Daniel B. Botkin, a professor emeritus of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a well-known global ecologist, has written a personal account of the current environmental issues of climate change, population dynamics, species extinction, and natural resource management. The Moon in the Nautilus Shell: Discordant Harmonies Reconsidered is a follow-up to his pivotal publication Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First ways: rationally and spiritually. Botkin suggests that we confuse the two and hopes that “this (...) new book helps to clarify this dilemma.” After reading the book, I am still confused. Science provides a widely accepted—and admittedly imperfect—but time-tested method to discover how nature works. Neither organized religions nor personal value systems, neither Leopold's environmental ethics nor Botkin's reconsiderations, can provide a universally accepted system of belief to guide our relationships to nature. What is good and should be preserved and what is bad and should be changed will always be subjective and debated. Isn't this a good thing? -/- The style of writing and the book's equal treatment of the scientific and humanistic sides of environmental issues remind me of A Sand County Almanac (Leopold 1949). Like Leopold, Botkin introduces topics by presenting vignettes from personal experience. He writes of flying over Venice and thinking about large-scale environmental engineering schemes, of revisiting Isle Royale in Michigan and gaining new insights into predator— prey interactions, and of exploring a water mill in New Hampshire and reflecting on how nature is different from a machine. Unlike Leopold, whose account of the dimming “fierce green fire” in the eyes of a dying wolf is etched into every reader's mind, most of Botkin's examples seem strained and ineffective. A Sand County Almanac provided both scientific and ethical inspiration for an entire conservation movement in the twentieth century. I doubt that The Moon in the Nautilus Shell will have a similar impact on the environmental movement of the twenty-first century. (shrink)
Mathematical explanation -- What is naturalism? -- Perception, practice, and ideal agents: Kitcher's naturalism -- Just metaphor?: Lakoff's language -- Seeing with the mind's eye: the Platonist alternative -- Semi-naturalists and reluctant realists -- A life of its own?: Maddy and mathematical autonomy.
There is sufficient evidence that intellectual property rights are corrupting medical research. One could respond to this from a moral or from an epistemic point of view. I take the latter route. Often in the sciences factual discoveries lead to new methodological norms. Medical research is an example. Surprisingly, the methodological change required will involve political change. Instead of new regulations aimed at controlling the problem, the outright socialization of research seems called for, for the sake of better science. I (...) appeal to an analogy between socialized medicine and socialized research. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8, Canada; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
1. Introduction : the mathematical image -- 2. Platonism -- 3. Picture-proofs and Platonism -- 4. What is applied mathematics? -- 5. Hilbert and Gödel -- 6. Knots and notation -- 7. What is a definition? -- 8. Constructive approaches -- 9. Proofs, pictures and procedures in Wittgenstein -- 10. Computation, proof and conjecture -- 11. How to refute the continuum hypothesis -- 12. Calling the bluff.
I reply to a number of papers (published in Croatian Journal of Philosophy 7 , 29-92 and in this issue) that stem from a conference in Rijeka on thought experinlents. These are papers by Ana Butković, Dave Davies, Boris Grozdanoff, Dunja Jutronić, Nenad Miščević, Ksenija Puškarić, and Irina Starikova. Their criticisms of my views are diverse, but one theme, perhaps inevitably, dominates the criticisms: the unworkability of my Platonism. I try to defend this and to adequately answer other criticisms, as (...) well. (shrink)
Most disciplines make use of thought experiments, but physics and philosophy lead the pack with heavy dependence upon them. Often this is for conceptual clarification, but occasionally they provide real theoretical advances. In spite of their importance, however, thought experiments have received rather little attention as a topic in their own right until recently. The situation has improved in the past few years, but a mere generation ago the entire published literature on thought experiments could have been mastered in a (...) long weekend. Now the subject is beginning to flourish. Given the relative newness of the field, it might be useful to have several examples at one’s finger tips, so a number of great ones will be described. Attention will also be drawn outside physics and philosophy. In mathematics there is something analogous to thought experiments -- visual reasoning and picture proofs. I will look briefly at this class of thought experiments and try using them to make a case for possibly settling the continuum hypothesis. After this, I will return to thought experiments in the sciences and propose an account of how they work. Finally, I will end with a sketch of a topic I am currently working on, a kind of progress report which, I hope, will be an inducement to others. (shrink)
Examples of classic thought experiments are presented and some morals drawn. The views of my fellow symposiasts, Tamar Gendler, John Norton, and James McAllister, are evaluated. An account of thought experiments along a priori and Platonistic lines is given. I also cite the related example of proving theorems in mathematics with pictures and diagrams. To illustrate the power of these methods, a possible refutation of the continuum hypothesis using a thought experiment is sketched.
The article conveys the portrait of a man for whom understanding was a matter of the highest spiritual intimacy, a man who continuously disregarded his possible engagement in the public life as a philosopher, finally a man whom we find, in the twilight of his life, concerned with the intricate tension between the “muteness” of philosophy (as being able “only” to double life by means of rational discourse) and religion. Alexandru Dragomir’s portrait is portrayed in comparison to another important Romanian (...) philosopher, Constantin Noica. The comparison is not accidental, since they both come to represent two paradigmatic ways of making philosophy: traditional ontology (centered around Descartes – Kant – Hegel) vs. modern phenomenology (centered around Husserl – Heidegger). (shrink)
Recent years have seen a number of naturalist accounts of mathematics. Philip Kitcher’s version is one of the most important and influential. This paper includes a critical exposition of Kitcher’s views and a discussion of several issues including: mathematical epistemology, practice, history, the nature of applied mathematics. It argues that naturalism is an inadequate account and compares it with mathematical Platonism, to the advantage of the latter.
There has been a sharp rise in private funding of medical research, especially in relation to patentable products. Several serious problems with this are described. A solution involving the elimination of patents and public funding administered through extended national health care systems is proposed.