Patricia Williams made a number of claims concerning the methods and practise of cladistic analysis and classification. Her argument rests upon the distinction of two kinds of hierarchy: a divisional hierarchy depicting evolutionary descent and the Linnean hierarchy describing taxonomic groups in a classification. Williams goes on to outline five problems with cladistics that lead her to the conclusion that systematists should eliminate cladism as a school of biological taxonomy and to replace it either with something that is (...) philosophically coherent or to replace it with pure methodology, untainted by theory (Williams 1992, 151). Williams makes a number of points which she feels collectively add up to insurmountable problems for cladistics. We examine Williams' views concerning the two hierarchies and consider what cladists currently understand about the status of ancestors. We will demonstrate that Williams has seriously misunderstood many modern commentators on this subject and all of her five persistent problems are derivable from this misunderstanding. Some persons believe and argue, on grounds approaching faith it seems to me, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of evolution. Others have found to their surprise, and sometimes dismay, that phylogeny comes from our knowledge of systematics. Nelson (1989, 67). (shrink)
Williams, Ron As I consider the list of previous AHOY recipients since the inaugural award in 1983, I can only say that this is an immeasurable honour. It means much to me because, for almost ten years now, Humanism has been there for my family. In 2005-2006, when separation of church and state school issues first crept into our lives, the Humanist Society of Queensland was to appear as the only beacon of secularist activism upon the deep northern horizon. (...) So in 2006 Andrea and I joined the HSQ. (shrink)
Henry Morris (1889-1961), the great educational philosopher, and initiator of the integrated community educational centre - embodied in the Cambridgeshire village college system - was county education officer and had his first 'memorandum' on the concept of community education printed by the Cambridge University Press. 1984 is both the 60th anniversary of his first memorandum and the 400th anniversary of the Press and this commemorative book will be published to coincide with a number of events to celebrate that. The (...) book is a collection of his papers, mainly about community education, edited by Professor Harry Re;e, who is closely associated with the Community Education Development Centre in Coventry. (shrink)
Without needing to commit to any specific claims about what states of affairs have most agent-neutral value, we can nevertheless predict that states of affairs which are relatively valuable are also relatively likely to occur—on the grounds that, all else equal, at least some other agents are likely to recognize the value of those states of affairs, pursue them because they are valuable, and successfully bring them about as a consequence of that pursuit. This gives us a way to promote (...) value as such, rather than promoting it under some more tendentious description. We can predict that actions which help other people—or our own future selves—to recognize valuable states of affairs, actions which motivate them to pursue whatever states of affairs they believe to be valuable, or actions which help them succeed at their pursuits will, all else equal, have positive consequences. So we have a pro tanto reason to take such actions, and the subjective justification of that reason is independent of other moral claims. (shrink)
Â‘First. That on October 23, in the city of New York, your relator was arrested by divers persons claiming to be acting by authority of the government of the United States, and was by said persons conveyed to the United States immigration station at Ellis island, in the harbor of New York, and is now there imprisoned by the commissioner of immigration of the port of New York.
In this paper we argue that individuals in modern societies can share a general appreciation of the contingency of moral and political engagement without endangering these purposeful attachments. Depending upon the acceptance of various cognitive conventions, social practices and institutions cannot be sustained by appeals to advantage alone, but these conventions do not demand ontological commitment. Transparent fictions rather than ideological illusions can suffice to sustain valued forms of life. In contrast to Rorty's ironic society in which "only the intellectuals (...) would be ironists", we suggest the benign disillusionment can characterize the public generally. (shrink)
I supply an argument for Evans's principle that whatever justifies me in believing that p also justifies me in believing that I believe that p. I show how this principle helps explain how I come to know my own beliefs in a way that normally makes me the best authority on them. Then I show how the principle helps to solve Moore's paradoxes.
Fred Dretske's "Knowledge and the Flow of Information" is an extended attempt to develop a philosophically useful theory of information. Dretske adapts central ideas from Shannon and Weaver's mathematical theory of communication, and applies them to some traditional problems in epistemology. In doing so, he succeeds in building for philosophers a much-needed bridge to important work in cognitive science. The pay-off for epistemologists is that Dretske promises a way out of a long-standing impasse -- the Gettier problem. He offers an (...) alternative model of knowledge as information-based belief, which purports to avoid the problems justificatory accounts face. This essay looks closely at Dretske's theory. I argue that while the information-theoretic framework is attractive, it does not provide an adequate account of knowledge. And there seems to be no way of tightening the theory without introducing some version of a theory of justification -- the very notion Dretske's theory was designed to avoid. (shrink)
Although Hume has no developed semantic theory, in the heyday of analytic philosophy he was criticized for his “meaning empiricism,” which supposedly committed him to a private world of ideas, led him to champion a genetic account of meaning instead of an analytic one, and confused “impressions” with “perceptions of an objective realm.” But another look at Hume’s “meaning empiricism” reveals that his criterion for cognitive content, the cornerstone both of his resolutely anti-metaphysical stance and his naturalistic “science of human (...) nature,” provides the basis for a successful response to his critics. Central to his program for reforming philosophy, Hume’s use of the criterion has two distinct aspects: a critical or negative aspect, which assesses the content of the central notions of metaphysical theories to demonstrate their unintelligibility; and a constructive or positive aspect, which accurately determines the cognitive content of terms and ideas. (shrink)
Pickering and Chater (P&C) maintain that folk psychology and cognitive science should neither compete nor cooperate. Each is an independent enterprise, with a distinct subject matter and characteristic modes of explanation. P&C''s case depends upon their characterizations of cognitive science and folk psychology. We question the basis for their characterizations, challenge both the coherence and the individual adequacy of their contrasts between the two, and show that they waver in their views about the scope of each. We conclude that P&C (...) do not so muchdiscover ascreate the gap they find between folk psychology and cognitive science. It is an artifact of their implausible and unmotivated attempt to demarcate the two areas, and of the excessively narrow accounts they give of each. (shrink)
The dissimilarities between human artefacts and the universe are striking. We experience only a tiny part of the universe, and much of that is unknown to us. Aren’t our inferences hopelessly anthropomorphic; why not compare the universe to a plant or animal instead?
Historically labor has been central to human interactions with the environment, yet environmentalists pay it scant attention. Indeed, they have been critical of those who foreground labor in their politics, socialists in particular. However, environmentalists have found the nineteenth-century socialist William Morris appealing despite the fact that he wrote extensively on labor. This paper considers the place of labor in the relationship between humanity and the natural world in the work of Morris and two of his contemporaries, the (...) eminent scientist Thomas Henry Huxley, and the Fabian socialist Herbert George Wells. I suggest that Morris's conception of labor has much to recommend it to environmentalists who are also interested in issues of social justice. (shrink)
During the British socialist revival of the 1880s competing theories of evolution were central to disagreements about strategy for social change. In News from Nowhere (1891), William Morris had portrayed socialism as the result of Lamarckian processes, and imagined a non-Malthusian future. H.G. Wells, an enthusiastic admirer of Morris in the early days of the movement, became disillusioned as a result of the Malthusianism he learnt from Huxley and his subsequent rejection of Lamarckism in light of Weismann's experiments (...) on mice. This brought him into conflict with his fellow Fabian, George Bernard Shaw, who rejected neo-Darwinism in favour of a Lamarckian conception of change he called "creative evolution.". (shrink)
This article examines William Morris’s idea of Englishness, considered through a critique of his concept of fellowship or community. It looks at the charge that Morris wrongly neglected the importance of nationality as a focus for organization in socialism, preferring instead an internationalist ideal, based on an unworkable model of small-scale community. I defend Morris against these claims by arguing that Morris’s socialism was consistent with expressions of nationality and that his communitarianism was grounded on a (...) concept of enjoyable labour, not friendship as is often supposed. (shrink)