Art has the power to affect our thinking, changing not only the way we view and interact with the world but also how we create it. In Art in Mind , Ernst van Alphen probes this idea of art as a commanding force with the capacity to shape our intellect and intervene in our lives. Rather than interpreting art as merely a reflection of our social experience or a product of history, van Alphen here argues that art (...) is a historical agent, or a cultural creator, that propels thought and experience forward. Examining a broad range of works, van Alphen—a renowned art historian and cultural theorist—demonstrates how art serves a socially constructive function by actually experimenting with the parameters of thought. Employing work from artists as diverse as Picasso, Watteau, Francis Bacon, Marlene Dumas, and Matthew Barney, he shows how art confronts its viewers with the "pain points" of cultural experience-genocide, sexuality, diaspora, and transcultural identity-and thereby transforms the ways in which human existence is conceived. Van Alphen analyzes how art visually "thinks" about these difficult cultural issues, tapping into an understudied interpretation of art as the realm where ideas and values are actively created, given form, and mobilized. In this way, van Alphen's book is a work of art in itself as it educates us in a new mode of thought that will forge equally new approaches and responses to the world. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Peter van Inwagen’s claim (in “Free Will Remains a Mystery”), that agent-causal views of free will could do nothing to solve the problem of free will (specifically, the problem of chanciness). After explaining van Inwagen’s argument, I argue that he does not consider all possible manifestations of the agent-causal position. More importantly, I claim that, in any case, van Inwagen appears to have mischaracterized the problem in some crucial ways. Once we are clear on (...) the true nature of the problem of chanciness, agent-causal views do much to eradicate it. (shrink)
I. Introduction “We can and do see the truth about many things: ourselves, others, trees and animals, clouds and rivers—in the immediacy of experience.”1 Absent from Bas van Fraassen’s list of those things we see are paramecia and mitochondria. We do not see such things, van Fraassen has long maintained, because they are unobservable, that is, they are undetectable by means of the unaided senses.2 But notice that these two notions—what we can see in the “immediacy” of experience and what (...) is detectable by means of the unaided senses—are not the same. There is no incoherence in maintaining that the immediacy of experience is capable of disclosing to us truths concerning entities that are not detectable by the naked eye. And so, I claim, it does; science and technology provide us with the means to see things we have never seen before. Some of those things are van Fraassen’s unobservables. That suggestion is nothing new. Grover Maxwell long ago emphasized the continuity between seeing with and without instrumentation.3 Van Fraassen originally provided two responses to Maxwell’s arguments: some things that you can see with instruments you can also see without instruments (and those are the observables); and.. (shrink)
The anti-reductionist who wants to preserve the causal efficacy of mental phenomena faces several problems in regard to mental causation, i.e. mental events which cause other events, arising from her desire to accept the ontological primacy of the physical and at the same time save the special character of the mental. Psychology tries to persuade us of the former, appealing thereby to the results of experiments carried out in neurology; the latter is, however, deeply rooted in our everyday actions and (...) beliefs and despite the constant opposition of science still very much alive. Difficulties, however, arise from a combination of two claims that are widely accepted in philosophy of mind, namely, physical monism and mental realism, the acceptance of which leads us to the greatest problem of mental causation: the problem of causal exclusion. Since physical causes alone are always sufficient for physical effects mental properties are excluded from causal explanations of our behaviour, which makes them “epiphenomenal”. The article introduces Van Gulick’s solution to the exclusion problem which tries to prove that physical properties, in contrast to mental properties, do not have as much of a privileged status with respect to event causation as usually ascribed. Therefore, it makes no sense to say that physical properties are causally relevant whereas mental properties are not. This is followed by my objection to his argument for levelling mental and physical properties with respect to causation of events. I try to show that Van Gulick’s argument rests on a premise that no serious physicalist can accept. (shrink)
Van Heijenoort’s main contribution to history and philosophy of modern logic was his distinction between two basic views of logic, first, the absolutist, or universalist, view of the founding fathers, Frege, Peano, and Russell, which dominated the first, classical period of history of modern logic, and, second, the relativist, or model-theoretic, view, inherited from Boole, Schröder, and Löwenheim, which has dominated the second, contemporary period of that history. In my paper, I present the man Jean van Heijenoort (Sect. 1); then (...) I describe his way of arguing for the second view (Sect. 2); and finally I come down in favor of the first view (Sect. 3). There, I specify the version of universalism for which I am prepared to argue (Sect. 3, introduction). Choosing ZFC to play the part of universal, logical (in a nowadays forgotten sense) system, I show, through an example, how the usual model theory can be naturally given its proper place, from the universalist point of view, in the logical framework of ZFC; I outline another, not rival but complementary, semantics for admissible extensions of ZFC in the very same logical framework; I propose a way to get universalism out of the predicaments in which universalists themselves believed it to be (Sect. 3.1). Thus, if universalists of the classical period did not, in fact, construct these semantics, it was not that their universalism forbade them, in principle, to do so. The historical defeat of universalism was not technical in character. Neither was it philosophical. Indeed, it was hardly more than the victory of technicism over the very possibility of a philosophical dispute (Sect. 3.2). (shrink)
In the middle of the nineteenth century, advances in experimental psychology and the physiology of the sense organs inspired so-called ?Back to Kant? Neo-Kantians to articulate robustly psychologistic visions of Kantian epistemology. But their accounts of the thing in itself were fraught with deep tension: they wanted to conceive of things in themselves as the causes of our sensations, while their own accounts of causal inference ruled that claim out. This paper diagnoses the source of that problem in views of (...) one Neo-Kantan, F. A. Lange, and argues that it is solved only by Ernst Mach. No less than Lange and other Neo-Kantians, Mach was inspired to develop a psychologistic account of the foundations of knowledge, but his account also includes a coherent denial of things in themselves? existence. Finally, this paper uses this account of Lange and Mach on things in themselves to illuminate Mach's relation to a certain strain of the Neo-Kantian philosophy of his own time: his views constitute a more fully coherent version of the psychologistic theory of knowledge Back to Kant figures tried to articulate. (shrink)
Van Heijenoort’s account of the historical development of modern logic was composed in 1974 and first published in 1992 with an introduction by his former student. What follows is a new edition with a revised and expanded introduction and additional notes.
The paper aims at drawing the main lines of a reflection about architectonic space, starting from the comparison between two hypothesis, as much as ever different: Theodor Lipps’ spatial aesthetics and Hans van der Laan’s elemental theory. The emphasis given by both authors to the intersection between directions and way, but also to the mutual subordination between thing and space, allows to rewrite the obituary of architecture as a spatial art, according to which the Modern Style has turned the spatiality (...) into its specular visibility, into the spaciousness, into the indefinite continuity of the Bigness. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n1p49 The aim of this article is to offer a rejoinder to an argument against scientific realism put forward by van Fraassen, based on theoretical considerations regarding microphysics. At a certain stage of his general attack to scientific realism, van Fraassen argues, in contrast to what realists typically hold, that empirical regularities should sometimes be regarded as “brute facts”, which do not ask for explanation in terms of deeper, unobservable mechanisms. The argument from microphysics formulated by van Fraassen is based (...) on the claim that in microphysics the demand for explanation leads to a demand for the so-called hidden-variable theories, which “runs contrary to at least one major school of thought in twentieth-century physics”. It is shown here that this argument does not represent an insurmountable obstacle to scientific realism, not even when a series of important theoretical and experimental results against hidden-variable theories — and not merely a conflict with a certain school of thought—is taken into account. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n2p121 O objetivo deste trabalho é discutir e desenvolver o diagnóstico que efetua van Fraassen (1987, p. 110) da lei de Hardy-Weinberg, de acordo coo qual esta: 1) não pode ser considerada uma lei a ser utilizada como un axioma da teoria genética de populações, pois é uma lei de equilíbrio que só vale sob certas condições especiais, 2) só determina uma subclasse de modelos, 3) sua generalização resulta vácua e 4) variantes complexas da lei podem ser deduzidas para pressupostos (...) mais realistas. A discussão e desenvolvimento deste diagnóstico será levada a cabo tomando como base noções propostas por outra das concepções semânticas afim daquela desenvolvida por van Fraassen, a saber: a concepção estruturalista das teorias, e uma reconstrução da genética clássica de populações no marco de uma tal metateoria, também apresentada neste trabalho. (shrink)
De acordo com a concepção dominante de causação, eventos espácio-temporalmente localizáveis que podem ser designados por termos singulares e descrições definidas são os únicos relata genuínos da relação causal. Isto dá apoio e é apoiado pela dicotomia aceita entre a explicação causal, concebida como uma relação intensional entre fatos ou verdades, e a relação natural e extensional da causação. O ensaio questiona este modo de ver e argumenta pela legitimidade da noção de causação por fatos: os relata de muitas relações (...) expressas pelo conector sentencial ‘(O fato) C causa (o fato) E’ podem ser causas e efeitos genuínos (I). Esta visão expandida da causação é então aplicada ao problema da causação mental. Assumindo a verdade do realizacionismo físico, o ensaio explora a conexão entre eficácia causal e relevância contrafactual de propriedades. Mostra-se que, pelo menos em muitos casos, as ligações contrafactuais corretas, requeridas pela causação, podem ser encontradas somente no nível dos fatos realizados, não no nível mais básico dos fatos realizadores (II). Finalmente, dadas as similaridades entre a defesa do fisicismo não-reducionista esboçada aqui e as tentativas menos modestas de justificação científica das pretensões do materialismo metafísico, justamente criticadas por van Fraassen como manifestações da ‘falsa consciência’, considera-se se e como a argumento principal do ensaio pode evitar o juízo crítico de van Fraassen (III). (shrink)
It is argued that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Bas van Fraassen nowhere uses the argument from underdetermination in his argument for constructive empiricism. It is explained that van Fraassen’s use of the notion of empirical equivalence in The Scientific Image has been widely misunderstood. A reconstruction of the main arguments for constructive empiricism is offered, showing how the passages that have been taken to be part of an appeal to the argument from underdetermination should actually be interpreted.
Over the last twenty years, Bas van Fraassen has developed a “new epistemology”: an attempt to sail between Bayesianism and traditional epistemology. He calls his own alternative “voluntarism”. A constant pillar of his thought is the thought that rationality involves permission rather than obligation. The present paper aims to offer an appraisal of van Fraassen’s conception of rationality. In section 2, I review the Bayesian structural conception of rationality and argue that it has been found wanting. In sections 3 and (...) 4, I analyse van Fraassen’s voluntarism. I raise some objections about van Fraassen’s reliance on prior opinion and argue that the content of a belief matters to its rationality. In section 5, I criticise van Fraassen’s view that inference to the best explanation is incoherent. Finally, in section 6, I take on van Fraassen’s conception of rationality and show that it is too thin to fully capture rational judgement. (shrink)
Projet En développant son « empirisme constructif », Bas Van Fraassen est devenu une référence incontournable pour la philosophie des sciences contemporaine. Après la vague de critiques qui, vers les années 1960, avait fait perdre à l'empirisme logique sa prédominance dans le champ des idées, le réalisme scientifique semblait s'être imposé comme le seul compte rendu acceptable du travail et des orientations de la recherche. Quine avait beau énoncer ce que pourrait être un empirisme affranchi de ses deux « dogmes (...) » (l'intangibilité de la distinction vérités analytiques / vérités synthétiques, et la réduction des constructions aux « faits »), le programme d'une philosophie des sciences empiriste renouvelée restait à l'état d'esquisse. Mais par trois ouvrages successifs, Scientific Image (1980), Laws and symmetry (1989), et Quantum mechanics an empiricist view (1991), Van Fraassen a posé les bases d'un empirisme viable, parce que capable de prendre en charge la plupart des spécificités dont se prévaut le réalisme contre l'empirisme classique ou logique, et de rendre raison des développements les plus actuels de la physique. Contre l'empirisme classique ou logique, les réalistes font d'abord valoir que la réduction de toute réalité et de tout acte de référence aux phénomènes, ne rend justice ni à la pratique du langage courant ni à celle des sciences. Lorsque quelqu'un procède à une dénomination, il ne cherche pas à désigner par là une tranche d'apparaître, ou quelque ensemble fini et répertorié d'apparitions; il pointe vers "quelque chose" dont les modalités de manifestation sans fin assignable sont pour partie anticipées et pour partie ouvertes. De même, quand un chercheur scientifique parle de l'objet de ses investigations, il ne limite pas son discours à un ensemble fini de résultats d'expérience obtenus sous des conditions instrumentales actuellement disponibles; il renvoie à une entité dont la variété des manifestations futures est prévue aussi complètement que possible (et avec un succès croissant) par des cadres conceptuels et théoriques révisables. Face à cette objection, Van Fraassen fait jouer un rôle capital aux modèles dans sa version de l'empirisme.. (shrink)
Why are the Germans good at music, whereas the Dutch excel in painting? What are the reasons for the outstanding draftsmanship of Australian Aboriginals, and why does this skill seem absent among West African peoples, who appear concerned rather with sculpture? Could it be that the Japanese do not share the European preference for symmetry in decorative art? Moreover, why do tastes in the visual arts, music, and literature change so noticeably throughout history? Is it possible that, despite differences across (...) time and space, there are features that each of humanity's arts share?These are some of the questions that in the late nineteenth-century were going through the mind of the German scholar Ernst Grosse .. (shrink)
Considering Pragma-Dialectics honors the monumental contributions of one of the foremost international figures in current argumentation scholarship: Frans van Eemeren. The volume presents the research efforts of his colleagues and addresses how their work relates to the pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation with which van Eemeren’s name is so intimately connected. This tribute serves to highlight the varied approaches to the study of argumentation and is destined to inspire researchers to advance scholarship in the field far into the (...) future. Replete with contributions from highly-esteemed academics in argumentation study, chapters in this volume address such topics as: *Pragma-dialectic versus epistemic theories of arguing and arguments; *Pragma-dialectics and self-advocacy in physician-patient interactions; *The pragma-dialectical analysis of the ad hominem family; *Rhetoric, dialectic, and the functions of argument; and *The semantics of reasonableness. As an exceptional volume and a fitting tribute, this work will be of interest to all argumentation scholars considering the astute insights and scholarly legacy of Frans van Eemeren. (shrink)
Analysis shows that statements of ability are disguised conditionals. More exactly, the correct analysis of 'X could have done A' is 'If X h decided (chosen, willed ...) to do A, X would have done A'. Therefore having acted freely--having been able to act otherwise than one fact did--is compatible with determinism (with the causal determination of one's acts).
Mijn wetenschappelijke bijdrage sluit aan bij het stuk van Jan Willem Klop in deze zelfde afscheidsbundel, dat ik van Jan Willem onder embargo te lezen heb gekregen. Je zult je herinneren dat Jan Willem in de CWI lezing ter gelegenheid van zijn eredoctoraat kort refereerde aan de Thue Morse reeks. Noem deze reeks M . Jan Willem gaf de versie die start met 1. Noem het resultaat van omwisselen van nullen en enen in de Thue Morse reeks M . De (...) reeks M is wat je krijgt als je het Thue Morse proces start met 0. (shrink)
Approximately three decades ago the question was first answered whether parasitoids are able to assess the number or origin of eggs in a host for a solitary parasitoid, Leptopilina heterotoma, by fitting theoretically derived distributions to empirical ones. We extend the set of different theoretically postulated distributions of eggs among hosts by combining searching modes and abilities in assessing host quality. In the models, parasitoids search either randomly (Poisson) (1) or by vibrotaxis (Negative Binomial) (2). Parasitoids are: (a) assumed to (...) treat all hosts equally, (b) able to distinguish them in unparasitised and parasitised hosts only, (c) able to distinguish them by the number of eggs they contained, or (d) able to recognise their own eggs. Mathematically tractable combinations of searching mode (1 and 2) and abilities (a,b,c,d) result in seven different models (M1a, M1b, M1c, M1d, M2a, M2b and M2c). These models have been simulated for a varying number of searching parasitoids and various mean numbers of eggs per host. Each resulting distribution is fitted to all theoretical models. The model with the minimum Akaike's information criterion (AIC) is chosen as the best fitting for each simulated distribution. We thus investigate the power of the AIC and for each distribution with a specified mean number of eggs per host we derive a frequency distribution for classification.Firstly, we discuss the simulations of models including random search (M1a, M1b, M1c and M1d). For M1a, M1c and M1d the simulated distributions are correctly classified in at least 70% of all cases. However, in a few cases model M1b is only properly classified for intermediate mean values of eggs per host. The models including vibrotaxis as searching behaviour (M2a, M2b and M2c) cannot be distinguished from those with random search if the mean number of eggs per host is low. Among the models incorporating vibrotaxis the three abilities are detected analogously as in models with random search. (shrink)
In this paper, the author defends Peter van Inwagen’s modal skepticism. Van Inwagen accepts that we have much basic, everyday modal knowledge, but denies that we have the capacity to justify philosophically interesting modal claims that are far removed from this basic knowledge. The author also defends the argument by means of which van Inwagen supports his modal skepticism, offering a rebuttal to an objection along the lines of that proposed by Geirrson. Van Inwagen argues that Stephen Yablo’s recent and (...) influential account of the relationship between conceivability and possibility supports his skeptical claims. The author’s defence involves a creative interpretation and development of Yablo’s account, which results in a recursive account of modal epistemology, what the author calls the “safe explanation” theory of modal epistemology. (shrink)
Constructive empiricism is supposed to offer a positive alternative to scientific realism that dispenses with the need for metaphysics. I first review the terms of the debate before arguing that the standard objections to constructive empiricism are not decisive. I then explain van Fraassen's views on modality and counterfactuals, and argue that, because constructive empiricism recommends on epistemological grounds belief in the empirical adequacy rather than the truth of theories, it requires that there be an objective modal distinction between the (...) observable and the unobservable. This conclusion is incompatible with van Fraassen's empiricism. Finally I explain some further problems for constructive empiricism that arise when we consider modal matters. (shrink)
Hilary Putnam and Bas C. van Fraassen have been two pivotal figures in the scientific realism debate in the second half of the twentieth century. Their initial perspectives were antithetical—defining an archetypical scientific realist position (Putnam) and a major empiricism-inspired alternative to scientific realism (van Fraassen). But as the years (and the philosophical debates) went on, there have been important lines of convergence in the stances of these two thinkers, mostly motivated by an increasing flirting with pragmatism and by a (...) growing disdain towards metaphysics. Putnam’s views went through two major turns, in a philosophical journey he aptly described as taking him “from realism back to realism” (1994, 494). Being an arch scientific realist in the 1960s and the early 1970s, he moved to a trenchant critique of metaphysical realism and the adoption of a verificationist-‘internalist’ approach (what he called pragmatic or internal realism), which he upheld roughly until the end of the twentieth century. Then he adopted a direct realist outlook, what he called “common sense” or “natural realism”, which was based on the denial of at least some of the tenets of his internalist period (e.g., the abandonment of a verificationist conception of truth), while at the same time tried to avoid “the phantasies of metaphysical realism”. It is (almost) impossible to cover all aspects of Putnam’s realist endeavours. I will therefore focus on his changing views about scientific realism. Van Fraassen occupied a space in the scientific realism debate that was left vacant by Putnam’s critique of fictionalism and verificationism, viz., an agnostic stance towards the ontological commitments of literally understood scientific theories. His positive alternative to realism, Constructive Empiricism (CE), was meant to be a position suitable for post-positivist empiricists, that is philosophers who a) take for granted the empiricist dictum that all (substantive) knowledge stems from experience; b) take science seriously (but not uncritically) as the paradigm of rational inquiry; and c) take to heart all criticism of the positivist approach to science, bound as it was to issues concerning the language of theories and the privileging of an alleged theory-neutral observational vocabulary.. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen claims that constructive empiricism strikes a balance between the empiricist's commitments to epistemic modesty -- that one's opinion should extend no further beyond the deliverances of experience than is necessary -- and to the rationality of science. In "Should the Empiricist be a Constructive Empiricist?" I argued that if the constructive empiricist follows through on her commitment to epistemic modesty she will find herself adopting a much more extreme position than van Fraassen suggests. Van Fraassen and Bradley (...) Monton have recently responded. My purpose here is to contest their response. The goal is not merely the rebuttal of a rebuttal; there is a lesson to learn concerning the realist/anti-realist dialectic generated by van Fraassen's view. (shrink)
In this three-part paper, my concern is to expound and defend a conception of science, close to Einstein's, which I call aim-oriented empiricism. I argue that aim-oriented empiricsim has the following virtues. (i) It solve the problem of induction; (ii) it provides decisive reasons for rejecting van Fraassen's brilliantly defended but intuitively implausible constructive empiricism; (iii) it solves the problem of verisimilitude, the problem of explicating what it can mean to speak of scientific progress given that science advances from one (...) false theory to another; (iv) it enables us to hold that appropriate scientific theories, even though false, can nevertheless legitimately be interpreted realistically, as providing us with genuine , even if only approximate, knowledge of unobservable physical entities; (v) it provies science with a rational, even though fallible and non-mechanical, method for the discovery of fundamental new theories in physics. In the third part of the paper I show that Einstein made essential use of aim-oriented empiricism in scientific practice in developing special and general relativity. I conclude by considering to what extent Einstein came explicitly to advocate aim-oriented empiricism in his later years. (shrink)
It's been 41 years since the publication of Ernst Mayr's Cause and Effect in Biology wherein Mayr most clearly develops his version of the influential distinction between ultimate and proximate causes in biology. In critically assessing Mayr's essay I uncover false statements and red-herrings about biological explanation. Nevertheless, I argue to uphold an analogue of the ultimate/proximate distinction as it refers to two different kinds of explanations, one dynamical the other statistical.
This paper criticizes the dominant approaches to presupposition projection and proposes an alternative. Both the update semantics of Heim and the discourse representation theory of van der Sandt have problems in explicating the presuppositions of disjunctions. Moreover, Heim's approach is committed to a conception of accommodation that founders on the problem of informative presuppositions, and van der Sandt's approach is committed to a conception of accommodation that generates over-interpretations of utterances. The present approach borrows Karttunen's idea that instead of associating (...) presuppositions with sentences, we should define the conditions that contexts must meet in order to satisfy-the-presuppositions-of a sentence. However, in place of Karttunen's conception of contexts in terms of common ground, the present theory substitutes a conception of contexts as objective entities that are independent of the attitudes of the interlocutors. Contexts, so conceived, may be defined as containing sets of relevant possibilities. This allows us to define the conditions under which a context satisfies-the-presuppositions-of a disjunction. (shrink)
In the thirties, Martin Heidegger was heavily involved with the work of Ernst Jünger (1895-1998). He says that he is indebted to Jünger for the ‘enduring stimulus’ provided by his descriptions. The question is: what exactly could this enduring stimulus be? Several interpreters have examined this question, but the recent publication of lectures and annotations of the thirties allow us to follow Heidegger’s confrontation with Jünger more precisely. -/- According to Heidegger, the main theme of his philosophical thinking in (...) the thirties was the overcoming of the metaphysics of the will to power. But whereas he seems to be quite revolutionary in heralding ‘another beginning’ of philosophy in the beginning of the thirties, he later on realized that his own revolutionary vocabulary was itself influenced by the will to power. In his later work, one of the main issues is the releasement from the wilful way of philosophical thinking. My hypothesis is that Jünger has this importance for Heidegger in the thirties, because the confrontation with Jünger’s way of thinking showed him that the other beginning of philosophy presupposes the irrevocable releasement of willing and a gelassen or non-willing way of philosophical thinking. -/- In this article, we test this hypothesis in relation to the recently published lectures, annotations and unpublished notes from the thirties. After a brief explanation of Jünger’s diagnosis of modernity (§1), we consider Heidegger’s reception of the work of Jünger in the thirties (§2). He not only sees that Jünger belongs to Nietzsche’s metaphysics of the will to power, but also shows the modern-metaphysical character of Jünger’s way of thinking. In section three, we focus on Heidegger’s confrontation with Jünger in relation to the consummation of modernity. According to Heidegger, Jünger is not only the end of modern metaphysics, but also the perishing (Verendung) of this end, the oblivion of this end in the will to power of representation. In section four, we focus on the real controversy between Jünger and Heidegger: the releasement of willing and the necessity of a radical other beginning of philosophical thinking. -/- . (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen's brand of materialism leads him to speculate that God actually removes the deceased at the moment of death and replaces the corpse with a simulacrum that decays or is cremated. Dean Zimmerman offers an account of resurrection that is loyal to Peter van Inwagen's commitment to a materialist metaphysics, with its stress on the earlier life processes of an organism immanently causing its later ones, while maintaining that resurrection is possible without involving God in any ‘body snatching’. (...) My contention is that Zimmerman's account is metaphysically impossible. His alleged ‘solution’ is at odds with the principles governing the ways in which an organism can assimilate new parts. Instead of providing a scenario where we can be resurrected, Zimmerman has merely sketched a scenario where we are duplicated. An alternative materialist account of resurrection is offered, one in which immanent causation is not necessary. (shrink)
First, I'd like to thank Professors Van Till, Pun, and McMullin for their careful and thoughtful replies. There is a deep level of agreement among all four of us; as is customary with replies and replies to replies, however, I shall concentrate on our areas of disagreement. In the cases of Van Till and McMullin, this may give an impression of deeper disagreement than actually exists. In the case of Pun it leaves me with little to say except Yea and (...) Amen; I find no serious disagreement between us. (shrink)
We often speak of an object being composed of various other objects. We say that the deck is composed of the cards, that a road is the sum total of its sections, that a house is composed of its walls, ceilings, floors, doors, etc. Suppose we have some material objects. Here is a philosophical question: what conditions must obtain for those objects to compose something? In his recent book Material Beings, Peter van Inwagen addresses this question, which he calls the (...) ‘special composition question’; his answer is:1 (1) For any material objects X , the X s compose something iff the activity of the X s constitutes a life, or there is only one of the Xs. Additionally, he accepts a simpler thesis that follows from (1):2 (2) Every material object is either a mereological atom or a living thing, where a mereological atom is an object lacking proper parts. (2) may seem radical. If it is true then there are no tables, chairs, planets, protons, galaxies, gas stations, etc. But van Inwagen does not hold it lightly— there are serious difficulties with alternate views. Moreover, he claims that.. (shrink)
One of the most important philosophical topics in the early twentieth century ? and a topic that was seminal in the emergence of analytic philosophy ? was the relationship between Kantian philosophy and modern geometry. This paper discusses how this question was tackled by the Neo-Kantian trained philosopher Ernst Cassirer. Surprisingly, Cassirer does not affirm the theses that contemporary philosophers often associate with Kantian philosophy of mathematics. He does not defend the necessary truth of Euclidean geometry but instead develops (...) a kind of logicism modeled on Richard Dedekind's foundations of arithmetic. Further, because he shared with other Neo-Kantians an appreciation of the developmental and historical nature of mathematics, Cassirer developed a philosophical account of the unity and methodology of mathematics over time. With its impressive attention to the detail of contemporary mathematics and its exploration of philosophical questions to which other philosophers paid scant attention, Cassirer's philosophy of mathematics surely deserves a place among the classic works of twentieth century philosophy of mathematics. Though focused on Cassirer's philosophy of geometry, this paper also addresses both Cassirer's general philosophical orientation and his reading of Kant. (shrink)
In a recent article, van Fraassen has taken issue with the use to which Perrin’s experiments on Brownian motion have been put by philosophers, especially those defending scientific realism. He defends an alternative position by analysing the details of Perrin’s case in its historical context. In this reply, I argue that van Fraassen has not done the job well enough and I extend and in some respects attempt to correct his claims by close attention to the historical details.
A full appreciation for Ernst Mach's doctrine of the economy of thought must take account of his direct realism about particulars (elements) and his anti-realism about space-time laws as economical constructions. After a review of thought economy, its critics and some contemporary forms, the paper turns to the philosophical roots of Mach's doctrine. Mach claimed that the simplest, most parsimonious theories economized memory and effort by using abstract concepts and laws instead of attending to the details of each individual (...) event or experiment. For Mach, the individual case never truly repeated in all of its uniqueness, nor was all of the individual detail of a physical element adequately captured in abstract laws and schemata, however necessary these were for the pursuit of science. As can be shown from specific passages, some already published, some not, Mach's elements included physical qualia in nature similar to Russell's unsensed sensibilia, which existed even where there were no conscious observers. An argument will be presented to make the case that Mach believed in the mind-independent elements from the 1870s on, while other aspects of his thought evolved over time; I have thus dated the references to reflect this historical progression. I concentrate on Mach's ontology, as it bears on economy of thought, not his epistemology per se, which might well have been restricted to observable elements/sensations. After his own conversion to neutral monism, in the 1920s, Bertrand Russell echoed Mach's call for a 'future science' capable of handling the 'intrinsic character' of qualitative data directly without the excessive abstraction of physics. (shrink)
The article reconsiders the Davos-debate between Martin Heidegger and Ernst Cassirer to reassess the discussion of interrelations and differences of their philosophies. The focus is the fecund motifs of thought that each philosopher presents. These are worked out by dispersing the contexts. Heidegger’s primary motifs of thought are identified through the work of Jean-Francois Lyotard as the question of finitude understood as continuance of the event and as the act of understanding the event. The primary motif of thought in (...) Cassirer’s philosophy is identified with the question of form and formation. It is argued that it is possible to think the motifs of event and form in connection with each other. The focal point of connection between their philosophies is uncovered in the relations of form between persons—in the rigorous practice of promising and demanding. The philosophies of Heidegger and Cassirer are thus read in a way where they productively enhance each other without minimizing the differences of their motifs of thought. (shrink)
This essay revisits Meyer Schapiro’s critique of Heidegger’s interpretation of Van Gogh’s painting of a pair of shoes in order to raise the question of the dispute between art history and philosophy as a contest increasingly ceded to the claim of the expert and the hegemony of the museum as culture and as cult or coded signifier. Following a discussion of museum culture, I offer a hermeneutic and phenomenological reading of Heidegger’s ‘Origin of the Work of Art’ and conclude by (...) taking Heidegger’s discussion of the strife between earth and world to the site of the ancient temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae as an example of the insistent foreclosure of the ancient work of art and the conflicts of the pervasive efforts of modern conservation. (shrink)
, I argued that Bas van Fraassen's constructive empiricism was undermined in various ways by his antirealism about modality. Here I offer some comments and responses to the reply to my arguments by Bradley Monton and van Fraassen . In particular, after making some minor points, I argue that Monton and van Fraassen have not done enough to show that the context dependence of counterfactuals renders their truth conditions non-objective, and I also argue that adopting modal realism does after all (...) undermine the motivation for constructive empiricism. Introduction Underdetermination and epistemic modesty Counterfactual observations Modal realism and constructive empiricism. (shrink)
In Belief and the Will, van Fraassen employed a diachronic Dutch Book argument to support a counterintuitive principle called Reflection. There and subsequently van Fraassen has put forth Reflection as a linchpin for his views in epistemology and the philosophy of science, and for the voluntarism (first-person reports of subjective probability are undertakings of commitments) that he espouses as an alternative to descriptivism (first-person reports of subjective probability are merely self-descriptions). Christensen and others have attacked Reflection, taking it to have (...) unpalatable consequences. We prescind from the question of the cogency of diachronic Dutch Book arguments, and focus on Reflection's proper interpretation. We argue that Reflection is not as counterintuitive as it appears — that once interpreted properly the status of the counterexamples given by Christensen and others is left open. We show also that descriptivism can make sense of Reflection, while voluntarism is not especially well suited to do so. (shrink)
What is not often noted about Bas van Fraassen’s distinctive approach to the scientific realism issue is that constructive empiricism, as he defines it, seems to involve a distinctively realist stance in regard to large parts of natural science. This apparent defection from the ranks of his more uncompromisingly anti‐realist colleagues raises many questions. Is he really leaning to realism here? If he is, why is this not more widely noted? And, more important, if he is, is he entitled to (...) this shyly realist concession? Does his many‐pronged attack on what he sees as the main arguments in support of realism leave him with the wherewithal? (shrink)
The article investigates Cassirer’s developing interest in the cultural sciences to display how his Philosophy of Symbolic Forms constitutes a philosophy of culture. The core concept in such a philosophy of culture is the symbolic formation that both possesses a structured-structuring dimension and appears as an historical process in which culture shows itself as a temporal creation. The philosophy of culture displays ‘life in meaning’, that is reality as it exhibits human reality manifested in and through the medium of linguistic, (...) artistic, religious, scientific “and so on” action and behaviour. This reality, therefore, is mediation between culture and nature through human spirit. Cassirer’s philosophy of culture connects back to Kant’s transcendental idealism by emphasizing that any concept of reality establishes itself through a modalization of reality, e.g. that reality constitutes itself in the mode of interpretation. This makes the basis for Cassirer’s characteristic understanding of hermeneutics where cultural development is regarded as drama. (shrink)
Can a phenomenology of culture be at the same time a philosophy of culture? In other words, can a descriptive exploration of acts and objects of culture serve at the same time as a critical reflection on those acts and objects? Or does cultural critique imply a separate and additional task, that of a normative examination of the explored cultural phenomena? What would be the founding values of such an examination? How would it be established? Furthermore, what would be the (...) importance of recognizing the distinct nature of this task compared to the exploratory-descriptive one? How would the two tasks relate to one another? Finally, is a full-fledged philosophy of culture, i.e. a critical exploration of cultural phenomena, needed? And if yes, why? These are the questions addressed by this paper. Answers are sought in a close examination of the work of Ernst Cassirer which involved both a phenomenology of cultural forms as well as an attempt at their normative-critical evaluation. And yet his work was criticized by many for its lack of an ethical dimension, a critique endorsed by another phenomenologist of culture, Alfred Schutz, whose work itself was accused for being non-critical. Beginning with a presentation of these two phenomenologies of culture this paper examines closely the charges directed against Cassirer's comprehensive philosophy of culture, namely, its idealism and its a-moralism. Through this examination the paper aims to shed light on a number of issues pertaining to the questions formulated above. (shrink)
A study of the published and unpublished parts of Ernst Mach's last notebook (1910–14) suggests that Max Planck's attack (1908–11) provoked Mach into opposing ‘The Church of Physics’ more strongly than previously realized. Shortly after Mach threatened to leave the discipline if belief in atoms were required. Albert Einstein tried to persuade him to accept atomism (September 1910). Mach declined to mention Einstein again in his publications and increasingly criticized ‘The Church of Physics’. Evidence that Mach opposed relativity theory (...) and the absence of evidence that he favored it is pointed out. It is suggested that Mach's alleged ‘friendly interest’ in Einstein's work in early 1914 may have been stimulated by the hope that the young genius might develop a continuum or field theory to refute Planck's discontinuity physics. The paper concludes with suggestions on how philosophers who defend Mach's non-realism such as Gereon Wolters and Paul Feyerabend might be better off switching to a realist epistemology more compatible with rationally-held science, religion, and common sense. (shrink)
In this paper, I will argue with Ernst Cassirer that anticipation plays an essential part in the constitution of time, as seen from a transcendental perspective. Time is, as any transcendental concept, regarded as basically relational and subjective and only in a derivative way objective and indifferent to us. This entails that memory is prior to history, and that anticipation is prior to prediction. In this paper, I will give some examples in order to argue for this point. Furthermore, (...) I will also argue, again with Cassirer and contra Henri Bergson, that time should be seen as a functional unity, and not as a collection of three different things-in-themselves (past, present and future). (shrink)
I. Introduction “We can and do see the truth about many things: ourselves, others, trees and animals, clouds and rivers—in the immediacy of experience.”1 Absent from Bas van Fraassen’s list of those things we see are paramecia and mitochondria. We do not see such things, van Fraassen has long maintained, because they are unobservable, that is, they are undetectable by means of the unaided senses.2 But notice that these two notions—what we can see in the “immediacy” of experience and what (...) is detectable by means of the unaided senses—are not the same. There is no incoherence in maintaining that the immediacy of experience is capable of disclosing to us truths concerning entities that are not detectable by the naked eye. And so, I claim, it does; science and technology provide us with the means to see things we have never seen before. Some of those things are van Fraassen’s unobservables. That suggestion is nothing new. Grover Maxwell long ago emphasized the continuity between seeing with and without instrumentation.3 Van Fraassen originally provided two responses to Maxwell’s arguments: some things that you can see with instruments you can also see without instruments (and those are the observables); and. (shrink)
This paper provides a précis of Ernst Cassirer’s concept of art as a symbolic form. It does so, though, in a specific respect. It points to the fact that Cassirer’s concept of “symbolic form” is two-sided. On the one hand, the concept captures general cultural phenomena that are not only meaningful but also manifest the way man makes sense of the world; thus myth, religion, and art are considered general symbolic forms. On the other hand, it captures the formal (...) structures and semiotic tools thanks to which meaning is constructed within each general symbolic form (Cassirer called these structures “modes of objectivation”); thus, in art, perspective or the golden section are well-known examples of symbolic forms, now in a narrow sense, i.e. they are means to configure parts into an organized, meaningful whole. The paper will comment on art along both these two dimensions, but its main goal is to provide with concrete examples of aesthetic symbolic forms in the narrow sense in order to show how conceptual meaning can be inscribed in the space of aesthetic intuition. (shrink)
Here, I shall argue that Van Helmont needs to be added to the list of sources on which Newton drew when formulating his doctrine of absolute time. This by no means implies that Van Helmont is the factual source of Newton's views on absolute time (I have found no clear-cut evidence in support of this claim). It is by no means my aim to debunk the importance of the other sources, but rather to broaden them. Different authors help to explain (...) different aspects of Newton's conception of absolute time. (shrink)
There is a natural objection to the epistemic coherence of Bas van Fraassen’s use of a distinction between the observable and unobservable in his constructive empiricism, an objection that has been raised with particular clarity by Alan Musgrave. We outline Musgrave’s objection, and then consider how one might interpret and evaluate van Fraassen’s response. According to the constructive empiricist, observability for us is measured with respect to the epistemic limits of human beings qua measuring devices, limitations ‘which will be described (...) in detail in the final physics and biology’ (van Fraassen 1980: 17). In order for the constructive empiricist to determine what counts as observable, he will have to appeal to our best scientific theories of light, human physiology, and so forth. To put the same point in a slightly more abstract way, in order to draw a distinction between observable and unobservable entities, the constructive empiricist needs to use his best scientific theory of observability – call it T* – to tell him the identity of the observable entities. This raises an interesting difficulty. Constructive empiricism is the view that ‘science aims to give us theories that are empirically adequate; and acceptance of a theory involves as belief only that it is empirically adequate’ (van Fraassen 1980:12). When he accepts a theory, the constructive empiricist only believes the statements of his scientific theories that are about observable entities. Thus, in order to know which statements of a scientific theory to believe, the constructive empiricist needs to know which statements of that theory are about observable entities. In particular then, the constructive empiricist only believes the statements of his theory of observability T* that are about observable entities. Therefore, in order to know which statements of T* he can believe, the constructive empiricist needs to know which statements of T* are about observable entities. However, it is T* that tells the constructive empiricist what counts as an observable entity: the constructive empiricist therefore needs to use T* to tell him which statements of T* he can believe. The fact that the distinction drawn by T* must also apply to itself is not an immediate cause for alarm.. (shrink)
Van den Belt recently examined the notion that synthetic biology and the creation of ‘artificial’ organisms are examples of scientists ‘playing God’. Here I respond to some of the issues he raises, including some of his comments on my previous discussions of the value of the term ‘life’ as a scientific concept.
In his book The Problem of Evil, Van Inwagen aims to establish that the problem of evil is a failure. My article considers his response to the evidential problem of evil. His response relies on a fundamental assumption: “Every possible world God could have actualized contains patterns of suffering morally equivalent to those of the actual world, or else is massively irregular.” While it may not be unreasonable to suggest that it is logically possible that an omnipotent, omniscient being is (...) unable to actualize a better world, a world with somewhat less, prolonged animal suffering, this hardly amounts to an adequate response to the evidential problem of evil, an argument that endeavors to establish that it is more likely than not that an omniscient, omnipotent being could have created such a world. (shrink)
The argument given by Peter van Inwagen for the second premise on his "First Formal Argument" in An Essay on Free Will is invalid. The second premise hinges on the principle that since a proposition p , some statement about the present, is actually true, ~p can't be true. ~p must be false. What is the reason? The principle is that ~p cannot be true at the same time as p . I argue that, among other things, in its attachment (...) to this sort of principle, van Inwagen's argument commits the most familiar of all the modal scope fallacies. (shrink)
Hacking argues against van Fraassen's constructive empiricism by appeal to features of microscopic imaging. Hacking relies on both our practices involving imaging instruments and the structure of the images produced by these micropractices. Van Fraassen's reply is formally correct yet fundamentally unsatisfying. I aim to strengthen van Fraassen's reply, but must then extend constructive empiricism, specifically the central notion of "theoretical immersion." I argue that immersion is more analogous to entering a virtual reality than to learning a language. This metaphor (...) assimilates instrument-based practice as well as theoretical debate and explanation, and can provide an anti-realist view of our micro-practices consonant with constructive empiricism. (shrink)
Klaus Ruthenberg and Jaap van Brakel (eds): Stuff. The nature of chemical substances Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 183-186 DOI 10.1007/s10698-009-9077-6 Authors Martín Labarca, CONICET, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes Buenos Aires Argentina Olimpia Lombardi, CONICET, Universidad de Buenos Aires Buenos Aires Argentina Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238 Journal Volume Volume 11 Journal Issue Volume 11, Number 3.
Ernst Mayr's typological/population distinction is a conceptual thread that runs throughout much of his work in systematics, evolutionary biology, and the history and philosophy of biology. Mayr himself claims that typological thinking originated in the philosophy of Plato and that population thinking was first introduced by Charles Darwin and field naturalists. A more proximate origin of the typological/population thinking, however, is found in Mayr's own work on species. This paper traces the antecedents of the typological/population distinction by detailing Mayr's (...) changing views of species between 1942 and 1955. During this period, Mayr struggles to refine the biological species concept in the face of tensions that exist between studying species locally and studying them as geographically distributed collections of variable populations. The typological/population distinction is first formulated in 1955, when Mayr generalizes from the type concept versus the population concept in taxonomy to typological versus population thinking in biology more generally. Mayr's appeal to the more general distinction between typological and population thinking coincides with the waning status of natural history and evolutionary biology that occurs in the early 1950s and the distinction plays an important role in Mayr's efforts to legitimate the natural historical sciences. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen has recently argued for a "dissolution" of Hilary Putnam's well-known model-theoretic argument. In this paper I argue that, as it stands, van Fraassen's reply to Putnam is unsuccessful. Nonetheless, it suggests the form a successful response might take.
In this paper I do two things: (1) I support the claim that there is still some confusion about just what the Quine-Putnam indispensability argument is and the way it employs Quinean meta-ontology and (2) I try to dispel some of this confusion by presenting the argument in a way which reveals its important meta-ontological features, and include these features explicitly as premises. As a means to these ends, I compare Peter van Inwagen’s argument for the existence of properties with (...) Putnam’s presentation of the indispensability argument. Van Inwagen’s argument is a classic exercise in Quinean meta-ontology and yet he claims – despite his argument’s conspicuous similarities to the Quine-Putnam argument – that his own has a substantially different form. I argue, however, that there is no such difference between these two arguments even at a very high level of specificity; I show that there is a detailed generic indispensability argument that captures the single form of both. The arguments are identical in every way except for the kind of objects they argue for – an irrelevant difference for my purposes. Furthermore, Putnam’s and van Inwagen’s presentations make an assumption that is often mistakenly taken to be an important feature of the Quine-Putnam argument. Yet this assumption is only the implicit backdrop against which the argument is typically presented. This last point is brought into sharper relief by the fact that van Inwagen’s list of the four nominalistic responses to his argument is too short. His list is missing an important – and historically popular – fifth option. (shrink)
Ernst Mayr''s distinction between ultimate and proximate causes is justly considered a major contribution to philosophy of biology. But how did Mayr come to this philosophical distinction, and what role did it play in his earlier scientific work? I address these issues by dividing Mayr''s work into three careers or phases: 1) Mayr the naturalist/researcher, 2) Mayr the representative of and spokesman for evolutionary biology and systematics, and more recently 3) Mayr the historian and philosopher of biology. If we (...) want to understand the role of the proximate/ultimate distinction in Mayr''s more recent career as a philosopher and historian, then it helps to consider hisearlier use of the distinction, in the course of his research, and in his promotion of the professions of evolutionary biology and systematics. I believe that this approach would also shed light on some other important philosophical positions that Mayr has defended, including the distinction between essentialism: and population thinking. (shrink)
This article criticizes the attempts by Bas van Fraassen and Michael Friedman to address the challenge to rationality posed by the Kuhnian analysis of scientific revolutions. In the paper, I argue that van Fraassen's solution, which invokes a Sartrean theory of emotions to account for radical change, does not amount to justifying rationally the advancement of science but, rather, despite his protestations to the contrary, is an explanation of how change is effected. Friedman's approach, which appeals to philosophical developments at (...) a meta-theoretical level, does not really address the problem of rationality as posed by Kuhn's work. Instead of showing how, despite revolutions, scientific development is, indeed, rational, he gives a transcendental account of rational scientific progress. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen’s empiricist reading of Perrin’s achievement invites the question: whose doubts about atoms did Perrin put to rest? This comment recontextualizes the argument and applies the notion of empirical grounding to some contemporary work in behavioral biology.
Van Fraassen's epistemology is forged from two commitments, one to a type of Bayesianism and the other to what he terms voluntarism. Van Fraassen holds that if one is going to follow a rule in belief-revision, it must be a Bayesian rule, but that one does not need to follow a rule in order to be rational. It is argued that van Fraassen's arguments for rejecting non-Bayesian rules is unsound, and that his voluntarism is subject to a fatal dilemma arising (...) from the non-monotonic character of reasoning. (shrink)
I offer an appreciation and critique of Ernst Fehrs altruism research in experimental economics that challenges the "selfishness axiom" as an account of human behavior. I describe examples of Fehrs experiments and their results and consider his conceptual terminology, particularly his "biological" definition of altruism and its counterintuitive implications. I also look at Fehrs experiments from a methodological perspective and examine his explanations of subjects behavior. In closing, I look at Fehrs neuroscientific work in experimental economics and question his (...) adherence to a subjective expected utility interpretation of subjects behavior. Key Words: altruism Ernst Fehr strong reciprocity neuroeconomics experimental economics. (shrink)
Van Gelder has presented a position which he ties closely to a broad class of models known as dynamical models. While supporting many of his broader claims about the importance of this class (as has been argued by connectionists for quite some time), I note that there are a number of unique characteristics of his brand of dynamicism. I suggest that these characteristics engender difficulties for his view.
For a biological anthropologist interested in the prehistory of religion, J. Wentzel van Huyssteen's book is welcome and resonant. Van Huyssteen's central thesis is that humans' capacity for spirituality emerges from a transformation of cognition and emotions that takes place in the symbolic realm, within Homo sapiens and apart from biology. To his thesis I bring to bear three areas of response: the abundant cognitive and emotional capacities of living apes and extinct hominids; the role of symbolic ritual in the (...) evolutionary history of Homo sapiens; and the closely intertwined nature of biology and culture in the workings of evolutionary change. (shrink)
L. Albertazzi, G. J. van Tonder, and D. Vishwanath (eds): Perception Beyond Inference: The Information Content of Visual Processes Content Type Journal Article Pages 53-55 DOI 10.1007/s11023-011-9253-z Authors Lorenzo Magnani, Department of Philosophy and Computational Philosophy Laboratory, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy Journal Minds and Machines Online ISSN 1572-8641 Print ISSN 0924-6495 Journal Volume Volume 22 Journal Issue Volume 22, Number 1.
A careful analysis of Salmon’s Theoretical Realism and van Fraassen’s Constructive Empiricism shows that both share a common origin: the requirement of literal construal of theories inherited by the Standard View. However, despite this common starting point, Salmon and van Fraassen strongly disagree on the existence of unobservable entities. I argue that their different ontological commitment towards the existence of unobservables traces back to their different views on the interpretation of probability via different conceptions of induction. In fact, inferences to (...) statements claiming the existence of unobservable entities are inferences to probabilistic statements, whence the crucial importance of the interpretation of probability. (shrink)
In [HKL00] (henceforth HKL), Hamm, Kamp and van Lambalgen declare ‘‘there is no opposition between formal and cognitive semantics,’’ notwithstanding the realist/mentalist divide. That divide separates two sides Jackendo¤ has (in [Jac96], following Chomsky) labeled E(xternalized)-semantics, relating language to a reality independent of speakers, and I(nternalized)-semantics, revolving around mental representations and thought. Although formal semanticists have (following David Lewis) traditionally leaned towards E-semantics, it is reasonable to apply formal methods also to I-semantics. This point is made clear in HKL via (...) two computational approaches to natural language semantics, Discourse Representation Theory (DRT, [KR93]) and the Event Calculus (EC) presented in [LH05]. In this short note, I wish to raise certain questions about EC that can be traced to the applicability of formal methods to E-semantics and I-semantics alike. These opposing orientations suggest di¤erent notions of time, event and representation. (shrink)
Ernst Mayr’s influence on philosophy of biology has given the field a particular perspective on evolution, phylogeny and life in general. Using debates about the tree of life as a guide, I show how Mayrian evolutionary biology excludes numerous forms of life and many important evolutionary processes. Hybridization and lateral gene transfer are two of these processes, and they occur frequently, with important outcomes in all domains of life. Eukaryotes appear to have a more tree-like history because successful lateral (...) events tend to occur among more closely related species, or at a lower frequency, than in prokaryotes, but this is a difference of degree rather than kind. Although the tree of life is especially problematic as a representation of the evolutionary history of prokaryotes, it can function more generally as an illustration of the limitations of a standard evolutionary perspective. Moreover, for philosophers, questions about the tree of life can be applied to the Mayrian inheritance in philosophy of biology. These questions make clear that the dichotomy of life Mayr suggested is based on too narrow a perspective. An alternative to this dichotomy is a multidimensional continuum in which different strategies of genetic exchange bestow greater adaptiveness and evolvability on prokaryotes and eukaryotes. (shrink)
Abstract In his book Metaphysics, Peter van Inwagen constructs a version of the Cosmological Argument which does not depend on the Principle of Sufficient Reason. He goes on to reject the argument. In this paper, I construct an alternative version of the Cosmological Argument that uses some of van Inwagen's insights and yet is immune to his criticisms. If we suppose that for each contingent truth, there is some at least partial explanation, then it follows that there is some necessary (...) truth that explains the conjunction of all the contingent truths. (shrink)
Constructivism rejects the metaphysical position that “truth”, and thus knowledge in science, can represent an “objective” reality, independent of the knower. It modifies the role of knowledge from “true” representation to functional viability. In this interview, Ernst von Glasersfeld, the leading proponent of Radical Constructivism underlines the inaccessibility of reality, and proposes his view that the function of cognition is adaptive, in the biological sense: the adaptation is the result of the elimination of all that is not adapted. There (...) is no rational way of knowing anything outside the domain of our experience and we construct our world of experiences. In addition to these philosophical claims, the interviewee provides some personal insights; he also gives some suggestions about better teaching and problem solving. These are the aspects of constructivism that have had a major impact on instruction and have modified the manner many of us teach. The process of teaching as linguistic communication, he says, needs to change in a way to involve actively the students in the construction of their knowledge. Because knowledge is not a transferable commodity, learning is mainly identified with the activity of the construction of personal meaning. This interview also provides glimpses on von Glasersfeld’s life. (shrink)
Presented here are translations of two essays of the Austrian logician, philosopher and experimental psychologist Ernst Mally, originally delivered at the Third International Congress of Philosophy in Heidelberg, Germany. Both essays conclude with discussion between Mally and Kurt Grelling. Mally was a student of Alexius Meinong and a contributor to logical investigations in the field of object theory (Gegenstandstheorie). In these essays, Mally introduces a vital distinction between formal and extra-formal ?determinations? (Bestimmungen), and he argues that formal determinations are (...) not part of the identity conditions for intended objects, but provide the basis for a theory of pure logical and mathematical relations. Mally then proceeds to develop a formal logic of formal and extra-formal determinations, whose interrelations of ontic and modal predications provide an analysis of fundamental object theory concepts. (shrink)
Clark ends his appendix with a description of what he calls "dynamic computationalism", which he describes as an interesting hybrid between DST and GOFAI. My 'horseLISP" example could be described as an example of dynamic computationalism. It is clearly not as eliminativist as Van Gelder's computational governor example, for I am trying to come up with something like identities between computational entities and dynamic ones. Thus unlike other dynamicists, I am not doing what Clark calls "embracing a different vocabulary for (...) the understanding and analysis of brain events". I think we probably can keep much of the computational vocabulary, although the meanings of many of its terms will probably shift as much as the meaning of 'atom' has shifted since Dalton's time. The label of "dynamic computationalism" is perhaps as good a description of my position as any, but I think I would mean something slightly different by it than Clark would. (For the following, please insert the mantra "of course, this is an empirical question" (OCTEQ) every paragraph or so.). (shrink)
In an article in Utilitas Theo van Willigenburg has argued that moral valuation is distinguished from other forms of valuation by the Kantian concept of respect. He criticizes, from that standpoint, an account I put forward, which builds on the connections between moral wrongdoing, blame and withdrawal of recognition. I examine the difference between these two approaches and defend my own.
The present discussion of sociobiological approaches to ethnic nepotism takes Pierre van den Berghe ʼs theory as a starting point. Two points, which have not been addressed in former analyses, are considered to be of particular importance. It is argued that the behavioral mechanism of ethnic nepotism—as understood by van den Berghe—cannot explain ethnic boundaries and attitudes. In addition, I show that van den Bergheʼs central premise concerning ethnic nepotism is in contradiction to Hamiltonʼs formula, the essential principle of kin (...) selection theory. It is further discussed how other approaches that make reference to ethnic nepotism are related to van den Bergheʼs account and its problems. I conclude with remarks on the evolutionary explanation of ethnic phenomena. (shrink)
In his recent book on the problem of evil, Peter van Inwagen argues that both the global and local arguments from evil are failures. In this paper, we engagevan Inwagen’s book at two main points. First, we consider his understanding of what it takes for a philosophical argument to succeed. We argue that whilehis criterion for success is interesting and helpful, there is good reason to think it is too stringent. Second, we consider his responses to the global andlocal arguments (...) from evil. We argue that although van Inwagen may have adequately responded to each of these arguments, his discussion points us toa third argument from evil to which he has yet to provide a response. (shrink)
It is the aim of work in theoretical cognitive science to produce good theories of what exactly cognition amounts to, preferably theories which not only provide a framework for fruitful empirical investigation, but which also shed light on cognitive activity itself, which help us to understand our place, as cognitive agents, in a complex causally determined physical universe. The most recent such framework to gain significant fame is the so-called dynamical approach to cognition (henceforth DST, for Dynamical Systems Theory ). (...) Explaining and exploring DST is the purpose of the collection Mind as Motion: Explorations in the Dynamics of Cognition , edited by Robert Port and Timothy van Gelder. (shrink)
In this essay I first review Kaplan’s theory of linguistic character, and then explain and motivate a concept of doxastic character. I then develop some concepts for dealing with the topic of belief retention and then, finally, discuss Rip Van Winkle. I come down on Kaplan’s side with respect to the Frege-inspired strategy, narrowly construed. But I advocate something like the Frege-inspired strategy, if it is construed more broadly. On my view it is remarkably easy to retain a belief, and (...) I think Evans is quite wrong about Rip and Kaplan. The central concept I develop, however, that of an information game, is in the spirit of much of Evans’ work. I also borrow some of his terminology. (shrink)