Architectural theory arises from building, when the mind considers its symbolic relations to its own constructions. The intent of this essay is to discuss the intellectual causes that precede building and precede theory. It considers certain fundamental dualities in our thinking about architecture—such as image and word; type and model; imitation and invention—and the role they play in its making, its perfection as an art, and the eventual elaboration of its tenets into a theory. At a time when theories of (...) architecture proliferate as expressions of ‘personal philosophies,’ a careful and incisive philosophical approach to if, how, and when does theory become formative of building, may ensure that architecture remain faithful to its intrinsic purposes. (shrink)
This essay assesses the opposition of pluralism and monism with respect to politics and architecture, developing the argument within three general areas: the spurious association between political intentions and architectural character, the distinctions and commonalties between political freedom and artistic freedom, and the adverse effect of inappropriate associations between political content and artistic form in general and, in particular, the perceptual impairment of the processes by which buildings come to be endowed with their suitable character.
I discuss two subjects in Samir Okasha’s excellent book, Evolution and the Levels of Selection. In consonance with Okasha’s critique of the conventionalist view of the units of selection problem, I argue that conventionalists have not attended to what realists mean by group, individual, and genic selection. In connection with Okasha’s discussion of the Price equation and contextual analysis, I discuss whether the existence of these two quantitative frameworks is a challenge to realism.
After a thorough examination of the claim that "the underdetermination of theory by evidence forces us to seek sociological explanations of scientists' cognitive choices", Samir Okasha concludes that the only significant problem with this argument is that the thesis of underdetermination is not adequately supported. Against Okasha, I argue (1) that there is a very good reason to question the inference from the underdetermination of a theory to a sociological account of that theory's acceptance, and (2) that Okasha's own (...) objection to the argument is too weak. (shrink)
Crispin Wright’s discussion of the notion of ‘transmission-failure’ promises to have important philosophical ramifications, both in epistemology and beyond. This paper offers a precise, formal characterisation of the concept within a Bayesian framework. The interpretation given avoids the serious shortcomings of a recent alternative proposal due to Samir Okasha.
The debate about the levels of selection has been one of the most controversial both in evolutionary biology and in philosophy of science. Okasha’s book makes the sort of contribution that simply will not be able to be ignored by anyone interested in this field for many years to come. However, my interest here is in highlighting some examples of how Okasha goes about discussing his material to suggest that his book is part of an increasingly interesting trend that sees (...) scientists and philosophers coming together to build a broadened concept of “theory” through a combination of standard mathematical treatments and conceptual analyses. Given the often contentious history of the relationship between philosophy and science, such trend cannot but be welcome. (shrink)
Does natural selection act primarily on individual organisms, on groups, on genes, or on whole species? The question of levels of selection - on which biologists and philosophers have long disagreed - is central to evolutionary theory and to the philosophy of biology. Samir Okasha's comprehensive analysis gives a clear account of the philosophical issues at stake in the current debate.
What is science? Is there a real difference between science and myth? Is science objective? Can science explain everything? This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science. Beginning with a short history of science to set the scene, Samir Okasha goes on to investigate the nature of scientific reasoning, scientific explanation, revolutions in science, and theories such as realism and anti-realism. He also looks at philosophical issues in particular sciences, including (...) the problem of classification in biology, and the nature of space and time in physics. The final chapter touches on the conflicts between science and religion, and explores whether science is ultimately a good thing. (shrink)
Wynne-Edwards and the history of group selection Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9613-6 Authors Samir Okasha, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TB UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Here, for the first time, development studies encounters the set of ideas popularly known as 'Chaos Theory'. Samir Rihani applies to the processes of economic development, ideas from complex adaptive systems like uncertainty, complexity, and unpredictability. Rihani examines various aspects of the development process - including the World Bank, debt, and the struggle against poverty - and demonstrates the limitations of fundamentally linear thinking in an essentially non-linear world.
Samir Amin depicts a world in which NATO has taken over the role of the United Nations, in which US hegemony is more or less complete, in which millions are condemned to die in order to preserve the social order of the US, Europe and Japan. Amin's analyses of the Gulf War, the wars in former Yugoslavia and the war in Central Asia reveal the scope of US strategic aims. He argues that the political and military dimension of US (...) dominance is as significant as US economic preponderance in determining the future of capitalist development. (shrink)
Philosophy of biology is a vibrant and growing field. From initial roots in the metaphysics of species (Ghiselin, Hull), questions about whether biology has laws of nature akin to those of physics (Ruse, Hull), and discussions of teleology and function (Grene 1974, Brandon 1981), the field has grown since the 1970s to include a vast range of topics. Over the last few decades, philosophy has had an important impact on biology, partly through following the model of engagement with science that (...) was set by first-wave philosophers of biology like Marjorie Grene, Morton Beckner, David Hull, William Wimsatt and others. Today some parts of philosophy of biology are indistinguishable from theoretical biology. This is due in part to the impetus provided by second-wave philosophers of biology like James Griesemer, John Beatty, William Bechtel, Robert Brandon, Elisabeth Lloyd, and Elliott Sober. Indeed, philosophers have been instrumental in establishing theoretical biology as a field by collaborating with scientists, publishing in science journals, and by taking up conceptual questions at the heart of the biological enterprise. (shrink)
Crispin Wright has given an explanation of how a first time warrant can fall short of transmitting across a known entailment. Formal epistemologists have struggled to turn Wright’s informal explanation into cogent Bayesian reasoning. In this paper, I analyse two Bayesian models of Wright’s account respectively proposed by Samir Okasha and Jake Chandler. I argue that both formalizations are unsatisfactory for different reasons, and I lay down a third Bayesian model that appears to me to capture the valid kernel (...) of Wright’s explanation. After this, I consider a recent development in Wright’s account of transmission failure. Wright suggests that his condition sufficient for transmission failure of first time warrant also suffices for transmission failure of supplementary warrant. I propose an interpretation of Wright’s suggestion that shield it from objections. I then lay down a fourth Bayesian framework that provides a simplified model of the unified explanation of transmission failure envisaged by Wright. (shrink)
Biologists and philosophers of biology typically regard essentialism about speciesas incompatible with modern Darwinian theory. Analytic metaphysicians such asKripke, Putnam and Wiggins, on the other hand, believe that their essentialist thesesare applicable to biological kinds. I explore this tension. I show that standard anti-essentialist considerations only show that species do not have intrinsic essential properties. I argue that while Putnam and Kripke do make assumptions that contradict received biological opinion, their model of natural kinds, suitably modified, is partially applicable to (...) biological species. However, Wiggins'' thesis that organisms belong essentially to their species is untenable, given modern species concepts. I suggest that Putnam''s, Kripke''s and Wiggins'' errors stem from adopting an account of the point of scientific classification which implies that relationally-defined kinds are likely to be of little value, an account which is inapplicable to biology. (shrink)
This paper examines how experimental scientists choose theoretical frameworks as well as their experimental systems for doing research. I start out with Kuhn's claim that there are no (single) algorithms that could determine the choices made by individual scientists. Samir Okasha has recently provided an argument for this claim in terms of social choice theory, which I briefly discuss. Then, I show why this problem is not relevant in an experimental science. There are social mechanisms in place that make (...) sure the community chooses the best framework and a matching experimental system. As historical evidence for this claim, I present the case of classical genetics. (shrink)
Advocates of the "strong programme" in the sociology of knowledge have argued that, because scientific theories are "underdetermined" by data, sociological factors must be invoked to explain why scientists believe the theories they do. I examine this argument, and the responses to it by J.R. Brown (1989) and L. Laudan (1996). I distinguish between a number of different versions of the underdetermination thesis, some trivial, some substantive. I show that Brown's and Laudan's attempts to refute the sociologists' argument fail. Nonetheless, (...) the sociologists' argument falls to a different criticism, for the version of the underdetermination thesis that the argument requires, has not been shown to be true. (shrink)
The group selection controversy is about whether natural selection ever operates at the level of groups, rather than at the level of individual organisms. Traditionally, group selection has been invoked to explain the existence of altruistic behaviour in nature. However, most contemporary evolutionary biologists are highly sceptical of the hypothesis of group selection, which they regard as biologically implausible and not needed to explain the evolution of altruism anyway. But in their recent book, Elliot Sober and David Sloan Wilson  (...) argue that the widespread opposition to group selection is founded on conceptual confusion. The theories that have been propounded as alternatives to group selection are actually group selection in disguise, they maintain. I examine their arguments for this claim, and John Maynard Smith's arguments against it. I argue that Sober and Wilson arrive at a correct position by faulty reasoning. In the final section, I examine the issue of how to apply the principle of natural selection at different levels of the biological hierarchy, which underlies the dispute between Sober and Wilson and Maynard Smith. (shrink)
This essay engages in a comparative analysis of Theodor W. Adorno and Hannah Arendt. It does so by situating both thinkers in terms of their respective Auseinandersetzungen with the fundamental ontology of Martin Heidegger. While Heidegger seeks to engage in a Destruktion of the opposition between time and being, Adorno and Arendt seek to understand this relation critically in terms of the concept of natural history. For both, a reading of Kants Third Critique becomes the indispensable means by which it (...) is possible to locate a path pointing beyond the chiasmic structure of natural history. Key Words: Adorno aesthetic experience Arendt Heidegger history inter-subjectivity judgement phenomenology politics writing. (shrink)
The ‘levels of selection’ question is one of the most fundamental in evolutionary biology, for it arises directly from the logic of Darwinism. As is well-known, the principle of natural selection is entirely abstract; it says that any entities satisfying certain conditions will evolve by natural selection, whatever those entities are. (These conditions are: variability, associated fitness differences, and heritability (cf. Lewontin 1970).) This fact, when combined with the fact that the biological world is hierarchically structured, i.e. smaller biological units (...) are nested within larger ones, gives rise to the levels of selection question. For in principle, entities at many different hierarchical levels, above and below that of the ‘individual organism’, (e.g. gene, chromosome, cell, kin group, colony, lineage, species) can satisfy the requirements for Darwinian evolution. This possibility has long been recognised by biologists, from Darwin himself to contemporary proponents of ‘multi-level selection’; and there exist numerous biological phenomena which suggest that it has actually occurred. (shrink)
In models of multi-level selection, the property of Darwinian fitness is attributed to entities at more than one level of the biological hierarchy, e.g. individuals and groups. However, the relation between individual and group fitness is a controversial matter. Theorists disagree about whether group fitness should always, or ever, be defined as total (or average) individual fitness. This paper tries to shed light on the issue by drawing on work in social choice theory, and pursuing an analogy between fitness and (...) utility. Social choice theorists have long been interested in the relation between individual and social utility, and have identified conditions under which social utility equals total (or average) individual utility. These ideas are used to shed light on the biological problem. (shrink)
Group selection is one acknowledged mechanism for the evolution of altruism. It is well known that for altruism to spread by natural selection, interactions must be correlated; that is, altruists must tend to associate with one another. But does group selection itself require correlated interactions? Two possible arguments for answering this question affirmatively are explored. The first is a bad argument, for it rests on a product/process confusion. The second is a more subtle argument, whose validity (or otherwise) turns on (...) issues concerning the meaning of multi-level selection and how it should be modelled. A cautious defence of the second argument is offered. Introduction Multi-level selection and the evolution of altruism Price's equation and multi-level selection Contextual analysis and multi-level selection The neighbour approach Recapitulation and conclusion. (shrink)
In their recent book, Elliott Sober and David Wilson (1998) argue that evolutionary biologists have wrongly regarded kinship as the exclusive means by which altruistic behavior can evolve, at the expense of other mechanisms. I argue that Sober and Wilson overlook certain genetical considerations which suggest that kinship is likely to be a more powerful means for generating complex altruistic adaptations than the alternative mechanisms they propose.
Elliott Sober and Ken Waters both raise interesting and difficult challenges for various aspects of the position I set out in Evolution and the Levels of the Selection. I am grateful to them for their penetrating criticisms of my work, and find myself in agreement with many of their points.
It is widely agreed that Hume's description of human inductive reasoning is inadequate. But many philosophers think that this inadequacy in no way affects the force of Hume's argument for the unjustifiability of inductive reasoning. I argue that this constellation of opinions contains a serious tension, given that Hume was not merely pointing out that induction is fallible. I then explore a recent diagnosis of where Hume's sceptical argument goes wrong, due to Elliott Sober. Sober argues that Hume committed a (...) quantifier-shift fallacy, i.e. inferred a statement of ?? form from one of ?? form. The implications of this diagnosis for the traditional problem of induction are briefly examined. (shrink)
Andrew Bourke’s Principles of Social Evolution identifies three stages that characterize an evolutionary transition in individuality and deploys inclusive fitness theory to explain each stage. The third stage, social group transformation, has hitherto received relatively little attention from inclusive fitness theorists. In this review, I first discuss Bourke’s “virtual dominance” hypothesis for the evolution of the germ line. I then contrast Bourke’s inclusive fitness approach to the major transitions with the multi-level approach developed by Richard Michod, Samir Okasha and (...) others. I suggest that, rather than choosing between these approaches, we should exploit the strengths of both. Finally, I stress the need for a firmer conceptual grasp of the nature of social group transformation. (shrink)