We argue that Descartes’s theistic proofs in the ’Meditations’ are much simpler and straightforward than they are traditionally taken to be. In particular, we show how the causal argument of the "Third Meditation" depends on the intuitively innocent principle that nothing comes from nothing, and not on the more controversial principle that the objective reality of an idea must have a cause with at least as much formal reality. We also demonstrate that the so-called ontological "argument" of the "Fifth Meditation" (...) is best understood not as a formal proof but as an axiom, revealed as self-evident by analytic meditation. (shrink)
This book is a wide-ranging examination of rationalist thought in philosophy from ancient times to the present day. Written by a superbly qualified cast of philosophers. Critically analyses the concept of rationalism. Focuses principally on the golden age of rationalism in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Also covers ancient rationalism, nineteenth-century rationalism, and rationalist themes in recent thought. Organised chronologically. Various philosophical methods and viewpoints are represented.
Good scientific explanations sometimes appear to make use of averages. Using concrete examples from current economic theory, I argue that some confusions about how averages might work in explanations lead to both philosophical and economic problems about the interpretation of the theory. I formulate general conditions on potentially proper uses of averages to refine a notion of average explanation. I then try to show how this notion provides a means for resolving longstanding philosophical problems in economics and other quantitative social (...) sciences. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between modern theories of microeconomics and macroeconomics and, more generally, it evaluates the prospects of theoretically reducing macroeconomics to microeconomics. Many economists have shown strong interest in providing "microfoundations" for macroeconomics and much of their work is germane to the issue of theoretical reduction. Especially relevant is the work that has been done on what is called The Problem of Aggregation. On some accounts, The Problem of Aggregation just is the problem of reducing macroeconomics to (...) microeconomics. I show how to separate these problems and then try to determine to what extent particular kinds of solutions to The Problem of Aggregation succeed in reducing macroeconomics to microeconomics as well. I argue that reduction is not possible by this means given the current state of microeconomics. I also describe how reduction may be possible by means of (dis)aggregation if microeconomics is supplemented in a certain way with the results of experimental research on individual economic agents. (shrink)