Over the last twenty years, Bas van Fraassen has developed a “new epistemology”: an attempt to sail between Bayesianism and traditional epistemology. He calls his own alternative “voluntarism”. A constant pillar of his thought is the thought that rationality involves permission rather than obligation. The present paper aims to offer an appraisal of van Fraassen’s conception of rationality. In section 2, I review the Bayesian structural conception of rationality and argue that it has been found wanting. In sections 3 and (...) 4, I analyse van Fraassen’s voluntarism. I raise some objections about van Fraassen’s reliance on prior opinion and argue that the content of a belief matters to its rationality. In section 5, I criticise van Fraassen’s view that inference to the best explanation is incoherent. Finally, in section 6, I take on van Fraassen’s conception of rationality and show that it is too thin to fully capture rational judgement. (shrink)
Considering Pragma-Dialectics honors the monumental contributions of one of the foremost international figures in current argumentation scholarship: Frans van Eemeren. The volume presents the research efforts of his colleagues and addresses how their work relates to the pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation with which van Eemeren’s name is so intimately connected. This tribute serves to highlight the varied approaches to the study of argumentation and is destined to inspire researchers to advance scholarship in the field far into the (...) future. Replete with contributions from highly-esteemed academics in argumentation study, chapters in this volume address such topics as: *Pragma-dialectic versus epistemic theories of arguing and arguments; *Pragma-dialectics and self-advocacy in physician-patient interactions; *The pragma-dialectical analysis of the ad hominem family; *Rhetoric, dialectic, and the functions of argument; and *The semantics of reasonableness. As an exceptional volume and a fitting tribute, this work will be of interest to all argumentation scholars considering the astute insights and scholarly legacy of Frans van Eemeren. (shrink)
In his recent book, The Empirical Stance, Bas van Fraassen forcefully raises the question of what a philosophical position can or should be. He mainly discusses this question with regard to empiricism but his discussion makes it clear that he takes his proposed answer to be generalizable: not only empiricism but philosophical positions in general should be understood as stances rather than dogmata. The first part of this essay is devoted to an examination of van Fraassen’s critique of ‘naïve’ or (...) dogmatic empiricism, which represents an integral part of his argument for ‘stance’ empiricism. It will be argued that, contrary to van Fraassen’s view, not all versions of naïve empiricism run into the problems identified by him. In the second part of the paper the case will be made that, contrary to van Fraassen’s thesis, the stance empiricist is in at least as bad a position as the naïve empiricist with regard to the task of providing a radical critique of metaphysics, which van Fraassen takes to be an essential task that any empiricist should be able to accomplish. The third part of this essay concerns van Fraassen’s general proposal, and examines the question whether a philosophical position can possibly consist in a stance. It will be suggested that this is not the case. With regard to empiricism this has the implication that if one wants to be a philosopher and an empiricist at the same time one needs to subscribe to a form of naïve empiricism. Furthermore, it will be proposed that as a philosopher-empiricist one should want, or, at least, allow some form of metaphysical theorizing to be part of the philosophical enterprise after all. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Peter van Inwagen’s claim (in “Free Will Remains a Mystery”), that agent-causal views of free will could do nothing to solve the problem of free will (specifically, the problem of chanciness). After explaining van Inwagen’s argument, I argue that he does not consider all possible manifestations of the agent-causal position. More importantly, I claim that, in any case, van Inwagen appears to have mischaracterized the problem in some crucial ways. Once we are clear on (...) the true nature of the problem of chanciness, agent-causal views do much to eradicate it. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction William A. Galston and Peter H. Hoffenberg; 2. Global poverty and uneven development Sakiko Fukuda-Parr; 3. The karma of poverty: a Buddhist perspective David R. Loy; 4. Poverty and morality in Christianity Kent A. Van Til; 5. Classical liberalism, poverty, and morality Tom G. Palmer; 6. Confucian perspectives on poverty and morality Peter Nosco; 7. Poverty and morality: a feminist perspective Nancy J. Hirschmann; 8. Hinduism and poverty Arvind Sharma; 9. The problem of (...) poverty in Islamic ethics Sohail H. Hashmi; 10. Jewish perspectives on poverty Noam Zohar; 11. Liberal egalitarianism and poverty Darrel Moellendorf; 12. Marxism and poverty Andrew Levine; 13. Poverty and natural law Stephen J. Pope; 14. Afterword Michael Walzer. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n1p49 The aim of this article is to offer a rejoinder to an argument against scientific realism put forward by van Fraassen, based on theoretical considerations regarding microphysics. At a certain stage of his general attack to scientific realism, van Fraassen argues, in contrast to what realists typically hold, that empirical regularities should sometimes be regarded as “brute facts”, which do not ask for explanation in terms of deeper, unobservable mechanisms. The argument from microphysics formulated by van Fraassen is based (...) on the claim that in microphysics the demand for explanation leads to a demand for the so-called hidden-variable theories, which “runs contrary to at least one major school of thought in twentieth-century physics”. It is shown here that this argument does not represent an insurmountable obstacle to scientific realism, not even when a series of important theoretical and experimental results against hidden-variable theories — and not merely a conflict with a certain school of thought—is taken into account. (shrink)
In a recent article, van Fraassen has taken issue with the use to which Perrin’s experiments on Brownian motion have been put by philosophers, especially those defending scientific realism. He defends an alternative position by analysing the details of Perrin’s case in its historical context. In this reply, I argue that van Fraassen has not done the job well enough and I extend and in some respects attempt to correct his claims by close attention to the historical details.
In his recent book on the problem of evil, Peter van Inwagen argues that both the global and local arguments from evil are failures. In this paper, we engagevan Inwagen’s book at two main points. First, we consider his understanding of what it takes for a philosophical argument to succeed. We argue that whilehis criterion for success is interesting and helpful, there is good reason to think it is too stringent. Second, we consider his responses to the global andlocal arguments (...) from evil. We argue that although van Inwagen may have adequately responded to each of these arguments, his discussion points us toa third argument from evil to which he has yet to provide a response. (shrink)
Hilary Putnam and Bas C. van Fraassen have been two pivotal figures in the scientific realism debate in the second half of the twentieth century. Their initial perspectives were antithetical—defining an archetypical scientific realist position (Putnam) and a major empiricism-inspired alternative to scientific realism (van Fraassen). But as the years (and the philosophical debates) went on, there have been important lines of convergence in the stances of these two thinkers, mostly motivated by an increasing flirting with pragmatism and by a (...) growing disdain towards metaphysics. Putnam’s views went through two major turns, in a philosophical journey he aptly described as taking him “from realism back to realism” (1994, 494). Being an arch scientific realist in the 1960s and the early 1970s, he moved to a trenchant critique of metaphysical realism and the adoption of a verificationist-‘internalist’ approach (what he called pragmatic or internal realism), which he upheld roughly until the end of the twentieth century. Then he adopted a direct realist outlook, what he called “common sense” or “natural realism”, which was based on the denial of at least some of the tenets of his internalist period (e.g., the abandonment of a verificationist conception of truth), while at the same time tried to avoid “the phantasies of metaphysical realism”. It is (almost) impossible to cover all aspects of Putnam’s realist endeavours. I will therefore focus on his changing views about scientific realism. Van Fraassen occupied a space in the scientific realism debate that was left vacant by Putnam’s critique of fictionalism and verificationism, viz., an agnostic stance towards the ontological commitments of literally understood scientific theories. His positive alternative to realism, Constructive Empiricism (CE), was meant to be a position suitable for post-positivist empiricists, that is philosophers who a) take for granted the empiricist dictum that all (substantive) knowledge stems from experience; b) take science seriously (but not uncritically) as the paradigm of rational inquiry; and c) take to heart all criticism of the positivist approach to science, bound as it was to issues concerning the language of theories and the privileging of an alleged theory-neutral observational vocabulary.. (shrink)
First, I'd like to thank Professors Van Till, Pun, and McMullin for their careful and thoughtful replies. There is a deep level of agreement among all four of us; as is customary with replies and replies to replies, however, I shall concentrate on our areas of disagreement. In the cases of Van Till and McMullin, this may give an impression of deeper disagreement than actually exists. In the case of Pun it leaves me with little to say except Yea and (...) Amen; I find no serious disagreement between us. (shrink)
Van den Belt recently examined the notion that synthetic biology and the creation of ‘artificial’ organisms are examples of scientists ‘playing God’. Here I respond to some of the issues he raises, including some of his comments on my previous discussions of the value of the term ‘life’ as a scientific concept.
The argument given by Peter van Inwagen for the second premise on his "First Formal Argument" in An Essay on Free Will is invalid. The second premise hinges on the principle that since a proposition p , some statement about the present, is actually true, ~p can't be true. ~p must be false. What is the reason? The principle is that ~p cannot be true at the same time as p . I argue that, among other things, in its attachment (...) to this sort of principle, van Inwagen's argument commits the most familiar of all the modal scope fallacies. (shrink)
Van Fraassen's epistemology is forged from two commitments, one to a type of Bayesianism and the other to what he terms voluntarism. Van Fraassen holds that if one is going to follow a rule in belief-revision, it must be a Bayesian rule, but that one does not need to follow a rule in order to be rational. It is argued that van Fraassen's arguments for rejecting non-Bayesian rules is unsound, and that his voluntarism is subject to a fatal dilemma arising (...) from the non-monotonic character of reasoning. (shrink)
For a biological anthropologist interested in the prehistory of religion, J. Wentzel van Huyssteen's book is welcome and resonant. Van Huyssteen's central thesis is that humans' capacity for spirituality emerges from a transformation of cognition and emotions that takes place in the symbolic realm, within Homo sapiens and apart from biology. To his thesis I bring to bear three areas of response: the abundant cognitive and emotional capacities of living apes and extinct hominids; the role of symbolic ritual in the (...) evolutionary history of Homo sapiens; and the closely intertwined nature of biology and culture in the workings of evolutionary change. (shrink)
A careful analysis of Salmon’s Theoretical Realism and van Fraassen’s Constructive Empiricism shows that both share a common origin: the requirement of literal construal of theories inherited by the Standard View. However, despite this common starting point, Salmon and van Fraassen strongly disagree on the existence of unobservable entities. I argue that their different ontological commitment towards the existence of unobservables traces back to their different views on the interpretation of probability via different conceptions of induction. In fact, inferences to (...) statements claiming the existence of unobservable entities are inferences to probabilistic statements, whence the crucial importance of the interpretation of probability. (shrink)
It is the aim of work in theoretical cognitive science to produce good theories of what exactly cognition amounts to, preferably theories which not only provide a framework for fruitful empirical investigation, but which also shed light on cognitive activity itself, which help us to understand our place, as cognitive agents, in a complex causally determined physical universe. The most recent such framework to gain significant fame is the so-called dynamical approach to cognition (henceforth DST, for Dynamical Systems Theory ). (...) Explaining and exploring DST is the purpose of the collection Mind as Motion: Explorations in the Dynamics of Cognition , edited by Robert Port and Timothy van Gelder. (shrink)
Review of: Frans H. van Eemeren, Peter Houtlosser, A. Francisca Snoeck Henkemans: Argumentative Indicators in Discourse. A Pragma-Dialectical Study Content Type Journal Article Pages 519-524 DOI 10.1007/s10503-010-9182-7 Authors Manfred Kienpointner, Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen, Universität Innsbruck, Innrain 52, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria Journal Argumentation Online ISSN 1572-8374 Print ISSN 0920-427X Journal Volume Volume 24 Journal Issue Volume 24, Number 4.
In his recent review essay, Stan van Hooft raises some interesting potential challenges for cosmopolitan global justice projects, of which my version is one example. I am grateful to van Hooft for doing so. I hope by responding to these challenges here, others concerned with developing frameworks for analyzing issues of global justice will also learn something of value. I start by giving a very brief synopsis of key themes of my book, 'Global Justice', so I can address van Hooft's (...) concerns about the structure of the book. I then outline the normative thought experiment that yields the global justice framework I endorse, in order to address five main concerns van Hooft has with it. These center around problems he foresees about what it would be reasonable to agree to in the face of quite different worldviews. There are five specific concerns he identifies related to reasonableness and I address these in the third and fourth sections of this paper. -/- . (shrink)
van Fraassen's constructivist empiricist account of theories makes an epistemic distinction between entities that can and cannot be observed with the naked eye. A belief about the correctness of a theoretical description of an entity that is observable with the naked eye can be warranted by a theory. In contrast, no theory can warrant a belief about the correctness of a description of an unobservable entity. I argue that we ought to instead adopt a view that takes account of the (...) fact that some entities that cannot be observed with the naked eye can nevertheless be observed on the basis of the same physical principle as those entities that can be. This suggests that there is a distinction different from van Fraassen's that might do the work van Fraassen intends his to do, but a distinction that is principled. Understanding why this is so suggests that his distinction is grounded merely in human chauvinism. (shrink)
Each person is perceived by others and by herself as an individual in a very strong sense, namely as a unique individual. Moreover, this supposed uniqueness is commonly thought of as linked with another character that we tend to attribute to persons (as opposed to stones or chairs and even non-human animals): a kind of depth, hidden to sensory perception, yet in some measure accessible to other means of knowledge. I propose a theory of strong or essential individuality. This theory (...) is introduced by way of a critical discussion of Van Inwagen’s and Baker’s ontologies of persons. Composition Theory and Constitution Theory are shown to be complementary, in their opposite strong and weak points. I argue that both theories have unsatisfactory consequences concerning personal identity, a problem which the proposed theory seems to solve more faithfully both to folk intuitions and the phenomenology of personal life. (shrink)
Ve svém článku 'Hledání hyperintenzionality' se Bjorn Jespersen pokusil rekapitulovat a zdůvodnit způsob, jakým TIL vykládá pojem významu. Jakkoli si myslím, že se Jespersenovi (nikoli jenom v tomto článku) daří TIL předvádět způsobem srozumitelným i přitažlivým i pro outsidery..
In his recent book, The Empirical Stance (2002), Bas van Fraassen elaborates on earlier suggestions of a religious view that has striking parallels withhis constructive empiricism. A particularly salient feature consists in the way in which he keeps a critical distance from theoretical formulations both in scienceand religion, thus preferring a mystical approach to religious experience. As an alternative, I suggest a view based on mediation by the word, both in the structureof reality and the encounter between persons. Without falling (...) prey to rationalist illusions, such an approach allows for true human knowledge as embedded intranscendent Wisdom. It implies a more radical break with the Enlightenment ideal of neutral and universal knowledge than van Fraassen’s program, as he stillmaintains a kind of immanent grounding of knowledge in the form of direct, unmediated experience, in spite of his rejection of classical foundationalism. Wecan thus overcome the antithetical ring that characterizes his notion of rationality understood as bridled irrationality and escape relativism without forgetting thelessons that we have learned from the collapse of positivism—lessons to which van Fraassen rightly draws our attention. (shrink)
The paper takes up the objections raised in van der Auwera (1993) against the joint analysis of the German particles schon, noch and erst published in Löbner (1989). Central to my analysis is the claim that the particles are organized in duality groups of four to which essentially the same type of analysis applies. Van der Auwera (1993) claims that already/schon, in its basic use, is different from the other three particles in having a more complex meaning which results in (...) an opposition of the particle to finally/endlich. As to the narrow-focus temporal uses he argues that the duality approach is inadequate in including improper members on the one hand, and excluding relevant particles on the other.The criticism will be refuted. After a recollection of the duality analysis in Section 2, van der Auwera's arguments against the general design of my analysis are dealt with in Section 3. It will be argued that his own analysis of already/schon and its group, as far as it is supported by the data, does not really differ from my approach. In Section 4, I will deal with the claim that finally/endlich contradicts already/schon, which if correct would provide an indirect argument against the duality analysis of schon and noch. I will argue that endlich is set apart from the particles of the schon group by the presence of a non-descriptive, expressive, meaning component. For its descriptive meaning, endlich logically entails schon and belongs to a parallel duality group of its own together with noch immer. The apparent incompatibility of finally/endlich and already/schon can be explained as a conflict between what is foregrounded by each particle, respectively. In Section 5, I will argue that, contrary to van der Auwera's claims, the narrow focus uses of schon and its kin do form proper duality groups. The existence of such uses of noch, not treated in Löbner (1989), does not invalidate the duality analysis of schon and erst. Rather, noch in its relevant narrow-focus use belongs to yet another duality group together with its dual nur noch. (shrink)
In the fusillade he lets fly against Foss (1984), Bourgeois (1987) sometimes hits a live target. I admit that I went beyond the letter of van Fraassen's The Scientific Image (1980), making inferences and drawing conclusions which are often absurd. I maintain, however, that the absurdities must be charged to van Fraassen's account. While I cannot redress every errant shot of Bourgeois, his essay reveals the need for further discussion of the concepts of the phenomena and the observables as used (...) by van Fraassen. (shrink)
Van Gelder identifies the notion of a dynamical system with that of a quantitative system. According to an alternative view, a dynamical system is a state-determined system. This suggests a more profitable way to understand the roles of computation and dynamics in cognitive explanation.
Analysis shows that statements of ability are disguised conditionals. More exactly, the correct analysis of 'X could have done A' is 'If X h decided (chosen, willed ...) to do A, X would have done A'. Therefore having acted freely--having been able to act otherwise than one fact did--is compatible with determinism (with the causal determination of one's acts).
Howard Van Till's review of my book No Free Lunch exemplifies perfectly why theistic evolution remains intelligent design's most implacable foe. Not only does theistic evolution sign off on the naturalism that pervades so much of contemporary science, but it justifies that naturalism theologically -- as though it were unworthy of God to create by any means other than an evolutionary process that carefully conceals God's tracks.
Van Orden and Paap argue that subtractive functional neuroimaging is fundamentally flawed, unfalsifiable, and cannot bear upon the nature of mind. In this they are mistaken, although their criticisms interestingly illuminate the scientific problems we confront in investigating the material basis of mind. Here, I consider the criticisms of Van Orden and Paap and discuss where they are mistaken and where justified. I then consider the picture of imaging science that Van Orden and Paap seem to espouse and sketch an (...) alternative picture that is more realistic, more interesting, and consistent with the deliverances and the weaknesses of neuroimaging techniques. Finally, I identify three assumptions that I do think neuroimaging is wedded to and briefly discuss their implications. (shrink)
, I argued that Bas van Fraassen's constructive empiricism was undermined in various ways by his antirealism about modality. Here I offer some comments and responses to the reply to my arguments by Bradley Monton and van Fraassen . In particular, after making some minor points, I argue that Monton and van Fraassen have not done enough to show that the context dependence of counterfactuals renders their truth conditions non-objective, and I also argue that adopting modal realism does after all (...) undermine the motivation for constructive empiricism. Introduction Underdetermination and epistemic modesty Counterfactual observations Modal realism and constructive empiricism. (shrink)
The BPR assumes that we already know how sentences are partitioned into focused and backgrounded material, and this is quite legitimate, given the literature on the topic (see e.g. Krifka (1991), von Stechow (1991)). If the BPR was true, no more would have to be said about the meaning of focus. The behavior of whatever inferences are generated by backgrounding could be taken care of by theories dealing with the projection of presuppositions of the familiar kind, the presuppositions of definite (...) descriptions, clefts, or factives, for example. This is a non-trivial and interesting claim. (shrink)
In an article in Utilitas Theo van Willigenburg has argued that moral valuation is distinguished from other forms of valuation by the Kantian concept of respect. He criticizes, from that standpoint, an account I put forward, which builds on the connections between moral wrongdoing, blame and withdrawal of recognition. I examine the difference between these two approaches and defend my own.