In this commentary I attempt to extend the argument made by Atran and Norenzayan in two ways. First, I distinguish between the causes and the consequences of religious belief and speculate on the positive and negative consequences of religion. Second, I raise some questions about individual differences in religiosity and suggest that the origins of nonbelief are worth investigating.
According to the received view, the philosophy of C.I. Lewis is a form of phenomenalism. The first part of this paper is an argument designed to show that Lewis does not support one of the necessary conditions for ontological phenomenalism; namely, the sense-datum theory. The secondpart is an argument designed to show that Lewis’ theory is incompatible with linguistic phenomenalism, a view according to which there is an equivalence of meaning between physical object statements and sense-data statements. The argument is (...) not merely that terminating judgments are not sense-data statements, but that they cannot be equivalent to objective statements. (shrink)
Retrieval of relevant unstructured information from the ever-increasing textual communications of individuals and businesses has become a major barrier to effective litigation/defense, mergers/acquisitions, and regulatory compliance. Such e-discovery requires simultaneously high precision with high recall (high-P/R) and is therefore a prototype for many legal reasoning tasks. The requisite exhaustive information retrieval (IR) system must employ very different techniques than those applicable in the hyper-precise, consumer search task where insignificant recall is the accepted norm. We apply Russell, et al.’s cognitive task (...) analysis of sensemaking by intelligence analysts to develop a semi-autonomous system that achieves high IR accuracy of F1 ≥ 0.8 compared to F1 < 0.4 typical of computer-assisted human-assessment (CAHA) or alternative approaches such as Roitblat, et al.’s. By understanding the ‘Learning Loop Complexes’ of lawyers engaged in successful small-scale document review, we have used socio-technical design principles to create roles, processes, and technologies for scalable human-assisted computer-assessment (HACA). Results from the NIST-TREC Legal Track’s interactive task from both 2008 and 2009 validate the efficacy of this sensemaking approach to the high-P/R IR task. (shrink)
This essay is a brief response to Durwood Foster and Richard Gelwick’s essays analyzing the 1963 encounter of Paul Tillich and Michael Polanyi and to Robert Russell’s assessment of the importantce of Polanyi’s ideas for recent theology and science discussions.
In this essay, I argue for four related claims. First, Richard Levins’ classic “The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology” was a statement and defense of theoretical population biology growing out of collaborations between Robert MacArthur, Richard Lewontin, E. O. Wilson, and others. Second, I argue that the essay served as a response to the rise of systems ecology especially as pioneered by Kenneth Watt. Third, the arguments offered by Levins against systems ecology and in favor (...) of his own methodological program are best construed as “pragmatic”. Fourth, I consider limitations of Levins’ arguments given contemporary population biology. (shrink)
In his 2010 article, ‘Secular Spirituality and the Logic of Giving Thanks’, John Bishop recalls a striking theme in a recent address by Richard Dawkins in which he appeared to enthusiastically endorse the appropriateness of a ‘naturalised spirituality’ that involved ‘existential gratitude’, and this led him to investigate the notion of a naturalised or secular spirituality with particular reference to Robert Solomon’s Spirituality for the Skeptic (2002). This essay looks to pick up on Bishop’s engagements with both Dawkins (...) and Solomon, but to extend the conversation well beyond them in order to defend the credibility and integrity of secular spirituality in its movement of ontological gratitude. In this way it looks to offer a first sketch of what might be termed a ‘hermeneutics of ontological gratitude’. To this end – and via a distinction between gratitude for existence and life – the essay considers Dawkins’ argument and Solomon’s work in further detail, before turning to consider various other perspectives on the problem including Kenneth Schmitz’s existential Thomist notion of ontological contingency, Hannah Arendt’s concept of primary natality, and Emmanuel Levinas’ sketch of the self in its interiority and economy. My claim is that any serious naturalistic spirituality needs to take into account not only a gratitude for one’s existence per se, but for the whole context of individual and collective being. (shrink)
In this paper I defend Richard Rorty against two critics of his moral and political philosophy—Will Kymlicka and Robert Talisse—to whom Rorty himself never responded directly. I argue that Kymlicka misrepresents Rorty’s so-called “ethnocentrism” by giving it a needlessly affirmative reading, and that Talisse, by failing to appreciate the distinction between “making truth claims” and “proposing experiments” misunderstands both Rorty’s use of Darwin and his antifoundational liberalism.