There has been recent interest in formulating theories of non-representational indeterminacy. The aim of this paper is to clarify the relevance of quantum mechanics to this project. Quantum-mechanical examples of vague objects have been offered by various authors, displaying indeterminate identity, in the face of the famous Evans argument that such an idea is incoherent. It has also been suggested that the quantum-mechanical treatment of state-dependent properties exhibits metaphysical indeterminacy. In both cases it is important to consider the details of (...) the metaphysical account and the way in which the quantum phenomenon is captured within it. Indeed if we adopt a familiar way of thinking about indeterminacy and apply it in a natural way to quantum mechanics, we run into illuminating difficulties and see that the case is far less straightforward than might be hoped. (shrink)
A recent development in philosophical scholarship on reparations for black chattel slavery and Jim Crow segregation is reliance upon social science in normative arguments for reparations. Although there are certainly positive things to be said in favor of an empirically informed normative argument for black reparations, given the depth of empirical disagreement about the causes of persistent racial inequalities, and the ethos of 'post-racial' America, the strongest normative argument for reparations may be one that goes through irrespective of how we (...) ultimately explain the causes of racial inequalities. By illuminating the interplay between normative political philosophy and social scientific explanations of racial inequality in the prevailing corrective justice argument for black reparations, I shall explain why an alternative normative argument, which is not tethered to a particular empirical explanation of racial inequality, may be more appealing. (shrink)
This paper considers two aspects of Lewis's metaphysics to which spatiotemporal relations appear central, with the aim of showing them to be less so. First, Lewis reluctantly characterises what it is for two things to be part of the same possible world in terms of an analogically spatiotemporal category of relations, rather than a wider natural external category. But Lewis's reason for restricting himself to the narrower category is unpersuasive. Second, Humean supervenience is formulated with spatiotemporal relations (...) at its core. But that seems negotiable. A reason for caring about this is that quantum mechanics is supposed to threaten Lewis's metaphysics by introducing natural external relations that are not (even analogically) spatiotemporal, hence the interest in how central spatiotemporal relations really are. (shrink)
According to Lewis's modal realism, all ways the world could be are represented by possible worlds, and all possible worlds represent some way the world could be. That there are just the right possible worlds to represent all and only the ways the world could be is to be guaranteed by the principle of recombination. Lewis sketches the principle (put roughly: anything can co-exist with anything else), but does not spell out a precise version that generates just the right possibilities. (...) David Efird and Tom Stoneham have offered a principle that aims to do just that.In this paper, we argue that Efird's and Stoneham's principle of recombination is not successful – it fails to generate the right possibilities – but we also suggest ways that their account might be improved to solve the problem we raise. We also argue against Efird's and Stoneham's claim that the correct principle of recombination demonstrates the possibility of nothing concrete – it is true that their principle of recombination has models consistent with the existence of an empty world, but we only get the possibility of nothing if mereologically null individuals are possible. The Lewisian should only think mereologically null individuals are possible if he or she has some independent reason for believing in the possibility of an empty world, so the principle of recombination provides no new evidence for that possibility. We draw some morals from this for the correct way to formulate the principle of recombination. (shrink)
It has been widely noted that Humean supervenience , according to which everything supervenes on intrinsic properties of point-sized things and the spatiotemporal relations between them, is at odds with the nonlocal character of quantum mechanics, according to which not everything supervenes on intrinsic properties of point-sized things and the spatiotemporal relations between them. In particular, a standard view is that the parts of a composite quantum system instantiate further relations which are not accounted for in Lewis's Humean mosaic. But (...) that suggests a simple solution: Why couldn't Lewis simply add these new relations to the supervenience basis? The aim of this article is to use Humean supervenience as a foil to spell out a feature of entanglement of general metaphysical interest: The way in which the metaphysical lessons drawn for two-party systems ramify when systems of many parties are considered. The main conclusion is that the proposed simple fix in fact results in a supervenience thesis different in kind from Lewis's, by making the relations in the supervenience basis global in a certain sense. (shrink)
This paper defends a social practiceconception of moral rights possession againstwhat many of its critics take to be a decisiveobjection, namely that such a conceptionprevents us from using moral rights forcritical purposes.
Rights externalism is the thesis that a subject's status as a rightholder is secured not on account of it having a certain nature, but on account of it being afforded a certain sort of social recognition. I believe that rights externalism has been given short shrift, largely because a certain objection is widely taken to be a compelling reason for rejecting it. This objection goes roughly as follows. Both in theory and in practice we commonly appeal to the fact that (...) subjects possess certain nonconventional rights (independently of whether these rights have been socially recognized) to criticize immoral social practices, arrangements, and institutions. But if being a rightholder is directly determined by whether subjects have been afforded a certain sort of social recognition, then we cannot appeal to the fact that subjects possess certain nonconventional rights for critical purposes in some instances, namely, in those instances where the relevant social recognition has not been extended. Although this objection is taken by some rights internalists to justify favoring rights internalism over rights externalism, I argue that it does not. (shrink)
Emergence is a notorious philosophical term of art. A variety of theorists have appropriated it for their purposes ever since George Henry Lewes gave it a philosophical sense in his 1875 Problems of Life and Mind. We might roughly characterize the shared meaning thus: emergent entities (properties or substances) ‘arise’ out of more fundamental entities and yet are ‘novel’ or ‘irreducible’ with respect to them. (For example, it is sometimes said that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain.) (...) Each of the quoted terms is slippery in its own right, and their specifications yield the varied notions of emergence that we discuss below. There has been renewed interest in emergence within discussions of the behavior of complex systems and debates over the reconcilability of mental causation, intentionality, or consciousness with physicalism. (shrink)
In Cambridge History of Philosophy, 18701945, ed. by Thomas Baldwin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 93106. Key words: new psychology, psychology as a discipline, Spencer, Maudsley, Lewes, Brentano, Wundt, James.
Emergent properties have been described by Mill, Lewes, Broad, Morgan and others, as novel, nonadditive, nonpredictable and nondeducible within a hierarchical context. I have developed a more definitive concept of a hierarchy that can be used to inspect the phenomenon of emergence in a new and detailed manner. A hierarchy is held together by descending constraints and new features can arise when an upper level entity restrains its components in new combinations that are not expected when viewing these (...) components alone. Examples of emergent features are (i) matching anticodons and amino acids by aminoacetyl-tRNA synthetase enzymes appearing early among the first forms of life, (ii) negative feedback in end-product inhibition first occurring in microbes, (iii) memory in animals and (iv) apical cells in plants. Until recently, life was considered only in terms of physics and chemistry, but now it is known to have a third aspect of information that along with the descendant constraints in its hierarchical organization makes emergentism possible within a reductionist’s framework. (shrink)
“The ‘fallacy of composition’ that drives a felicitous wedge between micro and macro, between the individual and the aggregate, and gives rise to emergent phenomena in economics, non-algorithmic ways – as conjectured originally by John Stuart Mill…, George Herbert Lewes … , and codified by Lloyd Morgan … in his popular Gifford Lectures - may yet be tamed by unconventional models of computation.” --K. Vela Velupillai (2008, p. 21).
Derrick Darby’s Rights, Race, and Recognition and Ronald R. Sundstrom’s The Browning of America and the Evasion of Social Justice are two recent efforts to answer the challenges that race and racism pose to liberal theory. Darby draws upon civil rights and abolitionist discourse to advance an “externalist” account of political rights, while Sundstrom explores the strains placed upon liberalism by recent demographic trends. In this review essay, I provide a brief account of their overall arguments, and offer (...) some further critical considerations. (shrink)
Transactions and Encounters examines a diverse range of emerging technologies in the Victorian era. Such topics are explored as the popular craze for microscopes the uncanny possibilities of the telephone the jostling for authority between literature and science, with scenes by and including Dickens and Lewes, Huxley and Gosse the weird imaginary around androgynous barnacles and the competing versions of a mind-reading act. These essays combine to produce an invigorating and involving attempt to re-cast understandings of 19th century encounters (...) between the cultural and scientific spheres. (shrink)
The Religion of Humanity, first expounded by the founder of Positivism, Auguste Comte, focused the minds of a wide range of prominent Victorians on the possibility of replacing Christianity with an alternative religion based on scientific principles and humanist values. This new book traces the impact of Comte's 'religion' on Victorian Britain, showing how its ideas were championed by John Stuart Mill and George Henry Lewes before being institutionalised by Richard Congreve and Frederic Harrison, the leaders of the two (...) main centres of Positivist worship. Widely discussed by scientists, philosophers, and theologians, it also attracted the attention of numerous literary figures, including Matthew Arnold, Walter Pater, and Leslie Stephen, achieving its widest circulation through the works of George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and George Gissing. A wide-ranging and interdisciplinary contribution to the history of ideas, this book sheds new light on a significant but hitherto neglected strand of Victorian thought. (shrink)
Standard objections to the notion of a hedged, or ceteris paribus, law of nature usually boil down to the claim that such laws would be either 1) irredeemably vague, 2) untestable, 3) vacuous, 4) false, or a combination thereof. Using epidemiological studies in nutrition science as an example, I show that this is not true of the hedged law-like generalizations derived from data models used to interpret large and varied sets of empirical observations. Although it may be ‘in principle impossible’ (...) to construct models that explicitly identify all potential causal interferers with the relevant generalization, the view that our failure to do so is fatal to the very notion of a cp-law is plausible only if one illicitly infers metaphysical impossibility from epistemic impossibility. I close with the suggestion that a model-theoretic approach to cp-laws poses a problem for recent attempts to formulate a Mill-Ramsey-Lewis theory of cp-laws. (shrink)
At the beginning of the third millennium we are entering a new era. I call it "The Integration/Disintegration Era" because the Integration/ Disintegration Problem is one of the basic problems our world is facing today. Philosophy attempts to work out an integrated view of the universe, of human nature, and of society. The specific philosophical science which has concerned itself with integration/ disintegration, is Integratism. This is the common denominator of different particular problems in the integration /disintegration of the universe, (...) society and personality; and it supplies a possible philosophical solution to the general problem of disintegration. The main concept of integratism is integration [Lat. integer, complete]. My theoretical and empirical study of various aspects of integration/ disintegration problems in modern science and education has led to the formulation of a new, rather systematic and, I believe, quite useful conception of contemporary integratism that contributes not only to the attempt to develop a theory of integration/disintegration processes in various biological and social systems but also to practical problems of developing contemporary integrated educational systems. Further concepts of contemporary integratism are: integrative level, IDon, adaptive disintegration, ADon, disadaptive disintegration, adaptive reintegration, sanosphere, pathosphere, etc. The philosophy of integratism might provide a possible philosophical solution to the general problem of disintegration and in this way assign priority to certain particular problems concerning the disintegration of the world. (shrink)