Ever since, while continuing to develop his liguistic theories, he has been the most prominent US critic both of his country's foreign policy and of the intellectuals and media that give it overwhelming consensual support. "The Responsibility of Intellectuals" was followed by a series of ever more devastating attacks on American policy in Vietnam (collected in American Power and the New Mandarins and At War With Asia ): by 1970, he was far and away the best known intellectual opponent of (...) the US war effort. (shrink)
Although the canonical distribution is one of the central tools of statistical mechanics, the reason for its effectiveness is poorly understood. This is due in part to the fact that there is no clear consensus on what it means to use the canonical distribution to describe a system in equilibrium with a heat bath. I examine some traditional views as to what sort of thing we should take the canonical distribution to represent. I argue that a less explored alternative, according (...) to which the canonical distribution represents a time ensemble of sorts, has a number of advantages that rival interpretations lack. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago, 1115 E. 58th St., Chicago, IL 60637; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
According to a standard view of the second law of thermodynamics, our belief in the second law can be justified by pointing out that low-entropy macrostates are less probable than high-entropy macrostates, and then noting that a system in an improbable state will tend to evolve toward a more probable state. I would like to argue that this justification of the second law is unhelpful at best and wrong at worst, and will argue that certain puzzles sometimes associated with the (...) second law are merely artifacts of this questionable justification. *Received October 2006; revised October 2007. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago, 1115 E. 58th St., Chicago, IL 60637; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Examples involving infinite suspended chains or infinite trains are sometimes used to defend perceived weaknesses in traditional cosmological arguments. In this article, we distinguish two versions of the cosmological argument, suggest that such examples can only be relevant if it is one specific type of cosmological argument that is being considered, and then criticize the use of such examples in this particular type of cosmological argument. Our criticism revolves around a discussion of what it means to call a system closed, (...) and what it means to call an explanation complete. Our analysis makes no suppositions about the nature of the infinite, and is therefore independent of many of the issues around which contemporary discussions of the cosmological argument have tended to revolve. (shrink)
According to a standard view of the second law of thermodynamics, our belief in the second law can be justified by pointing out that low entropy macrostates are less probable than high entropy macrostates, and then noting that a system in an improbable state will tend to evolve toward a more probable state. I would like to argue that this justification of the second law of thermodynamics is fundamentally flawed, and will show that some puzzles sometimes associated with the second (...) law are merely artifacts of this incorrect justification. (shrink)
Many arguments found in the physics literature involve concepts that are not well-defined by the usual standards of mathematics. I argue that physicists are entitled to employ such concepts without rigorously defining them so long as they restrict the sorts of mathematical arguments in which these concepts are involved. Restrictions of this sort allow the physicist to ignore calculations involving these concepts that might lead to contradictory results. I argue that such restrictions need not be ad hoc, but can sometimes (...) be justified by considering some of the metaphysical issues surrounding the question of the applicability of mathematics to physical reality. 1 Introduction 2 Rejecting inferential permissiveness 3 The agreement problem 4 Independent objections to the liberal view. (shrink)
In this paper, we consider two different ways in which modus-ponens type reasoning with conditional obligations may be formalized. We develop necessary and sufficient conditions for the validity of each, and make some philosophical observations about the differences between the minor premises that each formalization requires. All this is done within the context of the Belnap-Perloff stit theory.
In a recent article in this journal, Richard Gale and Alexander Pruss offer a new cosmological proof for the existence of God relying only on the Weak Principle of Sufficient Reason, W-PSR. We argue that their proof relies on applications of W-PSR that cannot be justified, and that our modal intuitions simply do not support W-PSR in the way Gale and Pruss take them to.