[Michael Friedman] This paper considers the extent to which Kant's vision of a distinctively 'transcendental' task for philosophy is essentially tied to his views on the foundations of the mathematical and physical sciences. Contemporary philosophers with broadly Kantian sympathies have attempted to reinterpret his project so as to isolate a more general philosophical core not so closely tied to the details of now outmoded mathematical-physical theories (Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics). I consider two such attempts, those of Strawson and McDowell, (...) and argue that they fundamentally distort the original Kantian impulse. I then consider Buchdahl's attempt to preserve the link between Kantian philosophy and the sciences while simultaneously generalizing Kant's doctrines in light of later scientific developments. I argue that Buchdahl's view, while not adequate as in interpretation of Kant in his own eighteenth century context, is nonetheless suggestive of an historicized and relativized revision of Kantianism that can do justice to both Kant's original philosophical impulse and the radical changes in the sciences that have occurred since Kant's day. /// [Graham Bird] Michael Friedman criticises some recent accounts of Kant which 'detach' his transcendental principles from the sciences, and do so in order to evade naturalism. I argue that Friedman's rejection of that 'detachment' is ambiguous. In its strong form, which I claim Kant rejects, the principles of Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics are represented as transcendental principles. In its weak form, which I believe Kant accepts, it treats those latter principles as higher order conditions of the possibility of both science and ordinary experience. I argue also that the appeal to naturalism is unhelpful because that doctrine is seriously unclear, and because the accounts Friedman criticises are open to objections independent of any appeal to naturalism. (shrink)
This is a rewarding book. In terms of area, it has one foot firmly planted in metaphysics and the other just as firmly set in the philosophy of science. Nature's Metaphysics is distinctive for its thorough and detailed defense of fundamental, natural properties as essentially dispositional and for its description of how these dispositional properties are thus suited to sustain the laws of nature as (metaphysically) necessary truths.
In this paper I outline my conception of the epistemology of science, by reference to my published papers, showing how the ideas presented there fit together. In particular I discuss the aim of science, scientific progress, the nature of scientific evidence, the failings of empiricism, inference to the best (or only) explanation, and Kuhnian psychology of discovery. Throughout, I emphasize the significance of the concept of scientific knowledge.
In this paper, I seek to caution the increasing number of contemporary sociologists who are engaging with continental phenomenological sociology without looking at the Anglo-American tradition. I look at a particular debate that took place during the formative period in the Anglo-American tradition. My focus is on the way participants sought to negotiate the disciplinary division between philosophy and sociology. I outline various ways that these disciplinary exigencies, especially the institutional struggles with the sociological establishment, shaped how participants defined phenomenological (...) sociology. I argue that despite the supposed theoretical, methodological, and substantial differences between these waves of phenomenological sociology, the contemporary wave could benefit from some of the lessons that were learned by their predecessors. (shrink)
W. V. Quine was the most important naturalistic philosopher of the twentieth century and a major impetus for the recent resurgence of the view that empirical science is our best avenue to knowledge. His views, however, have not been well understood. Critics charge that Quine’s naturalized epistemology is circular and that it cannot be normative. Yet, such criticisms stem from a cluster of fundamental traditional assumptions regarding language, theory, and the knowing subject – the very presuppositions that Quine is at (...) pains to reject. Through investigation of Quine’s views regarding language, knowledge, and reality, the author offers a new interpretation of Quine’s naturalism. The naturalism/antinaturalism debate can be advanced only by acknowledging and critiquing the substantial theoretical commitments implicit in the traditional view. Gregory argues that the responses to the circularity and non-normativity objections do just that. His analysis further reveals that Quine’s departure from the tradition penetrates the conception of the knowing subject, and he thus offers a new and engaging defence of Quine’s naturalism. (shrink)
This book is part of the Fundamentals in Philosophy series, edited by John Shand, offering introductions to core areas of philosophy which are “not mere bland expositions, and as such are original pieces of philosophy in their own right”. Alexander Bird’s book meets this remit admirably. In my review I shall concentrate on the philosophical argument of the work and set aside its merits as a student text though they compare well with rivals currently on offer.
The author discusses the contributions of grounded theory and grounded action to the development of a new, and evolutionary, theoretical framework for understanding diversity as a complex phenomenon. She discusses the work of Thomas and Gregory as pioneers in expanding the conceptualization of diversity, arguing that this new understanding increases the potential for creative action in systems.
Certain representations are bound in a special way to our sensory capacities. Many pictures show things as looking certain ways, for instance, while auditory mental images show things as sounding certain ways. What do all those distinctively sensory representations have in common, and what makes them different from representations of other kinds? Dominic Gregory argues that they are alike in having meanings of a certain special type. He employs a host of novel ideas relating to kinds of perceptual states, (...) sensory perspectives, and sensory varieties of meaning to provide a detailed account of the special nature of the contents which belong to distinctively sensory representations. The resulting theory is then used to shed light on a wide range of intellectual issues. Some of the topics addressed in Showing, Sensing, and Seeming relate to distinctively sensory representations in general, but many of them concern distinctively sensory representations of more specific kinds. The book contains detailed philosophical examinations of sensory mental imagery and pictures, for instance, and of memory, photography, and analogous nonvisual phenomena. (shrink)
The Oxford Companion to the Mind is a classic. Published in 1987, to huge acclaim, it immediately took its place as the indispensable guide to the mysteries - and idiosyncracies - of the human mind. In no other book can the reader find discussions of concepts such as language, memory, and intelligence, side by side with witty definitions of common human experiences such as the 'cocktail-party' and 'halo' effects, and the least effort principle. Richard Gregory again brings his wit, (...) wisdom, and expertise to bear on this most elusive of subjects. Research into the mind and brain has moved on in bounds in recent years, and interest in the subject has never been so high. There has been a shift in focus away from Freud's concept of the unconscious onto consciousness itself. The new edition of the Companion includes three 'mini symposia' - on consciousness, brain scanning, and artificial intelligence - with contributions from a number of specialists, and encompassing a range of approaches. Cultural as well as scientific in approach, this accessible book offers authoritative descriptions and analysis. With new entries on controversial topics such as artificial life, attachment theory, caffeine, cruetly, drama, extra-terrestrial intelligence, genetics of mental illness, imagination, lying, puzzles, and twins, this highly-anticipated second edition explores the most intriguing of subjects. (shrink)
Gregory explains nine educational approaches to discussing Philosophy with children. A general overview through analytical and critical reasoning explains the faults with Philosophy in an education setting and the authors feedback.
The Neoplatonist philosophers who flourished between the third and sixth centuries AD had a profound influence on western philosophy, on both Christian and Islamic literature and the visual arts from the Renaissance to modern times. This extensively revised and updated second edition of Neoplatonists provides a valuable introduction to the thought of four central Neoplatonic philosophers, Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus and Iamblichus. John Gregory presents new translations of a selection of key passages from Neoplatonist writings, an introduction that puts in (...) context the writings, and an epilogue detailing the legacy and influence of Neoplatonist thought. (shrink)
This paper sketches a dispositionalist conception of laws and shows how the dispositionalist should respond to certain objections. The view that properties are essentially dispositional is able to provide an account of laws that avoids the problems that face the two views of laws (the regularity and the contingent nomic necessitation views) that regard properties as categorical and laws as contingent. I discuss and reject the objections that (i) this view makes laws necessary whereas they are contingent; (ii) this view (...) cannot account for certain kinds of laws of nature and their properties. (shrink)
Those who favour an ontology based on dispositions are thereby able to provide a dispositional essentialist account of the laws of nature. In part 1 of this paper I sketch the dispositional essentialist conception of properties and the concomitant account of laws. In part 2, I characterise various claims about the modal character of properties that fall under the heading ‘quidditism’ and which are consequences of the categoricalist view of properties, which is the alternative to the dispositional essentialist view. I (...) argue that quidditism should be rejected. In part 3, I address a criticism of a strong dispositional essentialist view, viz. that ‘structural’ (i.e. geometrical, numerical, spatial and temporal) properties must be regarded as categorical. (shrink)
Is the nature of explanation a metaphysical issue? Or has it more to do with psychology and pragmatics? To put things in a different way: what are primary relata in an explanation? What sorts of thing explain what other sorts of thing? David Lewis identiﬁes two senses of ‘explanation’ (Lewis 1986, 217–218). In the ﬁrst sense, an explanation is an act of explaining. I shall call this the subjectivist sense, since its existence depends on some subject doing the explaining. Hence (...) it is people who, in this sense, explain things. In the second of his two senses, Lewis says, quoting Sylvain Bromberger, that one may properly ask of an explanation “Does anyone know it? Who thought of it ﬁrst? Is it very complicated?” (Lewis 1986, 218; Bromberger 1965). In this second sense, no subject is needed, the explanation can remain unknown, perhaps for ever. So I call this the objectivist sense. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialists claim that dispositional properties are essentially dispositional: a property would not be the property it is unless it carried with it certain dispositional powers. Categoricalists about dispositional properties deny this, asserting that the same properties might have had different dispositional powers, had the contingent laws of nature been otherwise.
The usual, comparative, conception of Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) takes it to be ampliative. In this paper I propose a conception of IBE (‘Holmesian inference’) that takes it to be a species of eliminative induction and hence not ampliative. This avoids several problems for comparative IBE (e.g. how could it be reliable enough to generate knowledge?). My account of Holmesian inference raises the suspicion that it could never be applied, on the grounds that scientific hypotheses are inevitably underdetermined (...) by the evidence (i.e. are inevitably ampliative). I argue that this concern may be resisted by acknowledging, as Timothy Williamson has shown, that all knowledge is evidence. This suggests an approach to resisting scepticism different from those (e.g. the reliabilist approach) that embrace fallibilism. (shrink)
In this paper I draw a connection between Kuhn and the empiricist legacy, specifically between his thesis of incommensurability, in particular in its later taxonomic form, and van Fraassen's constructive empiricism. I show that if it is the case the empirically equivalent but genuinely distinct theories do exist, then we can expect such theories to be taxonomically incommensurable. I link this to Hacking's claim that Kuhn was a nominalist. I also argue that Kuhn and van Fraassen do not differ as (...) much as might be thought as regards the claim that observation is theory laden. (shrink)
In ‘Finkish Dispositions’1 David Lewis proposes an analysis of dispositions which improves on the simple conditional analysis. In this paper I show that Lewis’ analysis still fails. I also argue that repairs are of no avail, and suggest why this is so.
Dispositional monism is the view that natural properties and relations are ‘pure powers’. It is objected that dispositional monism involves some kind of vicious or otherwise unpalatable regress or circularity. I examine ways of making this objection precise. The most pressing interpretation is that is fails to make the identities of powers determinate. I demonstrate that this objection is in error. It does however puts certain constraints on what the structure of fundamental properties is like. I show what a satisfactory (...) structure would be. (shrink)
Various writers have proposed that the notion of a possible world is a functional concept, yet very little has been done to develop that proposal. This paper explores a particular functionalist account of possible worlds, according to which pluralities of possible worlds are the bases for structures which provide occupants for the roles which analyse our ordinary modal concepts. It argues that the resulting position meets some of the stringent constraints which philosophers have placed upon accounts of possible worlds, while (...) also trivializing the question what possible worlds are. The paper then discusses a range of problems facing the functionalist position. (shrink)
I show that Armstrong’s view of laws as second-order contingent relations of ‘necessitation’ among categorical properties faces a dilemma. The necessitation relation confers a relation of extensional inclusion (‘constant conjunction’) on its relata. It does so either necessarily or contingently. If necessarily, it is not a categorical relation (in the relevant sense). If contingently, then an explanation is required of how it confers extensional inclusion. That explanation will need to appeal to a third-order relation between necessitation and extensional inclusion. The (...) same dilemma reappears at this level. Either Armstrong must concede that some properties are not categorical but have essential powers – or he is faced with a regress. (shrink)
Why, despite his enormous inﬂuence in the latter part of the twentieth century, has Kuhn left no distinctively Kuhnian legacy? I argue that this is because the development of Kuhn’s own thought was in a direction opposite to that of the mainstream of the philosophy of science. In the 1970s and 1980s the philosophy of science took on board the lessons of externalism as regards reference and knowledge, and became more sympathetic to a naturalistic approach to philosophical problems. Kuhn, on (...) the other hand, started out with a strong naturalistic streak, employing non-philosophical disciplines, primarily psychology, in order to build his accounts of scientiﬁc change and the nature of observation and scientiﬁc thought. But by the 1970s Kuhn’s work had taken on a much more purely philosophical, a priori, tone. His explanation of incommensurability moved from a psychological explanation to one embedded in the philosophy of language. Increasingly he gave his outlook a Kantian gloss. I suggest, nonetheless, that Kuhn’s most valuable contribution is to be found in The Structure of Scientiﬁc Revolutions and not in his later work, and that the naturalistic direction of the former has important links with connectionist research in cognitive science that deserve further study. 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Debates concerning the analysis of the concept of law of nature must address the following problem. On the one hand, our grasp of laws of nature is via our knowledge of their instances. And this seems not only an epistemological truth but also a semantic one. The concept of a law of nature must be explicated in terms of the things that instantiate the law. It is not simply that a piece of metal that conducts electricity is evidence for a (...) law that metals conduct electricity. It is also the case that to explicate what it is for there to be such a law requires, and requires little more than, alluding to the fact that the piece of metal conducting electricity is an instance of that law. This is the driving intuition behind regularity theories of laws — to understand the concept ‘law,’ as in ‘it is a law that metals conduct electricity’ one need only understand little more than what it is for something to be a metal and to conduct electricity and the concept of universal generalization. On this view a law just is a regularity (or some kind of regularity) among its instances. (shrink)
I argue for the claim that if Lewis’s regularity theory of laws were true, we could not know any positive law statement to be true. Premise 1: According to that theory, for any law statement true of the actual world, there is always a nearby world where the law statement is false (a world that differs with respect to one matter of particular fact). Premise 2: One cannot know a proposition to be true if it is false in a nearby (...) world (the epistemological safety principle). The conclusion that no law statement can be known to be true follows immediately from the two premises. (shrink)
I defend against criticism the following claims concening Thomas Kuhn: (i) there is a strong naturalist streak in The structure of scientific revolutions, whereby Kuhn used the results of a posteriori enquiry in addressing philosophical questions; (ii) as Kuhn's career as a philosopher of science developed he tended to drop the naturalistic elements and to replace them with more traditionally philosophical a prior approaches; (iii) at the same there is a significant residue of positivist thought in Kuhm, which Kuhn did (...) not recognise as such; (iv) the naturalist elements referred to in (i) are the most original and fruitful elements of Kuhn's thinking; (v) the positivistic elements referred to in (iii) vitiated his thought and acted as factors in preventing Kuhn from developing the naturalistic elemtns and from following the path taken by much subsequent philosophy of science. Preston presents an alternative reading of Kuhn which emphasizes the Wittgensteinian elements in Kuhn. I argue that this alternative view is, descriptively, poorly supported by the textual evidence and the facts of the history of philosophy of science in the twentieth century. I provide some defence of the naturalistic approach and related themes. (shrink)
This paper concerns the relationship between dispositions and ceteris paribus laws. Dispositions are related to conditionals. Typically a fragile glass will break if struck with force. But possession of the disposition does not entail the corresponding simple (subjunctive or counterfactual) conditional. The phenomena of finks and antidotes show that an object may possess the disposition without the conditional being true. Finks and antidotes may be thought of as exceptions to the straightforward relation between disposition and conditional. The existence of these (...) phenomena is easy to demonstrate at the macro-Ievel. But do they exist at the fundamental level also? While fundamental finkish dispositions may be excluded fairly straightforwardly, the existence of fundamental antidotes is more open. Nonetheless I conclude that the phenomenon is likely to be less widespread than at the macro level and that fundamental antidotes may be eliminable. According to the dispositional essentialist, the laws of nature can be explained by taking natural properties to be essentially dispositional. This account can be extended to show that the existence of finks and antidotes explains ceteris paribus laws. Consequently the existence or otherwise of fundamental finks and antidotes sheds some light on the question of whether fundamental laws may also be ceteris paribus laws. (shrink)
I argue that the naturalism of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientiﬁc Revolutions, which he himself later ignored, is worthy of rehabilitation. A naturalistic conception of paradigms is ripe for development with the tools of cognitive science. As a consequence a naturalistic understanding of world-change and incommensurability is also viable.
Let us call a property that is essentially dispositional a potency.1 David Armstrong thinks that potencies do not exist. All sparse properties are essentially categorical, where sparse properties are the explanatory properties of the type science seeks to discover. An alternative view, but not the only one, is that all sparse properties are potencies or supervene upon them. In this paper I shall consider the differences between these views, in particular the objections Armstrong raises against potencies.
This essay critically examines the idea that "identity " or "difference " might be proper objects of principles of respect. The author suggests that this idea makes sense only at the cost of the egalitarianism to which its adherents usually subscribe. The essay also shows that liberal interpretations of respect can evade this problem and reaches this conclusion on the basis of an analysis of the concept of respect and its connections with notions of status.
Slavoj iek's writings on Krzysztof Kies´lowski and Andrej Tarkovskij represent direct challenges to the Central and Eastern European tradition of spiritual art and to dominant aesthetic concepts as such. He refuses to separate the solemn films of Kies´lowski and Tarkovskij from popular culture and stresses their import as ethical statements by their directors. Despite this ethical emphasis, iek makes an important contribution to philosophical aesthetics. He implicitly defines art as a suspension of reality which reveals time in its fragility and (...) potentiality. Defining iek's aesthetics in terms of suspension helps to explain his partiality for Kies´lowski and Tarkovskij and bears comparison to the Russian tradition of philosophical aesthetics, in particular Aleksej Losev and Alexander Bakshy. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that it is not a priori that all the laws of nature are contingent. I assume that the fundamental laws are contingent and show that some non-trivial, a posteriori, non-basic laws may nonetheless be necessary in the sense of having no counterinstances in any possible world. I consider a law LS (such as 'salt dissolves in water') that concerns a substance S. Kripke's arguments concerning constitution show that the existence of S requires that a certain (...) deeper level law or variants thereof hold. At the same time, that law and its variants may each entail the truth of LS. Thus the existence of S entails LS. Consequently there is no world in which S exists and fails to obey LS. I consider the conditions concerning the fundamental laws that would make this phenomenon ubiquitous. I conclude with some consequences for metaphysics. (shrink)
Aleksej Losev''s definition of myth centres onthe concept of detachment. In modern timesdetachment has most often figured in thecontext of philosophical aesthetics, where itis a cognitive category akin to Kant''s``disinterestedness'''' or the Russian formalists''``estrangement.'''' However Losev''s usage alsomakes reference to the ontological sense ofdetachment as contemplativeascent (cf. Meister Eckhardt''sAbgeschiedenheit). Thus, Losev''s concept ofmyth combines both senses of detachment,binding perceptual attitude and being togetherin a double movement of resignation from theworld and union with meaning; this movementliterally makes sense out of reality. (...) Ittherefore bears comparison to the treatment ofdistanciation in contemporary hermeneutics,where detachment is a key condition ofunderstanding. By investigating Losev''sconnections to other Russian thinkers, theauthor makes a case for a distinct Russiantradition of hermeneutic philosophy (V. Ivanov,G. Shpet, A. Bakshy, A. Losev). (shrink)