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Philosophy of Time

The nature of time has had extensive attention in part down through the ages, such as Plato, St. Augustine, Pascal, Leonardo, Newton etc. For example, Newton considered time to flow uniformly, as if it were a separate manifold (1-surface) from the 3-surface of his mechanics described universe.

‘Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external…’  Newton’s Principia

For a 3-manifold, this would give a product space description M^3 x M^1, the simplest fiber bundle description. Hence such description would be universal; that is the same common time for throughout the universe. Subsequently, the relativistic model refers to time as the interval between events, wherein clocks are associated with respective observers. However an event such as the Big Bang, and concomitant Big Expansion of our manifold (i.e. 3-surface), does not have such a General Relativistic Theory description; nor is ‘initial’ 3-ex ... (read more)

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All comments are welcome!
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Here's the place to be critical!  Anything that can help me develop this argument is much appreciated.  This is something I develop a bit in my dissertation and the hope is to develop it more here and eventually have something worthy of publication.
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  • Jim Stone, 2013-06-23 : Here are some comments. Thanks for t 1. It will help your reader to say early on what nonreductive physicalism is, and w... (read more)
  • John Altmann, 2013-06-24 : I just wanted to say first and foremost before I go any further that I am not a Professor of Philosophy nor have I ever... (read more)
  • Andrew Russo, 2013-06-24 : First of all, thanks for taking the time to read my paper and provide me with comments.  This is what I hoped would... (read more)
  • Andrew Russo, 2013-06-24 : Thank you for reading my paper and commenting on it.  Whatever comments you give, whether or not they are from some... (read more)
  • Jim Stone, 2013-06-24 : Thanks for answering. The dialectic between us is for me now a little complicated. I follow this protocol in commenting... (read more)
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You are definitely right in your skepticism about the possibility of the unification of many micro-consciousnesses into macro-consciousness. However, it is surprising for me that overhelming majority of philosophers ignore the possibility that human consciousness is among these micro-consciousnesses. In my paper I argue that even a single electron might contain the whole current human experience (without long- and mid-term memory). I suggest a hypothesis, where such electrons might be located in a real brain

Excellent paper first and foremost Mr. MacLeod! As I was reading your thoughts on plurality and the nature of the individual conscious, it made me think of the ideal of Solipsism. For those who don't know, Solipsism is defined as: The view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist. Would you say that your case for a plurality of consciousness "immediately present." defeats the ideal of a Solipsistic Philosophy? 
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I couldn't find Tim's email so am instead posting here a link to my critical discussion of his paper (which may also be of interest to other readers):
Moral Judgments, 2Dism, and Attitudinal Commitments.


Just wondering if the irony of an article about the high quality of open science research being situated behind a pay wall was lost on anybody...

What is the role of memory in the dancing qualia scenario?

It strikes me that i cannot perform direct comparisons between my conscious experiences at different points in time - no more than i can directly compare my experiences to those of others.

In claiming that my experience of a red apple has remained the same "redness" over time, i must be comparing a perceptual experience *now* against the experience *now* of a memory of a previous experience.

The reductio asks us to imagine there being a difference in experience just due to differences in the material substrate of cognition. It seems plausible to me that when an experience is serialized while running on one substrate and deserialized while on another, the difference should go unnoticed. For example, the red experience of a neural system could be remembered as a blue experience when invoked on a silicon circuit, so that the comparison always succeeds.

Put differently, i wonder in what way the following scenario is not analogous to da ... (read more)
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Recently I started reading Ronald Giere's Scientific perspectivism but it turned out to be a demanding task: I became bogged in Chapter 2 and havent been able to go much farther. In a philosophy book one expects down to earth examples to bring some clarity about but here, rather the obverse, they turn out to be the problem.

Chapter 2 is entirely devoted to Color vision, which is presented in the first sentence (p.17) as "the best exemplar I know for the kind of perspectivism that characterizes modern science." And on the next page (18) we are told: "The fact that hues have a circular rather than linear structure means that there is no simple linear relationship between wavelength and color".

As I get it "circular structure" means that we percieve colors in a limited range and anything beyond is black.But should we say that  a sound dissolving in low frequency rumble is at the same time an inaudible piercing screech? Our field of vision is also limited, so  it might be ... (read more)
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James Fetzer’s recent article, “Evolution and atheism: Has Griffin reconciled science and religion?” (Synthese [2011] 178: 381-396) purports to offer a well-founded critique of David Ray Griffin’s philosophical arguments for “a version of theistic evolutionism that can do justice both to the facts that count in favor of evolution and those that count against the neo-Darwinian theory of it” (Griffin, 2000, p 243). Fetzer claims that Griffin’s detailed characterization of neo-Darwinism is inaccurate, “exemplifying the straw man fallacy, where an exaggerated version of a position is presented in order to knock it down” (p. 382). Fetzer not only makes strong claims for the inadequacy of Griffin’s work on evolutionary theory, but also asserts that Griffin has made fundamental errors of logic and argument and is not “morally justified” in holding the views he propounds. Fetzer’s article, however, fails to back up these claims.

Amazingly, Fetzer does not provide any evidence that he has actua ... (read more)
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SPECIAL ISSUE: The Hermeneutic Philosophy of Science and Science Education


The hermeneutic philosophy of science has the potential to change science education. Now that the "nature of science" is, at last, an accepted part of the science curriculum in many schools the philosophy of science is an issue of consequence for teachers. As the intellectual operations of the natural sciences embody indispensable elements of interpretation, science is effectively "hermeneutic". The hermeneutic philosophy of science, which owes much to Martin Heidegger, contrasts with positivist, analytic, constructivist, revolutionist, and pragmatic accounts of science. The phenomenological hermeneutic tradition develops and fragments in the work of Gadamer, Habermas, Ricoeur, Eger, Kockelmans, Kisiel, Toulmin, Heelan, and Babich. Concepts at issue include truth ... (read more)
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I'm looking for articles for my thesis (Universitas Catholica Sacri Cordis Iesu in Milan) about Underdetermination and the debate between Kukla and Laudan.

The articles I need (I looked for them at the library of my University, searched in the internet, asked to other libraries but had no results)

Sklar, 1982, "Saving the noumena", Philosophical Topics, 13:49-72

Kukla, A., 1993 "Laudan, Leplin, Empirical Evidence and Underdetermination", Analysis, 53: 1-7
Laudan and Leplin, "Determination Underdeterred", Analysis, 53: 8-15

Laudan and Leplin, 1991, "Empirical Equivalence and Underdetermination", Journal of Philosophy, 88: 449-472.

If someone owns them, please let me know.

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I was reading Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery, and I found his statements about the Principle of Uniformity to be a metaphysical statement. From my understanding of his reading, metaphysical statements are not themselves falsifiable  [the principle is not testable to see if it is false].

My question, if anyone happens to know, how exactly is the principle of uniformity to be considered metaphysical under Popper's criterion of demarcation between science and metaphysics? Is it based on his treatment of induction?

I am having a tough time to see how the principle of uniformity is to be considered a metaphysical principle.
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The n-body problem arose in the context of calculating the trajectory of planets in Newtonian terms. However, by introducing their mutual gravitational effect it was found that there ceased to be mathematical solutions (Poincaré).

This is to put the issue in epistemological terms, which is that the resulting equations are beyond our ability to solve. However, to capture the broader implications of the n-body problem, I have questions regarding its ontological implications.

Am I correct to infer that the problem arises because the force of gravity is a function of relative mass and position, but future position is a function of the force of gravity? So to put the problem very simply, is it that variables are interactive? In systemic terms, does this simply refer to a feedback loop? Is this feedback "non-linear" because the values of variables are interactive rather than unilinear?

Now a more esoteric question. If my suppositions above are true, then does it mean the gravitational force co ... (read more)

I'm inclined to define a homeostatic system as an open system that maintains a non-equilibrium state through a dissipation of energy and has feedback mechanisms that perpetuate a sufficient dissipation. I assume this definition is not problematic, and the concept is broadly used in discussions of organic systems. Also not problematic are instances of artificial systems that are constructed to be homeostatic. I have a question about natural inorganic homeostatic systems and seek either reasons why such do not exist or examples where they do.

I'd just as soon avoid the Gaia Hypothesis and early molecular evolution on earth because they engage organic or quasi-organic entities. Organic systems are homeostatic because they are genetically encoded to develop that kind of behavior, while natural inorganic systems, if such exist, seem to be accidentally homeostatic in that they just happen to have a trajectory that brings them into a homeostatic state.

Upon occasion I've used the example o ... (read more)
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This is, for the most part, a lovely paper – very clear, very helpful. At the moment I have just one quibble. It has to do with the following sentence:

“(Most of my fellow libertarians think that that the error in the Mind argument  - they agree with my conviction that that’s where the error is to be found – can be exposed by reflection of the concept of “agent causation. “ “  [p.23]

It's a monster - right?

Design explanations are explanations, or maybe just arguments, addressing questions about why certain organisms have some traits instead of others. For example, since tetrapods have lungs but don't have gills, it seems reasonable to ask why. Design explanations attempt to answer such questions by looking at functional dependencies and integration between different traits in the same organism. For example, we might start by looking at the functional requirements for respiration in a large organism living on land, invoke the relevant laws from physics or chemistry or biology, and show that having gills would make the organism less viable. 

Wouters proposes a schema for design explanations. In my words:

1) Specify the organism's properties and conditions of existence.
2) Assert that trait T possessed by the organism is more useful than alternative trait T'.
3) Provide an explanation of 2).

I see 2) as an undue limitation. Contrasting alternative traits is a very important strategy but we could ma ... (read more)
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Cross-posted from


Handout here, original paper here.

In this paper Brian Weatherson argues that we can in principle make substantive discoveries in theoretical philosophy which correct mistakes in our pre-theoretic beliefs about some subject matter. The crux of the argument is that, according to the right (eg the Lewisian) theory about meaning, the referents of our theoretical terms are often stable over small variations in use. In some domain where there are few very natural candidate referents to which we might plausibly be interpreted as referring , even relatively systematic false beliefs can be tolerated before use is changed enough for reference to change. Thus it can be the case that the correct response to an intuitive counterexample is to reject certain kinds of intuitions in order to preserve overall theoretical unity and simplicity.

The example looked at in detail is the Gettier counterexamples to the JTB theory of knowledge. Weatherson isn’t ... (read more)


Cross-posted from

My handout for the seminar yesterday is here – the paper we were discussing is here (subscription required). We were glad to have Cian Dorr drop in for the discussion – he really livened up what might have turned into an hour and a half of Gonzalo teaching everybody about how truthmakers work!

My take on the contribution which Gonzalo’s paper makes to the big-picture debate over truthmakers is as follows. Conceptions of truthmaking which appeal only to entailment, or to necessitation, get things importantly wrong. The way to fix up the account of truthmaking is to appeal to a metaphysical ‘in virtue of’ relation. Truthmaking is not mere sufficiency for the truth of a proposition. However, this undermines much of the appeal that truthmaker theory had for some of its original proponents – it does not, after all, allow us to avoid primitive metaphysical ‘grounding’ or ‘dependence’ relations. Still, it does not make truthmaker theory alto ... (read more)

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