Standard philosophical methodology which proceeds by appeal to intuitions accessible "from the armchair" has come under criticism on the basis of empirical work indicating unanticipated variability of such intuitions. Loose constitutivity---the idea that intuitions are partly, but not strictly, constitutive of the concepts that appear in them---offers an interesting line of response to this empirical challenge. On a loose constitutivist view, it is unlikely that our intuitions are incorrect across the board, since they partly fix the facts in question. But (...) we argue that this ratification of intuitions is at best rough and generic, and can only do the required methodological work if it operates in conjunction with some sort of further criteria of theory selection. We consider two that we find in the literature: naturalness (Brian Weatherson, borrowing from Lewis) and charity (Henry Jackman, borrowing from Davidson). At the end of the day, neither provides the armchair philosopher complete shelter from extra-armchair inquiry. (shrink)
In this article we argue that philosophy can facilitate improvement in cross-disciplinary science. In particular, we discuss in detail the Toolbox Project, an effort in applied epistemology that deploys philosophical analysis for the purpose of enhancing collaborative, cross-disciplinary scientific research through improvements in cross-disciplinary communication. We begin by sketching the scientific context within which the Toolbox Project operates, a context that features a growing interest in and commitment to cross-disciplinary research (CDR). We then develop an argument for the leading idea (...) behind this effort, namely, that philosophical dialogue can improve cross-disciplinary science by effecting epistemic changes that lead to better group communication. On the heels of this argument, we describe our approach and its output; in particular, we emphasize the Toolbox instrument that generates philosophical dialogue and the Toolbox workshop in which that dialogue takes place. Together, these constitute a philosophical intervention into the life of CDR teams. We conclude by considering the philosophical implications of this intervention. (shrink)
Aristotle's use of the phrase τὰ καλούμενα στοιχεȋα is usually taken as evidence that he does not really think that the things to which this phrase refers, namely, fire, air, water, and earth, are genuine elements. In this paper I question the linguistic and textual grounds for taking the phrase τὰ καλούμενα στοιχεȋα in this way. I offer a detailed examination of the significance of the phrase, and in particular I compare Aristotle's general use of the Greek participle καλούμενος (-η, (...) -ον) in other contexts. I conclude that his use of the phrase τὰ καλούμενα στοιχεȋα does not carry ironical or sceptical connotations, and that it ought to be understood as a neutral report of a contemporary opinion that the elements of bodies are fire, air, water, and earth. I leave aside the question as to whether or not Aristotle himself endorses this opinion. (shrink)
Given the importance of cross-disciplinary research (CDR), facilitating CDR effectiveness is a priority for many institutions and funding agencies. There are a number of CDR types, however, and the effectiveness of facilitation efforts will require sensitivity to that diversity. This article presents a method characterizing a spectrum of CDR designed to inform facilitation efforts that relies on bibliometric techniques and citation data. We illustrate its use by the Toolbox Project, an ongoing effort to enhance cross-disciplinary communication in CDR teams through (...) structured, philosophical dialogue about research assumptions in a workshop setting. Toolbox Project workshops have been conducted with more than 85 research teams, but the project's extensibility to an objectively characterized range of CDR collaborations has not been examined. To guide wider application of the Toolbox Project, we have developed a method that uses multivariate statistical analyses of transformed citation proportions from published manuscripts to identify candidate areas of CDR, and then overlays information from previous Toolbox participant groups on these areas to determine candidate areas for future application. The approach supplies 3 results of general interest: A way to employ small data sets and familiar statistical techniques to characterize CDR spectra as a guide to scholarship on CDR patterns and trends. A model for using bibliometric techniques to guide broadly applicable interventions similar to the Toolbox. A method for identifying the location of collaborative CDR teams on a map of scientific activity, of use to research administrators, research teams, and other efforts to enhance CDR projects. (shrink)
This article shows how attention to a third political discourse -- mercantilist thought -- provides a direct understanding of the issues of commerce and market relations in the framing and ratification of the constitution drafted at the Philadelphia convention in 1787. Mercantilist political discourse was readily employable alongside the republican, liberal and other political languages already studied at greater length. In contrast to the vagueness of classical republican references to �commerce�, which made it a metaphor for entire social and political (...) orders, mercantilist thought enabled Anglo-Americans to be precise and elaborate in discussing economic relations in political contexts. Mercantilist thought provided a positive analysis of market activities, but it simultaneously forestalled a complete identification of liberty with economic self-interest. By assuming that economic regulation might serve a public interest, mercantilist thought allowed the hypothetical possibility that regulation of the market need not be a compromise of freedom in a republic. (shrink)
THE SELF, THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE COMMUNITY: LIBERALISM IN THE POLITICAL THOUGHT OF F. A. HAYEK AND SIDNEY AND BEATRICE WEBB by Brian Lee Crowley New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. 310 pp., $59.00.