Often when a new scientific theory is introduced, new terms are introduced along with it. Some of these new terms might be given explicit definitions using only terms that were in currency prior to the introduction of the theory. Some of them might be defined using other new terms introduced with the theory. But it frequently happens that the standard formulations of a theory do not define some of the new terms at all; these terms are adopted as primitives. The (...) audience is expected to come to grasp the meanings of the primitive terms by learning the role they play in the theory and its applications. I shall call such new and undefined terms, as well as new terms that are defined using them, theoretical terms. 1 If T is a theory, the T-terms are the theoretical terms introduced by T. A theoretical term need not be a word new to human language; it might be an old term that is employed in a new and specialized sense, not equivalent to any of its familiar senses; e.g. “color” in quantum chromodynamics. (shrink)
This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easily to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of the Humean base (...) that, we argue, enables HS to capture what is really stake in the debate, without taking on extraneous commitments. (shrink)
Draft. Berkeley denied the existence of abstract ideas and any faculty of abstraction. At the same time, however, he embraced innate ideas and a faculty of pure intellect. This paper attempts to reconcile the tension between these commitments by offering an interpretation of Berkeley's Platonism.
Looking at the emergence recently of a New Hegelianism (Badiou, Bhaskar, Jameson, Žižek), in which Hegel’s dialectic is variously reassessed for its political and philosophical resistance to the prevailing ‘weak nihilisms’ of left and right, I argue with Žižek and Jameson against Badiou and Bhaskar for Hegel as, essentially, a philosopher of the ‘productive return’ and failure. In this sense, what emerges is a picture of Hegel as a profoundly nonlinear historical thinker, in which loss, dissolution, breakdown and the excremental (...) prevail. This means that the received notion of Hegel as a crude historicist is deeply problematic. But, more importantly, it means that Hegelian dialectic can find a renewed anti-teleological and non-synchronistic identity within the Marxist tradition. Content Type Journal Article Category Article Pages 72-98 Authors John Roberts, University of Wolverhampton Journal Journal of Critical Realism Online ISSN 1572-5138 Print ISSN 1476-7430 Journal Volume Volume 12 Journal Issue Volume 12, Number 1 / 2013. (shrink)
I argue that the standard way of formalizing the fine-tuning argument for design is flawed, and I present an alternative formalization. On the alternative formalization, the existence of life is not treated as the evidence that confirms design; instead it is treated as part of the background knowledge, while the fact that fine tuning is required for life serves as the evidence. I argue that the alternative better captures the informal line of thought that gives the fine-tuning argument its intuitive (...) plausibility, and I show that the alternative formalization avoids all of the most prominent objections to the fine-tuning argument, including the objection from observation selection effects, the problem of old evidence, the problem of non-normalizable probability measures and a further objection due to Monton. I conclude that the alternative formalization is the one that attention should be focused on. (shrink)
This article argues that the Bakhtin Circle presents a more realistic theory of concrete dialogue than the theory of discourse elaborated by Habermas. The Bakhtin Circle places speech within the “concrete whole utterance” and by this phrase they mean that the study of everyday language should be analyzed through the mediations of historical social systems such as capitalism. These mediations are also characterized by a determinate set of contradictions—the capital-labor contradiction in capitalism, for example—that are reproduced in unique ways in (...) more concrete forms of life (the state, education, religion, culture, and so on). Utterances always dialectically refract these processes and as such are internal concrete moments, or concrete social forms, of them. Moreover, new and unrepeatable dialogic events arise in these concrete social forms in order to overcome and understand the constant dialectical flux of social life. But this theory of dialogue is different from that expounded by Habermas, who tends to explore speech acts by reproducing a dualism between repeatable and universal “abstract” discursive processes (commonly known as the ideal speech situation) and empirical uses of discourse. These critical points against Habermas are developed by focusing on six main areas: sentences and utterances; the lifeworld and background language; active versus passive understandings of language; validity claims; obligation and relevance in language; and dialectical universalism. (shrink)
Draft version of essay. ABSTRACT: Benjamin Whichcote developed a distinctive account of human nature centered on our moral psychology. He believed that this view of human nature, which forms the foundation of “Cambridge Platonism,” showed that the demands of reason and faith are not merely compatible but dynamically supportive of one another. I develop an interpretation of this oft-neglected and widely misunderstood account of human nature and defend its viability against a key objection.
This paper develops a critique of the concept of ‘ethical identity’ as this has been used recently to distinguish between ‘cynical’ and ‘authentic’ forms of corporate responsibility. Taking as our starting point Levinas’ demanding view of responsibility as ‘following the assignation of responsibility for my neighbour’, we use a case study of a packaging company—PackCo—to argue that a concern with being seen and/or seeing oneself as responsible should not be confused with actual responsibility. Our analysis of the case points first (...) to the allure of programmes of strategic corporate responsibility and the ways in which, through identification, they can provide a tacit form of moral sanction to managers in their aggressive pursuit of profit. It then contrasts the responses of different managers to negative staff feedback to illustrate the difference between managers’ attempts to defend their identity of being ‘responsible’ managers, and responsible conduct itself. The paper concludes that a potent danger of programmes of corporate responsibility is that they allow managers to deceive not just others, but also themselves in relation to the exercise of responsibility. (shrink)
Laws of nature are puzzling because they have a 'modal character'—they seem to be 'necessary-ish'—even though they also seem to be metaphysically contingent. And it is hard to understand how contingent truths could have such a modal character. Scientific essentialism is a doctrine that seems to dissolve this puzzle, by showing that laws of nature are actually metaphysically necessary. I argue that even if the metaphysics of natural kinds and properties offered by scientific essentialism is correct, there are still some (...) metaphysically contingent truths that share the modal character of the laws of nature. I argue that these contingent truths should be considered laws of nature. So even if scientific essentialism is true, at least some laws of nature are metaphysically contingent. (shrink)
There is a problem regarding God and perception right at the heart of Berkeley’s metaphysics. With respect to this problem, I will argue for (A): It is intractable. Berkeley has no solution to this problem, and neither can we hope to offer one on his behalf. However, I will also argue for (B): The truth of (A) need not be seen as threatening the viability of Berkeley’s metaphysics. In fact, it may even be seen as speaking in its favor.
A law about frequencies would be a law of nature that imposes a constraint on one or more (actual, global) frequencies. On any of the leading philosophical approaches to laws of nature, there could be laws about frequencies. Hypotheses that posit laws about frequencies turn out to behave very similarly to hypotheses that posit corresponding laws about probabilities or chances -- they make the same predictions, provide similar explanations, and are confirmed or disconfirmed by empirical evidence in the same ways. (...) This makes it interesting to consider the possibility of interpreting probabilistic laws from scientific theories as laws about frequencies. This is surprising proposal, but I argue that the resulting view (which I call 'nomic frequentism') is able to overcome all of the standard objections to frequentist interpretation of objective probabilities. (shrink)
I describe a problem about the relations among symmetries, laws and measurable quantities. I explain why several ways of trying to solve it will not work, and I sketch a solution that might work. I discuss this problem in the context of Newtonian theories, but it also arises for many other physical theories. The problem is that there are two ways of defining the space-time symmetries of a physical theory: as its dynamical symmetries or as its empirical symmetries. The two (...) definitions are not equivalent, yet they pick out the same extension. This coincidence cries out for explanation, and it is not clear what the explanation could be. The Puzzle: Symmetries, Measurability and Invariance 1.1 The symmetries and the measurable quantities of Newtonian mechanics 1.2 The puzzle Two Easy Answers Another Unsuccessful Solution: Appeal to Geometrical Symmetries Locating the Puzzle The Relation between Laws and Measurability A Possible Solution CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The law-governed world-picture -- A remarkable idea about the way the universe is cosmos and compulsion -- The laws as the cosmic order : the best-system approach -- The three ways : no-laws, non-governing-laws, governing-laws -- Work that laws do in science -- An important difference between the laws of nature and the cosmic order -- The picture in four theses -- The strategy of this book -- The meta-theoretic conception of laws -- The measurability approach to laws -- What (...) comes where -- In defense of some received views -- Some assumptions that will be in play -- The laws are propositions -- The laws are true -- The logically contingent consequences of the laws are laws themselves -- At least some laws are metaphysically contingent -- The meta-theoretic conception of laws -- Laws of nature, laws of science, laws of theories -- The first-order conception versus the meta-theoretic conception -- What is a law of nature? -- Some examples of meta-theoretic accounts -- The virtues of the meta-theoretic conception -- Weighing the virtues and shortcomings of the meta-theoretic conception -- An epistemological argument for the meta-theoretic conception of laws -- The discoverability thesis, the governing thesis, and the first-order conception -- The main argument -- The objection from bad company -- The objection from inference to the best explanation -- The objection from bayesianism -- The objection from contextualist epistemology -- The objection from the threat of inductive skepticism -- Laws, governing, and counterfactuals -- Where we are now -- What would things have to be like in order for the laws of nature to govern the universe? -- Lawhood, inevitability, counterfactuals -- What is it for a proposition to be inevitably true? -- What is it for a whole class of propositions to be inevitably true? -- What is it for lawhood to confer inevitability? -- NP and supporting counterfactuals -- The worry about context-variability -- A solution and a look ahead -- When would the laws have been different? -- Where we are now -- The God cases -- Other counterexamples to NP -- A moral-theoretic counterexample to NP -- Scientific contexts and non-scientific contexts -- Scientific God cases? -- Lewisian non-backtracking counterexamples -- Where things stand now -- How could science show that the laws govern? -- Why the law-governed world-picture must include the science-says-so thesis -- What is extra-scientific? -- How can the science-says-so thesis be true? -- NP as a consequence of the presuppositions in any scientific context -- Np as true in all possible scientific contexts -- But how could it be so? -- Attack of the actual-factualists -- Measurement and counterfactuals -- Where we are now -- Measurements, reliability, counterfactuals -- A general principle that captures the relation between measurement and counterfactuals -- What we can learn about lawhood from what we have learned about the counterfactual commitments of science -- A first-order account of laws or a meta-theoretic account of laws? -- What methods are presupposed to be legitimate measurement procedures? -- Why we must adopt a meta-theoretic account of laws -- What lawhood is -- Where we are now -- The measurability account of laws -- Brief review of the case for the mal -- A note about hedged laws -- How plausible is the mal? -- What if we don't care about the law-governed world-picture? -- Newton's God and Laplace's demon -- Beyond humean and non-humean -- Two views of laws -- Humean supervenience and the meta-theoretic conception -- Alleged counterexamples to humean supervenience -- Governing and non-trivial necessity -- How the mal lets us have it all -- Humeanism? non-humeanism? -- What is the significance of the idea of the law-governed universe? -- Where in the world are the laws of nature? -- Appendix: The mal in action : a few examples -- Of scientific theories and their laws -- Newton's theory as a paradigm example -- Classical special-force laws -- Geometrical optics and one of its laws -- Local deterministic field theories. (shrink)
George Berkeley notoriously claimed that his immaterialist metaphysics was not only consistent with common sense but that it was also integral to its defense. Roberts argues that understanding the basic connection between Berkeley's philosophy and common sense requires that we develop a better understanding of the four principle components of Berkeley's positive metaphysics: The nature of being, the divine language thesis, the active/passive distinction, and the nature of spirits. Roberts begins by focusing on Berkeley's view of the nature of being. (...) He elucidates Berkeley's view on Locke and the Cartesians and by examining Berkeley's views about related concepts such as unity and simplicity. From there he moves on to Berkeley's philosophy of language arguing that scrutiny of the famous "Introduction" to the Principles of Human Knowledge reveals that Berkeley identified the ideational theory of meaning and understanding as the root cause of some of the worst of man's intellectual errors, not "abstract ideas." Abstract ideas are, rather, the most debilitating symptom of this underlying ailment. In place of the ideational theory, Berkeley defends a rudimentary "use theory" of meaning. This understanding of Berkeley's approach to semantics is then applied to the divine language thesis and is shown to have important consequences for Berkeley's pragmatic approach to the ontology of natural objects and for his approach to our knowledge of, and relation to other minds, including God's. Turning next to Berkeley's much aligned account of spirits, the author defends the coherence of Berkeley's view of spirits by way of providing an interpretation of the active/passive distinction as marking a normative distinction and by focusing on the role that divine language plays in letting Berkeley identify the soul with the will. With these four principles of Berkeley's philosophy in hand, he then returns to the topic of common sense and offers a defense of Berkeley's philosophy as built upon and expressive of the deepest metaphysical commitments of mainstream Christianity. Roberts' reappraisal of this important figure should appeal to all historians of philosophy as well as scholars in metaphysics and philosophy of language. (shrink)
We have argued against a standard way of defining Humean supervenience about laws, and in favor of an alternative definition. Skow says that our argument against the standard definition makes a big mistake. He is right about this. But that mistake is correctable. Skow also argues that our alternative definition is seriously flawed. We think he is wrong about this.
After modernism and postmodernism, it is argued, the everyday supposedly is where a democracy of taste is brought into being - the place where art goes to recover its customary and collective pleasures, and where the shared pleasures of popular culture are indulged, from celebrity magazines to shopping malls. John Roberts argues that this understanding of the everyday downgrades its revolutionary meaning and philosophical implications. Bringing radical political theory back to the centre of the discussion, he shows how notions of (...) cultural democratization have been oversimplified. Asserting that the everyday should not be narrowly identified with the popular, Roberts critiques the way in which the concept is now overly associated with consumption and 'ordinariness'. Engaging with the work of key thinkers including, Lukacs, Arvatov, Benjamin, Lefebvre, Gramsci, Barthes, Vaneigem, and de Certeau, Roberts shows how the concept of the everyday continues to be central to debates on ideology, revolution and praxis. He offers a lucid account of different approaches that developed over the course of the twentieth century, making this an ideal book for anyone looking for a politicised approach to cultural theory. John Roberts is a Senior Research Fellow in Fine Art at the University of Wolverhampton. He is the author of The Art of Interruption: Realism, Photography and the Everyday (Manchester University Press, 1997) and The Philistine Controversy (Verso, with Dave Beech, 2002), plus other books and numerous articles, in Radical Philosophy and elsewhere. (shrink)
This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easy to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of the Humean base (...) that, we argue, enables HS to capture what is really stake in the debate, without taking on extraneous commitments. (shrink)
In Part I, we presented and motivated a new formulation of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). Here in Part II, we present an epistemological argument in defense of HS, thus formulated. Our contention is that one can combine a modest realism about laws of nature with a proper recognition of the importance of empirical testability in the epistemology of science only if one accepts HS.
This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easy to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characteriza- tion of the Humean (...) base that, we argue, enables HS to capture what is really stake in the debate, without taking on extraneous commitments. (shrink)
I propose and motivate a new account of fundamental physical laws, the Measurability Account of Laws (MAL). This account has a distinctive logical form, in that it takes the primary nomological concept to be that of a law relative to a given theory, and defines a law simpliciter as a law relative to some true theory. What makes a proposition a law relative to a theory is that it plays an indispensable role in demonstrating that some quantity posited by that (...) theory is measurable. In Section 1, I motivate the project of seeking a philosophical account of fundamental physical laws, as opposed to laws of nature in general. In Section 2, I motivate seeking an account with the distinctive logical form of the MAL. In Section 3, I present the MAL and illustrate the way it works by applying it to a simple example. (shrink)
This collection reflects the growing interest realist critics have shown towards forms of discourse theory and deconstruction. The diverse range of contributions address such issues as the work of Derrida and deconstruction, discourse theory, Eurocentrism and poststructuralism.
I elaborate and defend an interpretation of Leibniz on which he is committed to a stronger space-time structure than so-called Leibnizian space-time, with absolute speeds grounded in his concept of force rather than in substantival space and time. I argue that this interpretation is well-motivated by Leibniz's mature writings, that it renders his views on space, time, motion, and force consistent with his metaphysics, and that it makes better sense of his replies to Clarke than does the standard interpretation. Further, (...) it illuminates the way in which Leibniz took his physics to be grounded in his metaphysics. (shrink)
Many have claimed that ceteris paribus (CP) laws are a quite legitimate feature of scientific theories, some even going so far as to claim that laws of all scientific theories currently on offer are merely CP. We argue here that one of the common props of such a thesis, that there are numerous examples of CP laws in physics, is false. Moreover, besides the absence of genuine examples from physics, we suggest that otherwise unproblematic claims are rendered untestable by the (...) mere addition of the CP operator. Thus, “CP all Fs are Gs” when read as a straightforward statement of fact, cannot be the stuff of scientific theory. Rather, we suggest that when ``ceteris paribus'' appears in scientific works it plays a pragmatic role of pointing to more respectable claims. (shrink)
This paper offers an extended critique of the proliferation of talk and writing of business ethics in recent years. FollowingLevinas, it is argued that the ground of ethics lies in our corporeal sensibility to proximate others. Such moral sensibility, however, isreadily blunted by a narcissistic preoccupation with self and securing the perception of self in the eyes of powerful others. Drawing upon a Lacanian account of the formation of the subject, and a Foucaultian account of the workings of disciplinary power, (...) it is then argued that the governance of the corporation is effected precisely through encouraging such a narcissistic preoccupation with the self. For themost part our narcissistic concerns are bound to ethically indifferent financial interests. But in recent years they have also been harnessed to the demand for environmental, social and ethical responsibility by the corporation. It is argued, however, that the desire to be seen to be ethical-the ethics of narcissus-is the obverse of "being responsible for.". (shrink)
Often when a new scientific theory is introduced, new terms are introduced along with it. Some of these new terms might be given explicit definitions using only terms that were in currency prior to the introduction of the theory. Some of them might be defined using other new terms introduced with the theory. But it frequently happens that the standard formulations of a theory do not define some of the new terms at all; these terms are adopted as primitives. The (...) audience is expected to come to grasp the meanings of the primitive terms by learning the role they play in the theory and its applications. I shall call such new and undefined terms, as well as new terms that are defined using them, theoretical terms.  If T is a theory, the T-terms are the theoretical terms introduced by T. A theoretical term need not be a word new to human language; it might be an old term that is employed in a new and specialized sense, not equivalent to any of its familiar senses; e.g. “color” in quantum chromodynamics. (shrink)
I present a dilemma which depressive behavioral pathology poses for both Humean and non-Humean theories of motivation and value. Although the dilemma shows that neither theory can be considered adequate in its standard form, I argue that if the Humean theory is modified so as to embrace a richer notion of satisfaction than it currently does, it can solve the problem which depression poses for it and, thus, the dilemma can be avoided. Embracing a richer notion of satisfaction not only (...) solves this problem, it also extends the scope of the Humean theory in a potentially dramatic way, by extending the explanatory reach of moral psychology to issues often thought to fall outside its scope, namely, issues in moral psychopathology. (shrink)
The existence of "undermining futures" appears to show that a contradiction can be deduced from the conjunction of Humean supervenience (HS) about chance and the Principal Principle. A number of strategies for rescuing HS from this problem have been proposed recently. In this paper, a novel way of defending HS from the threat is presented, and it is argued that this defense has advantages not shared by others. In particular, it requires no revisionism about chance, and it is equally available (...) to defenders of HS who hold HS to be necessary and those who hold it to be contingent. (shrink)
Much of the literature on "ceteris paribus" laws is based on a misguided egalitarianism about the sciences. For example, it is commonly held that the special sciences are riddled with ceteris paribus laws; from this many commentators conclude that if the special sciences are not to be accorded a second class status, it must be ceteris paribus all the way down to fundamental physics. We argue that the (purported) laws of fundamental physics are not hedged by ceteris paribus clauses and (...) provisos. Furthermore, we show that not only is there no persuasive analysis of the truth conditions for ceteris paribus laws, there is not even an acceptable account of how they are to be saved from triviality or how they are to be melded with standard scientific methodology. Our way out of this unsatisfactory situation to reject the widespread notion that the achievements and the scientific status of the special sciences must be understood in terms of ceteris paribus laws. (shrink)
David Lewis's best-system analysis of laws of nature is perhaps the best known sophisticated regularity theory of laws. Its strengths are widely recognized, even by some of its ablest critics. Yet it suffers from what appears to be a glaring weakness: It seems to grant an arbitrary privilege to the standards of our own scientific culture. I argue that by reformulating, or reinterpreting, Lewis's exposition of the best-system analysis, we arrive at a view that is free of this weakness. The (...) resulting theory of laws has the surprising consequence that the term "law of nature" is indexical. (shrink)