In this interview, Christopher Norris discusses a wide range of issues having to do with postmodernism, deconstruction and other controversial topics of debate within present-day philosophy and critical theory. More specifically he challenges the view of deconstruction as just another offshoot of the broader postmodernist trend in cultural studies and the social sciences. Norris puts the case for deconstruction as continuing the 'unfinished project of modernity' and—in particular—for Derrida's work as sustaining the values of enlightened critical reason in (...) various spheres of thought from epistemology to ethics, sociology and politics. Along the way he addresses a number of questions that have lately been raised with particular urgency for teachers and educationalists, among them the revival of creationist doctrine and the idea of scientific knowledge as a social, cultural, or discursive construct. In this context he addresses the 'science wars' or the debate between those who uphold t. (shrink)
This paper argues that human motility is essentially bound up in a pre-reflective being-in-the-world, and that contemporary science seems to bear out some of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological explorations in this area.
Quantum Theory and the Flight from Realism is a critical introduction to the long-standing debate concerning the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics, and the problems it has posed for physicists and philosophers from Einstein to the present. Quantum theory has been a major influence on postmodernism, and presents significant challenges for realists. Clarifying these debates for the non-specialist, Christopher Norris examines the premises of orthodox quantum theory and its impact on various philosophical developments. He subjects a wide range of (...) opponents and supporters of realism to a high and equal level of scrutiny. Combining rigor and intellectual generosity, he draws out the merits and weaknesses from opposing arguments. (shrink)
In this book Christopher Norris develops the case for scientific realism by tackling various adversary arguments from a range of anti-realist positions. Through a close critical reading he shows how they fail to make adequate sense on any rational, consistent and scientifically informed survey of the evidence. Along the way he incorporates a number of detailed case-studies from the history and philosophy of science. Norris devotes much of his discussion to some of the most prominent and widely influential (...) source-texts of anti-realism. Also included are the sophisticated versions of verificationism developed by thinkers such as Michael Dummett and Bas van Fraassen. Central to Norris's argument is a prolonged engagement with the once highly influential but nowadays neglected work of Norwood Russell Hanson. This book will be welcomed especially by readers who possess some knowledge of the background debate and who wish to deepen and extend their understanding of these issues beyond an introductory level. (shrink)
Top-down feedback does not benefit speech recognition; on the contrary, it can hinder it. No experimental data imply that feedback loops are required for speech recognition. Feedback is accordingly unnecessary and spoken word recognition is modular. To defend this thesis, we analyse lexical involvement in phonemic decision making. TRACE (McClelland & Elman 1986), a model with feedback from the lexicon to prelexical processes, is unable to account for all the available data on phonemic decision making. The modular Race model (Cutler (...) & Norris 1979) is likewise challenged by some recent results, however. We therefore present a new modular model of phonemic decision making, the Merge model. In Merge, information flows from prelexical processes to the lexicon without feedback. Because phonemic decisions are based on the merging of prelexical and lexical information, Merge correctly predicts lexical involvement in phonemic decisions in both words and nonwords. Computer simulations show how Merge is able to account for the data through a process of competition between lexical hypotheses. We discuss the issue of feedback in other areas of language processing and conclude that modular models are particularly well suited to the problems and constraints of speech recognition. Key Words: computational modeling; feedback; lexical processing; modularity; phonemic decisions; reading; speech recognition; word recognition. (shrink)
Norris presents a series of closely linked chapters on recent developments in epistemology, philosophy of language, cognitive science, literary theory, musicology and other related fields. While to this extent adopting an interdisciplinary approach, Norris also very forcefully challenges the view that the academic "disciplines" as we know them are so many artificial constructs of recent date and with no further role than to prop up existing divisions of intellectual labour. He makes his case through some exceptionally acute revisionist (...) readings of diverse thinkers such as Derrida, Paul de Man, Wittgenstein, Chomsky, Michael Dummett and John McDowell. In each instance Norris stresses the value of bringing various trans-disciplinary perspectives to bear while none-the-less maintaining adequate standards of area-specific relevance and method. Most importantly he asserts the central role of recent developments in cognitive science as pointing a way beyond certain otherwise intractable problems in philosophy of mind and language. (shrink)
Abstract Flax seedlings grown in the absence of environmental stimuli, stresses and injuries do not form epidermal meristems in their hypocotyls. Such meristems do form when the stimuli are combined with a transient depletion of calcium. These stimuli include the “manipulation stimulus” resulting from transferring the seedlings from germination to growth conditions. If, after a stimulus, calcium depletion is delayed, meristem production is also delayed; in other words, the meristem-production instruction can be memorised. Memorisation includes both storage and recall of (...) information. Here, we focus on information recall. We show that if the first transient calcium depletion is followed by a second transient depletion there is a new round of meristem production. We also show that if an excess of calcium follows calcium depletion, meristem production is blocked; but if the excess of calcium is in turn followed by another calcium depletion, again there is a new round of meristem production. The same stored information can thus be recalled repeatedly (at least twice). We describe a conceptual model that takes into account these findings. Content Type Journal Article Category Regular Article Pages 1-15 DOI 10.1007/s10441-012-9145-5 Authors Marie-Claire Verdus, Laboratoire AMMIS (Assemblages Moléculaires, Modélisation et Imagerie SIMS), CNRS (GDR DYCOEC), Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Université de Rouen, 76821 Mont-Saint-Aignan Cedex, France Camille Ripoll, Laboratoire AMMIS (Assemblages Moléculaires, Modélisation et Imagerie SIMS), CNRS (GDR DYCOEC), Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Université de Rouen, 76821 Mont-Saint-Aignan Cedex, France Vic Norris, Laboratoire AMMIS (Assemblages Moléculaires, Modélisation et Imagerie SIMS), CNRS (GDR DYCOEC), Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Université de Rouen, 76821 Mont-Saint-Aignan Cedex, France Michel Thellier, Laboratoire AMMIS (Assemblages Moléculaires, Modélisation et Imagerie SIMS), CNRS (GDR DYCOEC), Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Université de Rouen, 76821 Mont-Saint-Aignan Cedex, France Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342. (shrink)
This essay takes Badiou’s recently published book as an opportunity to discuss not only his complex (though generally hostile) approach to Wittgenstein but also his evolving critical stance in relation to various other movements in present-day philosophical thought. In particular it examines his distinction between ‘sophistics’ and ‘anti-philosophy’, as developed very largely through his series of encounters with Wittgenstein. Beyond that, I offer some brief remarks about the role of set-theoretical concepts in Badiou’s thinking and the vexed question of their (...) bearing on his other (including political) concerns. Finally – with an eye to certain CR-internal trends and debates – I focus on Badiou’s powerful critique of the religious or mystical (hence ‘anti-philosophical’) dimension of Wittgenstein’s thought. Content Type Journal Article Category Review Essay Pages 487-498 DOI 10.1558/jcr.v11i4.487 Authors Christopher Norris, Cardiff University, Humanities Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff CF10 3EU Journal Journal of Critical Realism Online ISSN 1572-5138 Print ISSN 1476-7430 Journal Volume Volume 11 Journal Issue Volume 11, Number 4 / 2012. (shrink)
In this detailed study, Christopher Norris defends the kinds of arguments advanced by the early realist, Hilary Putnam. Norris makes a point of placing Putnam's work in a wider philosophical context, and relating it to various current debates in epistemology and philosophy of science. Much like Putnam, Norris is willing to take full account of opposed viewpoints while maintaining a vigorously argued commitment to the values of debate and enquiry.
Laboratory work in early geoscience: changing the story Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9621-6 Authors John Norris, Vodni 1 A, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
In What's Wrong with Postmodernism Norris critiques the "postmodern-pragmatist malaise" of Baudrillard, Fish, Rorty, and Lyotard. In contrast he finds a continuing critical impulse--an "enlightened or emancipatory interest"--in thinkers like Derrida, de Man, Bhaskar, and Habermas. Offering a provocative reassessment of Derrida's influence on modern thinking, Norris attempts to sever the tie between deconstruction and American literary critics who, he argues, favor endless, playful, polysemic interpretation at the expense of systematic argument. As he explores leftist attempts to arrive (...) at an accommodation with postmodernism, Norris addresses the politics of deconstruction, the issue of men in feminism, Habermas' quarrel with Derrida, narrative theory as a hermeneutic paradigm, musical aesthetics in relation to literary theory, and various aspects of postmodern debate. A chapter on Stanley Fish brings several of these topics together and offers a generalized statement on the function of current criticism. (shrink)
This article offers a critical perspective on two lines of thought in recent epistemology and philosophy of science, namely Michael Dummett?s anti-realist approach to issues of truth, meaning, and knowledge and Bas van Fraassen?s influential programme of ?constructive empiricism?. While not denying the salient differences between them (the one a metaphysical doctrine premised on logicolinguistic considerations, the other a thesis primarily concerned with the scope and limits of empirical inquiry) it shows how they converge on a sceptical outlook concerning the (...) realist claim that truth might always transcend the restrictions of some given (or indeed some future best-possible) state of knowledge. The author puts the case that such sceptical arguments, if followed through consistently, must involve giving up all claim to account for our knowledge of the growth of scientific knowledge. He also takes issue with Dummett?s idea of truth as nothing more than a matter of ?warranted assertibility? and with van Fraassen?s likewise verificationist conception of empirical warrant as the most we can have by way of epistemic justification. Thus it is wrong to suppose that the realist is merely indulging in a display of ?courage not under fire? when she assumes ontological commitments in excess of the observational data. This disavowal of realism in favour of a theory which ?saves the (empirical) appearances? has a less-than-distinguished prehistory in the range of compromise strategies adopted by upholders of a dominant metaphysics or world-view, starting out with the orthodox Catholic attempt to defuse the implications of the heliocentric hypothesis advanced by Copernicus and Galileo. Such theological motives are nowadays not so prominent although ? it is suggested fithey do emerge at certain points in Dummett?s writing. More constructively, this article presents a case for objectivism with regard to scientific truth and also for inference to the best causal explanation on both the micro- and the macrophysical scale as the only approach with an adequate claim to make sense of the history of advancements in scientific knowledge to date. (shrink)
In this essay I examine various aspects of the nearcentury-long debate concerning the conceptualfoundations of quantum mechanics and the problems ithas posed for physicists and philosophers fromEinstein to the present. Most crucial here is theissue of realism and the question whether quantumtheory is compatible with any kind of realist orcausal-explanatory account which goes beyond theempirical-predictive data. This was Einstein's chiefconcern in the famous series of exchanges with NielsBohr when he refused to accept the truth orcompleteness of a doctrine (orthodox QM) (...) which ruledsuch questions to be strictly inadmissible. I discussthe later history of quantum-theoretical debate withparticular reference to the issue of nonlocality,i.e., the phenomenon of superluminal(faster-than-light) interaction betweenwidely-separated particles. Then I show how thestandard `Copenhagen' interpretation of QM hasinfluenced current anti-realist orontological-relativist approaches to philosophy ofscience. Indeed, there are clear signs that somephilosophers have retreated from a realist positionvery largely in response to just these problems. So itis important to ask exactly why – on what scientificor philosophical grounds – any preferred alternative(causal-realist) construal should have been ruled outas a matter of orthodox QM wisdom. Moreconstructively, my paper presents various arguments infavour of one such alternative, the `hidden-variables'theory developed since the early 1950s by David Bohmand consistently marginalised by proponents of theCopenhagen doctrine. (shrink)
In this article I raise a number of issues concerning John McDowell’s widely influential revisionist reading of Kant. These have to do with what I see as his failure – despite ambitious claims in that regard – to overcome the various problematic dualisms that dogged Kant’s thought throughout the three Critiques. Moreover, as I show, they have continued to mark the discourse of those who inherit Kant’s agenda in this or that updated, e.g., ‘linguistified’ form. More specifically, I argue that (...) McDowell’s ‘new’ reading amounts to no more than a series of terminological shifts or substitutions, such that (for instance) the well-known problem with explaining how ‘sensuous intuitions’ can be somehow synthesised with ‘concepts of understanding’ is replaced – scarcely resolved – by an equally opaque and question-begging appeal to Kantian ‘receptivity’ and ‘spontaneity’. My essay goes on to discuss a number of kindred dichotomies, among them that of nature and ‘second nature’, all of which can basically be seen as resulting from the normative deficit entailed by McDowell’s particular kind of half-way naturalizing project. I conclude that this project shows insufficient regard to the history of post-Kantian continental thought, in particular the similar problems faced by ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ idealists like Fichte and Schelling. (shrink)
What is progressive education? -- Origins of progressive education -- Progressive education in action: what really happens -- Broken promises: why progressive education has failed to deliver -- Making progressive education work: perspectives, conclusions, and recommendations.
Ernesto Laclau's theory of antagonism and political identity has been widely celebrated as one of the most promising attempts to apply the lessons of poststructuralism to political theory. This essay argues, however, that this initial promise is not fulfilled. Laclau's attempt to define and analyse the political as such operates at such an abstract level that Laclau is forced to make sweeping claims about the nature of politics and identity that he simply cannot support; and his analysis of the decision (...) that he claims defines politics is an unrealistic one that celebrates violence, and could have the wide appeal it has had only in a political culture that understood freedom as the absence of all constraint, rather than the achievement of autonomy. Key Words: antagonism autonomy decision freedom hegemony identity Laclau the political rule-following Wittgenstein. (shrink)
This article offers a critical review of various ontological-relativist arguments, mostly deriving from the work of W. V. Quine and Thomas K hn. I maintain that these arguments are (1) internally contradictory, (2) incapable of accounting for our knowledge of the growth of scientific knowledge, and (3) shown up as fallacious from the standpoint of a causal-realist approach to issues of truth, meaning, and interpretation. Moreover, they have often been viewed as lending support to such programmes as the 'strong' sociology (...) of knowledge and the turn towards wholesale cultural-relativist doctrines, whether of the Wittgensteinian ('language-games') or Heideggerian (depth-hermeneutic) varieties. Thus Richard Rorty recommends that we should henceforth drop all that old-fashioned talk of 'truth', 'knowledge', or 'reality', since whatever warrants those descriptions from time to time is just the product of some currently favoured language-game or range of elective metaphors. Such ideas have little in common with Quine's general outlook of robust physicalism, nor again - though the case is less clear - with Kuhn's reconsidered approach to these issues as set forth in his 1969 Postscript to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions . However, both thinkers have left themselves open to misconstrual by adopting a sceptical-relativist fallback position in response to the well-known problems with logical empiricism. This essay therefore reviews those problems with reference to alternative, more adequate accounts of what is involved in the process of scientific discovery and theory-change. (shrink)
In this essay, I offer a critical evaluation of Hilary Putnam's writings on epistemology and philosophy of science, in particular his engagement with interpretative problems in quantum mechanics. I trace the development of his thinking from the late 1960s when he adopted a strong causal-realist position on issues of meaning, reference, and truth, via the "internal realist" approach of his middle-period writings, to the various forms of pragmatist, naturalized, or "commonsense" epistemology proposed in his latest books. My contention is that (...) Putnam's retreat from a full-fledged realist outlook has been prompted in large part by his belief that it cannot possibly be reconciled with the implications of quantum mechanics for our understanding of processes and events in the subatomic domain. However, I suggest, this response should be seen as premature given the range of as-yet unresolved problems with quantum mechanics on the orthodox (Copenhagen) interpretation and also the existence of an alternative account - David Bohm's hidden-variables theory - which perfectly matches the established predictive-observational results while providing a credible realist ontology. I also examine Putnam's case for adopting a nonstandard (three-valued) "quantum logic" in relation to the thinking of other philosophers - Michael Dummett among them - who have espoused a more global or doctrinaire version of anti-realism. I conclude that Putnam's early (causal-realist) position is by no means untenable in light of the various arguments that he now takes as counting decisively against it. (shrink)
This essay offers a critical appraisal of some claims recently advanced by Crispin Wright and others in support of a response-dispositional (RD) approach to issues in epistemology, ethics, political theory, and philosophy of the social sciences. These claims take a lead from Plato's discussion of the status of moral value-judgements in the Euthyphro and from Locke's account of 'secondary qualities' such as colour, texture and taste. The idea is that a suitably specified description of best opinion (or optimal response) for (...) some given area of discourse will provide all that is needed in the way of objectivity while avoiding the problems raised by anti-realists like Michael Dummett with respect to the existence of truth-values that transcend our utmost powers of recognition or verification. I focus on three main areas - mathematics, morals and constitutional law - and argue that an RD approach falls short in certain crucial respects. That is to say, it works out either as a trivial (tautological) claim to the effect that 'best judgement' cannot - per definiens - diverge from truth under conditions of idealized epistemic warrant, or as an approach that leans strongly towards the anti-realist side of the argument. Thus the promised 'third way' - here as in other present-day contexts of debate - most often carries no substantive implications for our thinking about truth, moral virtue, or justice. Elsewhere, especially when applied to juridical matters, it lays chief stress on the truth-constitutive role of human judgements or responses, and hence the impossibility of appealing to standards of natural justice beyond some existing highest authority or source of constitutional warrant. This point is made with specific reference to recent events surrounding the 'election' (or leverage-into-office) of President George W. Bush. In such cases, I conclude, an RD approach would tend strongly to endorse the view that 'best opinion' - as enshrined, say, in the deliverance of US Supreme Court justices - is the furthest we can get towards an adequate assessment of the moral and political issues. Key Words: anti-realism ethics judgement mathematics political theory realism response-dependence. (shrink)
In this essay I set out to place Derrida's work – especially his earlier (pre-1980) books and essays – in the context of related or contrasting developments in analytic philosophy of science over the past half-century. Along the way I challenge the various misconceptions that have grown up around that work, not only amongst its routine detractors in the analytic camp but also amongst some of its less philosophically informed disciples. In particular I focus on the interlinked issues of realism (...) versus anti-realism and the scope and limits of classical (bivalent) logic, both of which receive a detailed, rigorous and sustained treatment in his deconstructive readings of Husserl, Austin and others. Contrary to Derrida's reputation as a exponent of anti-realism in its far-gone ‘textualist’ form and as one who merely plays perverse though ingenious games with logic I show that those readings presuppose both a basically realist conception of their subject-matter and a strong commitment to the protocols of bivalent logic. These he applies with the utmost care and precision right up to the point – unreachable except by way of that procedure – where they encounter certain problems or anomalies that cannot be resolved except by switching to a different (non-bivalent, deviant, paraconsistent, ‘supplementary’, or ‘parergonal’) logic. Philosophy of science in the analytic mainstream might benefit greatly from a closer acquaintance with Derrida's thinking on these topics, as it might from a knowledge of his likewise rigorous thinking-through of the antinomy between structure and genesis as it bears upon issues in the history of scientific thought. (shrink)
One common way to conceive of political community and its relation to political judgment is to argue that my judgment reflects my community because I identify myself with it. This allows for a categorical distinction between the public (citizen) and the private (bourgeois) that in turn grounds civic virtue and common sense. Nancy, however, argues that this reifies community in ways that are continuous with totalitarianism, and that community is better understood in Heideggerian "ecstatic" terms. However, because Nancy does not (...) give as helpful an account of judgment his contribution to political theory reveals itself as a utopian picture of a world in which political judgment-and, hence, politics itself-is written off as a misreading of our ontological condition. (shrink)
In this article I argue that hope is rightly numbered by Hesiod among the evils, as hope cannot be separated from an awareness of the inadequacy of one's current state. Political hope for democrats in particular is tied to the awareness that we have not yet realized ourselves, that, to paraphrase Pindar, we have not yet become who we are. I argue that, although Rorty comes close to articulating this in his book Achieving Our Country, his emphasis on pride ultimately (...) obscures more than it reveals. I conclude that Thoreau's anguished reflection in Walden on the failures of his fellow citizens is a better place to look for instruction on the question of political hope. (shrink)
It is commonly recognized that Jean-Luc Nancy’s efforts to elaborate a conception of ‘the political’ are based upon Heidegger’s thinking of die Tecknik , even as they seek to overcome the difficulties that beset Heidegger’s own politics. But few have noted that Nancy also seeks to critically engage Carl Schmitt’s conception of das Politische , according to which there is a metaphysical and practical need for a sovereign decision on friends and enemies if effective political community and law are to (...) be possible. This article argues that recognizing that Nancy seeks to overcome Schmitt’s conception of the political throws into high relief his failure to address the actual subject matter of politics. In the end, Nancy remains too metaphysical to engage with the political. (shrink)
This essay examines some of the arguments in David Deutsch's book The Fabric of Reality , chief among them its case for the so-called many-universe interpretation of quantum mechanics (QM), presented as the only physically and logically consistent solution to the QM paradoxes of wave/particle dualism, remote simultaneous interaction, the observer-induced 'collapse of the wave-packet', etc. The hypothesis assumes that all possible outcomes are realized in every such momentary 'collapse', since the observer splits off into so many parallel, coexisting, but (...) epistemically non-interaccessible 'worlds' whose subsequent branchings constitute the lifeline-or experiential world-series- for each of those proliferating centres of consciousness. Although Deutsch concedes that his 'multiverse' theory is counter-intuitive, he none the less takes it to be borne out beyond question by the sheer observational/predictive success of QM and the conceptual dilemmas that supposedly arise with alternative (single-universe) accounts. Moreover, he claims the theory resolves a range of longstanding philosophical problems, notably those of mind/body dualism, the various traditional paradoxes of time, and the freewill/determinism issue. The essay suggests on the contrary, that Deutsch unwittingly transposes into the framework of presentday quantum debate speculative themes from the history of rationalist metaphysics, often with bizarre or philosophically dubious results, and that he rules out at least one promising rival account, namely Bohm's 'hidden variables' theory. It goes on to consider reasons for resistance to that theory among proponents of the 'orthodox' (Copenhagen) doctrine, and for the strong anti-realist, at times even irrationalist bias that has characterized much of this discussion since Bohr's debates with Einstein about quantum non-locality, observer-intervention, and the limits of precise measurement. Finally, the contrast is pointed out between Deutsch's ontologically extravagant use of the many-worlds hypothesis (akin to certain ideas advanced by speculative metaphysicians from Leibniz down) and those realist modes of counterfactual reasoning- e.g. in Kripke and the early Putnam- which deploy similar arguments to very different causal-explanatory ends. (shrink)
This article examines Hilary Putnam's work in the philosophy of mathematics and - more specifically - his arguments against mathematical realism or objectivism. These include a wide range of considerations, from Gödel's incompleteness-theorem and the limits of axiomatic set-theory as formalised in the Löwenheim-Skolem proof to Wittgenstein's sceptical thoughts about rule-following (along with Saul Kripke's ‘scepticalsolution’), Michael Dummett's anti-realist philosophy of mathematics, and certain problems – as Putnam sees them – with the conceptual foundations of Peano arithmetic. He also adopts (...) a thought-experimental approach – a variant of Descartes' dream scenario – in order to establish the in-principle possibility that we might be deceived by the apparent self-evidence of basic arithmetical truths or that it might be ‘rational’ to doubt them under some conceivable (even if imaginary) set of circumstances. Thus Putnam assumes that mathematical realism involves a self-contradictory ‘Platonist’ idea of our somehow having quasi-perceptual epistemic ‘contact’ with truths that in their very nature transcend the utmost reach of human cognitive grasp. On this account, quite simply, ‘nothing works’ in philosophy of mathematics since wecan either cling to that unworkable notion of objective (recognition-transcendent) truth or abandon mathematical realism in favour of a verificationist approach that restricts the range of admissible statements to those for which we happen to possess some means of proof or ascertainment. My essay puts the case, conversely, that these hyperbolic doubts are not forced upon us but result from a false understanding of mathematical realism – a curious mixture of idealist and empiricist themes – which effectively skews the debate toward a preordained sceptical conclusion. I then go on to mount a defence of mathematical realism with reference to recent work in this field and also to indicate some problems – as I seethem – with Putnam's thought-experimental approach as well ashis use of anti-realist arguments from Dummett, Kripke, Wittgenstein, and others. (shrink)
This essay responds to Jeff Malpas's foregoing article, itself written in response to my various publications over the past two decades concerning Donald Davidson's ideas about truth, meaning, and interpretation. It has to do mainly with our disagreement as regards the substantive content of Davidson's truth-based semantic approach in relation to the problematic legacy of logical empiricism, including Quine's incisive but no less problematical critique of that legacy. I also raise questions with respect to Malpas's coupling of Davidson with Heidegger, (...) intended to provide a more adequate depth-ontological grounding for the formalized (logico-semantic) conception of truth that Davidson adopts from Tarski. My essay then argues the case for an outlook of objectivist causal realism joined with a theory of inference to the best, most rational explanation that would satisfy this need in more philosophically (as well as scientifically) accountable terms. (shrink)
Stanley Cavell's unique contributions to the study of epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, film, Shakespeare, and American philosophy have all received wide acclaim. But there has been relatively little recognition of the pertinence of Cavell's work to our understanding of political philosophy. The Claim to Community fills this gap with essays from a wide range of prominent American, English, French, and Italian philosophers and political theorists, as well as a lengthy response to the essays by Cavell himself. The topics covered include Cavell's (...) understanding of political community, philosophical anthropology, moral perfectionism, the positivist distinction between fact and value, political friendship, the differences between political and aesthetic disagreement, political romanticism, “the pursuit of happiness,” tragedy, and race. There are also evaluations of the ways Cavell's positions on these and other matters compare with those of Plato, Aristotle, Montaigne, Kant, John Stuart Mill, Thoreau, Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt, Carl Schmitt, Peter Winch, Wittgenstein, and Fred Astaire. This volume will be of great interest to political theorists and political philosophers, as well as to students of literature and film. (shrink)
New concepts may prove necessary to profit from the avalanche of sequence data on the genome, transcriptome, proteome and interactome and to relate this information to cell physiology. Here, we focus on the concept of large activity-based structures, or hyperstructures, in which a variety of types of molecules are brought together to perform a function. We review the evidence for the existence of hyperstructures responsible for the initiation of DNA replication, the sequestration of newly replicated origins of replication, cell division (...) and for metabolism. The processes responsible for hyperstructure formation include changes in enzyme affinities due to metabolite-induction, lipid-protein affinities, elevated local concentrations of proteins and their binding sites on DNA and RNA, and transertion. Experimental techniques exist that can be used to study hyperstructures and we review some of the ones less familiar to biologists. Finally, we speculate on how a variety of in silico approaches involving cellular automata and multi-agent systems could be combined to develop new concepts in the form of an Integrated cell (I-cell) which would undergo selection for growth and survival in a world of artificial microbiology. (shrink)
Language production and comprehension are intimately interrelated; and models of production and comprehension should, we argue, be constrained by common architectural guidelines. Levelt et al.'s target article adopts as guiding principle Ockham's razor: the best model of production is the simplest one. We recommend adoption of the same principle in comprehension, with consequent simplification of some well-known types of models.
( I ) THE THEORY OF THE &c PART I "Being the Absolute Tart. CHAP. L The State of things Dijlinguislfd into Natural and Ideal. i .s^\ INCE the Ideal State of things is the Ground and Foundation, not only of ij all Sciences, ...
There is a common argument form in the metaphysics of natural laws literature: a theory of natural law is attacked by offering a claim L as a law of scientific field F (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.), and from the this law metaphysical implications contrary to the theory are drawn. Quite often however, L would not be regarded as a law by a scientist of F. Roberts' "measurability account of laws" offers a new and interesting way to more reliably identify the (...) laws of a field F and to eliminate the L that are not laws of F from the literature. (shrink)
This article examines various dilemmas (or, as I suggest, pseudo-dilemmas) that have dogged epistemology and philosophy of language since the 1940s heyday of logical empiricism. These have to do chiefly with the problem those thinkers faced in overcoming the various dichotomies imposed by their Humean insistence on maintaining a sharp distinction between logical 'truths of reason' and empirical 'matters of fact'. I trace this problem back to Kant's failure to offer any plausible, explanatorily adequate account of the process whereby 'sensuous (...) intuitions' were brought under 'concepts of understanding' through the joint (somewhat mysterious) agency of 'judgement' and 'imagination'. The argument then proceeds, via Quine's (on the face of it) radically anti-dualist critique of logical empiricism, to more recent attempts - by Davidson and McDowell - to locate the residual dualism in Quine (that of scheme and content), and thus to bring philosophy out on the far side of all these vexing dilemmas. I maintain that the problem goes much deeper and re-emerges with full force both in Davidson's coupling of a formalized (Tarskian) truth-theoretic approach with a strain of radical empiricism and likewise in McDowell's revisionist, supposedly 'naturalized', but none the less dualist reading of Kant on the twin powers of 'spontaneity' and 'receptivity'. Its ultimate source - I suggest - is the normative deficit, i.e., the lack of rational and justificatory values that has typified empiricist thinking from Hume to Quine, along with its attendant sceptical outlook as regards the existence of causal powers or the status and validity of causal explanations. My paper concludes by indicating briefly some alternative resources that might point a way beyond this longstanding impasse. (shrink)
With the advent of the newest technologies, it is necessary for engineering to incorporate the integration of social responsibility and technical integrity. A possible approach to accomplishing this integration is by expanding the culture of the engineering profession so that it is more congruent with the complex nature of the technologies that are now being developed. Furthermore, in order to achieve this expansion, a shift in thinking is required from a linear or reductionist paradigm (atomistic, deterministic and dualistic) to a (...) nonlinear paradigm (holistic, chaotic and subjective). Three aspects of such a nonlinear paradigm (holism, transparency and responsiveness) enable an engineer to shift from “applying ethics” to “being ethical”. This culture change can be a basis for developing new curricula to satisfy the ABET-2000 requirements as well as for the practice of engineering in the 21st Century. (shrink)