Abstract Ecological communities around the world are under threat while a consensus theory of community structure remains elusive. In the last decade ecologists have struggled with two seemingly opposing theories: niche-based theory that explains diversity with species’ differences and the neutral theory of biodiversity that claims that much of the diversity we observe can be explained without explicitly invoking species’ differences. Although ecologists are increasingly attempting to reconcile these two theories, there is still much resistance against the neutral theory of (...) biodiversity. Here we argue that the dispute between the two theories is a classic example of the dichotomy between philosophical perspectives, realism and instrumentalism. Realism is associated with specific, small-scale and detailed explanations, whereas instrumentalism is linked to general, large-scale, but less precise accounts. Recognizing this will help ecologists get both niche-based and neutral theories in perspective as useful tools for understanding biodiversity patterns. Content Type Journal Article Category Regular Article Pages 1-15 DOI 10.1007/s10441-012-9144-6 Authors Paul L. Wennekes, Community and Conservation Ecology Group, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands James Rosindell, Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Rampal S. Etienne, Community and Conservation Ecology Group, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342. (shrink)
There is a long-standing debate whether propositions, sentences, statements or utterances provide an answer to the question of what objects logical formulas stand for. Based on the traditional understanding of logic as a science of valid arguments, this question is firstly framed more exactly, making explicit that it calls not only for identifying some class of objects, but also for explaining their relationship to ordinary language utterances. It is then argued that there are strong arguments against the proposals commonly put (...) forward in the debate. The core of the problem is that an informative account of the objects formulas stand for presupposes a theory of formalization; that is, a theory that explains what formulas may adequately substitute for an inference in proofs of validity. Although such theories are still subject to research, some consequences can be drawn from an analysis of the reasons why the common accounts featuring sentences, propositions or utterances fail. Theories of formalization cannot refer to utterances qua expressions of propositions; instead they may refer to sentences and rely on additional information about linguistic structure and pragmatic context. (shrink)
In non-philosophical discourse, “identity” is often used when the specific character of artefacts is described or evaluated. We argue that this usage of “identity” can be explicated as referring to the symbol properties of artefacts as they are conceptualized in the symbol theory of Goodman and Elgin. This explication is backed by an analysis of various uses of “identity”. The explicandum clearly differs from the concepts of numerical identity, qualitative identity and essence, but it has a range of similarities with (...) the notion of self-concept used in psychology and practical philosophy. The proposed explication is used to analyse claims about identity-pluralism and identity-conflicts. Firstly, the explication allows us to distinguish various ways how the same artefact can have a plurality of identities. Secondly, more or less sharp conflicts within an identity or between identities of an artefact are distinguished. Thirdly, many phenomena called “identity-conflicts” are only apparently identity-conflicts and can be analysed as involving some other form of tension. (shrink)
Sustainable development calls for choices among alternative policy options. It is a common view that such choices can be justified by appealing to an evaluative ranking of the options with respect to how their consequences affect a broad range of prudential and moral values. Three philosophically motivated proposals for analysing evaluative rankings are discussed: the measured merits model (e.g. Chang), the ordered values model (e.g. Griffin), and the permissible preference orderings model (Rabinowicz). The analysis focuses on the modelsâ potential for (...) making transparent how an evaluative ranking can contribute to a justified choice among options, particularly in situations that involve diverse values as typically found in debates on sustainable development. Such transparency plays a crucial role when policy rankings are going to be used as arguments in political decision processes. The measured merits model is found to have questionable consequences for the concept of sustainability, while the ordered values model calls for an axiological framework that cannot plausibly be spelled out for sustainability. The permissible preference orderings model is more promising. Its formal structure and its ability to deal with value-pluralism provide an interesting re-structuring of the problem of justifying choices in sustainability issues. (shrink)
This paper is about the situation in which an author (writer or speaker) presents a deductively invalid argument, but the addressee aims at a charitable interpretation and has reason to assume that the author intends to present a valid argument. How can he go about interpreting the author’s reasoning as enthymematically valid? We suggest replacing the usual find-the-missing-premise approaches by an approach based on systematic efforts to ascribe a belief state to the author against the background of which the argument (...) has to be evaluated. The suggested procedure includes rules for recording whether the author in fact accepts or denies the premises and the conclusion, as well as tests for enthymematic validity and strategies for revising belief state ascriptions. Different degrees of interpretive charity can be exercised. This is one reason why the interpretation or reconstruction of an enthymematic argument typically does not result in a unique outcome. (shrink)
The natural based view of the firm using Hart (1995) is applied to firm responses in the Carbon Disclose Project (CDP) database. A large cross sectional sample(n=573) of North American and European firms is divided into 3 categories of proactivity to the climate change issue using 8 indicators of four resource domains. Results are presented along geographic and size dimensions.
I suggest a possible rehabilitation of Reid's philosophy of mind by a constructive use of Kant's criticisms of the common sense tradition. Kant offers two criticisms, explicitly claiming that common sense philosophy is ill directed methodologically, and implicitly rejecting Reid's view that there is direct epistemological access by introspection to the ontology of mind. Putting the two views together reveals a tension between epistemology and ontology, but the problem which Kant finds in Reid also infects his own system, as his (...) weaker ontological claims are undermined to such an extent by the necessary reintroduction of self-consciousness that the justification he seeks for reason fails to be reached epistemologically. Plausible solutions to these parallel tensions imply that both Reid and Kant have a pre-systematic concept of mind, and may lead to the conclusion that Reid's method is more economical in the elaboration of an ontology for the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Étienne de La Boétie (1530–63) is a central, if enigmatic, figure in modern French political philosophy. While his name is most famous for his friendship with Montaigne, his Discours de la servitude volontaire (Discourse of Voluntary Servitude) is a tour-de-force of humanist political writing, a youthful paean to liberty arguing that subjection to tyrants is the result of popular corruption. This article argues that the text can be read as a reflection on the perils and promise of transparency. Reading La (...) Boétie helps us see two radically different ways in which members of a polity can be known to one another – two models of transparency – and it offers an important, but ultimately unsettling, political ideal based on a classical conception of civic friendship. The article draws out the importance of this ideal for modern anti-corruption efforts. (shrink)