Publications of the Reverend Dr.
Joseph R. Laracy
ArticlesJoseph R. Laracy, “Ian Barbour’s Legacy in Science and Religion,” Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science, ed. Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti (Rome, Advanced School for Interdisciplinary Research at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross: 2023).
Since its origins in the early
century as a transdisciplinary approach connecting the fields of
electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, dynamical
systems theory, logic and discrete mathematical modeling, neuroscience,
and other disciplines, cybernetics has greatly expanded in scope,
addressing salient issues across the disciplinary spectrum, including
the social sciences and the humanities. One of its most significant
interactions has been with twentieth century philosophy. Contemporary
second-order cybernetics research engages issues in cognitive science,
epistemology, the philosophy of science, metaphysics, ethics, and other
fields. Working from the perspective of Thomistic realism, as
represented by Étienne H. Gilson and Stanley L. Jaki, this paper
presents both a metaphysical and epistemological critique of
cybernetics, as traditionally conceived, and attempts to recover some
of its key insights and practices in light of new first principles.
Laracy, “An Evaluation of Two Realist Philosophical Approaches for
Interdisciplinary Communication,” Journal of Systemics,
Informatics 18, no. 1 (2021): 184-196.
A major concern for scholars in the fields of systemics and cybernetics is promoting rigorous interdisciplinary communication. The Canadian philosopher and theologian, Bernard Lonergan, SJ, and the American physicist and theologian, Ian G. Barbour, have made significant contributions in this space. While their approaches are clearly distinct, both Lonergan and Barbour are philosophical realists. Each in their own way, they propose a shared epistemology and an inclusive metaphysical system for diverse fields, hence facilitating interdisciplinary communication. In this article, we concisely explicate their unique approaches as well as critique particular aspects. These rigorous approaches to interdisciplinary communication show promise for cybernetics and systems theory.
Justin Anderson, Joseph R. Laracy, Thomas Marlowe, “A Multi-Disciplinary Analysis of Catholic Social Teaching with Implications for Engineering and Technology,” Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics 18, no. 6 (2020): 41-49.
In this article we view Catholic Social Teaching (CST) in the larger context of history, culture, philosophy and theology, and social services, and consider three perspectives on its modern instantiation: social science and economics, modal and non-monotonic logics, and second-order cybernetics. We then apply these perspectives to questions of interest in the field of software engineering and issues of digital (or network) security as well as intellectual property. In each application scenario, there are potential conflicts between the rights and dignity of differing individuals and groups. We conclude that CST allows for ethical navigation of such conflicts and offers many helpful insights.
Justin Anderson, Joseph R. Laracy, Thomas Marlowe, “Three Perspectives on Catholic Social Teaching and Implications for Technology,” Proceedings of the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics: WMSCI 2020, vol. 3, September 13-16, 2020: 114-119.
Joseph R. Laracy, “Towards an Ethical and Ecological Approach to Electricity Generation: A Comparative Analysis of Coal and Nuclear Power in the USA,” Open Journal of Ecology 10, no. 6 (June 2020): 370-379.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, about 4,118 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity was generated at large-scale generation facilities in 2019. About 63% of this was from fossil fuels, e.g., coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases. Environmental exposure to particulates, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury, arsenic, radioactive fly ash, and other pollutants are extremely detrimental to the human cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. Such exposure increases the risk of lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, respiratory infections, and other illnesses. In light of the challenges associated with renewables providing large quantities of base load power, as well as other factors, the benefits offered by nuclear power should be reexamined by policy makers to move the country towards a more ecological and ethical method of electric power production. This paper offers a concise analysis of many of the salient issues, comparing electricity generation from coal plants and light water nuclear reactors.
Joseph R. Laracy, “An RSA Co-processor Architecture Suitable for a User-Parameterized FPGA Implementation,” Journal of Information Security Research 11, no. 2 (June 2020): 46-53.
This paper describes an original and straightforward architecture for a logic circuit implementation of the RSA algorithms. The architecture is ideal for teaching advanced undergraduate or graduate students topics associated with public-key cryptography and digital system design. The system is designed with VHDL for execution on a FPGA. Software implementations of RSA running on standard PCs are relatively slow as standard microprocessors are not optimized for the operations that RSA must carry out. A key aspect of this approach is the use of Montgomery Multiplication, a method for performing fast modular multiplication
Joseph R. Laracy, “Creation, Revelation, and the Emergence of Empirical Science,” Stanley Jaki Foundation International Congress, ed. Paul Haffner and Joseph R. Laracy (Leominster, UK: Gracewing Publishing Ltd., 2020), 27-72.
This book chapter develops Father Stanley L. Jaki’s research on the important connection between the theology of creation and the emergence of natural science in medieval Europe. It shows that coming to a satisfactory understanding of creation is not an easy task. As Jaki pointed out, despite the extraordinary brilliance of the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Pre-Colombian Americans, in areas such as writing, mathematics, architecture, and engineering, these sophisticated cultures never successfully developed an effective method for the study of nature. Their polytheistic religious beliefs and pantheistic understanding of the universe prevented those civilizations from believing that the universe was guided by logos, rather than mythos. By appealing to the behavior of capricious gods and goddesses to explain the cosmos, the natural sciences could never be born in the pagan world. It was not until the revelation of God to the Jewish people and ultimately the incarnation of the eternal Logos, Jesus the Christ, that mankind could fully appreciate the great order of the universe. An answer to the question of why there is something rather than nothing is provided by the revelation that God is both ratio et caritas.
Joseph R. Laracy, “Logos, Creation, and Science,” Ex Latere Christi 1, no. 1 (Winter 2020): 133-158.
Joseph Ratzinger–Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is well known for his Christocentric theology. In particular, his emphasis on the primacy of the Logos Himself, the source of all rationality, meaning, and purpose in the universe, is particularly evident. Benedict’s writings, especially on the theology of creation, offer a Biblically-rooted, metaphysical cosmology completely compatible with our contemporary understanding of cosmic origins from the point of view of physical cosmology. His call in the Regensburg Lecture for scientists to accept the full breadth of human reason, greatly facilitates a harmonious relationship between Christian faith and modern science.
Joseph R. Laracy, Thomas Marlowe, Edgar Valdez, Richard Liddy, “Cybernetics of Observing Systems and Lonergan’s Generalized Empirical Method,” Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics 17, no. 5 (2019): 65-70.
Cybernetics is inherently interdisciplinary and reflexive; second-order cybernetics stresses reflective interaction of knowledge and action with the observer. The same themes are central to the work of the twentieth century philosopher and theologian, Bernard Lonergan, SJ, and his Generalized Empirical Method. In reading both, one is struck by the resonances and interplay between the two perspectives, especially as applies to the scientist/observer interacting with and reflecting on their disciplines. In this short overview, we present the case that the similarities and differences add value to the study both of the work of Lonergan and of second-order cybernetics, and that Lonergan can be seen in part as an early and illuminating figure for understanding and reflecting upon second-order cybernetics itself.
Joseph R. Laracy, “Epistemology and Metaphysics in Interdisciplinary Communication: Insights from Ian Barbour and Bernard Lonergan, SJ,” Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics 17, no. 5 (2019): 49-54.
Interdisciplinary communication is a significant area of concern for researchers who engage in scholarship across academic fields as well as practitioners whose work is intrinsically interdisciplinary. Two twentieth century scholars, Ian Barbour and Bernard Lonergan, SJ, develop novel approaches to promoting interdisciplinary communication (and in some cases interdisciplinary “integration”) by specifying a common metaphysical and epistemological framework for two very different fields. In this article, we concisely explicate their fundamental approaches and also critically engage particular aspects of their work. These philosophical approaches to interdisciplinary communication may be beneficial for both first-order cybernetics, with its emphasis on communication & control in biological and engineering systems, as well as second-order cybernetics, given its emphasis on epistemology, ethics, self-referentiality, and self-organization of socio-technical systems.
Joseph R. Laracy and Russell Greenspan, “Towards a Rigorous Software Architecture Documentation Process: A Demonstration with the Real-time Immersive Network Simulation Environment (RINSE),” International Journal of Computer Science and Engineering 2, no. 12 (December 2019): 1-33.
Despite numerous empirical studies and wide-spread, practical experience demonstrating the importance of rigorous documentation in software engineering, many developers continue to treat it as an “after thought.” Documentation, particularly of software architecture, should be an integral process of any development group, whether entrepreneurial, academic, or corporate. In this article the authors develop and apply the software engineering principles of Len Bass, Paul Clements, and Rick Kazman for software architecture documentation. The case study involves a relatively large-scale, academic development project aimed at supporting large-scale network security preparedness and training exercises, involving hundreds of players and a modeled network composed of hundreds of networks.
Joseph R. Laracy, “A Comparative Analysis of the Actus Fidei in Neo-Scholastic and Transcendental Thomism: An Investigation of the Theologies of Johann Brunsmann, SVD and Pierre Rousselot, SJ,” Journal of Religion and Theology 3, no. 3 (September 2019): 32-40.
One of the most fascinating areas of fundamental theology is the actus fidei—the act of faith. It is here that grace, freedom, and reason come together in a very unique way. The Neo-Scholastics essentially approached this issue by breaking the process down into two steps: the act of credibility (reason) followed by the act of credentity (grace). The early twentieth century priest and theologian, Pierre Rousselot, SJ, radically departs from this approach in what would contribute to the beginning of Transcendental Thomism—an intellectual movement that would drastically change the character of Catholic theology. A century after Rousselot, many contemporary students of Catholic theology are never introduced to the logical rigor and precise analysis of Neo-Scholastic thought. Consequently, we offer a comparative analysis of the two approaches to the act of faith to manifest the strengths and weaknesses of the two systems.
Joseph R. Laracy and Thomas Marlowe, “Towards a Pattern-Based System Architecture for a Low Power, Low Cost Ultra-Light Aircraft Flight Controller,” Software Engineering 7, no. 3 (September 2019): 46-52.
The definition and application of software and hardware patterns have been a major and very positive development in the field of computer engineering, in tandem with the deployment of agile and process architecture methodologies. In this article, we show how five time-triggered, real time system patterns developed by Michael J. Pont can be effectively employed to architect a low power, low cost flight controller. We adopt and apply Pont’s powerful pattern language for our research. The target platform is an ultra-light aircraft with tight constraints on mass and volume of any control hardware. Ultra-light in this context means that the aircraft has only one seat; weighs less than 254 pounds (115 kg) empty weight; has a maximum fuel capacity of 5 U.S. gallons (19 L); and has a top speed of 55 knots (102 km/h; 63 mph) calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight. We utilize the reliable Infineon C515C microcontroller, a member of the classic 8051 family of controllers for the hardware platform. This research makes a contribution to the engineering cybernetic issues of human-machine interface and control of an ultra-light aircraft.
Joseph R. Laracy, “A Logotherapeutic Approach to Pastoral Counseling Education for Catholic Seminarians,” American Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience 7, no.2 (June 2019): 43-51.
Viktor Frankl, MD, PhD is one of the most widely known and highly respected professors of psychiatry and neurology of the twentieth century. In this article, we adapt and apply some of his profound insights for Catholic pastoral counseling education. Pastoral counseling is a very important aspect of the general pastoral formation of Catholic seminarians. The goal of any pastoral counseling course should be twofold. First, it should give seminarians a basic knowledge of mental illnesses to understand their parishioners better. Second, it should offer them concrete techniques to be used in the context of pastoral counseling. Seminary classes in pastoral psychology and counseling sometimes lack a consistent, coherent theoretical foundation, or may attempt to teach techniques inappropriate for use by future parish priests. This paper presents a logotherapeutic approach for the formation of seminarians in pastoral counseling. This approach is congruent with the pastoral sphere as the focus is on meaning and the life of the spirit.
Joseph R. Laracy, Thomas Marlowe, Edgar Valdez, Richard Liddy, “Was Bernard Lonergan a Second Order Cyberneticist?” Proceedings of the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics: WMSCI 2019, July 6-9, 2019: 71-75.
In reading the early 20th century works that defined second-order cybernetics together with the works of their contemporary, the philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan, SJ, one is struck by the resonances and interplay between the two perspectives, especially in terms of the scientist/observer interacting with and reflecting upon the subject, as well as the differences and contrasts between the two views. In this short overview, we present the case that Lonergan can be understood in part as an early and illuminating figure for understanding and reflecting upon second-order cybernetics itself.
Joseph R. Laracy and Thomas Marlowe, “A Real Options Analysis of Spacecraft Software Product Line Architectures,” American Journal of Engineering and Technology Management 4, no. 2 (April 2019): 47-56.
Software and systems engineering for aerospace platforms presents many unique challenges. The decision if, and how, to employ software product line architectures is one recurring question. Real options analysis—applying option valuation techniques to budgeting decisions—can be a powerful tool for engineering managers, project leaders, and mission directors. In this paper, we demonstrate a real options valuation approach to explore this question.
Joseph R. Laracy and Thomas Marlowe, “Systems Theory and Information Security: Foundations for a New Educational Approach,” Information Security Education Journal 5, no. 2:35-48.
Information security education has traditionally been approached with a variety of tools. Models such as BellLaPadula and Clark-Wilson, cryptography, and formal methods seek to design systems without certain classes of vulnerabilities. Red teaming seeks to find vulnerabilities that were missed and security software often removes the vulnerabilities. To a lesser extent, probabilistic risk assessment and game theory have also been applied to assess threats. However, on their own, in isolation, these approaches have not “solved” the information security crisis. Internet security in particular is an area of great concern given the plethora of vulnerabilities that enable threats to confidentiality, integrity, availability, non-repudiation, authorization, authentication, and auditability. A new approach to information security engineering education is necessary that views the Internet as a complex, socio-technical system. A systems perspective acknowledges that security can only be achieved through a holistic model that addresses technological architecture and software processes, organizational behavior, and human factors. This paper suggests a novel method for information security education to identify and characterize current deficiencies in a network security control structure, elucidate the relationship between software/systems engineering and security risks, and inform an architectural description of a secure information system architecture.
Joseph R. Laracy and Michael D. Kelly, “Toward a Renewal of Patient Care: Insights from Viktor Frankl, MD, PhD,” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 118, no. 5: 293-295.
We suggest that the writings of the distinguished Austrian professor of neurology and psychiatry, Viktor Frankl, MD, PhD, might provide an approach toward a renewal of patient care, viewing humans in a more holistic way: body, mind, and spirit. This is consistent with the innovations in the theory and practice of medicine led by Andrew T. Still, MD, DO.
Joseph R. Laracy, Thomas Marlowe, and Gerald B. Buonopane, “An Experiment in Interdisciplinary STEM Education: Insights from the Catholic Intellectual Tradition,” Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics 15, no. 6: 45-53.
The “silo effect” is a major problem today in academia, i.e. the growing tendency of disciplinary isolation both in research and teaching. “Siloing” is noted particularly in the formal, natural, and applied sciences. Yet, many areas of human inquiry require by their very nature, an interdisciplinary approach. At Seton Hall University, in the context of the Core Curriculum for undergraduate studies, serious efforts are underway to bring the sciences into dialogue with the wider Catholic intellectual tradition. By fostering a healthy exchange between philosophy, theology, mathematics, computing, and the natural sciences, upperclassmen have been able to explore topics of great personal interest and draw significant connections from content learned in diverse fields of their education. Opportunities exist to extend and adapt this approach to other university settings internationally.
We describe the creation and development of a course on mathematical logic and its extensions and limitations, in which coverage of technical material is interleaved with and related to discussion of relevant historical, linguistic, philosophical, and theological issues and of individuals of note. The new course, Logic, Limitations to Knowledge, and Christianity, presents an overview of topics in and related to logic, including development of formal logic and an axiomatic first-order logic. It explores the history of mathematics and logic in the Catholic Intellectual and wider Western Traditions, as well as the mutual interactions of mathematics, philosophy, language, and religion. It then considers extensions of firstorder logic, and provable limits to knowledge: the three unsolvable problems of Euclidean geometry, and examples from Gödel, Turing, Arrow, quantum physics, and others. Epistemological issues will be emphasized throughout the course. The translation between natural language and expression in logical and reasoning formalisms is emphasized throughout.
Marlowe, Thomas and Joseph R. Laracy, “An Integrated Course in Logic, Philosophy, History, and Theology: Extensions of Logic and the Limits to Knowledge,” Proceedings of the 21st World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics: WMSCI 2017, July 8-11, 2017: 349-352.
Joseph R. Laracy, “A Systems-Theoretic Security Model for Large Scale, Complex Systems Applied to the US Air Transportation System,” International Journal of Communications, Network, and System Sciences 10, no. 5: 75-105.
Classical risk-based or
game-theoretic security models
rely on assumptions from reliability theory and rational expectations
that are not applicable to security threats. Additionally, these models
from serious deficiencies when they are applied to software-intensive,
socio-technical systems. A new approach is proposed in this paper that
principles from control theory to enforce constraints on security
thereby extending techniques used in system safety engineering. It is
to identify and mitigate the threats that could emerge in critical
infrastructures such as the air transportation system. Insights are
assist systems engineers and policy makers in securely transitioning to
Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS)
(Master of Science thesis extract)
Joseph R. Laracy, Theologiæ Creationis et Scientiæ Modernæ Convenientia in Pont. Max. Benedicti XVI Cogitatione, Thesis pro Sacræ Theologiæ Licentia in Theologia Fundamentale, Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana 2014.
This thesis presents the compatibility of the Catholic theology of creation and the natural sciences particularly in the thought of Pope Benedict XVI.
In this article, the authors attempt an overarching exposition of two overlapping but divergent paradigms of empiricism: (a) strict empiricism, representing most of the British empiricists and ancient skeptics and (b) mitigated, or metaphysical, empiricism represented by Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. They show how some of the advances in mathematics and the physical sciences over the last 250 years suggest that the complexity involved in the study of the natural world raises serious questions about any version of strict empiricism.
The instantiation of postmodern preferences has had varying effects on ecclesial communities, and has even given rise to new religious groups. Experience has shown however that Divine revelation and Christian faith cannot chain themselves to any philosopher whose thought is essentially non-foundationalist.
This paper offers a succinct overview of the development of post-Reformation philosophy, which through modernism and post-modernism affirms presuppositions which, a priori, make the harmony of science and religion impossible. It also suggests a fruitful relationship between an Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy of Nature and Empirical Science.
The role of Catholic priests was pivotal in the development of modern empirical science. An overview of their contributions over the last millenium is presented along with the specific contributions of Monsignor Georges Lemaître.
This paper presents the life and witness of the Catholic Priest who formulated the Big Bang hypothesis of the universe. It elicits his contributions to a Catholic understanding of science and religion.
As the use of computer simulation grows in a variety of science and engineering fields, the quality of random variate generators becomes increasingly important. Unfortunately, a number of standard implementations are grossly inadequate and exhibit poor statistical properties. This paper presents a software pattern for efficiently implementing an extensible, high quality random variate generator.
This article is a republication of the CSER 2007 paper listed below. The Systems Research Forum is an annual scholarly journal dedicated to providing a platform for peer-reviewed graduate and post-graduate research papers and case studies in systems engineering.
Nirav B. Shah, Matthew G. Richards, David A. Broniatowski, Joseph R. Laracy, Daniel E. Hastings, Philip N. Springmann, “System of System Architecture: The Case of Space Situational Awareness,” Proceedings of the AIAA Space 2007 Conference. Long Beach, CA. September 18-20.
As the U.S. and other nations continue to develop the space situational awareness mission area, questions arise as to how stakeholders should act to mitigate the effects of resident space objects and how our understanding of the physics of LEO inform the evolution of ground- and space-based sensors. To characterize interactions among international stakeholders, space situational awareness is modeled as a system of systems with technical and social elements. Through the use of game-theoretic cooperation archetypes and System Dynamics modeling, possible futures are explored.
Joseph R. Laracy, Damien Bador, Danielle Adams, Annalisa Weigel, “Solar Power Satellites: Historical Perspectives with a Look to the Future,” Proceedings of the AIAA Space 2007 Conference, Long Beach, CA, September 18-20.
This paper proposes a rational technical strategy to refocus Solar Power Satellite (SPS) research. It suggests a 30 year timeline for program milestones and analyzes potential technical performance. Real options analysis is used to manage uncertainty and permits the exploration of possible futures that are dependent on launch costs and electricity market prices.
A new security model for infrastructure systems is presented that enables the inclusion of security requirements into the development process. The paper also addresses some of the limitations associated with the application of quantitative risk assessment and classical game theory to security problems. Examples from studying the US air transportation system are included.
Brandon D. Owens, Joseph R. Laracy, Margaret Stringfellow Herring, Nancy G. Leveson. “A Classification of Open-Loop and Closed-Loop Risk Management Actions,” Proceedings of the Second Annual Conference of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS), Chicago, IL. May 14-16, 2007.
A taxonomy is introduced to assist spacecraft and launch vehicle managers, designers, and operators in identifying risk management approaches that are robust against the perturbations to their systems that could violate their models of risk. This taxonomy applies control theory concepts to the analysis of common risk management practices in spaceflight. Each measure is classified for its tendency to provide open-loop or closed-loop control of risk over some proposed archetypal cycles of system operation.
Nicolas Dulac, Brandon Owens, Nancy Leveson, Betty Barrett, John Carroll, Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Stephen Friedenthal, Joseph R. Laracy, Joseph Sussman. "Demonstration of a Powerful New Approach to Risk Analysis for Project Constellation," Complex Systems Research Laboratory Report, MIT. March 2007.
A risk analysis of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA for Project Constellation. The report address organizational and technical risks associated with implementing the Vision for Space Exploration's goal of developing new vehicles for missions to the Moon and Mars.
Drawing on cybernetics, general systems theory, and other ancestral systems science disciplines, this paper addresses the problem of drawing the line between a system and its environment. With a new accident model for system safety engineering, it shows how innovative theories of socio-technical systems can be developed.
A structured methodology based on systems theory to develop a strategy to defend against biological weapon attacks. An example of a smallpox attack against the US with a just-in-time vaccination policy is provided.