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We argue that Isaac Newton really is best understood as being in the tradition of the Mechanical Philosophy and, further, that Newton saw himself as being in this tradition. But the tradition as Newton understands it is not that of Robert Boyle and many others, for whom the Mechanical Philosophy was defined by contact action and a corpuscularean theory of matter. Instead, as we argue in this paper, Newton interpreted and extended the Mechanical Philosophy's slogan “matter and motion” in reference (...) to the long and distinguished tradition of mixed mathematics and the study of simple machines. (shrink)
The papers collected here are the result of an INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM: Data · Phenomena · Theories: What’s the notion of a scientific phenomenon good for? held in Heidelberg in September 2008. The event was organized by the research group Causality, Cognition, and the Constitution of Scientific Phenomena in cooperation with Philosophy Department at the University of Heidelberg (Peter McLaughlin and Andreas Kemmerling) and the IWH Heidelberg. The symposium was supported by the Emmy-Noether-Programm der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft and by Stiftung Universitat Heidelebrg (...) . The workshop was held in honor of Daniela Bailer-Jones, who died on 13 November 2006 at the age of 37 (cf. my 2007 Daniela Bailer-Jones ). Bailer-Jones was an Emmy Noether fellow, and the symposium was arranged and run by those who were working in her research group at the time of her death: Monika Dullstein, Jochen Apel, and Pavel Radchencko. To them goes the credit for the conception, planning, and carrying out of the symposium. (shrink)
Some biological processes (our examples are DNA expression and a reflex response in the leech) move from step to step in a way that cannot be completely understood solely in terms of causes and correlations. This paper develops a notion of mechanistic information that can be used to explain the continuities of such processes. We compare them to processes (including the Krebs cycle) that do not involve information. We compare our conception of mechanistic information to some familiar notions including Crick’s (...) idea of genetic information, Shannon-Weaver information, and Millikan’s biosemantic information. (shrink)
The contemporary epistemic status of mental health disciplines does not allow the cross validation of mental disorders among various genetic markers, biochemical pathway or mechanisms, and clinical assessments in neuroscience explanations. We attempt to provide a meta-empirical analysis of the contemporary status of the cross-disciplinary issues existing between neuro-biology and psychopathology. Our case studies take as an established medical mode an example cross validation between biological sciences and clinical cardiology in the case of myocardial infarction. This is then contrasted with (...) the incoherence between neuroscience and psychiatry in the case of bipolar disorders. We examine some methodological problems arising from the neuro-imaging studies, specifically the experimental paradigm introduced by the team of Wayne Drevets. Several theoretical objections are raised: temporal discordance, state independence, and queries about the reliability and specificity, and failure of convergent validity of the inter-disciplinary attempt. Both modern neuroscience and clinical psychology taken as separate fields have failed to reveal the explanatory mechanisms underlying mental disorders. The data acquired inside the mono-disciplinary matrices of neurobiology and psychopathology are deeply insufficient concerning their validity, reliability, and utility. Further, there haven’t been developed any effective trans-disciplinary connections between them. It raises the requirement for development of explanatory significant multi-disciplinary “meta-language” in psychiatry (Berrios, 2006, 2008). We attempt to provide a novel conceptual model for an integrative dialogue between psychiatry and neuroscience that actually includes criteria for cross-validation of the common used psychiatric categories and the different assessment methods. The major goal of our proactive program is the foundation of complementary “bridging” connections of neuroscience and psychopathology which may stabilize the cognitive meta-structure of the mental health knowledge. This entails bringing into synergy the disparate discourses of clinical psychology and neuroscience. One possible model accomplishment of this goal would be the synergistic (or at least compatible) integration of the knowledge under trans-disciplinary convergent cross-validation of the commonly used methods and notions. (shrink)
In this essay, we discuss how Descartes arrives at his mature view of material causation. Descartes position changes over time in some very radical ways. The last section spells out his final position as to how causation works in the world of material objects. When considering Descartes causal theories, it is useful to distinguish between vertical and horizontal causation. The vertical perspective addresses Gods relation to creation. God is essential being, and every being other than God depends upon God in (...) order to exist and to continue in existence .Thus, from the vertical perspective, the act of creating and fact of coming into existence are co-extensive notions. This metaphysical/theological framework is the basis of Descartes commitment to three interrelated notions: that genuine causes and effects occur simultaneously; that causing is appropriately the case only when the cause is acting; and the view that God is the efficient, total, and continuous cause of everything that exists and every action that occurs. So from the vertical perspective, things are nothing without Gods continuous creation, and there is a problem in articulating how they are said to have independent being and causal efficacy. It is in terms of these commitments that Descartes views on horizontal, or material, causation must be approached. We will make apparent the radical extent to which his account of intra-worldly causation abandons his earlier and more traditional views about material causation. To this end we discuss Descartes journey to his mature position by emphasizing the growing epistemic limitations of his philosophy, which culminate in what we call his epistemic stance. (shrink)
This article deals with mechanisms conceived as composed of entities and activities. In response to many perplexities about the nature of activities, a number of arguments are developed concerning their epistemic and ontological status. Some questions concerning the relations between cause and causal explanation and mechanisms are also addressed.
Proceedings of the Pittsburgh Workshop in History and Philosophy of Biology, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, March 23-24 2001 Session 5: Development, Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology.
Imre Lakatos’ idea that history of science without philosophy of science is blind may still be given a plausible interpretation today, even though his theory of the methodology of scientific research programmes has been rejected. The latter theory captures neither rationality in science nor the sense in which history must be told in a rational fashion. Nonetheless, Lakatos was right in insisting that the discipline of history consists of written rational reconstructions. In this paper, we will examine possible ways to (...) cash out different, philosophically interesting, relationships: between rationality and science, between rationality and philosophy of science and/or epistemology, and, of course, between history and philosophy of science. Our conclusion is that the historian of science may be a philosopher of science as weIl, but if that philosophy of science is essentially a historical and dogmatic, it either cannot be used for history or it will deprive history of some of its most interesting and useful categories. (shrink)
The concept of mechanism is analyzed in terms of entities and activities, organized such that they are productive of regular changes. Examples show how mechanisms work in neurobiology and molecular biology. Thinking in terms of mechanisms provides a new framework for addressing many traditional philosophical issues: causality, laws, explanation, reduction, and scientific change.
Traditionally it has been thought that scientific controversies can always be resolved on the basis of empirical data. Recently, however, social constructionists have claimed that the outcome of scientific debates is strongly influenced by non-evidential factors such as the rhetorical prowess and professional clout of the participants. This volume of previously unpublished essays by well-known philosophers of science presents historical studies and philosophical analyses that undermine the plausibility of an extreme social constructionist perspective while also indicating the need for a (...) richer and more realistic account of scientific rationality. (shrink)