Nicholas Maxwell University College London
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About me
I have devoted much of my working life to arguing that we need to bring about a revolution in academia so that it promotes wisdom and does not just acquire knowledge. I have published eight books on this theme: What’s Wrong With Science? (Bran's Head Books, 1976; 2nd edition, Pentire Press, 2009), From Knowledge to Wisdom (Blackwell, 1984; 2nd edition, Pentire Press, 2007), The Comprehensibility of the Universe (Oxford University Press, 1998; pbk 2003), The Human World in the Physical Universe (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001), Is Science Neurotic? (Imperial College Press, December 2004); Cutting God in Half - And Putting the Pieces Together Again: A New Approach to Philosophy (Pentire Press, 2010); How Universities Can Help Create a Wiser World: The Urgent Need for an Academic Revolution (Imprint Academic, 2014); and Global Philosophy: What Philosophy Ought to Be (Imprint Academic, 2014). I have also contributed to a number of other books, and have published numerous papers in science and philosophy journals on problems that range from consciousness to quantum theory. For nearly thirty years I taught philosophy of science at University College London, where I am now Emeritus Reader in Philosophy of Science. In 2009 a book was published devoted to my work, edited by Leemon McHenry, called Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom: Studies in the Philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell (Ontos Verlag). My website URL, where more information about my life and work may be found, is: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/from-knowledge-to-wisdom .
My works
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  1. Nicholas Maxwell (forthcoming). Can Scientific Method Help Us Create a Wiser World? In N. Dalal, A. Intezari & M. Heitz (eds.), Practical Wisdom in the Age of Technology: Insights, Issues and Questions for a New Millennium. Ashgate.
    Two great problems of learning confront humanity: (1) learning about the universe, and about ourselves as a part of the universe, and (2) learning how to make progress towards as good a world as possible. We solved the first problem when we created modern science in the 17th century, but we have not yet solved the second problem. This puts us in a situation of unprecedented danger. Modern science and technology enormously increase our power to act, but not our power (...)
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  2. Nicholas Maxwell (ed.) (forthcoming). Karl Popper, Science and Enlightenment. Pentire Press.
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  3. Nicholas Maxwell (forthcoming). Popper's Paradoxical Pursuit of Natural Philosophy. In J. Shearmur & G. Stokes (eds.), Cambridge Companion to Popper. Cambridge University Press.
    Philosophy of science is seen by most as a meta-discipline – one that takes science as its subject matter, and seeks to acquire knowledge and understanding about science without in any way affecting, or contributing to, science itself. Karl Popper’s approach is very different. His first love is natural philosophy or, as he would put it, cosmology. This intermingles cosmology and the rest of natural science with epistemology, methodology and metaphysics. Paradoxically, however, one of his best known contributions, his proposed (...)
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  4. Nicholas Maxwell (forthcoming). What's Wrong with Science and Technology Studies? What Needs to Be Done to Put It Right? In R. Pisano & D. Capecchi (eds.), Physics, Astronomy and Engineering. A Bridge between Conceptual Frameworks. Springer.
    After a sketch of the optimism and high aspirations of History and Philosophy of Science when I first joined the field in the mid 1960s, I go on to describe the disastrous impact of "the strong programme" and social constructivism in history and sociology of science. Despite Alan Sokal's brilliant spoof article, and the "science wars" that flared up partly as a result, the whole field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) is still adversely affected by social constructivist ideas. I (...)
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  5. Nicholas Maxwell (2014). Global Philosophy: What Philosophy Ought to Be. Imprint Academic.
    These essays are about education, learning, rational inquiry, philosophy, science studies, problem solving, academic inquiry, global problems, wisdom and, above all, the urgent need for an academic revolution. Despite this range and diversity of topics, there is a common underlying theme. Education ought to be devoted, much more than it is, to the exploration real-life, open problems; it ought not to be restricted to learning up solutions to already solved problems - especially if nothing is said about the problems that (...)
     
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  6. Nicholas Maxwell (2014). How Can Our Human World Exist and Best Flourish Embedded in the Physical Universe? A Letter to an Applicant to a New Liberal Studies Course. On the Horizon 22 (1).
    In this paper I sketch a liberal studies course designed to explore our fundamental problem of thought and life: How can our human world exist and best flourish embedded as it is in the physical universe? The fundamental character of this problem provides one with the opportunity to explore a wide range of issues. What does physics tell us about the universe and ourselves? How do we account for everything physics leaves out? How can living brains be conscious? If everything (...)
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  7. Nicholas Maxwell (2014). How Universities Can Help Create a Wiser World: The Urgent Need for an Academic Revolution. Imprint Academic.
    In order to make progress towards a better world we need to learn how to do it. And for that we need institutions of learning rationally designed and devoted to helping us solve our global problems, make progress towards a better world. It is just this that we lack at present. Our universities pursue knowledge. They are neither designed nor devoted to helping humanity learn how to tackle global problems — problems of living — in more intelligent, humane and effective (...)
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  8. Nicholas Maxwell (2014). Revolutionary Thought. Times Higher Education (2136):30.
    The crisis of our times is that we have science without wisdom. Modern science and technology lead to modern industry and agriculture which in turn lead to all the great benefits of the modern world and to the global crises we face, from population growth to climate change. The fault lies, not with science, but with science dissociated from a more fundamental concern with problems of living. We urgently need to bring about a revolution in academia so that the fundamental (...)
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  9. Nicholas Maxwell (2014). Three Criticisms of Newton’s Inductive Argument in the Principia. Advances in Historical Studies 3 (1):2-11.
    In this paper, I discuss how Newton’s inductive argument of the Principia can be defended against criticisms levelled against it by Duhem, Popper and myself. I argue that Duhem’s and Popper’s criticisms can be countered, but mine cannot. It requires that we reconsider, not just Newton’s inductive argument in the Principia, but also the nature of science more generally. The methods of science, whether conceived along inductivist or hypothetico-deductivist lines, make implicit metaphysical presuppositions which rigour requires we make explicit within (...)
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  10. Nicholas Maxwell (2014). Unification and Revolution: A Paradigm for Paradigms. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 45 (1):133-149.
    Incommensurability was Kuhn’s worst mistake. If it is to be found anywhere in science, it would be in physics. But revolutions in theoretical physics all embody theoretical unification. Far from obliterating the idea that there is a persisting theoretical idea in physics, revolutions do just the opposite: they all actually exemplify the persisting idea of underlying unity. Furthermore, persistent acceptance of unifying theories in physics when empirically more successful disunified rivals can always be concocted means that physics makes a persistent (...)
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  11. Nicholas Maxwell (2014). What Philosophy Ought to Be. In Charles Tandy (ed.), Death And Anti-Death, Volume 11: Ten Years After Donald Davidson (1917-2003). Ria University Press. 125-162.
    The proper task of philosophy is to keep alive awareness of what our most fundamental, important, urgent problems are, what our best attempts are at solving them and, if possible, what needs to be done to improve these attempts. Unfortunately, academic philosophy fails disastrously even to conceive of the task in these terms. It makes no attempt to ensure that universities tackle global problems - global intellectually, and global in the sense of concerning the future of the earth and humanity. (...)
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  12. Nicholas Maxwell (2013). Does Philosophy Betray Both Reason and Humanity? Changed Without the Author's Knowledge To: 'Knowledge or Wisdom?'. The Philosophers' Magazine (62):17-18.
    A bad philosophy of inquiry, built into the intellectual/institutional structure of universities round the world, betrays both reason and humanity.
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  13. Nicholas Maxwell, From Knowledge to Wisdom: Assessment and Prospects After Three Decades. Research Across Boundaries – Advances in Integrative Meta-Studies and Research Practice.
    We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...)
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  14. Nicholas Maxwell (2013). Has Science Established That the Cosmos is Physically Comprehensible? In A. Travena & B. Soen (eds.), Recent Advances in Cosmology. Nova Science Publishers.
    Most scientists would hold that science has not established that the cosmos is physically comprehensible – i.e. such that there is some as-yet undiscovered true physical theory of everything that is unified. This is an empirically untestable, or metaphysical thesis. It thus lies beyond the scope of science. Only when physics has formulated a testable unified theory of everything which has been amply corroborated empirically will science be in a position to declare that it has established that the cosmos is (...)
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  15. Nicholas Maxwell, How to Create a Better World: Bring About a Revolution in Universities. Discussion Blog.
    In order to create a better world we need to bring about a revolution in universities so that they become devoted to helping humanity learn how to make progress towards as good a world as possible.
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  16. Nicholas Maxwell (2013). Knowledge or Wisdom? The Philosophers' Magazine 62 (62):17-18.
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  17. Nicholas Maxwell (2013). Misconceptions Concerning Wisdom. Journal of Modern Wisdom 2:92-97.
    If our concern is to help wisdom to flourish in the world, then the central task before us is to transform academia so that it takes up its proper task of seeking and promoting wisdom instead of just acquiring knowledge. Improving knowledge about wisdom is no substitute; nor is the endeavour of searching for the correct definition of wisdom.
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  18. Nicholas Maxwell (2013). Taking the Nature of God Seriously. In Jeanine Diller Diller & Asa Kasher (eds.), Models of God and Other Ultimate Realities. Springer.
    Once it is appreciated that it is not possible for an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God to exist, the important question arises: What does exist that is closest to, and captures the best of what is in, the traditional conception of God? In this paper I set out to answer that question. The first step that needs to be taken is to sever the God-of-cosmic-power from the God-of-cosmic-value. The first is Einstein’s God, the underlying dynamic unity in the physical universe which (...)
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  19. N. Maxwell (2012). Arguing for Wisdom in the University: An Intellectual Autobiography. Philosophia 40 (4):663-704.
    For forty years I have argued that we urgently need to bring about a revolution in academia so that the basic task becomes to seek and promote wisdom. How did I come to argue for such a preposterously gigantic intellectual revolution? It goes back to my childhood. From an early age, I desired passionately to understand the physical universe. Then, around adolescence, my passion became to understand the heart and soul of people via the novel. But I never discovered how (...)
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  20. N. Maxwell (2012). In Praise of Natural Philosophy: A Revolution for Thought and Life. Philosophia 40 (4):705-715.
    Modern science began as natural philosophy. In the time of Newton, what we call science and philosophy today – the disparate endeavours – formed one mutually interacting, integrated endeavour of natural philosophy: to improve our knowledge and understanding of the universe, and to improve our understanding of ourselves as a part of it. Profound, indeed unprecedented discoveries were made. But then natural philosophy died. It split into science on the one hand, and philosophy on the other. This happened during the (...)
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  21. Nicholas Maxwell (2012). A Revolution in Universities. Bedales Association and Old Bedalian Newsletter:19.
    For much of my working life I have argued, in and out of print, that we need to bring about a revolution in the aims and methods of science – and of academic inquiry more generally. Instead of giving priority to the search for knowledge, universities need to devote themselves to seeking and promoting wisdom by rational means, wisdom being the capacity to realize what is of value in life, for oneself and others, wisdom thus including knowledge, understanding and technological (...)
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  22. Nicholas Maxwell (2012). Does Science Provide Us with the Methodological Key to Wisdom? Philosophia, First Part of 'Arguing for Wisdom in the University' 40 (4):664-673.
    Science provides us with the methodological key to wisdom. This idea goes back to the 18th century French Enlightenment. Unfortunately, in developing the idea, the philosophes of the Enlightenment made three fundamental blunders: they failed to characterize the progress-achieving methods of science properly, they failed to generalize these methods properly, and they failed to develop social inquiry as social methodology having, as its basic task, to get progress-achieving methods, generalized from science, into social life so that humanity might make progress (...)
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  23. Nicholas Maxwell (2012). How Universities Can Help Humanity Learn How to Resolve the Crises of Our Times - From Knowledge to Wisdom: The University College London Experience. In G. Heam, T. Katlelle & D. Rooney (eds.), Handbook on the Knowledge Economy, vol. 2. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
    We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...)
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  24. Nicholas Maxwell (2012). Our Global Problems And What We Need To Do About Them. In Charles Tandy & Jack Lee (eds.), Death and Anti-Death Anthology, vol. 10: Ten Years After John Rawls (1921-2002). Ria University Press.
    How can what is of value associated with our human world exist and best flourish embedded as it is in the physical universe? Or, as we may put it, how can the God-of-Cosmic-Value exist and best flourish embedded as it is in the God-of-Cosmic-Power? This, I argue, is our fundamental problem – fundamental in both intellectual and practical terms. Here, I tackle the practical aspect of the problem. I consider briefly five global problems – climate change, war, population growth, world (...)
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  25. Nicholas Maxwell (2012). Replies to Criticisms and Comments. Dialogue and Universalism 22 (3):133-152.
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  26. Nicholas Maxwell (2012). The Menace of Science Without Wisdom. Ethical Record 117 (9):10-15.
    We urgently need to bring about a revolution in the aims and methods of science – and of academic inquiry more generally. Instead of giving priority to the search for knowledge, universities need to devote themselves to seeking and promoting wisdom by rational means, wisdom being the capacity to realize what is of value in life, for oneself and others, wisdom thus including knowledge, understanding and technological know-how, but much else besides. A basic task ought to be to help humanity (...)
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  27. Nicholas Maxwell (2012). The Menace of Science Without Civilization: From Knowledge to Wisdom. Dialogue and Universalism 22 (3):39-63.
    We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...)
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  28. Nicholas Maxwell (2012). Wisdom: Object of Study or Basic Aim of Inquiry?,. In Michel Ferrari & N. Weststrate (eds.), The Scientific Study of Personal Wisdom. Springer.
    We face severe global problems, many that we have inadvertently created ourselves. It is clear that there is an urgent need for more wisdom. One response is to improve knowledge about wisdom. This, I argue, is an inadequate response to the problems we face. Our global problems arise, in part, from a damagingly irrational kind of academic enterprise, devoted as it is to the pursuit of knowledge. We need to bring about a revolution in academic inquiry so that its basic (...)
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  29. Nicholas Maxwell (2011). A Priori Conjectural Knowledge in Physics: The Comprehensibility of the Universe. In Mkichael Shaffer & Michael Veber (eds.), What Place for the A Priori? Open Court.
    In this paper I argue for a priori conjectural scientific knowledge about the world. Physics persistently only accepts unified theories, even though endlessly many empirically more successful disunified rivals are always available. This persistent preference for unified theories, against empirical considerations, means that physics makes a substantial, persistent metaphysical assumption, to the effect that the universe has a (more or less) unified dynamic structure. In order to clarify what this assumption amounts to, I solve the problem of what it means (...)
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  30. Nicholas Maxwell (2011). Creating a Better World: Towards the University of Wisdom. In Ronald Barnett (ed.), The Future University: Ideas and Possibilities. Routledge.
    Universities need to change dramatically in order to help humanity make progress towards as good a world as possible.
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  31. Nicholas Maxwell (2011). Is the Quantum World Composed of Propensitons? In Mauricio Suarez (ed.), Probabilities, Causes and Propensities in Physics. Springer.
    In this paper I outline my propensiton version of quantum theory (PQT). PQT is a fully micro-realistic version of quantum theory that provides us with a very natural possible solution to the fundamental wave/particle problem, and is free of the severe defects of orthodox quantum theory (OQT) as a result. PQT makes sense of the quantum world. PQT recovers all the empirical success of OQT and is, furthermore, empirically testable (although not as yet tested). I argue that Einstein almost put (...)
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  32. Nicholas Maxwell, Looking for Ultimate Explanations in the Wrong Place. Metascience.
    Review of Michael Heller, Ultimate Explanations of the Cosmos, Springer, 2009.
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  33. Nicholas Maxwell (2011). Three Philosophical Problems About Consciousness and Their Possible Resolution. Open Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):1-10.
    Three big philosophical problems about consciousness are: Why does it exist? How do we explain and understand it? How can we explain brain-consciousness correlations? If functionalism were true, all three problems would be solved. But it is false, which means all three problems remain unsolved. Here, it is argued that the first problem cannot have a solution; this is inherent in the nature of explanation. The second problem is solved by recognizing that (a) there is an explanation as to why (...)
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  34. Nicholas Maxwell (2011). We Need an Academic Revolution. Oxford Magazine (309):15-18.
    Universities today betray both reason and humanity. They are still dominated by the idea, inherited from the past, that the best way the academic enterprise can help promote human welfare is, in the first instance, to pursue the intellectual aim of acquiring knowledge. First, knowledge and technological know-how are to be acquired; then, secondarily, they can be applied to help solve social problems. But academic inquiry conducted in this way – knowledge-inquiry as it may be called – violates the most (...)
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  35. Nicholas Maxwell (2011). Zagrożenie nauką bez cywilizacji: od wiedzy do mądrości. Zagadnienia Naukoznawstwa 47 (3):269-294.
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  36. Nicholas Maxwell (2010). Cutting God in Half - And Putting the Pieces Together Again: A New Approach to Philosophy. Pentire Press.
    Cutting God in Half argues that, in order to tackle climate change, world poverty, extinction of species and our other global problems rather better than we are doing at present we need to bring about a revolution in science, and in academia more generally. We need to put our problems of living – personal, social, global – at the heart of the academic enterprise. How our human world, imbued with meaning and value, can exist and best flourish embedded in the (...)
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  37. Nicholas Maxwell (2010). Wisdom-Inquiry. The Philosophers' Magazine 22 (50):84-85.
    The most exciting and important new philosophical idea of the past decade, in my view, is the discovery that we urgently need to bring about a revolution in science, and in academic inquiry more generally, so that the basic intellectual aim becomes to seek and promote wisdom. We urgently need to transform our schools and universities so that they become rationally devoted to helping humanity learn how to tackle our grave global problems, and thus make progress towards as good a (...)
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  38. Nicholas Maxwell (2010). Darwinian Theory Reinterpreted. In N. Maxwell (ed.), Cutting God in Half - And Putting the Pieces Together Again: A New Approach to Philosophy. Pentire Press. 264-300.
    It is argued that purposive action of living things plays a crucial role in Darwinian evolution. As evolution proceeds, the mechanisms of evolution evolve as well, giving an increasingly important role to purposive action - to be understood in a sense which is compatible with physics (the atom of purposiveness being the thermostat). Nine versions of Darwinian theory are distinguished. The first denies that purposive action has any role in evolution at all; each successive version gives an inceasingly important role (...)
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  39. Nicholas Maxwell (2010). Review of Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal. [REVIEW] Metapsychology 14 (10).
    In this book Heather Douglas argues that widespread acceptance of the value-free ideal for science adversely affects the way science is used in policy making. The book is about an important issue. It is clearly written, and is a pleasure to read. I must confess, however that, as the author of at least four books that cover some of the same ground, and in many ways develop the argument much further than the author does here, I was disappointed to find (...)
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  40. Nicholas Maxwell (2010). Reply to Comments on Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom. Philosophia 38 (4):667-690.
    In this article I reply to comments made by Agustin Vicente and Giridhari Lal Pandit on Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom (McHenry 2009 ). I criticize analytic philosophy, go on to expound the argument for the need for a revolution in academic inquiry so that the basic aim becomes wisdom and not just knowledge, defend aim-oriented empiricism, outline my solution to the human world/physical universe problem, and defend the thesis that free will is compatible with physicalism.
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  41. Nicholas Maxwell (2010). The Urgent Need for an Academic Revolution: From Knowledge to Wisdom. In W. Karpiuk & K. Wisniewski (eds.), III International Interdisciplinary Technical Conference of Young Scientists: Proceedings.
    At present the basic intellectual aim of academic inquiry is to improve knowledge. Much of the structure, the whole character, of academic inquiry, in universities all over the world, is shaped by the adoption of this as the basic intellectual aim. But, judged from the standpoint of making a contribution to human welfare, academic inquiry of this type is damagingly irrational. Three of four of the most elementary rules of rational problem-solving are violated. A revolution in the aims and methods (...)
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  42. Nicholas Maxwell (2010). The Urgent Need for an Academic Revolution. In Mark Levene, Rob Johnson & Richard Maguire (eds.), History at the End of the World? History, Climate Change and the Possibility of Closure. Humanities-EBooks.
    Two great problems of learning confront humanity: first, learning about the nature of the universe and about ourselves as a part of the universe, and second, learning how to live wisely – learning how to make progress towards as good a world as possible. The first problem was solved, in essence, in the 17th century, with the creation of modern science. A method was discovered for progressively improving knowledge and understanding of the natural world, the famous empirical method of science. (...)
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  43. Nicholas Maxwell (2010). The Urgent Need for an Academic Revolution: The Rational Pursuit of Wisdom. In Charles Tandy (ed.), Death And Anti-Death, Volume 7: Nine Hundred Years After St. Anselm (1033-1109. Ria University Press.
    We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...)
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  44. Nicholas Maxwell (2010). Universities: From Knowledge to Wisdom. Scientists for Global Responsibility Newsletter (38):18-20.
    Nicholas Maxwell argues that the growth in academic work devoted to policy issues could mark the beginning of a shift from ‘knowledge-inquiry’ to ‘wisdom-inquiry’, leading to importance benefits for society.
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  45. Nicholas Maxwell (2010). Wisdom Mathematics. Friends of Wisdom Newsletter (6):1-6.
    For over thirty years I have argued that all branches of science and scholarship would have both their intellectual and humanitarian value enhanced if pursued in accordance with the edicts of wisdom-inquiry rather than knowledge-inquiry. I argue that this is true of mathematics. Viewed from the perspective of knowledge-inquiry, mathematics confronts us with two fundamental problems. (1) How can mathematics be held to be a branch of knowledge, in view of the difficulties that view engenders? What could mathematics be knowledge (...)
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  46. N. Maxwell (2009). Replies and Reflections. In Leemon McHenry (ed.), Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom: Studies in the Philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell. Ontos Verlag.
    I reply to critical discussion of my work by Copthorne Macdonald, Steve Fuller, John Stewart, Joseph Agassi, Margaret Boden, Donald Gillies, Mathew Iredale, David Hodgson, Karl Rogers, and Leemon McHenry.
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  47. N. Maxwell (2009). The Metaphysics of Science: An Account of Modern Science in Terms of Principles, Laws and Theories, Craig Dilworth, Dordrecht, Springer, 2007, 2nd Ed. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):13-16..
    This book propounds an immensely important idea. Science makes metaphysical presuppositions. I must, however, at once declare an interest. For well over thirty years I have myself been expounding and arguing for just this idea.
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  48. Nicholas Maxwell (2009). An Idea to Save the World. Sublime (17):90-93.
    Here is an idea that just might save the world. It is that science, properly understood, provides us with the methodological key to the salvation of humanity.
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  49. Nicholas Maxwell (2009). Are Universities Undergoing an Intellectual Revolution?,. Oxford Magazine (290):13-16.
    For over 30 years I have argued, in and out of print that, for both intellectual and humanitarian reasons, we urgently need a revolution in the aims and methods of academic inquiry. Instead of giving priority to the search for knowledge, academia needs to devote itself to seeking and promoting wisdom by rational means, wisdom being the capacity to realize what is of value in life, for oneself and others. Wisdom thus includes knowledge but much else besides. A basic task (...)
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  50. Nicholas Maxwell (2009). From Knowledge to Wisdom. In David Cayley (ed.), Ideas on the Nature of Science. Goose Lane Editions.
    There are these two absolutely basic problems: to learn about the universe and ourselves as a part of the universe, and to learn how to create a civilized world. Essentially, we have solved the first problem. We solved it when we created modern science. That is not to say that we know everything that is to be known, but we created a method for improving our knowledge about the world. But we haven't solved the second problem. And to solve the (...)
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  51. Nicholas Maxwell (2009). How Can Life of Value Best Flourish in the Real World? In Leemon McHenry (ed.), Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom. Ontos Verlag.
    The Urgent Need for an Intellectual Revolution For much of my working life (from 1972 onwards) I have argued, in and out of print, that we need to bring about a revolution in the aims and methods of science – and of academic inquiry more generally. Instead of giving priority to the search for knowledge, academia needs to devote itself to seeking and promoting wisdom by rational means, wisdom being the capacity to realize what is of value in life, for (...)
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  52. Nicholas Maxwell (2009). Muller's Critique of the Argument for Aim-Oriented Empiricism. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 40 (1):103-114.
    For over 30 years I have argued that we need to construe science as accepting a metaphysical proposition concerning the comprehensibility of the universe. In a recent paper, Fred Muller criticizes this argument, and its implication that Bas van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism is untenable. In the present paper I argue that Muller’s criticisms are not valid. The issue is of some importance, for my argument that science accepts a metaphysical proposition is the first step in a broader argument intended to (...)
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  53. Nicholas Maxwell (2009). The Metaphysics of Science: An Account of Modern Science in Terms of Principles, Laws and Theories. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):228 – 232.
    This is a review of Craig Dilworth's The Metaphysics of Science (Dordrecht, Springer, 2007). The book propounds an immensely important idea. Science makes metaphysical presuppositions. Unfortunately, Dilworth ignores work that has been done on this issue which takes the matter much further than he does.
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  54. Nicholas Maxwell (2009). What’s Wrong With Science? Towards a People’s Rational Science of Delight and Compassion, Second Edition. Pentire Press.
    What ought to be the aims of science? How can science best serve humanity? What would an ideal science be like, a science that is sensitively and humanely responsive to the needs, problems and aspirations of people? How ought the institutional enterprise of science to be related to the rest of society? What ought to be the relationship between science and art, thought and feeling, reason and desire, mind and heart? Should the social sciences model themselves on the natural sciences: (...)
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  55. Nicholas Maxwell (2008). Are Philosophers Responsible for Global Warming? Philosophy Now 65 (65):12-13.
    The suggestion that philosophers are responsible for global warming seems, on the face of it, absurd. However, that we might cause global warming has been known for over a century. If we had had in existence a more rigorous kind of academic inquiry devoted to promoting human welfare, giving priority to problems of living, humanity might have become aware of the dangers of global warming long ago, and might have taken steps to meet these dangers decades ago. That we do (...)
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  56. Nicholas Maxwell (2008). Do We Need a Scientific Revolution? Journal for Biological Physics and Chemistry 8 (3):95-105.
    Do We Need a Scientific Revolution? (Published in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry, vol. 8, no. 3, September 2008) Nicholas Maxwell (Emeritus Reader in Philosophy of Science at University College London) www.nick-maxwell.demon.co.uk Abstract Many see modern science as having serious defects, intellectual, social, moral. Few see this as having anything to do with the philosophy of science. I argue that many diverse ills of modern science are a consequence of the fact that the scientific community has long accepted, (...)
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  57. Nicholas Maxwell & Ronald Barnett (2008). Wisdom in the University. Routledge.
    We face grave global problems. We urgently need to learn how to tackle them in wiser, more effective, intelligent and humane ways than we have done so far. This requires that universities become devoted to helping humanity acquire the necessary wisdom to perform the task. But at present universities do not even conceive of their role in these terms. The essays of this book consider what needs to change in the university if it is to help humanity acquire the wisdom (...)
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  58. Nicholas Maxwell (2007). Aim-Oriented Empiricism Since 1984. In , From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the Humanities. Pentire Press.
    This chapter outlines improvements and developments made to aim-oriented empiricism since "From Knowledge to Wisdom" was first published in 1984. It argues that aim-oriented empiricism enables us to solve three fundamental problems in the philosophy of science: the problems of induction and verisimilitude, and the problem of what it means to say of a physical theory that it is unified.
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  59. Nicholas Maxwell (2007). Can the World Learn Wisdom? Solidarity, Sustainability, and Non-Violence 3 (4).
    The crisis of our times is that we have science without wisdom. This is the crisis behind all the others. Population growth, the terrifyingly lethal character of modern war and terrorism, immense differences of wealth across the globe, annihilation of indigenous people, cultures and languages, impending depletion of natural resources, destruction of tropical rain forests and other natural habitats, rapid mass extinction of species, pollution of sea, earth and air, thinning of the ozone layer, above all global warming - even (...)
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  60. Nicholas Maxwell (2007). From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the Humanities (Second Edition). Pentire Press.
    From Knowledge to Wisdom argues that there is an urgent need, for both intellectual and humanitarian reasons, to bring about a revolution in science and the humanities. The outcome would be a kind of academic inquiry rationally devoted to helping humanity learn how to create a better world. Instead of giving priority to solving problems of knowledge, as at present, academia would devote itself to helping us solve our immense, current global problems – climate change, war, poverty, population growth, pollution... (...)
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  61. Nicholas Maxwell (2007). From Knowledge to Wisdom: The Need for an Academic Revolution. London Review of Education 5:97-115.
    At present the basic intellectual aim of academic inquiry is to improve knowledge. Much of the structure, the whole character, of academic inquiry, in universities all over the world, is shaped by the adoption of this as the basic intellectual aim. But, judged from the standpoint of making a contribution to human welfare, academic inquiry of this type is damagingly irrational. Three of four of the most elementary rules of rational problem-solving are violated. A revolution in the aims and methods (...)
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  62. Nicholas Maxwell (2007). The Disastrous War Against Terrorism: Violence Versus Enlightenment. In Albert W. Merkidze (ed.), Terrorism Issues: Threat Assessment , Consequences and Prevention.
    In combating international terrorism, it is important to observe some basic principles, such as that international law must be complied with, care should be taken that one does not proceed in such a way that future terrorists are recruited, and one does not oneself become a terrorist. Unfortunately, the war on terrorism.
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  63. Nicholas Maxwell (2007). The Enlightenment, Popper and Einstein. In ShiY (ed.), Knowledge and Wisdom. IOS Press.
    The Enlightenment, Popper and Einstein Abstract Nicholas Maxwell Email: nicholas.maxwell@ucl.ac.uk In this paper I discuss four versions of the basic idea of the French Enlightenment of the 18th century, namely: To learn from scientific progress how to achieve social progress towards an enlightened world. These four versions are: 1. The Traditional Enlightenment Programme. 2. The Popperian Version of the Enlightenment Programme. 3. The Improved Popperian Enlightenment Programme. 4. The New Enlightenment Programme. The Traditional Enlightenment Programme is the version of the (...)
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  64. Nicholas Maxwell, The Problem of Induction and Metaphysical Assumptions Concerning the Comprehensibility and Knowability of the Universe. PhilSci Archive.
    Even though evidence underdetermines theory, often in science one theory only is regarded as acceptable in the light of the evidence. This suggests there are additional unacknowledged assumptions which constrain what theories are to be accepted. In the case of physics, these additional assumptions are metaphysical theses concerning the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe. Rigour demands that these implicit assumptions be made explicit within science, so that they can be critically assessed and, we may hope improved. This leads to (...)
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  65. Nicholas Maxwell, Aim-Oriented Empiricism: David Miller's Critique. PhilSci Archive.
    For three decades I have expounded and defended aim-oriented empiricism, a view of science which, l claim, solves a number of problems in the philosophy of science and has important implications for science itself and, when generalized, for the whole of academic inquiry, and for our capacity to solve our current global problems. Despite these claims, the view has received scant attention from philosophers of science. Recently, however, David Miller has criticized the view. Miller’s criticisms are, however, not valid.
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  66. Nicholas Maxwell (2006). Knowledge to Wisdom: We Need a Revolution. Philosophia 34 (3):377-378.
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  67. Nicholas Maxwell (2006). Learning to Live a Life of Value. In Jason A. Merchey (ed.), Living a Life of Value. Values of the Wise Press. 383--395.
    Much of my working life has been devoted to trying to get across the point that we urgently need to bring about a revolution in the aims and methods of academic inquiry, so that the basic aim becomes to seek and promote wisdom rather than just acquire knowledge.
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  68. Nicholas Maxwell (2006). Practical Certainty and Cosmological Conjectures. In Michael Rahnfeld (ed.), Is there Certain Knowledge? Leipziger Universitätsverlag.
    We ordinarily assume that we have reliable knowledge of our immediate surroundings, so much so that almost all the time we entrust our lives to the truth of what we take ourselves to know, without a moment’s thought. But if, as Karl Popper and others have maintained, all our knowledge is conjectural, then this habitual assumption that our common sense knowledge of our environment is secure and trustworthy would seem to be an illusion. Popper’s philosophy of science, in particular, fails (...)
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  69. Nicholas Maxwell (2006). Special Relativity, Time, Probabilism, and Ultimate Reality. In D. Dieks (ed.), The Ontology of Spacetime. Elsevier, B. V.
    McTaggart distinguished two conceptions of time: the A-series, according to which events are either past, present or future; and the B-series, according to which events are merely earlier or later than other events. Elsewhere, I have argued that these two views, ostensibly about the nature of time, need to be reinterpreted as two views about the nature of the universe. According to the so-called A-theory, the universe is three dimensional, with a past and future; according to the B-theory, the universe (...)
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  70. Nicholas Maxwell (2006). The Enlightenment Programme and Karl Popper. In I. I. Jarvie, K. Milford & D. Miller (eds.), Karl Popper: A Centenary Assessment. Volume 1: Life and Times, Values in a World of Facts. Ashgate.
    Popper first developed his theory of scientific method – falsificationism – in his The Logic of Scientific Discovery, then generalized it to form critical rationalism, which he subsequently applied to social and political problems in The Open Society and Its Enemies. All this can be regarded as constituting a major development of the 18th century Enlightenment programme of learning from scientific progress how to achieve social progress towards a better world. Falsificationism is, however, defective. It misrepresents the real, problematic aims (...)
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  71. Graham Cairns-Smith, Thomas W. Clark, Ravi Gomatam, Robert H. Kane, Nicholas Maxwell, J. J. C. Smart, Sean A. Spence & Henry P. Stapp (2005). Commentaries on David Hodgson's "a Plain Person's Free Will&Quot;. Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (1):20-75.
    REMARKS ON EVOLUTION AND TIME-SCALES, Graham Cairns-Smith; HODGSON'S BLACK BOX, Thomas Clark; DO HODGSON'S PROPOSITIONS UNIQUELY CHARACTERIZE FREE WILL?, Ravi Gomatam; WHAT SHOULD WE RETAIN FROM A PLAIN PERSON'S CONCEPT OF FREE WILL?, Gilberto Gomes; ISOLATING DISPARATE CHALLENGES TO HODGSON'S ACCOUNT OF FREE WILL, Liberty Jaswal; FREE AGENCY AND LAWS OF NATURE, Robert Kane; SCIENCE VERSUS REALIZATION OF VALUE, NOT DETERMINISM VERSUS CHOICE, Nicholas Maxwell; COMMENTS ON HODGSON, J.J.C. Smart; THE VIEW FROM WITHIN, Sean Spence; COMMENTARY ON HODGSON, Henry Stapp.
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  72. Nicholas Maxwell (2005). A Mug's Game? Solving the Problem of Induction with Metaphysical Presuppositions. In John Earman & John Norton (eds.), PhilSci Archive.
    A Mug's Game? Solving the Problem of Induction with Metaphysical Presuppositions Nicholas Maxwell Emeritus Reader in Philosophy of Science at University College London Email: nicholas.maxwell@ucl.ac.uk Website: www.ucl.ac.uk/from-knowledge-to-wisdom . Abstract This paper argues that a view of science, expounded and defended elsewhere, solves the problem of induction. The view holds that we need to see science as accepting a hierarchy of metaphysical theses concerning the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe, these theses asserting less and less as we go up the (...)
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  73. Nicholas Maxwell (2005). A Revolution for Science and the Humanities: From Knowledge to Wisdom. Dialogue and Universalism 15 (1-2):29-57.
    At present the basic intellectual aim of academic inquiry is to improve knowledge. Much of the structure, the whole character, of academic inquiry, in universities all over the world, is shaped by the adoption of this as the basic intellectual aim. But, judged from the standpoint of making a contribution to human welfare, to the quality of human life, academic inquiry of this type, devoted, in the first instance, to the pursuit of knowledge, is grossly and damagingly irrational. Three of (...)
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  74. Nicholas Maxwell (2005). Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos and Aim-Oriented Empiricism. Philosophia 32 (1-4):181-239.
    In this paper I argue that aim-oriented empiricism (AOE), a conception of natural science that I have defended at some length elsewhere, is a kind of synthesis of the views of Popper, Kuhn and Lakatos, but is also an improvement over the views of all three. Whereas Popper's falsificationism protects metaphysical assumptions implicitly made by science from criticism, AOE exposes all such assumptions to sustained criticism, and furthermore focuses criticism on those assumptions most likely to need revision if science is (...)
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  75. Nicholas Maxwell (2005). Philosophy Seminars for Five-Year-Olds,. Learning for Democracy 1 (2):71-77.
    We need a revolution in education, from five year olds onwards, so that exploration of problems is at the heart of the enterprise.
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  76. Nicholas Maxwell (2005). Science Under Attack. The Philosopher’s Magazine (31, 3rd Quarter 2005):37-41.
    Science has been under attack ever since William Blake and Romantic movement. In our time, criticisms of modern science have led to Alan Sokal's spoof, and the so-called science wars. Both sides missed the point. Science deserves to be criticized for seriously misrepresenting its highly problematic aims, which have metaphysical, value and political assumptions associated with them. Instead of repressing these problematic aims, science ought rather to make them explicit, so that they can be critically assessed and, we may hope, (...)
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  77. Nicholas Maxwell (2005). Science Versus Realization of Value, Not Determinism Versus Choice. Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (1):53-58.
     
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  78. Nicholas Maxwell, Comprehensibility Rather Than Beauty. PhilSci Archive.
    Most scientists and philosophers of science recognize that, when it comes to accepting and rejecting theories in science, considerations that have to do with simplicity, unity, symmetry, elegance, beauty or explanatory power have an important role to play, in addition to empirical considerations. Until recently, however, no one has been able to give a satisfactory account of what simplicity (etc.) is, or how giving preference to simple theories is to be justified. But in the last few years, two different but (...)
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  79. Nicholas Maxwell (2004). Does Probabilism Solve the Great Quantum Mystery? Theoria 19 (3):321-336.
    What sort of entities are electrons, photons and atoms given their wave-like and particle-like properties? Is nature fundamentally deterministic or probabilistic? Orthodox quantum theory (OQT) evades answering these two basic questions by being a theory about the results of performing measurements on quantum systems. But this evasion results in OQT being a seriously defective theory. A rival, somewhat ignored strategy is to conjecture that the quantum domain is fundamentally probabilistic. This means quantum entities, interacting with one another probabilistically, must differ (...)
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  80. Nicholas Maxwell (2004). In Defense of Seeking Wisdom. Metaphilosophy 35 (5):733-743.
    Steven Yates has criticized my claim that we need to bring about a revolution in the aims and methods of academic inquiry, so that the aim becomes to promote wisdom rather than just acquire knowledge. Yates's main criticism is that the proposed revolution does not have a clear strategy for its implementation, and is, in any case, Utopian, unrealizable and undesirable. It is argued, here, that Yates has misconstrued what the proposed revolution amounts to; in fact it is realizable, urgently (...)
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  81. Nicholas Maxwell (2004). Is Science Neurotic? Imperial College Press.
    Is Science Neurotic? sets out to show that science suffers from a damaging but rarely noticed methodological disease — “rationalistic neurosis.” Assumptions concerning metaphysics, human value and politics, implicit in the aims of science, are repressed, and the malaise has spread to affect the whole academic enterprise, with the potential for extraordinarily damaging long-term consequences. The book begins with a discussion of the aims and methods of natural science, and moves on to discuss social science, philosophy, education, psychoanalytic theory and (...)
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  82. Nicholas Maxwell, Non-Empirical Requirements Scientific Theories Must Satisfy: Simplicity, Unification, Explanation, Beauty. PhilSci Archive.
    A scientific theory, in order to be accepted as a part of theoretical scientific knowledge, must satisfy both empirical and non-empirical requirements, the latter having to do with simplicity, unity, explanatory character, symmetry, beauty. No satisfactory, generally accepted account of such non-empirical requirements has so far been given. Here, a proposal is put forward which, it is claimed, makes a contribution towards solving the problem. This proposal concerns unity of physical theory. In order to satisfy the non-empirical requirement of unity, (...)
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  83. Nicholas Maxwell, Scientific Metaphysics. PhilSci Archive.
    In this paper I argue that physics makes metaphysical presuppositions concerning the physical comprehensibility, the dynamic unity, of the universe. I argue that rigour requires that these metaphysical presuppositions be made explicit as an integral part of theoretical knowledge in physics. An account of what it means to assert of a theory that it is unified is developed, which provides the means for partially ordering dynamical physical theories with respect to their degrees of unity. This in turn makes it possible (...)
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  84. Nicholas Maxwell (2003). Art as Its Own Interpretation. In Andreea Ruvoi (ed.), Interpretation and Its Objects: Studies in the Philosophy of Michael Krausz. Rodopi.
    In this article I argue that a work of art provides the best interpretation of itself - more faithful than any other scholarly interpretative work.
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  85. Nicholas Maxwell (2003). Do Philosophers Love Wisdom? The Philosophers' Magazine 22 (2):22-24.
  86. Nicholas Maxwell (2003). Science, Knowledge, Wisdom and the Public Good. Scientists for Global Responsibility Newsletter (26 February 2003):7-9.
    What kind of science – or, more generally, what kind of academic inquiry – can best contribute to the public good? Two answers are considered: knowledge-inquiry and wisdom-inquiry. The former is what we have at present. It is, however, damagingly irrational. The latter is more rigorous and, potentially, of greater value in human and intellectual terms. It arises as a result of putting the Enlightenment Programme properly into practice. We urgently need to bring about a revolution in academia, so that (...)
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  87. Nicholas Maxwell (2003). Two Great Problems of Learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 8 (January):129-134.
    Two great problems of learning confront humanity: learning about the universe, and learning how to live wisely. The first problem was solved with the creation of modern science, but the second problem has not been solved. This combination puts humanity into a situation of unprecedented danger. In order to solve the second problem we need to learn from our solution to the first problem. This requires that we bring about a revolution in the overall aims and methods of academic inquiry, (...)
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  88. Nicholas Maxwell (2002). Cutting God in Half. Philosophy Now 35 (35):22-25.
    In order to solve the problem of the monstrous acts that an all-powerful, all-knowing God would daily be performing, we need to sever the God of Power from the God of Value. The former is the underlying dynamic unity in the physical universe, eternal, omnipresent, all-powerful, but an It, and thus not capable of knowing what It does. It can be forgiven the terrible things It does. The latter is what is of most value associated with our human world - (...)
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  89. Nicholas Maxwell (2002). Is Science Neurotic? Metaphilosophy 33 (3):259-299.
    Neurosis can be interpreted as a methodological condition which any aim-pursuing entity can suffer from. If such an entity pursues a problematic aim B, represents to itself that it is pursuing a different aim C, and as a result fails to solve the problems associated with B which, if solved, would lead to the pursuit of aim A, then the entity may be said to be "rationalistically neurotic". Natural science is neurotic in this sense in so far as a basic (...)
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  90. Nicholas Maxwell (2002). Karl Raimund Popper. In Leemon McHenry, P. Dematteis & P. Fosl (eds.), British Philosophers, 1800-2000. Bruccoli Clark Layman.
    Karl Popper is the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. No other philosopher of the period has produced a body of work that is as significant. What is best in Popper's output is contained in his first four published books. These tackle fundamental problems with ferocious, exemplary integrity, clarity, simplicity and originality. They have widespread, fruitful implications, for science, for philosophy, for the social sciences, for education, for art, for politics and political philosophy. This article provides a critical survey of (...)
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  91. Nicholas Maxwell (2002). Science and Meaning. The Philosophers' Magazine (18):15-16.
  92. Nicholas Maxwell (2002). The Need for a Revolution in the Philosophy of Science. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 33 (2):381-408.
    There is a need to bring about a revolution in the philosophy of science, interpreted to be both the academic discipline, and the official view of the aims and methods of science upheld by the scientific community. At present both are dominated by the view that in science theories are chosen on the basis of empirical considerations alone, nothing being permanently accepted as a part of scientific knowledge independently of evidence. Biasing choice of theory in the direction of simplicity, unity (...)
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  93. Nicholas Maxwell (2002). Three Philosophical Problems About Consciousness. Ethical Record 107 (4):3-11.
     
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  94. Nicholas Maxwell (2001). Can Humanity Learn to Create a Better World? The Crisis of Science Without Wisdom. In Tom Bentley & Daniel Stedman Jones (eds.), The Moral Universe.
    Can we learn to create a better world? Yes, if we first create traditions and institutions of learning rationally devoted to that end. At present universities all over the world are dominated by the idea that the basic aim of academic inquiry is to acquire knowledge. Such a conception of inquiry, judged from the standpoint of helping us learn wisdom and civilization, is grotesquely and damagingly irrational. We need to change our approach to academic enterprise if we are to create (...)
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  95. Nicholas Maxwell, Simplicity. PhilSci Archive.
    There are two problems of simplicity. What does it mean to characterize a scientific theory as simple, unified or explanatory in view of the fact that a simple theory can always be made complex (and vice versa) by a change of terminology? How is preference in science for simple theories to be justified? In this paper I put forward a proposal as to how the first problem is to be solved. The more nearly the totality of fundamental physical theory exemplifies (...)
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  96. Nicholas Maxwell (2001). The Human World in the Physical Universe: Consciousness, Free Will and Evolution. Lanham: Rowman &Amp; Littlefield.
    This book tackles the problem of how we can understand our human world embedded in the physical universe in such a way that justice is done both to the richness...
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  97. Nicholas Maxwell (2001). Wisdom and Curiosity? I Remember Them Well. The Times Higher Education Supplement (1,488):14.
    Academic inquiry has two basic inter-related aims. One is to explore intellectually aspects of our world of intrinsic interest and value, for its own sake, and to encourage non-academics to participate in such exploration, thus improving our knowledge and understanding. The other is, by intellectual means, to help humanity solve its problems of living, so that a more peaceful, just, democratic and environmentally enlightened world may be attained. Both are at present betrayed.
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  98. Nicholas Maxwell (2001). Weinert's Review of ‘the Comprehensibility of the Universe’. Philosophy 76 (2):297-303.
    In my book The Comprehensibility of the Universe (OUP, 1998), I argue for a new conception of science that construes science as adopting a hierarchy of increasingly contentless cosmological assumptions about the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe. This view, I argue, solves outstanding problems about science, such as problems of induction, simplicity and verisimilitude. In his essay review of my book (Philosophy 75, 2000, 296–309) Friedel Weinert criticizes me for defending a number of views about science. But, as I (...)
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  99. Nicholas Maxwell (2000). A New Conception of Science. Physics World 13 (8):17-18.
    When scientists choose one theory over another, they reject out of hand all those that are not simple, unified or explanatory. Yet the orthodox view of science is that evidence alone should determine what can be accepted. Nicholas Maxwell thinks he has a way out of the dilemma.
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  100. Nicholas Maxwell (2000). Can Humanity Learn to Become Civilized? The Crisis of Science Without Civilization. Journal of Applied Philosophy 17 (1):29–44.
    Two great problems of learning confront humanity: learning about the nature of the universe and our place in it, and learning how to become civilized. The first problem was solved, in essence, in the 17th century, with the creation of modern science. But the second problem has not yet been solved. Solving the first problem without also solving the second puts us in a situation of great danger. All our current global problems have arisen as a result. What we need (...)
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  101. Nicholas Maxwell (2000). The Mind-Body Problem and Explanatory Dualism. Philosophy 75 (291):49-71.
    An important part of the mind-brain problem arises because sentience and consciousness seem inherently resistant to scientific explanation and understanding. The solution to this dilemma is to recognize, first, that scientific explanation can only render comprehensible a selected aspect of what there is, and second, that there is a mode of explanation and understanding, the personalistic, quite different from, but just as viable as, scientific explanation. In order to understand the mental aspect of brain processes - that aspect we know (...)
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  102. Nicholas Maxwell & J. J. C. Smart (2000). Reviews-The Comprehensibility of the Universe: A New Conception of Science. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (4):907-912.
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  103. Nicholas Maxwell (1999). Are There Objective Values? The Dalhousie Review 79 (3):301-317.
    In this paper I demolish three influential arguments - moral, metaphysical and epistemological - against value realism. We have good reasons to believe, and no good reasons not to believe, that value-features, value-facts, really do exist in the world.
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  104. Nicholas Maxwell (1999). Has Science Established That the Universe is Comprehensible? Cogito 13 (2):139-145.
    Many scientists, if pushed, may be inclined to hazard the guess that the universe is comprehensible, even physically comprehensible. Almost all, however, would vehemently deny that science has already established that the universe is comprehensible. It is, nevertheless, just this that I claim to be the case. Once one gets the nature of science properly into perspective, it becomes clear that the comprehensibility of the universe is as secure an item of current scientific knowledge as anything theoretical in science can (...)
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  105. Nicholas Maxwell (1998). The Comprehensibility of the Universe: A New Conception of Science. Oxford University Press.
    This book puts forth a radically new conception of science. Maxwell argues that the prevailing view of the relation between scientific theory and evidence is untenable; he calls for a new orthodoxy that sees science as making a hierarchy of assumptions about the comprehensibility of the universe. This new conception has significant implications for both philosophy and science, promises to heal the rift between the two, and will be essential reading for people working in both fields.
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  106. Nicholas Maxwell (1997). Must Science Make Cosmological Assumptions If It is to Be Rational?,. In T. Kelly (ed.), The Philosophy of Science: Proceedings of the Irish Philosophical Society Spring Conference. Irish Philosophical Society.
    Cosmological speculation about the ultimate nature of the universe, being necessary for science to be possible at all, must be regarded as a part of scientific knowledge itself, however epistemologically unsound it may be in other respects. The best such speculation available is that the universe is comprehensible in some way or other and, more specifically, in the light of the immense apparent success of modern natural science, that it is physically comprehensible. But both these speculations may be false; in (...)
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  107. Nicholas Maxwell (1997). Science and the Environment: A New Enlightenment. Science and Public Affairs (Spring 1997):50-56.
    Nicholas Maxwell believes that while we have developed an excellent way of learning about the nature of the universe, we have so far failed in our attempts to apply this method to create a civilized world.
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  108. Nicholas Maxwell (1995). A Philosopher Struggles to Understand Quantum Theory: Particle Creation and Wavepacket Reduction. In M. Ferrero & A. van der Merwe (eds.), Fundamental Problems in Quantum Physics.
    Work on the central problems of the philosophy of science has led the author to attempt to create an intelligible version of quantum theory. The basic idea is that probabilistic transitions occur when new stationary or particle states arise as a result of inelastic collisions.
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  109. Nicholas Maxwell (1994). Particle Creation as the Quantum Condition for Probabilistic Events to Occur. Physics Letters A 187 (2 May 1994):351-355.
    A new version of quantum theory is proposed, according to which probabilistic events occur whenever new statioinary or bound states are created as a result of inelastic collisions. The new theory recovers the experimental success of orthodox quantum theory, but differs form the orthodox theory for as yet unperformed experiments.
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  110. Nicholas Maxwell (1994). Towards a New Enlightenment: What the Task of Creating Civilization has to Learn From the Success of Modern Science. In Ronald Barnett (ed.), Academic Community: Discourse or Discord? Jessica Kingsley.
    We face two great probems of learning: learning about the universe and about ourselves as a part of the universe, and learning how to create world civilization. We have solved the first problem, but not the second. We need to learn from our solution to the first problem how to solve the second. That involves getting clear about the nature of the progress-achieving methods of science, generalizing these methods so that they become fruitfully applicable to any problematic endeavour, and then (...)
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  111. Nicholas Maxwell (1993). Beyond Fapp: Three Approaches to Improving Orthodox Quantum Theory and An Experimental Test. In F. Selleri and G. Tarozzi van der Merwe, F. Selleri & G. Tarozzi (eds.), Bell's Theorem and the Foundations of Modern Physics. World Scientific.
    Because it fails to solve the wave-particle problem, orthodox quantum theory is obliged to be about observables and not quantum beables. As a result the theory is imprecise, ambiguous, ad hoc, lacking in explanatory power, restricted in scope and resistant to unification. A new version of quantum theory is needed that is about quantum beables.
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  112. Nicholas Maxwell (1993). Can Academic Inquiry Help Humanity Become Civilized?,. Philosophy Today (13 May 1993):1-3.
    Humanity is confronted by immense global problems. In order to learn how to tackle them we need a new kind of academic inquiry, rationally organized and devoted to helping us resolve our problems of living in increasingly cooperatively rational ways.
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  113. Nicholas Maxwell (1993). Does Orthodox Quantum Theory Undermine, or Support, Scientific Realism? Philosophical Quarterly 44 (171):139-157.
    It is usually taken for granted that orthodox quantum theory poses a serious problem for scientific realism, in that the theory is empirically extraordinarily successful, and yet has instrumentalism built into it. This paper stand this view on its head. I argue that orthodox quantum theory suffers from a number of serious (if not always noticed) defects precisely because of its inbuilt instrumentalism. This defective character of orthdoox quantum theory thus undermines instrumentalism, and supports scientific realism. I go on to (...)
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  114. Nicholas Maxwell (1993). Induction and Scientific Realism: Einstein Versus Van Fraassen Part One: How to Solve the Problem of Induction. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (1):61-79.
    In this three-part paper, my concern is to expound and defend a conception of science, close to Einstein's, which I call aim-oriented empiricism. I argue that aim-oriented empiricsim has the following virtues. (i) It solve the problem of induction; (ii) it provides decisive reasons for rejecting van Fraassen's brilliantly defended but intuitively implausible constructive empiricism; (iii) it solves the problem of verisimilitude, the problem of explicating what it can mean to speak of scientific progress given that science advances from one (...)
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  115. Nicholas Maxwell (1993). Induction and Scientific Realism: Einstein Versus Van Fraassen: Part Two: Aim-Oriented Empiricism and Scientific Essentialism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (1):81-101.
    In this paper I argue that aim-oriented empiricism provides decisive grounds for accepting scientific realism and rejecting instrumentalism. But it goes further than this. Aim-oriented empiricism implies that physicalism is a central part of current (conjectural) scientific knowledge. Furthermore, we can and need, I argue, to interpret fundamental physical theories as attributing necessitating physical properties to fundamental physical entities.
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  116. Nicholas Maxwell (1993). Induction and Scientific Realism: Einstein Versus Van Fraassen Part Three: Einstein, Aim-Oriented Empiricism and the Discovery of Special and General Relativity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (2):275-305.
    In this paper I show that Einstein made essential use of aim-oriented empiricism in scientific practice in developing special and general relativity. I conclude by considering to what extent Einstein came explicitly to advocate aim-oriented empiricism in his later years.
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  117. Nicholas Maxwell (1993). On Relativity Theory and Openness of the Future. Philosophy of Science 60 (2):341-348.
    In a recent paper, Howard Stein makes a number of criticisms of an earlier paper of mine ('Are Probabilism and Special Relativity Incompatible?', Phil. Sci., 1985), which explored the question of whether the idea that the future is genuinely 'open' in a probabilistic universe is compatible with special relativity. I disagree with almost all of Stein's criticisms.
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  118. Nicholas Maxwell (1992). What Kind of Inquiry Can Best Help Us Create a Good World?,. Science, Technology and Human Values 17:205-227.
    In order to create a good world, we need to learn how to do it - how to resolve our appalling problems and conflicts in more cooperative ways than at present. And in order to do this, we need traditions and institutions of learning rationally devoted to this end. When viewed from this standpoint, what we have at present - academic inquiry devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how - is an intellectual and human disaster. We urgently need (...)
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  119. Nicholas Maxwell (1992). What the Task of Creating Civilization has to Learn From the Success of Modern Science: Towards a New Enlightenment. Reflections on Higher Education 4:47-69.
    Modern scientific, academic inquiry suffers from a serious, wholesale fundamental defect. Though very successful at improving specialized scientific knowledge and technological know-how, it is an intellectual and human disaster when it comes to helping us realize what is of value in life - in particlar, when it comes to helping us create a more enlightened, civilized world.
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  120. Nicholas Maxwell (1991). How Can We Build a Better World? In J. Mittelstrass (ed.), Einheit der Wissenschaften: Internationales Kolloquium der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, 25-27 June 1990. Walter de Gruyter.
    In order to make progress with solving our grave global problems we need to bring about a revolution in academia so that problems of living are given intellectual priority, and the basic intellectual aim becomes to seek and promote wisdom, and not just acquire knowledge.
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  121. Nicholas Maxwell (1988). Are Probabilism and Special Relativity Compatible? Philosophy of Science 55 (4):640-645.
    Are special relativity and probabilism compatible? Dieks argues that they are. But the possible universe he specifies, designed to exemplify both probabilism and special relativity, either incorporates a universal "now" (and is thus incompatible with special relativity), or amounts to a many world universe (which I have discussed, and rejected as too ad hoc to be taken seriously), or fails to have any one definite overall Minkowskian-type space-time structure (and thus differs drastically from special relativity as ordinarily understood). Probabilism and (...)
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  122. Nicholas Maxwell (1988). Quantum Propensiton Theory: A Testable Resolution of the Wave/Particle Dilemma. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (1):1-50.
    In this paper I put forward a new micro realistic, fundamentally probabilistic, propensiton version of quantum theory. According to this theory, the entities of the quantum domain - electrons, photons, atoms - are neither particles nor fields, but a new kind of fundamentally probabilistic entity, the propensiton - entities which interact with one another probabilistically. This version of quantum theory leaves the Schroedinger equation unchanged, but reinterprets it to specify how propensitons evolve when no probabilistic transitions occur. Probabilisitic transitions occur (...)
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  123. Nicholas Maxwell (1987). Wanted: A New Way of Thinking. New Scientist (14 May 1987):63.
    Our world is beset with appalling problems. To solve these urgent, intractable global problems it is not new scientific knowledge and technology that we need so much as new actions: new policies, new international relations, new institutions and social arrangements, new ways of living. The mere provision of scientific know-ledge and technological know-how cannot help much: indeed, all too often it actually makes matters worse. The dreadful truth is that science has played a crucial role, often unwittingly, in the creation (...)
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  124. Nicholas Maxwell (1986). The Fate of the Enlightenment: Reply to Kekes. Inquiry 29 (1-4):79-92.
    If humanity is to learn how to live together more cooperatively and wisely than at present, it is essential that we create a new kind of academic inquiry and education that is rationally devoted to helping us learn how to be cooperative and wise. This new kind of inquiry would give intellectual priority to articulating our problems of living, proposing and criticizing possible solutions, possible cooperative actions. The pursuit of knowledge would play a subordinate role. This in essence is the (...)
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  125. Nicholas Maxwell (1985). Are Probabilism and Special Relativity Incompatible? Philosophy of Science 52 (1):23-43.
    In this paper I expound an argument which seems to establish that probabilism and special relativity are incompatible. I examine the argument critically, and consider its implications for interpretative problems of quantum theory, and for theoretical physics as a whole.
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  126. Nicholas Maxwell (1985). Methodological Problems of Neuroscience. In David Rose & Vernon Dobson (eds.), Models of the Visual Cortex. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
    In this paper I argue that neuroscience has been harmed by the widespread adoption of seriously inadequate methodologies or philosophies of science - most notably inductivism and falsificationism. I argue that neuroscience, in seeking to understand the human brain and mind, needs to follow in the footsteps of evolution.
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  127. Nicholas Maxwell (1984). From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution in the Aims and Methods of Science. Basil Blackwell.
    This book argues for the need to put into practice a profound and comprehensive intellectual revolution, affecting to a greater or lesser extent all branches of scientific and technological research, scholarship and education. This intellectual revolution differs, however, from the now familiar kind of scientific revolution described by Kuhn. It does not primarily involve a radical change in what we take to be knowledge about some aspect of the world, a change of paradigm. Rather it involves a radical change in (...)
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  128. Nicholas Maxwell (1984). From Knowledge to Wisdom: Guiding Choices in Scientific Research. Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society 4:316-334..
    This article argues for the need to put into practice a profound and comprehensive intellectual revolution, affecting to a greater or lesser extent all branches of scientific and technological research, scholarship and education. This intellectual revolution differs, however, from the now familiar kind of scientific revolution described by Kuhn. It does not primarily involve a radical change in what we take to be knowledge about some aspect of the world, a change of paradigm. Rather it involves a radical change in (...)
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  129. Nicholas Maxwell (1982). Instead of Particles and Fields: A Micro Realistic Quantum "Smearon" Theory. [REVIEW] Foundatioins of Physics 12 (6):607-631.
    A fully micro realistic, propensity version of quantum theory is proposed, according to which fundamental physical entities - neither particles nor fields - have physical characteristics which determine probabilistically how they interact with one another (rather than with measuring instruments). The version of quantum "smearon" theory proposed here does not modify the equations of orthodox quantum theory: rather, it gives a radically new interpretation to these equations. It is argued that (i) there are strong general reasons for preferring quantum "smearon" (...)
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  130. Nicholas Maxwell (1980). Science, Reason, Knowledge, and Wisdom: A Critique of Specialism. Inquiry 23 (1):19 – 81.
    In this paper I argue for a kind of intellectual inquiry which has, as its basic aim, to help all of us to resolve rationally the most important problems that we encounter in our lives, problems that arise as we seek to discover and achieve that which is of value in life. Rational problem-solving involves articulating our problems, proposing and criticizing possible solutions. It also involves breaking problems up into subordinate problems, creating a tradition of specialized problem-solving - specialized scientific, (...)
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  131. Nicholas Maxwell (1979). Induction, Simplicity and Scientific Progress. Scientia 114:629-653.
    In a recent work, Popper claims to have solved the problem of induction. In this paper I argue that Popper fails both to solve the problem, and to formulate the problem properly. I argue, however, that there are aspects of Popper's approach which, when strengthened and developed, do provide a solution to at least an important part of the problem of induction, along somewhat Popperian lines. This proposed solution requires, and leads to, a new theory of the role of simplicity (...)
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  132. Nicholas Maxwell (1977). Articulating the Aims of Science. Nature 265 (January 6):2.
    Most scientists and philosophers of science take for granted the standard empiricist view that the basic intellectual aim of science is truth per se. But this seriously misrepresents the aims of scieince. Actually, science seeks explanatory truth and, more generally, important truth. Problematic metaphysical and value assumptions are inherent in the real aims of science. Precisely because these aims are profoundly problematic, they need to be articulated, imaginatively explored and critically assesseed, in order to improve them, as an integral part (...)
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  133. Nicholas Maxwell (1976). Towards a Micro Realistic Version of Quantum Mechanics, Part I. Foundations of Physics 6 (3):275-292.
    This paper investigates the possibiity of developing a fully micro realistic version of elementary quantum mechanics. I argue that it is highly desirable to develop such a version of quantum mechanics, and that the failure of all current versions and interpretations of quantum mechanics to constitute micro realistic theories is at the root of many of the interpretative problems associated with quantum mechanics, in particular the problem of measurement. I put forward a propensity micro realistic version of quantum mechanics, and (...)
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  134. Nicholas Maxwell (1976). Towards a Micro Realistic Version of Quantum Mechanics, Part II. Foundations of Physics 6 (6):661-676.
    In this paper, possible objections to the propensity microrealistic version of quantum mechanics proposed in Part I are answered. This version of quantum mechanics is compared with the statistical, particle microrealistic viewpoint, and a crucial experiment is proposed designed to distinguish between these to microrealistic versions of quantum mechanics.
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  135. Nicholas Maxwell (1976). What's Wrong with Science?: Towards a People's Rational Science of Delight and Compassion. Bran's Head Books Ltd.
    What ought to be the aims of science? How can science best serve humanity? What would an ideal science be like, a science that is sensitively and humanely responsive to the needs, problems and aspirations of people? How ought the institutional enterprise of science to be related to the rest of society? What ought to be the relationship between science and art, thought and feeling, reason and desire, mind and heart? Should the social sciences model themselves on the natural sciences: (...)
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  136. Nicholas Maxwell (1975). Does the Minimal Statistical Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics Resolve the Measurement Problem? Methodology and Science 8:84-101.
    It is argued that the so-called minimal statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics does not completely resolve the measurement problem in that this view is unable to show that quantjum mechanics can dispense with classical physics when it comes to a treatment of the measuring interaction. It is suggested that the view that quantum mechanics applies to individual systems should not be too hastily abandoned, in that this view gives perhaps the best hope of leading to a version of quantum mechanics (...)
     
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  137. Nicholas Maxwell (1974). The Rationality of Scientific Discovery Part II: An Aim Oriented Theory of Scientific Discovery. Philosophy of Science 41 (3):247-295.
    In Part I (Philosophy of Science, Vol. 41 No.2, June, 1974) it was argued that in order to rebut Humean sceptical arguments, and thus show that it is possible for pure science to be rational, we need to reject standard empiricism and adopt in its stead aim oriented empiricism. Part II seeks to articulate in more detail a theory of rational scientific discovery within the general framework of aim oriented empiricism. It is argued that this theory (a) exhibits pure science (...)
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  138. Nicholas Maxwell (1974). The Rationality of Scientific Discovery Part 1: The Traditional Rationality Problem. Philosophy of Science 41 (2):123--53.
    The basic task of the essay is to exhibit science as a rational enterprise. I argue that in order to do this we need to change quite fundamentally our whole conception of science. Today it is rather generally taken for granted that a precondition for science to be rational is that in science we do not make substantial assumptions about the world, or about the phenomena we are investigating, which are held permanently immune from empirical appraisal. According to this standard (...)
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  139. Nicholas Maxwell (1973). Alpha Partricle Emission and the Orthodox Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Physics Letters 43 (1):29-30.
    It is argued that Robinson's attempt to show that alpha particle emission contradicts orthodox quantum mechanics does not succeed. However, the possibility remains that alpha particle emission does contradict quantum mechanics.
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  140. Nicholas Maxwell (1973). The Problem of Measurement - Real or Imaginary? American Journal of Physics 41:1022-5.
    It is argued that criticisms of Willian Band and James Park concerning the quantum mechanics measurement problem do not succeed.
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  141. Nicholas Maxwell (1972). A Critique of Popper's Views on Scientific Method. Philosophy of Science 39 (2):131-152.
    This paper considers objections to Popper's views on scientific method. It is argued that criticism of Popper's views, developed by Kuhn, Feyerabend, and Lakatos, are not too damaging, although they do require that Popper's views be modified somewhat. It is argued that a much more serious criticism is that Popper has failed to provide us with any reason for holding that the methodological rules he advocates give us a better hope of realizing the aims of science than any other set (...)
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  142. Nicholas Maxwell (1972). A New Look at the Quantum Mechanical Problem of Measurement. American Journal of Physics 40:1431-5..
    According to orthodox quantum mechanics, state vectors change in two incompatible ways: "deterministically" in accordance with Schroedinger's time-dependent equation, and probabilistically if and only if a measurement is made. It is argued here that the problem of measurement arises because the precise mutually exclusive conditions for these two types of transitions to occur are not specified within orthodox quantum mechanics. Fundamentally, this is due to an inevitable ambiguity in the notion of "meawurement" itself. Hence, if the problem of measurement is (...)
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  143. Nicholas Maxwell (1971). Reviews. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 22 (4):81-83.
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  144. Nicholas Maxwell (1969). Reviews. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 20 (1):81-83.
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  145. Nicholas Maxwell (1968). Can There Be Necessary Connections Between Successive Events? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 19 (1):1-25.
    THE aim of this paper is to refute Hume's contention that there cannot be logically necessary connections between successive events. I intend to establish, in other words, not 'Logically necessary connections do exist between successive events', but instead the rather more modest proposition: 'It may be, it is possible, as far as we can ever know for certain, that logically necessary connections do exist between successive events.' Towards the end of the paper I shall say something about the implications of (...)
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  146. Nicholas Maxwell (1968). Understanding Sensations. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 46 (August):127-146.
    My aim in this paper is to defend a version of the brain process theory, or identity thesis, which differs in one important respect from the theory put forward by J.J.C. Smart. I shall argue that although the sensations which a person experiences are, as a matter of contingent fact, brain processes, nonetheless there are facts about sensations which cannot be described or understood in terms of any physical theory. These 'mental' facts cannot be described by physics for the simple (...)
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  147. Nicholas Maxwell (1966). Physics and Common Sense. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 16 (February):295-311.
    In this paper I set out to solve the problem of how the world as we experience it, full of colours and other sensory qualities, and our inner experiences, can be reconciled with physics. I discuss and reject the views of J. J. C. Smart and Rom Harré. I argue that physics is concerned only to describe a selected aspect of all that there is – the causal aspect which determines how events evolve. Colours and other sensory qualities, lacking causal (...)
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  148. Nicholas Maxwell, Is the Wisdom Revolution Underway?
    The world faces grave global problems. These have been made possible by modern science and technology. We have put knowledge-inquiry into academic practice – a seriously irrational kind of inquiry that seeks knowledge and technological know-how dissociated from a more fundamental concern to seek and promote wisdom. We urgently need to bring about a revolution in academic inquiry, so that knowledge-inquiry becomes wisdom-inquiry – a kind of inquiry rationally designed and devoted to helping humanity make progress towards a wiser world. (...)
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  149. Nicholas Maxwell, Text of TEDxUCL Talk: The Urgent Need for an Academic Revolution.
    We urgently need to bring about a revolution in academic inquiry so that the basic aim becomes, not just knowledge, but rather wisdom, construed to be the capacity and active endeavour to realize what is of value in life for oneself and others, wisdom thus including knowledge and technological know-how, but much else besides. A basic task of academia ought to be to help humanity learn how to make progress towards as good a world as possible.
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  150. Nicholas Maxwell, What’s Wrong With Aim-Oriented Empiricism?
    For four decades it has been argued that we need to adopt a new conception of science called aim-oriented empiricism. This has far-reaching implications and repercussions for science, the philosophy of science, academic inquiry in general, conception of rationality, and how we go about attempting to make progress towards as good a world as possible. Despite these far-reaching repercussions, aim-oriented empiricism has so far received scant attention from philosophers of science. Here, sixteen objections to the validity of the argument for (...)
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