A range of developing countries and international advocacy organizations have argued that wealthy countries, as a result of their greater historical contribution to human-induced climate change, owe a ?climate debt? to poor countries. Critics of this argument have claimed that it is incoherent or morally objectionable. In this essay we clarify the concept of climate debt and assess its value for conceptualizing responsibilities associated with global climate change and for guiding international climate negotiations. We conclude that the idea of a (...) climate debt can be coherently formulated, and that while some understandings of the idea of climate debt could lead to morally objectionable conclusions, other accounts would not. However, we argue that climate debt nevertheless provides an unhelpful frame for advancing global justice through international climate negotiations ? the only existing means of resolving political conflict over the collective action problems posed by human-induced climate change ? due to its retrospective and potentially adversarial emphasis, and to problems of measurement. (shrink)
At the United Nations climate change conference in 2011, parties decided to launch the “Durban Platform” to work towards a new long-term climate agreement. The decision was notable for the absence of any reference to “equity”, a prominent principle in all previous major climate agreements. Wealthy countries resisted the inclusion of equity on the grounds that the term had become too closely yoked to developing countries’ favored conception of equity. This conception, according to wealthy countries, exempts developing countries from making (...) commitments that are stringent enough for the collective effort needed to avoid dangerous climate change. In circumstances where even mentioning the term equity has become problematic, a critical question is whether scope for a fair agreement is being squeezed out of negotiations. To address this question we set out a conceptual framework for normative theorizing about fairness in international negotiations, accompanied by a set of minimal standards of fairness and plausible feasibility constraints for sharing the global climate change mitigation effort. We argue that a fair and feasible agreement may be reached by (i) reforming the current binary approach to differentiating developed and developing country groups, in tandem with (ii) introducing a more principled approach to differentiating the mitigation commitments of individual countries. These two priorities may provide the basis for a principled bargain between developed and developing countries that safeguards the opportunity to avoid dangerous climate change without sacrificing widely acceptable conceptions of equity. (shrink)
Science as Practice and Culture explores one of the newest and most controversial developments within the rapidly changing field of science studies: the move toward studying scientific practice--the work of doing science--and the associated move toward studying scientific culture, understood as the field of resources that practice operates in and on. Andrew Pickering has invited leading historians, philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists of science to prepare original essays for this volume. The essays range over the physical and biological sciences and (...) mathematics, and are divided into two parts. In part I, the contributors map out a coherent set of perspectives on scientific practice and culture, and relate their analyses to central topics in the philosophy of science such as realism, relativism, and incommensurability. The essays in part II seek to delineate the study of science as practice in arguments across its borders with the sociology of scientific knowledge, social epistemology, and reflexive ethnography. (shrink)
Grodzinsky claims that “normal language users demonstrate trace-antecedent relations in real-time tasks.” However, the cited evidence is equally compatible with a traceless account of processing. Moreover, Pickering and Barry (1991) and Traxler and Pickering (1996) have demonstrated that the processor does not wait until the purported trace location before forming the dependency. Grodzinsky's claims about Broca's area should be interpreted in terms of a transformation-free account.
We respond to Morris and Richardson's (1995) claim that Pickering and Chater's (1995) arguments about the lack of a relation between cognitive science and folk psychology are flawed. We note that possible controversies about the appropriate uses for the two terms do not affect our arguments. We then address their claim that computational explanation of knowledge-rich processes has proved possible in the domains of problem solving, scientific discovery, and reasoning. We argue that, in all cases, computational explanation is (...) only possible for aspects of those processes that do not make reference to general knowledge. We conclude that consideration of the issues raised by Morris and Richardson reinforces our original claim that there are two fundamentally distinct projects for understanding the mind, one based on justification, and the other on computational explanation, and that these apply to non-overlapping aspects of mental life. (shrink)
This book constitutes the first volume of a projected two-volume intellectual biography of Auguste Comte, the founder of modern sociology and a philosophical movement called positivism. Volume One offers a reinterpretation of Comte's "first career," (1798-1842) when he completed the scientific foundation of his philosophy. It describes the interplay between Comte's ideas and the historical context of postrevolutionary France, his struggles with poverty and mental illness, and his volatile relationships with friends, family, and colleagues, including such famous contemporaries as Saint-Simon, (...) the Saint-Simonians, Guizot, and John Stuart Mill. Pickering shows that the man who called for a new social philosophy based on the sciences was not only ill at ease in the most basic human relationships, but also profoundly questioned the ability of the purely scientific spirit to regenerate the political and social world. (shrink)
It is often assumed that cognitive science is built upon folk psychology, and that challenges to folk psychology are therefore challenges to cognitive science itself. We argue that, in practice, cognitive science and folk psychology treat entirely non-overlapping domains: cognitive science considers aspects of mental life which do not depend on general knowledge, whereas folk psychology considers aspects of mental life which do depend on general knowledge. We back up our argument on theoretical grounds, and also illustrate the separation between (...) cognitive scientific and folk psychological phenomena in a number of cognitive domains. We consider the methodological and theoretical significance of our arguments for cognitive science research. (shrink)
This paper aims to show how medical scientists may use metaphor in ways closely parallel to poets. Those who believe metaphor has any role at all in science may describe its use in various ways. Associationists think metaphors are based upon likenesses, and collapse the notions of model and metaphor together. But, as an example from the work of Louis Pasteur suggests, metaphor need not be based upon likenesses. Rather it may play a role in making possible a model'sexplanatory significance. (...) Models may presuppose metaphors. The Pasteur example also suggests metaphor may play a part in creating likenesses through its role in classification and reclassification. It is in these ways that the use of metaphor in medical science most closely parallels that in poetry. (shrink)
: This essay addresses the difficulties that sociology as a discipline continues to experience in grasping the relations between technology, science and the social. I argue that these difficulties stem from a resolute centering of sociology on the social, which follows a generically Durkheimian blueprint. I elaborate a response to these difficulties which derives from recent lines of work in science and technology studies, and which entails a decentering of the social relative to the material and the conceptual, in terms (...) of both objects of analysis and explanatory formats. In order to display the direct sociological relevance of this approach, I move to the macro level, developing the conceptual apparatus of a decentered social theory via the discussion of a historical example of major sociological significance—the systematic gearing together of scientific research, technological innovation and industrial production that originated in the synthetic dye industry in the second half of the nineteenth century. Besides the interest of the topic itself, the aim is thus to exemplify in some detail what a decentered sociology might look like, both empirically and conceptually. (shrink)
Daniel Breslau's essay opens up a valuable space in seeking to align the sociologically impure objects explored in science studies with the practice of a pure sociology. I challenge Breslau's conclusion that the latter can swallow the former and proceed with business as usual. Contrary to Breslau, I argue that confronting head-on the impure objects of science studies can indeed represent a new beginning in sociology as a discipline. I also correct Breslau's misreading of my work as "symmetrical humanism.".
: This essay discusses the ways in which Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions has influenced my own work in science studies over the past twenty years or so. It offers a critical but constructive appraisal and development of some of Kuhn's key claims and insights.
Presents an analysis of Jonathan Edwards' theological position. This book includes a study of his life and the intellectual issues in the America of his time, and examines the problem of free will in connection with Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.
Prepared by editors of the distinguished series The Works of Jonathan Edwards, this authoritative anthology includes selected treatises, sermons, and autobiographical material by early America’s greatest theologian and philosopher.
Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian. His work as a whole is an expression of two themes — the absolute sovereignty of God and the beauty of God's holiness. The first is articulated in Edwards' defense of theological determinism, in a doctrine of occasionalism, and in his insistence that physical objects are only collections of sensible “ideas” while finite minds are mere assemblages of “thoughts” or “perceptions.” As the only real (...) cause or substance underlying physical and mental phenomena, God is “being in general,” the “sum of all being.” -/- Edwards' second theme is articulated in accounts of God's end in creation, and of the nature of true virtue and true beauty. God creates in order to manifest a holiness which consists in a benevolence which alone is truly beautiful. Genuine human virtue is an imitation of divine benevolence and all finite beauty is an image of divine loveliness. True virtue is needed to discern this beauty, however, and to reason rightly about “divine things.”. (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)
In this article I assess the coherence of Jonathan Edwards's doctrine of divine simplicity as an instance of an actus purus account of perfect-being theology. Edwards's view is an idiosyncratic version of this doctrine. This is due to a number of factors including his idealism and the Trinitarian context from which he developed his notion of simplicity. These complicating factors lead to a number of serious problems for his account, particularly with respect to the opera extra sunt indivisa principle. (...) I conclude that Edwards sets out an interesting and subtle version of the doctrine, but one which appears mired in difficulties from which he is unable to extract himself. (shrink)
This paper focuses on John Witherspoon (1723-1794) and the religious background of the American conception of religious liberty and church-state separation, as found in the First Amendment. Witherspoon was strongly influenced by debates and conflicts concerning liberty of conscience and the independence of the congregations in his native Scotland; and he brought to his work, as President of the (Presbyterian) College of New Jersey, a moderate Calvinism challenging the conception of “true virtue” found in Jonathan Edwards. Witherspoon was teacher (...) to James Madison who would substantially write the First Amendment. Religious freedom, focused on freedom of conscience, and ‘Christian magnanimity’ stand in considerable tension with the prior orthodoxy of predetermination and the historical tradition of Calvinistic theocracy. Understanding Witherspoon, we better understand the reformation background of the American Enlightenment and how his conception of the freedom of conscience contributed to American conceptions of freedom generally. (shrink)
In an 1896 letter to Wilhelm Fliess, the first and primary confidante for his fledgling ideas, the young Sigmund Freud wrote: “I see that you are using the circuitous route of medicine to attain your first ideal, the physiological understanding of man, while I secretly nurse the hope of arriving by the same route at my own original objective, philosophy. For that was my original ambition, before I knew what I was intended to do in the world.”1 When philosophy is (...) mentioned in his later, published, writings, it will normally be an occasion for Freud to disavow any such connection with the enterprise of psychoanalysis, a repeated gesture of denial that naturally only goes to show how profound the relationship must really be. For many years now, Jonathan Lear has been one of the great mediators between the worlds of philosophy and psychoanalysis, showing us what they have to learn from each other, and what they have difficulty 1 accepting from each other. In these lectures he explores a connection between a stance toward oneself that is furthered in the psychoanalytic session, and a stance towards one‟s life to which Kierkegaard gives the name „irony‟. I will begin my remarks with some thoughts about the general picture of irony presented in Professor Lear‟s lectures, and its relation to certain philosophical claims for the role of what is variously called „critical reflection‟, „self-consciousness‟, or the metaphor of “stepping back” from some aspect of one‟s thought or engagement in the world. I will then focus on the idea of self-knowledge at play in the lectures and the role of something called „expression‟ in this context. (shrink)
Jonathan Dancy works within almost all fields of philosophy but is best known as the leading proponent of moral particularism. Particularism challenges “traditional” moral theories, such as Contractualism, Kantianism and Utilitarianism, in that it denies that moral thought and judgement relies upon, or is made possible by, a set of more or less well-defined, hierarchical principles. During the summer of 2006, the Philosophy Departments of Lund University (Sweden) and the University of Reading (England) began a series of exchanges to (...) take place every other year, alternating between the departments. Andreas Lind and Johan Brännmark arranged to meet Dancy during the first meeting in Lund to talk about questions regarding particularism, moral theory and the shape of the analytical tradition. The major part of the conversation is printed below. (shrink)
In Without Justification, Jonathan Sutton undermines the orthodox view that a justified belief needn’t constitute knowledge; develops a battery of arguments for the unorthodox thesis that you justifiedly believe P iff you know P; and explores the topics of testimony and inference in light of his equation of justification and knowledge (J=K). This book is essential reading at epistemology’s cutting edge. In §I, we’ll take an extended tour of the book, raising various questions and objections along the way. In (...) §II, we’ll assess Sutton’s three main arguments for J=K, which form the heart of his project. (shrink)
: This paper examines how Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) shifted from a broadly Newtonian conception of divine, absolute space to a more Berkeleian or Leibnizian theory of merely relative, ideal space. Setting Edwards' views within a context of contemporary European thought, it elucidates his early position, as expressed in the opening portion of his essay 'Of Being' (c. 1721), and then proceeds to chart the development of his more mature views, showing in particular how the development of his immaterialism during (...) the early 1720s drove him to change his mind on the issue of space and its relationship with God. (shrink)
Although philosophical theologians have sometimes claimed that human beings are necessarily dependent on God, few have developed the idea with any precision. Jonathan Edwards is a notable exception, providing a detailed and often novel account of humanity’s essential ontological, moral, and soteriological dependence on God.
This essay provides an interpretation of Jonathan Edwards's moral thought that calls attention to the motif of perception in his conception of true virtue. The aim is to illumine the extent to which Edwards's virtue ethics can be included in and contribute to prevailing approaches to virtue in contemporary theological ethics. To advance this proposal, this essay attends to the question of moral agency that Edwards's reflections on charity, the new spiritual sense, and religious affections raise. This procedure offers (...) an acute sense of the significance of perception for Edwards's virtue ethics, which in turn allows for a constructive Edwardsean entry into current theological discussions on the narrative character of virtue. (shrink)
Wegner's The Illusion of Conscious Will (2002) ignores an important aspect of the history of the concept: the determinism of Jonathan Edwards (1754) and the later response to this determinism by William James and others. We argue that Edwards's formulation, and James's resolution of the resulting dilemma, are superior to Wegner's.
In this response to the papers on Jonathan Edwards's ethical thought by Stephen A. Wilson, Gerald R. McDermott, William C. Spohn, and Roland A. Delattre, I comment on their efforts to show that ideas drawn from Edwards can be successfully appropriated for use in contemporary ethics. I conclude that the four authors build a strong cumulative case for the view that some elements of Edwards's thought can serve as resources for our ethical reflections. But I also argue for a (...) deflationary view of how much of Edwards we will find it feasible to take on board when we engage in the task of working out a religious ethics we might accept. (shrink)
I show that given Jonathan Bennett's theory of 'even if,' the following statement is logically true iff the principle of conditional excluded is valid: (SE) If Q and if P wouldn't rule out Q, then Q even if P. Hence whatever intuitions support the validity of (SE) support the validity of Conditional Excluded Middle, too. Finally I show that Bennett's objection to John Bigelow's theory of the conditional can be turned into a (perhaps) more telling one, viz. that on (...) Bigelow's theory 'if P then Q' and 'if P and Q then R' do not jointly entail 'if P then R'. (shrink)
David Hume (1711-1776) and Jonathan Edwards (1703- 1758) had very different reputations concerning the Christian faith. In spite of this, they both had very similar positions concerning miracles and the supernatural. It is argued that although Hume rejects one type of miracle, he acknowledges another type. Edwards does essentially the same thing and rejects the same kind of miracle that Hume rejects, while acknowledging the kind of miracles that Hume acknowledges.
The contemporary revival of virtue ethics has focused primarily on retrieving central moral commitments of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and the Neoplatonist traditions. Christian virtue ethicists would do well to expand this retrieval further to include the writings of the Roman Stoics. This essay argues that the ethics of Jonathan Edwards exemplifies major Stoic themes and explores three noteworthy points of intersection between Stoic ethics and Edwards's thought: a conception of virtue as consent to a benevolent providence, the identification of (...) virtue as a singular and transformative good, and an account of moral formation as simultaneously self-directed and received. Common ground between Edwards and the Stoics illustrates the value of recognizing Stoic moral thought as a philosophical framework that can enhance and undergird Christian ethicists' understandings of moral development and the nature of virtue. (shrink)
This book demonstrates the originality and coherence of Jonathan Edwards' philosophical theology using his dynamic reconception of reality as the interpretive key. The author argues that what underlies Edwards' writings is a radical shift from the traditional Western metaphysics of substance and form to a new conception of the world as a network of dispositions: active and abiding principles that possess reality apart from their manifestations in actions and events. Edwards' dispositional ontology enables him to restate the Augustinian-Calvinist tradition (...) in theology in a strikingly modern philosophical framework. A prime example of Edwards' innovative reconstruction in philosophical theology is his conception of God as both eternal actuality and a disposition to repeat that actuality within God and also through creation. This view is a compelling alternative to the traditional Western doctrine of God as changeless actuality, on the one hand, and the recent process theologians' excessive stress on God's involvement in change, on the other. Edwards' achievement was that he saw dynamic movement as essential to God's own life without compromising the traditional Christian tenets of God's prior actuality and transcendence. The author of this volume also explicates the way in which Edwards' dynamic reconception of reality informs his theories of imagination, aesthetic perception, the knowledge of God, and the meaning of history. This expanded edition includes a new preface and a new appendix titled "Jonathan Edwards on Nature.". (shrink)
Jonathan Lear in "Radical Hope" tackles the idea of cultural devastation, in the specific case of the Crow Indians. What do we mean by "annihilation" of a culture? The moral point of view that he imagines as he reconstructs the eve and aftermath of this annihilation is not second personal, of obligation, but first personal, in the collective and singular, as told by the Crows, with Lear as "analyst." "Radical Hope" is a study of representative character of a people—of (...) virtue, courage, resilience, and hope in the face of cultural collapse. The leading questions are shaped by ancient Greek ethics, but with a twist: On the brink of cultural death, what counts for us as good living and what is the nature of the virtues or excellences that constitute it? How might a leader, a phronimos, exemplify it? This puts it too narrowly. The questions, also, are Wittgensteinian: How does a nation go on, when the concepts and way of life it has lived by for centuries are no more? What does it mean to go on? What does it mean to stop when the marks of going on are no longer? (shrink)
Jonathan Wolff is Professor of Philosophy at University College London. He is the author of Robert Nozick (1991), An Introduction to Political Philosophy (1996) and Why Read Marx Today (2002). He is currently working on a number of topics at the intersection of political philosophy and public policy.
This article compares Hume’s metaphysical views with those of his contemporary, the American theologian and philosopher, Jonathan Edwards. It shows how, although the two men developed their theories in isolation from one another, their minds were nevertheless following almost identical paths on several of the most central issues in metaphysics (including the natures of body and mind, personal identity, causation, and free will). Their final conclusions were, however, radically different. In short, wherever Hume came to rest in a skeptical (...) position, Edwards would initially approach the very same position, but would then pull back at the last minute and bring in God to fill the gaps, yielding a Christian system of philosophy with an idiosyncratically Humean flavour. (shrink)
The incompleteness of the task of integrating the influences made upon Jonathan Edwards by Calvinism and the moral sense leaves open a great many questions central to identifying his ethical position with any detail. This should worry ethicists, theologians, and church historians alike. For the puzzle of what Edwards meant by virtue is at the heart not only of his ethics but of a great many strands of his thought. It must be pieced together from diverse sources; and there (...) are multiple meanings to be sifted through. But it is nevertheless possible to bring the concepts made available by the diverse moral traditions upon which Edwards drew into a generally coherent counterpoise. Such a counterpoise is not merely of antiquarian interest. Lacking a precise account of Edwards's ethical position, it is awkward to talk about applying it to the problems of the twenty-first, or any, century. (shrink)
Jonathan Edwards has most often been considered in the context of the Puritanism of New England. In many ways, however, he was closer to the thinkers of the European Enlightenment. In this book. Leon Chai explores that connection, analysing Edwards's thought in light of a number of the issues that preoccupied such Enlightenment figures as Locke, Descartes, Malebranche, and Leibniz. The book comprises three parts, each of which begins with a detailed analysis of a crucial passage from a classic (...) Enlightenment text, and then turns to a major theological work of Jonathan Edwards in which the same issue is explored. (shrink)
The contemporary interest in spiritual experience has some theological and ethical ambiguity. To what extent does it reflect genuine engagement with the sacred, to what extent is it dabbling in experience without adequate interpretation or moral commitment? Jonathan Edwards faced similar challenges in his sermons on 1 Cor 13, "Charity and Its Fruits". Alasdair Maclntyre and Pierre Hadot have explored the constitutive role of practices in forming of virtues and transmitting a way of life. Their writings help show the (...) continuing relevance of the spiritual practices that Edwards advocated, particularly self-examination, healing by contraries, and solidarity. (shrink)
Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and Jonathan Simon: Chemistry, the impure science Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9132-y Authors George B. Kauffman, Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034, USA Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238.
v. 1. Freedom of the will -- v. 2. Religious affections -- v. 3. Original sin -- v. 4. The Great Awakening -- v. 5. Apocalyptic writings -- v. 6. Scientific and philosophical writings -- v. 7. The life of David Brainerd -- v. 8. Ethical writings -- v. 9. A history of the work of redemption -- v. 10. Sermons and discourses, 1720-1723 -- v. 13. The "miscellanies" (entry nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500) -- v. 15. Notes on Scripture -- (...) v. 17. Sermons and discourses, 1730-1733 -- v. 18. The "miscellanies" (entry nos. 501-832) -- v. 19. Sermons and discourses, 1734-1738 -- v. 20. The miscellanies -- v. 22. Sermons and discourses, 1739-1742 -- v. 24. The "blank Bible" (2 v.). (shrink)
I came to epistemology through an interest in the concept of rationality, and especially through the attacks on the rationality of religious believers. My thoughts at the time focused on the disappointing quality of the arguments for and against religious belief, and I recall being astonished at the time that philosophers capable of such penetrating insight in other areas had nothing that seemed either penetrating or original. The defenders sounded too much like mere apologists for the faith, and the attackers (...) arid and dull, with both sides often exuding a scent of intellectual dishonesty. (shrink)
Every religion offers both hope and fear. They offer hope in virtue of the benefits promised to adherents, and fear in virtue of costs incurred by adversaries. In traditional Christianity, the costs incurred are expressed in terms of the doctrine of hell, according to which each person consigned to hell receives the same infinite punishment. This strong view of hell involves four distinct theses. First, it maintains that those in hell exist forever in that state (the Existence Thesis) and that (...) at least some human persons will end up in hell (the Anti-Universalism Thesis). Once in hell, there is no possibility of escape (the No Escape Thesis), and the justification of and purpose for hell is to mete out punishment to those whose earthly lives and character deserve it (the Retribution Thesis). (shrink)
Craig claims that my treatment of temporal indexicals such as ‘now’ is inadequate, and that my theory gives no general account of tense. Craig’s argument misunderstands the theory of indexicals I give, and I show how to extend the theory to give a general account of tense.
The sixteen essays written in honour of Jonathan Barnes for this volume reflect the impressive scope of his contributions to philosophy. Six are on knowledge, five on logic and metaphysics, five on ethics. The volume ranges widely over ancient philosophy, while also finding room for two contemporary papers on truth and vagueness. Aristotle is prominent in eight of the essays; Plato, Sextus Empiricus, the Stoics, the Epicureans, and ancient Greek medical writers are also discussed. The contributors include some of (...) the most distinguished scholars of our time. (shrink)
According to some critics, traditional armchair philosophical methodology relies in an illicit way on intuitions. But the particular structure of the critique is not often carefully articulated?a significant omission, since some of the critics? arguments for skepticism about philosophy threaten to generalize to skepticism in general. More recently, some experimentalist critics have attempted to articulate a critique that is especially tailored to affect traditional methods, without generalizing too widely. Such critiques are more reasonable, and more worthy of serious consideration, than (...) are blunter critiques that generalize far too widely. I argue that a careful (empirical!) examination of extant philosophical practices shows that traditional philosophical methods can meet these more reasonable challenges. (shrink)
Cultural devastation, and the proper response to it, is the central concern of "Radical Hope". I address an uncertainty in Lear's book, reflected in a wavering over the difference between a culture's way of life becoming impossible and its way of life becoming unintelligible. At his best, Lear asks the radical ontological question: when the cultural collapse is such that the old way of life has become not only impossible but retroactively unimaginable,—when nothing one can do (or did) makes sense (...) anymore,—how can one go on? In raising this question, Lear's book is a remarkable breakthrough; it comes close to raising the crucial ontological question of how to deal with the total collapse of a culture, and it may well become a classic by starting a conversation on the question: How should we live when our own culture is in the process of actually collapsing? Lear suggests that [w]hat would be required... would be a new Crow poet: one who could take up the Crow past and—rather than use it for nostalgia or ersatz mimesis—project it into vibrant new ways for the Crow to live and to be. (p. 51) Later Heidegger had a similar suggestion for us and I try to spell it out briefly. (shrink)
Hugh Everett III died of a heart attack in July 1982 at the age of 51. Almost 26 years later, a New York Times obituary for his PhD advisor, John Wheeler, mentioned him and Richard Feynman as Wheeler’s most prominent students. Everett’s PhD thesis on the relative state formulation of quantum mechanics, later known as the “Many Worlds Interpretation”, was published (in its edited form) in 1957, and later (in its original, unedited form) in 1973, and since then has given (...) rise to one of the most radical schools of thought in the foundations of quantum theory. Several years ago two conferences held in Oxford and in the Perimeter Institute celebrated the occasion of 50 years to the first publication of Everett’s thesis. The book Many worlds? grew out from contributions to these conferences, but, as its editors emphasize, it is more than mere conference proceedings. Instead, an attempt was made to assemble an impressive collection of papers which together illustrate the promise of the many worlds interpretation and the obstacles it faces. 23 papers divided into six sections follow an introduction by Simon Saunders, one of Oxford’s fiercest Everettians. The first four sections cover two thorny issues that have been flagged by contemporary opponents to the many worlds interpretation, namely, the problem of ontology and the problem of probability, while the fifth discusses alternatives to Everett such as Bohmian mechanics and information–theoretic approaches to quantum theory. The sixth section seems to be a wild card, hosting several papers unrelated to each other, including one of the most interesting contributions to this volume on the history of Everett’s thesis and his (some may say all too) short academic career. Each section concludes with transcripts of the discussion session that took place after the talks, thus giving an additional emphasis to the points of contention. Apart from general comments on the volume, in what follows I would like to concentrate on few papers I found especially illuminating. Start with ontology.. (shrink)
It is argued that current solutions to the question of how to individuate events do not work. Jonathan Bennett's thesis that the indeterminacy here is only semantic, not ontological, is refuted. An alternative account of why events resemble facts (although their identity criteria are less fine-grained) is defended.
In 'Quiddistic Knowledge' (Schaffer ), Jonathan Schaffer argued influentially against the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. In this reply I aim to show how a coherent and well-motivated form of necessitarianism can withstand his critique. Modal necessitarianism -- the view that the actual laws are the laws of all possible worlds -- can do justice to some intuitive motivations for necessitarianism, and it has the resources to respond to all of Schaffer's objections. It also has (...) certain advantages over contingentism in the domain of modal epistemology. I conclude that necessitarianism about laws remains a live option. (shrink)