Generic statements (e.g., “Birds lay eggs”) express generalizations about categories. In this paper, we hypothesized that there is a paradoxical asymmetry at the core of generic meaning, such that these sentences have extremely strong implications but require little evidence to be judged true. Four experiments confirmed the hypothesized asymmetry: Participants interpreted novel generics such as “Lorches have purple feathers” as referring to nearly all lorches, but they judged the same novel generics to be true given a wide range of prevalence (...) levels (e.g., even when only 10% or 30% of lorches had purple feathers). A second hypothesis, also confirmed by the results, was that novel generic sentences about dangerous or distinctive properties would be more acceptable than generic sentences that were similar but did not have these connotations. In addition to clarifying important aspects of generics’ meaning, these findings are applicable to a range of real-world processes such as stereotyping and political discourse. (shrink)
Sober (1992) has recently evaluated Brandon's (1982, 1990; see also 1985, 1988) use of Salmon's (1971) concept of screening-off in the philosophy of biology. He critiques three particular issues, each of which will be considered in this discussion.
Roger Sansom and Robert N. Brandon (eds.): Integrating Evolution and Development: From Theory to Practice Content Type Journal Article Pages 81-86 DOI 10.1007/s10441-010-9121-x Authors Thomas A. C. Reydon, Institute of Philosophy & Center for Philosophy and Ethics of Science (ZEWW), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Im Moore 21, 30167 Hannover, Germany Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342 Journal Volume Volume 59 Journal Issue Volume 59, Number 1.
This paper addresses D. C. Williams’s question, “How can Leibniz know that he is a member of the actual world and not merely a possible monad on the shelf of essence?” A variety of answers are considered. Ultimately, it is argued that no particular perception of a state of affairs in the world can warrant knowledge of one’s actuality, nor can the awareness of any property within oneself; rather, it is the nature of experience itself, with the flow of perceptions, (...) that guarantees our actuality. A consequence of this view is that no non-actual individuals can truly be said to experience their worlds, nor can they ask the question if they are actual or not. (shrink)
One of the more interesting topics debated by Leibniz and Locke and one that has received comparatively little critical commentary is the nature of essences and the classification of the natural world.1 This topic, moreover, is of tremendous importance, occupying a position at the intersection of the metaphysics of individual beings, modality, epistemology, and philosophy of language. And, while it goes back to Plato, who wondered if we could cut nature at its joints, as Nicholas Jolley has pointed out, the (...) debate between Leibniz and Locke has very clear similarities to the topic that has dominated the philosophy of language from the 1970s on: namely, the challenge mounted by Kripke, Kaplan, Putnam, and others against Russellian and Fregean descriptivist accounts of meaning. Yet, this topic is also, as Jolley writes, one of the “most elusive” in the debate between Leibniz and Locke.2 The purpose of this paper is to examine in detail Leibniz’s critique of Locke’s distinction between real and nominal essences. In doing so, I <span class='Hi'>hope</span> to show certain virtues in Leibniz’s account of metaphysics and philosophy of language that usually escape notice. While I wish to provide a general account of Leibniz’s disagreement with Locke, I also plan to focus on the nature of species and natural kinds. In my opinion, those who have treated this topic have not paid sufficient attention to Leibniz’s claims that “Essence is fundamentally nothing but the possibility of the thing under consideration” (A VI, vi, 293) and “essences are everlasting because they only concern.. (shrink)
This essay examines arguments offered in support of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) by Leibniz and his followers as well as Hume's critique of the PSR. It is shown that Leibniz has a defensible argument for the PSR, whereas the arguments of his self-proclaimed followers are weak. Thus, Hume's challenge is met by Leibniz, by Wolff and Baumgarten not so much.
Recently, much philosophical discussion has centered on the best way to characterize the concepts of random drift and natural selection, and, in particular, whether selection and drift can be conceptually distinguished (Beatty, 1984; Brandon, 2005; Hodge, 1983, 1987; Millstein, 2002, 2005; Pfeifer, 2005; Shanahan, 1992; Stephens, 2004). These authors all contend, to a greater or lesser degree, that their concepts make sense of biological practice. So it should be instructive to see how the concepts of drift and selection were distinguished (...) by the disputants in a high-profile debate; debates such as these often force biologists to take a more philosophical turn, discussing the concepts at issue in greater detail than usual. Moreover, it is important to consider a debate where the disputants are actually trying to apply the models of population genetics to natural populations; only then can their proper interpretations become fully apparent. (Indeed, I contend that some of the philosophical confusion has arisen because authors have considered only the models themselves, and not the phenomena that the models are attempting to represent). A prime candidate for just such a case study is what Provine (1986) has termed “The Great Snail Debate,” that is, the debates over the highly polymorphic land snails Cepaea nemoralis and C. hortensis in the 1950s and early 1960s. These studies represent one of the best, if not the best, of the early attempts to demonstrate drift in natural populations. (shrink)
That Leibniz finds the philosophy of Spinoza horrifyingly wrong is obvious to anyone who reads Leibniz’s work; that Leibniz finds Spinozism so seductive that his own system is in danger of collapsing into it is less obvious but, I believe, equally true. The difference here is not so much between an exoteric and an esoteric philosophy suggested by Russell2 but between a thorough-going rationalism on the part of Spinoza and Leibniz’s “mitigated rationalism” – mitigated by the exigencies of his orthodox (...) Christianity. In other words, it is Leibniz’s traditional view of the nature of God and his creatures that leads him to abhor Spinoza’s vision, while his own commitment to a number of principles and ideas pushes him to rationalism. And if Kant is right that the mind naturally desires a system, then Leibniz ought to see the Spinozistic consequences of many of his philosophical principles. Of course, there is nothing new in saying that the God of Spinoza and the God of Leibniz are fundamentally different, but I believe that if we focus on Leibniz’s critique of Spinoza’s account of the nature of God and a constellation of related concepts, we can come to a deeper understanding of the thought of both philosophers. (shrink)
In a short piece written most likely in the 1690s and given the title by Loemker of “On Wisdom,” Leibniz says the following: “...we see that happiness, pleasure, love, perfection, being, power, freedom, harmony, order, and beauty are all tied to each other, a truth which is rightly perceived by few.”1 Why is this? That is, why or how are these concepts tied to each other? And, why have so few understood this relation? Historians of philosophy are familiar with the (...) fact that both Spinoza and Leibniz place strong emphasis on the notion of power in giving their accounts of the human passions. But, while many scholars have explicated the relation between power and the passions (especially in Spinoza’s philosophy), there has been considerably less attention given to the nature of perfection and its relation to both power and the passions.2 Consider the following passages from Spinoza and Leibniz in which these two thinkers seem to bring together the issue of perfection and passion. In Ethics IIIp11s, Spinoza says the following: We see, then, that the Mind can undergo great changes, and pass now to a greater, now to a lesser perfection. These passions, indeed, explain to us the affects of Joy and Sadness. By Joy, therefore, I shall understand in what follows that passion by which the Mind passes to a greater perfection. And by Sadness, that passion by which it passes to a lesser perfection. The affect of Joy which is related to the Mind and Body at once I call Pleasure or Cheerfulness, and that of Sadness, Pain or Melancholy.3 And, in the Monadology §49, Leibniz says this: “The creature is said to act externally insofar as it is perfect, and to be acted upon [patir] by another, insofar as it is imperfect.”4 In other words, for Spinoza, the primitive passions of joy and sadness are cases in which a being’s perfection is increasing or decreasing, while, for Leibniz, any passion, it would.. (shrink)
In the main article on Leibniz, it was claimed that Leibniz's philosophy can be seen as a reaction to the Cartesian theory of corporeal substance and the necessitarianism of Spinoza and Hobbes. This entry will address this second aspect of his philosophy. In the course of his writings, Leibniz developed an approach to questions of modality—necessity, possibility, contingency—that not only served an important function within his general metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophical theology but also has continuing interest today. Indeed, it has..
This is the first book to explore the cognitive science of effortless attention and action. Attention and action are generally understood to require effort, and the expectation is that under normal circumstances effort increases to meet rising demand. Sometimes, however, attention and action seem to flow effortlessly despite high demand. Effortless attention and action have been documented across a range of normal activities--from rock climbing to chess playing--and yet fundamental questions about the cognitive science of effortlessness have gone largely unasked. (...) -/- This book draws from the disciplines of cognitive psychology, neurophysiology, behavioral psychology, genetics, philosophy, and cross-cultural studies. Starting from the premise that the phenomena of effortless attention and action provide an opportunity to test current models of attention and action, leading researchers from around the world examine topics including effort as a cognitive resource, the role of effort in decision making, the neurophysiology of effortless attention and action, the role of automaticity in effortless action, expert performance in effortless action, and the neurophysiology and benefits of attentional training. -/- Contributors: Joshua M. Ackerman, James H. Austin, John A. Bargh, Roy F. Baumeister, Sian L. Beilock, Chris Blais, Matthew M. Botvinick, Brian Bruya, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Marci S. DeCaro, Arne Dietrich, Yuri Dormashev, László Harmat, Bernhard Hommel, Rebecca Lewthwaite, Örjan de Manzano, Joseph T. McGuire, Brian P. Meier, Arlen C. Moller, Jeanne Nakamura, Evgeny N. Osin, Michael I. Posner, Mary K. Rothbart, M. R. Rueda, Brandon J. Schmeichel, Edward Slingerland, Oliver Stoll, Yiyuan Tang, Töres Theorell, Fredrik Ullén, Robert D. Wall, Gabriele Wulf. (shrink)
According to the standard view of his metaphysics, Leibniz endorses idealism: the thesis that the world is made up solely of minds or monads and their perceptual and appetitive states. Recently,this view has been challenged by some scholars, who argue that Leibniz can be seen as admitting corporeal substances, that is, animals or embodied souls, into his ontology, and that, therefore, it is false to attribute a strict idealism to him. Subtler accounts suggest that Leibniz begins his philosophical career as (...) an advocate of (some form of) the modern ‘mechanical’ philosophy and ends his career as an idealist, raising the issue when and why Leibniz adopts his monadological metaphysics. This article argues that, given a constellation of metaphysical, logical, and theological views, Leibniz is committed to the ontological primacy of mind or form even in his ‘middle years’. (shrink)
Beschäftigung mit der Philosophie, selbst wenn keine positiven Ergebnisse herauskommen (sondern ich ratlos bleibe), ist auf jeden Fall wohltätig. Es hat die Wirkung (dass „die Farbe heller“), d.h., dass die Realität deutlicher als solche erscheint. – Kurt Gödel..
Kant’s Thinker is an excellent and important addition to the literature. In it, Patricia Kitcher aims at arriving at a comprehensive understanding of Kant’s theory of the cognitive subject. To this end, she analyzes a central component of the most notoriously difficult part of the Critique of Pure Reason, the theory of the unity of apperception in the chapter on the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories. In Kitcher’s view, the ultimate payoff of such a study is that Kant’s theory can (...) “provide a ‘new’ source of illumination for current attempts to understand the nature of cognition and the mind” (3). This may be so. But the main value of the book will likely be for Kant scholars, who will appreciate the depth .. (shrink)
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) was one of the great thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and is known as the last “universal genius”. He made deep and important contributions to the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, logic, philosophy of religion, as well as mathematics, physics, geology, jurisprudence, and history. Even the eighteenth century French atheist and materialist Denis Diderot, whose views could not have stood in greater opposition to those of Leibniz, could not help being awed by his achievement, writing (...) in his Encyclopedia, “Perhaps never has a man read as much, studied as much, meditated more, and written more than Leibniz… What he has composed on the world, God, nature, and the soul is of the most sublime eloquence. If his ideas had been expressed with the flair of Plato, the philosopher of Leipzig would cede nothing to the philosopher of Athens.” (Vol. 9, p. 379) Indeed, Diderot's mood was almost despairing in a remark from another piece, which also has a great deal of truth in it: “When one compares the talents one has with those of a Leibniz, one is tempted to throw away one's books and go die quietly in the dark of some forgotten corner.” More than a century later, Gottlob Frege, who fortunately did not cast his books away in despair, expressed similar admiration, declaring that “in his writings, Leibniz threw out such a profusion of seeds of ideas that in this respect he is virtually in a class of his own.” (“Boole's logical Calculus and the Concept script” in Posthumous Writings , p. 9) The aim of this entry is primarily to introduce Leibniz's life and summarize and explicate his views in the realms of metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical theology, and natural philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper, the author examines Leibniz inconsistent treatments of the existence predicate in his formulations of the ontological argument and elsewhere. It is shown that, contrary to expectations, Leibniz at times adumbrates insights often attributed to Kant and Frege.
Summary In his book Serpentum et Draconum Historiae Libri Duo, the sixteenth-century Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi described and illustrated an alleged dragon that had supposedly been killed in 1572. The ?dragon? became famous and was the centrepiece of Aldrovandi's museum. The specimen, a long-necked, long-tailed, scale-covered biped with a thickened torso and a forked tongue, was unlike any currently known bipedal animal and is therefore suspicious. Even so, an explicit description of its true nature has not been published before now. (...) Here we examine Aldrovandi's description and illustration, compare these with extant animals, and conclude that the specimen was a taxidermic hoax. It was made by attaching the forelimbs of a common toad (Bufo bufo) to a European grass snake (Natrix natrix) the midsection of which had been replaced by that of a fish. Fake dragons abounded in the museums of Renaissance Europe, but only in a few cases has the mystery of their true nature been investigated. Aldrovandi's dragon can now be added to the list of such solved zoological mysteries. (shrink)
Evolutionary psychology purports to explain human capacities as adaptations to an ancestral environment. A complete explanation of human language or human reasoning as adaptations depends on assessing an historical claim, that these capacities evolved under the pressure of natural selection and are prevalent because they provided systematic advantages to our ancestors. An outline of the character of the information needed in order to offer complete adaptation explanations is drawn from Robert Brandon (1990), and explanations offered for the evolution of language (...) and reasoning within evolutionary psychology are evaluated. Pinker and Bloom's (1992) defense of human language as an adaptation for verbal communication, Robert Nozick's (1993) account of the evolutionary origin of rationality, and Cosmides and Tooby's (1992) explanation of human reasoning as an adaptation for social exchange, are discussed in light of what is known, and what is not known, about the history of human evolution. In each case, though a plausible case is made that these capacities are adaptations, there is not enough known to offer even a semblance of an explanation of the origin of these capacities. These explanations of the origin of human thought and language are simply speculations lacking the kind of detailed historical information required for an evolutionary explanation of an adaptation. (shrink)
Notiones sunt Entium, aut Respectuum. Entia sunt Res aut Modi. Res sunt substantiae aut phaenomenae. Substantiae sunt vel simplices vel compositae. Substantia simplex est Monas; Monas autem est vel primitiva Deus, a quo omnia; vel derivativa. Et ha[e]c vel perceptiva tantum, vel etiam sensitiva; et haec vel sensitiva tantum vel etiam intellectiva quae et spiritus appellatur. Rursus Monas vel est Anima corporis vel est separata; haec vel creata (ut plerique volunt etsi ego an creata sint monades corporis complures dubito) vel (...) increata Deus. Substantia composita est quae Unum reale. Huc enim ponere necesse est aut statuere solas Monades esse res; composita autem esse mera phaenomena. Phaenomena sunt aggregata ex substantiis, quae de certo modo exhibent[iii] percipienti, atque ita inter substantiarum [aggregata] a nobis considerantur.[iv] Uti per nostram cogitationem phenomena ex substantiis oriuntur, ita per Divinam Cogitationem oriuntur ex substantiis simplicibus composita, posito in Deo praeter intellectum accedere voluntatem, ut fiat ex multis unum; nam si tantum multa simul consideraret, phaenomena ex iis seu aggregata faceret, uti cum deus novit iridem aut eius proprietates. At cum inde debet oriri [seu] resultare novum Ens, oportet ut accedat divina voluntas. Porro hujus novi Entis partes non sunt Monades, sed sunt ejus fundamenta, uti puncta non sunt partes lineae. Hoc novum Ens constat ex materia et forma. Materia est ortum totale ex viribus passivis omnium Monadum; et Forma est ortum totale ex entelechiis primitivis omnium Monadum. Et hoc ortum cum non sit Modus sed aliquid absolutum[,] posset conservari a Deo destructis monadibus, et vicissim ipso destructo possent conservari Monades. Atque hoc est substantia corporea, quae est in perpetuu fluxu quam . Porro modificationes sunt accidentia quae ex accidentibus Monadum oriuntur.. (shrink)
This paper offers an account of the relationship between inference and explanation in functional morphology which combines Robert Brandon's theory of adaptation explanation with standard accounts of inference to the best explanation. Inferences of function from structure, it is argued, are inferences to the best adaptation explanation. There are, however, three different approaches to the problem of determining which adaptation explanation is the best. The theory of inference to the best adaptation explanation is then applied to a case study from (...) the history of functional morphology: the case of the crested duckbilled dinosaurs. (shrink)
Selection operates at many levels. Robert Brandon has distinguished the question of the level of selection from the unit of selection, arguing that the phenotype is commonly the target of selection, whatever the unit of selection might be. He uses "screening off" as a criterion for distinguishing the level of selection. Cave animals show a common morphological pattern which includes hypertrophy of some structures and reduction or loss of others. In a study of a cave dwelling crustacean, Gammarus minus, (...) we find evidence for selection for both increased antennal size and reduction of eyes. The genetic structure of the population does not support the view that the phenotype screens off the genotype in explaining the differences in fitness. Nonetheless, the results do indicate that the level of selection is at least at the level of the phenotype in both cases. (shrink)