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Profile: Peter Suber (Earlham College, Harvard University)
  1. Peter Suber, Creating an Intellectual Commons Through Open Access.
    in Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom (eds.), Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice, MIT Press, 2006.
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  2. Peter Suber, Open Access in the United States.
    in Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key strategic, technical and economic aspects, Chandos Publishing, 2006.
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  3. Peter Suber, Trends Favoring Open Access.
    Cyberinfrastructure Technology Watch (CTWatch), in a special issue on The Coming Revolution in Scholarly Communications & Cyberinfrastructure, Vol. 3, No. 3, Fall 2007.
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  4. Peter Suber, Unbinding Knowledge: A Proposal for Providing Open Access to Past Research Articles, Starting with the Most Important.
    in Giandomenico Sica (ed.), Open Access, Open Problems, Milan: Polimetrica, October 20, 2006, pp. 43-58.
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  5. Peter Suber, Amendment.
    If the fundamental law, or constitution, of a nation cannot be changed by legal means, then it cannot adapt to changing circumstances; as the disparity with circumstances widens, the risk of revolution increases. But if it can be changed too easily, then the fundamental principles and institutions it establishes are at risk of being swept away by a majority momentarily enraptured with a new idea. An amendment clause permits fundamental change, courting the latter risk, but it makes that change difficult, (...)
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  6. Peter Suber, Analogy Exercises for Teaching Legal Reasoning.
    Legal reasoning is not the same as the reasoning in mathematics or the physical sciences. It is like them. Specifying the likeness in more detail, and deciding whether there is more likeness than unlikeness, are the kinds of tasks that legal reasoning is better adapted to do than mathematical or scientific reasoning.
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  7. Peter Suber, Appendix 3 Nomic: A Game of Self-Amendment [Note 1].
    If law-making is a game, then it is a game in which changing the rules is a move. Lawmaking is more than changing the rules of law-making, of course, and more than a game. But a real game may model the self-amending character of the legal system and leave the rest out. While self-amendment appears to be an esoteric feature of law, capturing it in a game creates a remarkably complete microcosm of a functional legal system.
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  8. Peter Suber, A Year of Teaching with Dialog.
    Most philosophers use Philosopher's Index; many use it online. Few know that the online version is only one of roughly 400 databases available from Dialog Information Services. There are other databases useful for philosophers (notably Francis from Questel Inc.), but I've had a good reason recently to focus on those available from Dialog: I've had free connect-time for over a year.
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  9. Peter Suber, Civil Disobedience.
    Civil disobedience is a form of protest in which protestors deliberately violate a law. Classically, they violate the law they are protesting, such as segregation or draft laws, but sometimes they violate other laws which they find unobjectionable, such as trespass or traffic laws. Most activists who perform civil disobedience are scrupulously nonviolent, and willingly accept legal penalties. The purpose of civil disobedience can be to publicize an unjust law or a just cause; to appeal to the conscience of the (...)
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  10. Peter Suber, Is Philosophy Dead?
    Some say that physics is nearing its end because it will soon answer all its questions; I am not that optimistic. Others claim that philosophy is already at an end because its questions will never be answered and, perhaps, should never have been asked; I am not that pessimistic. I bring the non-news that, as usual, neither our successes nor our failures are at an end.
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  11. Peter Suber, Infinite Reflections.
    Galileo's Paradox Contradictory or Counter-Intuitive? Imagination v. Conception Infinity as a Positive Idea Do We Experience Anything Infinite? The Sublimity of the Infinite Conclusion Bibliography Notes Appendix: A Crash Course in the Mathematics of Infinite Sets..
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  12. Peter Suber, Logical Rudeness.
    Consider the following exchanges: 1. Gerda: So you believe that all belief is the product of custom and circumstance (or: childhood buffets, class struggle...). Isn't that position self-limiting? Mustn't you see yourself as reflecting only a single complex of circumstances? Grobian: Your objection is inapplicable, for it is merely the product of blind forces. Moreover, your childhood buffets were pernicious and regrettable, for they have set you against this truth.
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  13. Peter Suber, Legal Reasoning After Post-Modern Critiques of Reason [Note 1].
    These critiques and the ways of thinking made possible in their wake tend to be called post-modern, a term which is vague and even a little irritating. It would be more precise and descriptive to speak instead of post- Enlightenment critiques of reason. Hume is arguably the first post-Enlightenment thinker, and after Hume these critiques of reason developed further in Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, and were then taken up by many lesser, 20th century thinkers. If the Enlightenment was the (...)
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  14. Peter Suber, Open Access Overview.
    This is an introduction to open access (OA) for those who are new to the concept. I hope it's short enough to read, long enough to be useful, and organized to let you skip around and dive into detail only where you want detail. It doesn't cover every nuance or answer every objection. But for those who read it, it should cover enough territory to prevent the misunderstandings that delayed progress in our early days.
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  15. Peter Suber, Paternalism.
    "Paternalism" comes from the Latin pater, meaning to act like a father, or to treat another person like a child. ("Parentalism" is a gender-neutral anagram of "paternalism".) In modern philosophy and jurisprudence, it is to act for the good of another person without that person's consent, as parents do for children. It is controversial because its end is benevolent, and its means coercive. Paternalists advance people's interests (such as life, health, or safety) at the expense of their liberty. In this, (...)
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  16. Peter Suber, Population Changes and Constitutional Amendments: Federalism Versus Democracy.
    The Problem Background Some Political History, Pre-1790 Federalist and Republican Principles Some Demographic History, 1790-1980 To What Extent Have the Possible Dangers Become Actual? The Discriminatory Impact and Prospects for Future Amendments Remedies Conclusion Appendix Table 1. The Possibility of Federalist Minority Amendment: Decade by Decade Table 2. The Possibility of Federalist Minority Amendment: Amendment by Amendment Table 3. Discriminatory Impact of Population Changes Table 4. Relative Strength of Voice of Citizens of the Various States Notes Second Thoughts..
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  17. Peter Suber, Review of George Dyson, Darwin Among The Machines. [REVIEW]
    Dyson's book is an argument disguised as an intellectual history. The argument is that all intelligence is collective, in the way that human intelligence emerges from the collection of unintelligent neurons, and that a global collective intelligence is now emerging from the growing interconnections among human beings and their machines. The history traces the rise of computation and thinking about machine intelligence from Hobbes to the present. The history is fascinating and detailed. The thesis about collective intelligence is fascinating but (...)
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  18. Peter Suber, Review of Jeff Mason, Philosophical Rhetoric. [REVIEW]
    Can we interpret human reason simultaneously as a product of neurochemistry and natural selection and as a transcendental standard? Jeff Mason asks the analogous question of philosophical writing. Can we interpret philosophical discourse as "rhetorical," embodied in language, and designed to persuade historical audiences, and at the same time preserve its traditional intention to disclose truths that transcend language, history, and audiences? Mason argues that these polar attitudes toward philosophical writing are untenable precisely when they exclude each other. This is (...)
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  19. Peter Suber, Six Exploding Knots.
    I call these six hitches "exploding" knots because they untie easily and completely with one tug of the ripcord. Unlike slipped knots that untie with a ripcord, these knots leave absolutely no tangle. Yet they give up nothing in strength or ease of tying. To learn to tie them, jump to the illustrations and skip the commentary. In each illustration, the line labelled "R" is the ripcord ("running part"). The line labelled "S" is to be attached to the load ("standing (...)
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  20. Peter Suber, Self-Reference in Law.
    We know from more than two millenia of experience that self-referential statements, such as the liar's ("This very statement is false"), can be debated by philosophers and logicians for millenia without producing consensus on their solutions. We should not be surprised, then, if self-referential laws produce paradoxes which puzzle lawyers. What is surprising, though, is that some of these paradoxes bother only the logicians and philosophers who study law from outside, and do not bother lawyers at all. This fact should (...)
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  21. Peter Suber, Saving Machines From Themselves: The Ethics of Deep Self-Modification.
    We human beings do have the power to modify our deep structure, through drugs and surgery. But we cannot yet use this power with enough precision to make deep changes to our neural structure without high risk of death or disability. There are two reasons why we find ourselves in this position. First, our instruments of self-modification are crude. Second, we have very limited knowledge about where and how to apply our instruments to get specific desirable effects. For the same (...)
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  22. Peter Suber, The Database Paradox: Unlimited Information and the False Blessing of 'Objectivity'.
    For a conference at my college I was asked to think about how my teaching —not my research— would be affected by rapid, cheap, and simple access by computer to all the published literature of the human race. Forget what impediments stand in the way of this hypothetical future and imagine that your campus has the means for you and your students to locate, search, sort, copy, and store anything in digital form that has ever been in print. How (...)
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  23. Peter Suber, The Paradox of Self-Amendment in American Constitutional Law.
    Logical paradoxes in the strict sense produce statements like those of the Liar ("This very statement is false") that are false if true, and true if false. They resist rational solution or at least divide logicians for centuries of apparently irreconcilable wrangling. What happens when similar paradoxes arise in law?
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  24. Peter Suber, Unsimplifying Political Correctness: When the Right and Left Are Right and Wrong.
    A set of routine academic controversies has recently been fanned into a cause célèbre. I call the controversies 'routine' because they concern the design of curricula and syllabi, the regulation of campus life, and the recruitment of faculty and students. These are important but ordinary affairs for a college or university. They call for choices that arise from fundamental convictions on the purpose of education, the nature of knowledge, the firmness of standards, the value of community, and the mission of (...)
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  25. Peter Suber, Years Later, The Questions Remain.
    Kurt Gödel (1906-1978) has been called the greatest logician since Aristotle. He was unquestionably the greatest logician of the 20th century, which has been the greatest century for logic since Aristotle's. Despite this stature, his name is little known outside professional circles of logic and mathematics, and astonishingly little is known about his life. His low profile cannot be due to the fact that his major achievements are complex and demanding, unintelligible to the uninitiated, for that is also true of (...)
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  26. Peter Suber, Is Your College Ready to Tackle More Than Sweatshops?
    If your college discovered that its sweatshirts were made in sweatshops by workers paid below the minimum wage, it would probably yank the contract immediately and find a new vendor. But what if your heating-oil supplier pollutes? What if your temp agency discriminates against Mexican-American employees?
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  27. Peter Suber, Open Access, Impact, and Demand: Why Some Authors Self-Archive Their Articles.
    Before Jonathan Wren's study came out BMJ, April 12, 2005 ) we knew that open-access (OA) copies of scientific journal articles published in non-OA journals were a fairly small subset of the overall journal literature. Wren studied just which subset it was, and found that papers from high-impact journals were more likely to have free online copies at other locations around the web than papers from low-impact journals.
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  28. Peter Suber, Self-Determination and Selfhood in Recent Legal Cases.
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  29. Peter Suber (2011). Suber: Leader of a Leaderless Revolution. Information Today, July/August 2011.
    Interview with Peter Suber by Richard Poynder, on open access to research.
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  30. Peter Suber (2003). A Sceptical Theory of Morality and Law. International Studies in Philosophy 35 (4):134-135.
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  31. Peter Suber (1998). The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions. Routledge.
    The Case of the Speluncean Explorers by Lon Fuller first appeared in the Harvard Law Review in 1949. It has since become the most famous fictitious legal case in the US and is used widely by law schools. The case revolves around an episode in the year 4,300. A band of explorers become trapped in a cave and are forced to cannibalize a member of their team. When they are rescued, five Supreme Court judges provide opinions on what should be (...)
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  32. Peter Suber (1994). Question-Begging Under a Non-Foundational Model of Argument. Argumentation 8 (3):241-250.
    I find (as others have found) that question-begging is formally valid but rationally unpersuasive. More precisely, it ought to be unpersuasive, although it can often persuade. Despite its formal validity, question-begging fails to establish its conclusion; in this sense it fails under a classical or foundationalist model of argument. But it does link its conclusion to its premises by means of acceptable rules of inference; in this sense it succeeds under a non-classical, non-foundationalist model of argument which is spelled out (...)
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  33. Peter Suber (1990). A Case Study in 'Ad Hominem' Arguments: Fichte's "Science of Knowledge". Philosophy and Rhetoric 23 (1):12 - 42.
    Fichte's narrative persona in the Science of Knowledge is obnoxious. I try to disentangle regrettable signs of immaturity and paranoia from justifiable ad hominem arguments. Many of Fichte's ad hominem attacks on metaphysical realists are justified by his metaphysics and epistemology. We cannot criticize an important class of these arguments unless we criticize his epistemology and metaphysics. They are not matters of "style" separable from "substance". I show this inseparability, and point out a few inconsistencies, but otherwise do not comment (...)
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  34. Peter Suber (1989). The Reflexivity of Change: The Case of Language Norms. Journal of Speculative Philosophy 3 (2):100 - 129.
    Introduction Language Norms "Norms" From "Facts" The Constitutive A Posteriori "Facts" From "Norms" Mutability of Norms Self-Stabilization Amendment Through Violation Preposterous Norms Reflexive and Irreflexive Hierarchies Noticed and Unnoticed Changes Grounds of Phonetic Change The Logic of Normative Change Bibliography Notes Second Thoughts..
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  35. Peter Suber (1988). What is Software? Journal of Speculative Philosophy 2 (2):89-119.
    In defining the concept of software, I try at first to distinguish software from data, noise, and abstract patterns of information with no material embodiment. But serious objections prevent any of these distinctions from remaining stable. The strong thesis that software is pattern per se, or syntactical form, is initially refined to overcome obvious difficulties; but further arguments show that the refinements are trivial and that the strong thesis is defensible.
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  36. Steven J. Bartlett & Peter Suber (eds.) (1987). Self-Reference: Reflections on Reflexivity. Distributors for the United States and Canada, Kluwer Academic Publishers.