly surprising, because polar bears are camouflaged in virtue of being white. The fact that our test doesn’t discriminate between selection favouring whiteness and selection favouring matching the background doesn’t show that we have a test with no discriminatory power. It consequently fails to undermine the distinction between ‘selection of’ and ‘selection for’, it fails to show that the concept of adaptation is flawed, and it fails to make problems for natural selection.

Tim Lewens
History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

There is a significant word missing from Jerry Fodor’s entertaining dismissal of Darwinian theory: variation. Darwin starts The Origin of Species by ruminating on the causes of variation within species, particularly species that have been domesticated. Variation allows for differential chances of survival of members of a species through processes of natural selection; some, by virtue of being somewhat different from their conspecifics, will be better able to cope with environmental pressures and be more likely to survive, procreate and hence pass on their genes to the next generation. This is why, in Darwin’s original formulation, evolution occurs through processes of natural variation and natural selection. What Fodor appears to be attacking is not so much natural selection but rather an extreme adaptationist view of the evolutionary process wherein each and every trait of an animal is held to arise as an adaptation to the environment. But it would be difficult to find any reasoned expression of such a view; as Fodor himself points out, pigs don’t have wings not because it would not be evolutionarily advantageous for them to fly, but because they’re just not built that way.

Ian Cross
Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge

Scotched

I was surprised to see Anne Enright quoting Macbeth, Act III, Scene ii, as ‘We have scorched the snake, not killed it’ (LRB, 4 October). The line I learned at school, in Scotland long ago, was ‘We have scotched the snake, not killed it,’ and this version appears in all the editions I can find to hand. The Chambers Dictionary informs me that the ‘scotched’ reading originates in a ‘conjecture’ in the 1734 edition by Lewis Theobald, who decided that ‘scorched’ in earlier editions had been a misreading of a manuscript. But it strikes me as an astute conjecture, and it is supported by the line in Coriolanus, Act IV, Scene v, that describes a combatant as ‘scotch’d and notch’d like a carbonado’. This meaning of ‘scotch’ seems to come from the Norman French éscocher, ‘to cut notches’ (as snake-meat, for example, would be slashed cross-wise, for broiling on coals); whereas ‘scorch’ probably derives from écorcher, ‘to strip or flay’. I feel sure that the ‘snake’ was meant to be slashed or gashed, not skinned alive or burned.

Gerald Mangan
Pavillons-sous-Bois, France

After Strachey

While it is true, as Adam Phillips says of Freud, that the translations in the Standard Edition are essentially the work of one man, James Strachey, it should be remembered that extensive work was done by the late Angela Richards on the Pelican Freud Library, and it was those translations that reached the general reader (LRB, 4 October). After Richards graduated from Oxford in the early 1950s with a degree in modern languages, it became her full-time job to retranslate Strachey by checking his text against Freud’s. Several of the Pelican volumes, such as The Interpretation of Dreams (1976), acknowledge her contribution on the title page with the line: ‘The present edition revised by Angela Richards’. She was the youngest daughter of Noel Richards (née Olivier), one of Rupert Brooke’s loves, and it has been suggested that James Strachey, who had an affair with Noel, was her father. At any rate his indebtedness to her work on the translations is acknowledged in the fact that he left her his share of the Freud royalties.

Anthony Curtis
London W8

L’Ovalie

Rash of me to fancy a French defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the rugby world cup (LRB, 18 October). The statistics looked good, and they will again. After their victory at Cardiff on 6 October, the French now have 11 wins and one draw against the All Blacks from a total of 46 encounters. The jittery teams of the northern hemisphere are still long-haul contenders in international rugby – two of them anyhow. It’s something the great, confident sides of the south – two of them anyhow – find hard to bear. After their elimination in the quarter-final, brilliant Australian players suddenly became Weeping Matildas, fluttering home to the Murdoch billabong, while a superb member of the All Black squad opted in defeat for a King Kong routine, stomping on cars at Heathrow. Crying and stomping, it seems, are now integral to the story.

Jeremy Harding
Saint Michel de Rivière, France

A pedant writes

I expect there is a valid debate to be had on ‘masterly’ v. ‘masterful’, but my greater concern is with Martin Sanderson’s attack on ‘referenda’ (Letters, 4 October). ‘Referendum’ as used by Perry Anderson is an English language word, albeit adopted from Latin. Its plural form is derived as a matter of usage; ‘referenda’ and ‘referendums’ are both in common usage and in that sense are both correct. The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors (1981) recommends ‘referendums’, and this form, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, seems likely to prevail. We shall see. Official attempts to regulate language, however logically, generally fail.

Although ‘watering the gerania’ was an amusing end to Mr Sanderson’s letter, it is unfortunately an example of arguing by (in this case, false) analogy, ‘geranium’ not being a gerund. A much better analogy is that ‘no one in their right minds’ would talk about ‘agendums’ (‘agendum’ being a gerund and therefore exactly analogous to ‘referendum’).

Ken Sunshine
Bishopsteignton, Devon

Stockhausen, not Henze

Julian Barnes mistakenly attributes to Hans Werner Henze the remark that the attacks on the World Trade Center were ‘the greatest artwork ever made’ (LRB, 4 October). In fact, it was Karlheinz Stockhausen who said to reporters in Hamburg a few days later that the destruction of the towers was ‘the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos’. In response to the furore in the press, Stockhausen issued a clarification, noting that he ‘used the designation “work of art" to mean the work of destruction personified in Lucifer’.

Grey Anderson
Yale University

Great-Uncle Julius

T.P. Wiseman refers to Augustus and ‘his father, Julius Caesar’ (LRB, 18 October). Adoptive father, yes, but Julius was Augustus’ great uncle, formally adopting him only in his will in 44 BC. The patrilineage was fabricated for political purposes, like many of the other genealogies discussed by Wiseman.

Stan Smith
Nottingham

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.