This document collects discussion and commentary on issues raised in the workshop by its participants. Contributors are: Greg Frost-Arnold, David Harker, P. D. Magnus, John Manchak, John D. Norton , J. Brian Pitts, Kyle Stanford, DanaTulodziecki.
One typical realist response to the argument from underdetermination of theories by evidence is an appeal to epistemic criteria besides the empirical evidence to argue that, while scientific theories might be empirically equivalent, they are not epistemically equivalent. In this article, I spell out a new and reformulated version of the underdetermination argument that takes such criteria into account. I explain the notion of epistemic equivalence which this new argument appeals to, and argue that epistemic equivalence can be achieved in (...) several, significantly different, ways. On the basis of this ‘multiple realisability’ of epistemic equivalence, I then proceed to explain and examine some of the main consequences of this reformulated underdetermination argument for both realists and anti-realists. (shrink)
In the mid-1800s, there was much debate about the origin or 'exciting cause' of cholera. Despite much confusion surrounding the disease, the so-called miasma theory emerged as the prevalent account about cholera's cause. Going against this mainstream view, the British physician John Snow inferred several things about cholera's origin and pathology that no one else inferred. Without observing the vibrio cholerae, however,-data unavailable to Snow and his colleagues-, there was no way of settling the question of what exactly was causing (...) cholera and how, or if, it was passed on. The question then arises as to how Snow arrived at conclusions so systematically different from those of his opponents. In this paper, I want to look at Snow's reasoning in some detail, and show that there were certain principles, explanatory power in particular, that were epistemologically important to Snow in their own right. I will show that Snow himself takes explanatory power to be an epistemic property, and makes explicit links between explanatory power and confirmation. Systematically juxtaposing Snow's claims and his opponents', I will show that Snow was right to tout the explanatory power of his theory, and that his conclusions about the epistemic superiority of his theory over that of the miasmatists' were justified. (shrink)
My talk will be guided by the idea that there are some familiar scientific practices that are epistemically significant. I will argue that we can test for the success of these practices empirically by examining cases in the history of science. Specifically, I will reconstruct one particular episode in the history of medicine – John Snow's reasoning concerning the infectiousness of cholera – and offer this case as a concrete example of the sort of empirical research that needs to be (...) done in order to discover what kinds of methodological practices and rules are actually of epistemic interest. Analysing this case, I will explain how it (and other cases like it) can help us resolve specific cases of underdetermination. After exploring some possible anti-realist responses to this argument, I will conclude that, while the anti-realist is (more or less legitimately) able to construct underdetermination scenarios on a case-by-case basis, he will likely have to abandon the strategy of using algorithms to do so, thus losing the much needed guarantee that there will always be rival cases of the required kind. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue (i) that there are certain methodological practices that are epistemically significant, and (ii) that we can test for the success of these practices empirically by examining case-studies in the history of science. Analysing a particular episode from the history of medicine, I explain how this can help us resolve specific cases of underdetermination. I conclude that, while the anti-realist is (more or less legitimately) able to construct underdetermination scenarios on a case-by-case basis, he will have (...) to abandon the strategy of using algorithms to do so, thus losing the much needed guarantee that there will always be rival cases of the required kind. (shrink)
Classical Hamiltonian systems generally exhibit an intricate mixture of regular and chaotic motions on all scales of phase space. As a nonintegrability parameter K (the “strength of chaos”) is gradually increased, the analyticity domains of functions describing regular-motion components [e.g., Kolmogorov-Arnol’d-Moser (KAM) tori] usually shrink and vanish at the onset of global chaos (breakup of all KAM tori). It is shown that these phenomena have quantum-dynamical analogs in simple but representative classes of model systems, the kicked rotors and the two-sided (...) kicked rotors. Namely, as K is gradually increased, the analyticity domain ℛQE of the quantum-dynamical eigenstates decreases monotonically, and the width of ℛQE in the global-chaos regime vanishes in the semiclassical limit. These phenomena are presented as particular aspects of a more general scenario: As K is increased, ℛQE gradually becomes less sensitive to an increase in the analyticity domain of the system. (shrink)
As Duncan Luce and other prominent scholars have pointed out on several occasions, testing algebraic models against empirical data raises difficult conceptual, mathematical, and statistical challenges. Empirical data often result from statistical sampling processes, whereas algebraic theories are nonprobabilistic. Many probabilistic specifications lead to statistical boundary problems and are subject to nontrivial order constrained statistical inference. The present paper discusses Luce’s challenge for a particularly prominent axiom: Transitivity. The axiom of transitivity is a central component in many algebraic theories of (...) preference and choice. We offer the currently most complete solution to the challenge in the case of transitivity of binary preference on the theory side and two-alternative forced choice on the empirical side, explicitly for up to five, and implicitly for up to seven, choice alternatives. We also discuss the relationship between our proposed solution and weak stochastic transitivity. We recommend to abandon the latter as a model of transitive individual preferences. (shrink)
This paper discusses the concept of Dána or charity as the foundation of Indian Social life. Dána has been in vogue in India since the Vedic times, but it was codified by the smritis which prescribe do’s and don’ts of the life of the individual. Limiting its scope to Yagnavalkya smriti the paper analyses the significance of Dána as a regulative principle of accumulation of wealth.
When you are making up your mind, deciding what to do, you have the idea that you are free in what you are doing. It is hard to shake. You are going to do the one thing, but you can certainly do the other. That is what you think. Rational deliberators, as they can be called, have an inescapable sense of freedom. Dana Nelkin, in the following clear-headed paper, asks if this sense of freedom establishes that determinism is not (...) true. Read on for her answer. She also has things to say about another understanding of the claim that we know we are free when we are making up our minds. Whether or not you agree, you will learn things. Prof. Nelkin is at the University of California at San Diego. (shrink)
: Originally presented during Ethic Rounds at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, this commentary on the case of a patient treated for life-threatening cancer explores the responsibilities of health care providers when addressing the patient's desire to adopt a child.
(2007). Ethics and the Foundations of Education: Teaching Convictions in a Postmodern World. Patrick Slattery and Dana Rapp. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2003. pp. 320. $51.40 (paper). Educational Studies: Vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 255-258.
In South Asia, the period between 1100 and 1300 CE was a particularly prolific time for theorists from India's three main indigenous religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism - to articulate their views on the face-to-face gift encounter. Their gift theories shaped a cosmopolitan sensibility that shared ethical and aesthetic values that reached across regional, sectarian, and religious boundaries. This book explores the ethical and social implications of unilateral gifts of esteem, offering a perceptive guide to the uniquely South Asian (...) contributors to theoretical work on the gift. (shrink)