While “scientism” is typically regarded as a position about the exclusive epistemic authority of science held by a certain class of “cultured despisers” of “religion”, we show that only on the assumption of this sort of view do purportedly “scientific” claims made by proponents of “intelligent design” appear to lend epistemic or apologetic support to claims affirmed about God and God’s action in “creation” by Christians in confessing their “faith”. On the other hand, the hermeneutical strategy that better describes the (...) practice and method of Christian theologians, from the inception of theological reflection in the Christian tradition, acknowledges the epistemic authority of the best available tests for truth in areas of human inquiry such as science and history. But this strategy does not assume that such tests, whose authority must be regarded as provisional, provides authority for the warrant of affirming claims constituting the confessed “faith”. By attributing theological import to claims advanced by appeal to the best available tests for truth in the practice of science, supporters of ID not only confuse the epistemic authority of these tests with the normative authority of a faith community’s confessional identity, but impute to scientific tests for truth a sort of authority that even goes beyond the “methodological naturalism” against which they counterpose their claims. (shrink)
In this essay I examine the ways in which the Belousov–Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction is being used by biologists to model a variety of biological systems and processes. The BZ reaction is characterized as a functional model of biological phenomena. It is able to play this role because, though based on very different substrates, the model and system modeled are examples of the same type of excitable medium. Lessons are drawn from this case about the relationships between the sciences of chemistry (...) and biology. (shrink)
In this essay I will consider some epistemological issues raised by the following two questions:(l) Does molecular biology provide the best explanations of biological phenomena?(2) What are the best ways (i.e., fruitful strategies) to cast molecular explanations of molecular phenomena?I will argue that notwithstanding the manifest scientific successes of the molecular revolution, the assessment of the philosophical debate between reductionists and antireductionists requires an examination of the ways in which the second question is currently being answered by molecular biologists.
Biological systems exhibit complexity at all levels of organization. It has recently been argued by Michael Behe that at the biochemical level a type of complexity exists--irreducible complexity--that cannot possibly have arisen as the result of natural, evolutionary processes and must instead be the product of (supernatural) intelligent design. Recent work on self-organizing chemical reactions calls into question Behe's analysis of the origins of biochemical complexity. His central interpretative metaphor for biochemical complexity, that of the well-designed mousetrap that ceases to (...) function if critical parts are absent, is undermined by the observation that typical biochemical systems exhibit considerable redundancy and overlap of function. Real biochemical systems, we argue, manifest redundant complexity--a characteristic result of evolutionary processes. (shrink)
"This book . . . is everything a philosophical tome should be: timely, important, factually informed, responsive to the scholarly literature, analytical, scrupulously fair, and rigorously, vigorously argued. It is, if I may say so, a model specimen of practical ethics." Keith Burgess-Jackson Ethics and the Environment).
Anti-vivisectionists charge that animal experimenters are speciesists people who unjustly discriminate against members of other species. Until recently most defenders of experimentation denied the charge. After the publication of `The Case for the Use of Animals in Biomedical Research' in the New England Journal of Medicine , experimenters had a more aggressive reply: `I am a speciesist. Speciesism is not merely plausible, it is essential for right conduct...'1. Most researchers now embrace Cohen's response as part of their defense of animal (...) experimentation. Cohen asserts that both rights and utilitarian arguments against the use of animals in research fail because they `refuse to recognize the moral differences among species'.2 If we appreciate the profound differences between humans and non-human animals, he says, we would understand why animals do not and could not have rights and why animal pain does not have as much moral weight as human pain. Animal liberationists think speciesism is immoral because they mistakenly equate it with racism and sexism. Cohen claims this equation is `unsound', `atrocious', `utterly specious', and `morally offensive'. Doubtless Cohen is right that the charge of speciesism is founded on an analogy with racism and sexism. He is mistaken, however, in asserting that the comparison is categorically illicit. (shrink)
Biomedical researchers claim there is significant biomedical information about humans which can be discovered only through experiments on intact animal systems (AMA p. 2). Although epidemiological studies, computer simulations, clinical investigation, and cell and tissue cultures have become important weapons in the biomedical scientists' arsenal, these are primarily "adjuncts to the use of animals in research" (Sigma Xi p. 76). Controlled laboratory experiments are the core of the scientific enterprise. Biomedical researchers claim these should be conducted on intact biological systems, (...) whole animals. By observing the effects of various stimuli in non-human animals, we can form legitimate expectations about the likely effects of these stimuli in humans. Perhaps more importantly, we can understand the biomedical condition's causal mechanisms. (shrink)
Biomedical experimentation on animals is justified, researchers say, because of its enormous benefits to human being. Sure an imals die a nd suffer , but that is m orally insignificant since the benefits of research incalculably outweigh the evils. Although this utilitarian claim appears straightforward and uncontroversial, it is neither straightforw ard n ot uncontroversial. This defense of animal experimentation is like ly to succeed only by rejecting three widely held moral presumptions. W e identify those presumptions and explain their (...) relevance to the justification of animal experimentation. We argue that even if non-human animals have con side rable less moral worth than humans, experimentation is justified only if its benefits are overwhelming. By building on arguments offered in earlier papers, we show that research ers c ann ot substantiate their claims of behalf of animal research. We conclude that there is currently no acceptable utilitarian defense of animal experimentation. Moreover, it is unlikely that they could be one. Since most apologists of animal experimentation rely on utilitarian justifications of their practice, it appears that biomedical experimentation on animals is not morally justified. (shrink)
Claude Bernard, the father of scientific physiology, believed that if medicine was to become truly scientiifc, it would have to be based on rigorous and controlled animal experiments. Bernard instituted a paradigm which has shaped physiological practice for most of the twentieth century. ln this paper we examine how Bernards commitment to hypothetico-deductivism and determinism led to (a) his rejection of the theory of evolution; (b) his minima/ization of the role of clinical medicine and epidemiological studies; and (c) his conclusion (...) that experiments on nonhuman animals were, "entirely conclusive for the toxicology and hygiene of man". We examine some negative consequences of Bernardianism for twentieth century medicine, and argue that physio/ogy's continued adherence to Bernardianism has caused it to diverge from the other biological sciences which have become increasingly infused with evolutionary theory. (shrink)
In this article we discuss two divergent accounts of non-human animals as analog models of human biomedical phenomena. Using a classical account of analogical reasoning, toxicologists and teratologists claim that if the model and subject modeled are substantially similar, then test results in non-human animals are likely applicable to humans . However, the same toxicologists report that different species often react very differently to the same chemical stimuli . The best way to understand their findings is to abandon the classical (...) view of analogical - i.e., linear - reasoning, and replace it with a version informed by chaos theory. We briefly outline the current understanding of chaos, and trace its implications for toxicology and teratology. (shrink)
Humor is a pervasive feature of human life which crosses racial, cultural, sexual, and class divisions. Yet its nature is elusive. This elusiveness should have piqued the philosophical imagination; its pervasiveness should have demonstrated its philosophical importance. However, it has generated relatively little..
This paper explores the consequences of the orthodox resolution of the measurement problem for the axiomatic base of non-relativistic elementary quantum mechanics. It is argued that the standard resolution of the measurement problem generates a paradox whose dissolution may be achieved through an enrichment of the axiomatic foundations of quantum mechanics. These results are also linked to some recent creative proposals by Nancy Cartwright concerning the nature of the so-called reduction of the wave packet.
The prime concern of this paper is with the nature of probability. It is argued that questions concerning the nature of probability are intimately linked to questions about the nature of time. The case study here concerns the single case propensity interpretation of probability. It is argued that while this interpretation of probability has a natural place in the quantum theory, the metaphysical picture of time to be found in relativity theory is incompatible with such a treatment of probability.
When theorists have studied humor, they often assumed that laughter was either a necessary or a sufficient condition of humor. It is neither. Although humorous events usually evoke laughter, they do not do so invariably. Humor may evoke smiles or smirks which fall short of laughter. Thus it is not a necessary condition. Nor is it a sufficient condition. People may laugh because they are uncomfortable (nervous laughter), they may laugh at someone (derisive laughter), they may laugh because they are (...) insane or mentally imbalanced (hysterical laughter), or they may laugh because they are physiologically induced to do so (as when someone tickles them relentlessly). Perhaps these other forms of laughter are philosophically interesting, but they are not forms of humor and so are beyond the reach of this essay. (shrink)
In the context of a discussion of time symmetry in the quantum mechanical measurement process, Aharonov et al. (1964) derived an expression concerning probabilities for the outcomes of measurements conducted on systems which have been pre- and postselected on the basis of both preceding and succeeding measurements. Recent literature has claimed that a resulting "time-symmetrized" interpretation of quantum mechanics has significant implications for some basic issues, such as contextuality and determinateness, in elementary, nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. Bub and Brown (1986) have (...) shown that under the standard interpretation of the aforementioned expression, these claims employ ensembles which are not well defined. It is argued here that under a counterfactual interpretation of the expression, these claims may be understood as employing well-defined ensembles; it is shown, however, that such an interpretation cannot be reconciled with the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
Arthur Fine's use of prism models to provide local and deterministic accounts of quantum correlation experiments is presented and analyzed in some detail. Fine's claim that "there is... no question of the consistency of prism models... with the quantum theory" (forthcoming, p. 16) is disputed. Our criticisms are threefold: (1) consideration of the possibility of additional analyzer positions shows that prism models entail unacceptably high rejection rates in the relevant experiments; (2) similar considerations show that the models are at best (...) only superficially local and deterministic; and (3) in any case, Fine extracts the quantum correlation statistics from prism models only by resurrecting conceptual problems similar to those that his models were to designed to solve. (shrink)