In his opening case , Quentin Smith has presented an ingenious argument for the claim that the universe is self caused, and hence its existence is self explanatory. He then goes on to claim that the fact that the universe is self caused, and hence self explanatory, is inconsistent with theism. His main argument is based on the assumption that each temporal part of the universe has an explanation in terms of the temporal parts existing prior to it. The fundamental (...) temporal parts that Smith uses are instantaneous universe states. Before going into Smith's argument, we need to mention two technicalities that the impatient reader may skip. (shrink)
Previous research has suggested that in cultural production fields the concatenation of eminence explains success, defined as influence and innovation. We propose that individuals in fields as diverse as philosophy, literature, mathematics, painting, or architecture gain visibility by cumulating the eminence of others connected to them across and within generations. We draw on interaction ritual chain and social movement theories, and use evidence from the field of modernist architecture, to formulate a model of how networks of very strong ties generate (...) motivations and emotional enthusiasm, change reputations, and form collective movements that over time transform the structure of cultural fields. Because major aesthetic innovations break sharply with older styles, they need very strong group solidarity over a long period of time to propagate a new standard of practice. We propose mutual halo effects, i.e., the reciprocal reinforcement of upstream and downstream prestige on a given individual node, as the key factor accounting for success in a cultural production field. We discuss the relevance of these results for building a model of influence and innovation in cultural production fields in which networks—reshaped by shifting technological, political, and economic conditions—trigger new styles. (shrink)
This paper argues that theism and related axiarchic hypotheses provide the only promising solution to the problems of cosmic coincidence and induction raised by necessitarians against the regularity view of the laws of nature. Hence, it is argued, the fundamental order of the world provides significant support for theism and these related hypotheses.
This is a contribution to the first online book debating theism and naturalism. In this contribution, I present the case for theism from the fine-tuning of the universe, and the elegance and intelligibility/discoverability of the law of nature. Also included is Paul Draper’s response to my arguments, along with my replies. (The online book can be found at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/debates/great-debate.html).
This is a condensed version of an in-process book on the fine-tuning argument for God’s existence. In this 48,000 word essay, I first develop a probabilistic framework for articulating the argument, and then use this framework to answer in detail many of the objections commonly raised against it. Along the way, I present some of the fine-tuning evidence itself and consider major objections against the evidence; further, there are two major sections dealing with the multiverse objection, particularly that based on (...) inflationary cosmology. (shrink)
Laws of mechanics, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, gravitation and relativity are derived as “related mathematical identities” based solely on the existence of a joint probability distribution for the position and velocity of a particle moving on a Riemannian manifold. This probability formalism is necessary because continuous variables are not precisely observable. These demonstrations explain why these laws must have the forms previously discovered through experiment and empirical deduction. Indeed, the very existence of electric, magnetic and gravitational fields is predicted by these (...) purely mathematical constructions. Furthermore these constructions incorporate gravitation into special relativity theory and provide corrected definitions for coordinate time and proper time. These constructions then provide new insight into the relationship between manifold geometry and gravitation and present an alternative to Einstein’s general relativity theory. (shrink)
The deceased's prior consent to posthumous reproduction is a common requirement in many common law jurisdictions. This paper critically evaluates four arguments advanced to justify the presumption against consent. It is argued that, in situations where death is caused by sudden trauma, not only is there inadequate justification for the presumption against consent, but there are good reasons to reverse the presumption. The article concludes that the precondition of prior consent may be inappropriate in these situations.
The most common objection to fine tuning arguments for theism is that there are, or might be, multiple universes among which the fundamental physicalconstants and parameters vary. This essays describes the two main variants of this objection and argues that they both fail.
Conflict produces group solidarity in four phases: (1) an initial few days of shock and idiosyncratic individual reactions to attack; (2) one to two weeks of establishing standardized displays of solidarity symbols; (3) two to three months of high solidarity plateau; and (4) gradual decline toward normalcy in six to nine months. Solidarity is not uniform but is clustered in local groups supporting each other's symbolic behavior. Actual solidarity behaviors are performed by minorities of the population, while vague verbal claims (...) to performance are made by large majorities. Commemorative rituals intermittently revive high emotional peaks; participants become ranked according to their closeness to a center of ritual attention. Events, places, and organizations claim importance by associating themselves with national solidarity rituals and especially by surrounding themselves with pragmatically ineffective security ritual. Conflicts arise over access to centers of ritual attention; clashes occur between pragmatists deritualizing security and security zealots attempting to keep up the level of emotional intensity. The solidarity plateau is also a hysteria zone; as a center of emotional attention, it attracts ancillary attacks unrelated to the original terrorists as well as alarms and hoaxes. In particular historical circumstances, it becomes a period of atrocities. (shrink)
This article argues that Vico’s theory of history should be construed as an ontological constructionist account as opposed to its usual realist interpretation. In support of this interpretation I draw upon two important concepts issuing from the body of the Scienza nuova: the notion of ‘‘storia’’ and the verum ipsum factum principle. Both concepts are not only consistent with an ontological constructionist interpretation of Vico’s theory of history but function as powerful explanatory devices in the context of such an interpretation. (...) I show the advantage this interpretation holds for overcoming one of the main charges brought against the Scienza nuova when it is interpreted as presenting a realist conception of history. In highlighting the possibility and, indeed, textual advantages of construing Vico’s theory of history as an ontological constructionist account I claim that Vico may have anticipated the constructionist tradition by some 200 years and may be considered as the founder of constructionism in the philosophy of history. (shrink)
cis is presented of Randall Collins's book, The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. It presents a sociological theory of intellectual networks that connect thinkers in chains of masters and pupils, colleagues and rivals, and of the internalized conversations that constitute the social processes of thinking. The theory is used to analyze long-term developments of the intellectual communities of philosophers in ancient Greece, ancient and medieval China and India, medieval and modern Japan, medieval Islam and Judaism, medieval (...) Christendom, and modern Europe through the early 20th century. (shrink)
Discussions of modes of analysis, as well as the received wisdom about which categories to place scholars in, often obscure the breadth and nature of inquiry a particular figure engaged in. This examination of Reinhard Bendix's various uses of comparison suggests that, beyond the sociohistorical comparison he was known for, one should also consider his reflexive works, his work on the role of social science and claims for knowledge, and his reflections on the history of ideas, the need for conceptual (...) clarification of terms, and the search for regularities and universals. (shrink)
A new approach to developing formulisms of physics based solely on laws of mathematics is presented. From simple, classical statistical definitions for the observed space-time position and proper velocity of a particle having a discrete spectrum of internal states we derive u generalized Schrödinger equation on the space-time manifold. This governs the evolution of an N component wave function with each component square integrable over this manifold and is structured like that for a charged particle in an electromagnetic field but (...) also includes SU(N) gauge field couplings. This construction reveals a new hasis for gauge invariance and new insight into the appearance of spin and other such properties in relativistic quantum mechanics and suggests a new charged particle model. (shrink)