Ellis, Brian Humanism has a lot to offer the world. It is not just an individual moral philosophy, although it includes such a philosophy. Nor is it just a political program, although it implies one. The theory of social humanism, which was developed in a book I published last year, is both a moral and a political philosophy. It is socially democratic, and morally and politically humanistic.
While the phrase "metaphysics of science" has been used from time to time, it has only recently begun to denote a specific research area where metaphysics meets philosophy of science—and the sciences themselves. The essays in this volume demonstrate that metaphysics of science is an innovative field of research in its own right. The principal areas covered are: (1) The modal metaphysics of properties: What is the essential nature of natural properties? Are all properties essentially categorical? Are they all essentially (...) dispositions, or are some categorical and others dispositional? (2) Realism in mathematics and its relation to science: What does a naturalistic commitment of scientific realism tell us about our commitments to mathematical entities? Can this question be framed in something other than a Quinean philosophy? (3) Dispositions and their relation to causation: Can we generate an account of causation that takes dispositionality as fundamental? And if we take dispositions as fundamental (and hence not having a categorical causal basis), what is the ontological ground of dispositions? (4) Pandispositionalism: Could all properties be dispositional in nature? (5) Natural kinds: Are there natural kinds, and if so what account of their nature should we give? For example, do they have essences? Here we consider how these issues may be illuminated by considering examples from reals science, in particular biochemistry and neurobiology. (shrink)
In this book, Ellis argues that moral and political objectives are not independent of one other, and so must be pursued in tandem. Social humanism is a moral and political philosophy that does just this.
Ellis, Brian Humanists have an unconditional concern for the wellbeing and dignity of humankind. They are fundamentally concerned with increasing the overall quality of people's lives, regardless of their behaviour, and to treat people with respect. They seek to do so by promoting the development of people's natural talents and inculcating attitudes of mutual respect and tolerance. Their central idea is that every person should be treated with equal concern for their good.
A theory of morality acceptable to humanists must be one that can be accepted independently of religion. In this paper, I argue that while there is such a theory, it is a non-standard one, and its acceptance would have some far-reaching consequences. As one might expect, the theory is similar to others in various ways. But it is not the same as any of them. Indeed, it is a radically new theory. Like Hume’s ethics, it is founded on our natural (...) sociability, and feelings of empathy for others. Like Aristotle’s theory, it incorporates an ethics of virtue. Like Kant’s theory, it regards the set of moral principles as those appropriate for a socially ideal society. But unlike Kant’s theory, it is essentially utilitarian. I call it ‘social contractual utilitarianism’. (shrink)
If one believes, as Hume did, that all events are loose and separate, then the problem of induction is probably insoluble. Anything could happen. But if one thinks, as scientific essentialists do, that the laws of nature are immanent in the world, and depend on the essential natures of things, then there are strong constraints on what could possibly happen. Given these constraints, the problem of induction may be soluble. For these constraints greatly strengthen the case for conceptual and theoretical (...) conservatism, and rule out Goodmanesque inferences based on alternative descriptions of the world. This may not, in itself, solve the problem, but it significantly changes its nature. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that there are categorical properties as well as causal powers, and that the world would not exist as we know it without them. For categorical properties are needed to define the powers—to locate them, and to specify their laws of action. These categorical properties, I shall argue, are not dispositional. For their identities do not depend on what they dispose their bearers to do. They are, as Alexander Bird would say, ’quiddities’. But (...) there is nothing wrong with quiddities. And, in the second half of this paper, I shall defend the thesis that all categorical properties are quiddities. (shrink)
The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data were used to test predictions from life history theory. We hypothesized that (1) in young adulthood an emerging life history strategy would exist as a common factor underlying many life history traits (e.g., health, relationship stability, economic success), (2) both environmental harshness and unpredictability would account for unique variance in expression of adolescent and young adult life history strategies, and (3) adolescent life history traits would predict young adult life history strategy. These (...) predictions were supported. The current findings suggest that the environmental parameters of harshness and unpredictability have concurrent effects on life history development in adolescence, as well as longitudinal effects into young adulthood. In addition, life history traits appear to be stable across developmental time from adolescence into young adulthood. (shrink)
The current paper synthesizes theory and data from the field of life history (LH) evolution to advance a new developmental theory of variation in human LH strategies. The theory posits that clusters of correlated LH traits (e.g., timing of puberty, age at sexual debut and first birth, parental investment strategies) lie on a slow-to-fast continuum; that harshness (externally caused levels of morbidity-mortality) and unpredictability (spatial-temporal variation in harshness) are the most fundamental environmental influences on the evolution and development of LH (...) strategies; and that these influences depend on population densities and related levels of intraspecific competition and resource scarcity, on age schedules of mortality, on the sensitivity of morbidity-mortality to the organism’s resource-allocation decisions, and on the extent to which environmental fluctuations affect individuals versus populations over short versus long timescales. These interrelated factors operate at evolutionary and developmental levels and should be distinguished because they exert distinctive effects on LH traits and are hierarchically operative in terms of primacy of influence. Although converging lines of evidence support core assumptions of the theory, many questions remain unanswered. This review demonstrates the value of applying a multilevel evolutionary-developmental approach to the analysis of a central feature of human phenotypic variation: LH strategy. (shrink)
Del Giudice's model of sex-specific attachment patterns demonstrates the usefulness of infusing life history theory with principles of sexual selection. We believe a full synthesis between the two theories provides a foundation for a comprehensive model of alternative reproductive strategies. We extend Del Giudice's ideas based on our own program of research, focusing specifically on the importance of intrasexual competition and the individual phenotype during development.
For scientific essentialists, the only logical possibilities of existence are the real (or metaphysical) ones, and such possibilities, they say, are relative to worlds. They are not a priori, and they cannot just be invented. Rather, they are discoverable only by the a posteriori methods of science. There are, however, many philosophers who think that real possibilities are knowable a priori, or that they can just be invented. Marc Lange [Lange 2004] thinks that they can be invented, and tries to (...) use his inventions to argue that the essentialist theory of counterfactual conditionals developed in Scientific Essentialism [Ellis 2001, hereafter SE] is flawed. (shrink)
Scientific Essentialism defends the view that the fundamental laws of nature depend on the essential properties of the things on which they are said to operate, and are therefore not independent of them. These laws are not imposed upon the world by God, the forces of nature, or anything else, but rather are immanent in the world. Ellis argues that ours is a dynamic world consisting of more or less transient objects which are constantly interacting with each other, and whose (...) identities depend on their roles in these processes. Natural objects must behave as they do, because to do otherwise would be contrary to their natures. The laws of nature are, therefore, metaphysically necessary, and consequently, there are necessary connections between events. Brian Ellis calls for the rejection of the theory of Humean Supervenience and an implementation of a new kind of realism in philosophical analysis. (shrink)
The publication of Circular 14/93 'Initial Training of Primary School Teachers' (DfE 1993) sees yet another attempt to redefine and control the objectives, methods, outcomes and location of initial teacher education. It implies changes in the role of subject studies in initial teacher education, although its prescriptions in this regard are elusive. The interpretation and implications of these changes for subject studies are the focus of this paper. It reviews the current role of subject studies in primary initial teacher education (...) and outlines those elements of the Circular which will impact upon those roles. Inconsistencies in the Circular are identified. Critiques of the current role of subject studies are used to suggest how the generalised statements about levels of competence in the Circular can be expanded to redefine subject studies. The paper sets out the criteria subject studies will have to adopt to enact the expanded and more clearly defined roles required if they are to meet the objectives of the Circular. The paper specifically addresses the implications for subject studies courses of differentiated subject training for specialist and generalist primary school teachers. (shrink)
Traditionally, forces are causes of a special sort. Forces have been conceived to be the direct or immediate causes of things. Other sorts of causes act indirectly by producing forces which are transmitted in various ways to produce various effects. However, forces are supposed to act directly without the mediation of anything else. But forces, so conceived, appear to be occult. They are mysterious, because we have no clear conception of what they are, as opposed to what they are postulated (...) to do; and they seem to be hidden from direct observations. There is, therefore, strong initial motivation for trying to eliminate forces from physics. Furthermore, as we shall explain, powerful arguments can be mounted to show that theories with forces can always be recast as theories without them. Hence it seems that forces should be eliminated, in the interests of simplicity. We argue, however, that forces should not be eliminated--just differently construed. For the effect of elimination is to leave us without any adequate account of the causal relationships forces were postulated to explain. And this would remain the case, even if forces could be identified with some merely dispositional properties of physical systems. In our view, forces are species of the causal relation itself, and as such have a different ontological status from the sorts of entities normally considered to be related as causes to effects. (shrink)
I argue in this paper that anyone who accepts the ontology of scientific realism can only accept a pragmatic theory of truth, i.e., a theory on which truth is what it is epistemically right to believe. But the combination of realism with such a theory of truth is a form of internal realism; therefore, a scientific realist should be an internal realist. The strategy of the paper is to argue that there is no adequate semantic or correspondence theory of truth (...) compatible with a realist ontology, that a redundancy theory cannot account for the value of truth, and that the only kind of truth theory which can account for the value of truth, and is compatible with a realist ontology, is a pragmatic theory. The kind of truth theory I wish to defend is objective and naturalistic, and the ontology is realistic. My position is, therefore, one of objective, naturalistic realism. (shrink)
This paper is a response to the "panel discussion of simultaneity by slow clock transport in the special and general theories of relativity" ("philosophy of science", 36, (march, 1969), Pp. 1-81) which arose out of a paper by brian ellis and peter bowman on "conventionality in distant simultaneity", ("philosophy of science", 34, (june, 1967), Pp. 116-36). It is argued that the basic disagreement between the pittsburgh panel and us is an epistemological one. In particular, Our concept of a good physical (...) reason is radically different from the pittsburgh panel's. For us the known existence of a number of concordant, Isotropic, And logically independent criteria for distant simultaneity, And the non-Existence of any known discordant but isotropic criteria for distant simultaneity is a good physical reason for choosing one of these criteria. For the pittsburgh panel it is not. (shrink)