Upshot: Jehane Barton Burns (now Jehane Kuhn) worked with Ernst von Glasersfeld in the 1960’s on semantic analysis for machine translation at Silvio Ceccato’s Centro di Cibernetica at the University of Milan. Among subsequent formative experiences, she lists Italian travels with Howard Burns, historian of architecture (who first told her about Vico), and a decade in the Office of Charles and Ray Eames (where Constraints was a talismanic word). She and Thomas Kuhn married in 1982; she still considers (...) the English language her raison d’être. (shrink)
"The main spine of this book stems from a comprehensive series of interviews with subjects recalling their experiences of 1930s cinemagoing. Your feel the breath of life in these spectators, a rarity in film studies, thanks to the painstaking work contracting the interview subjects and recording and tabulating their testimony."- JUMPCUT In the 1930s, Britain had the highest annual per capita cinema attendance in the world, far surpassing ballroom dancing as the nation's favorite pastime. It was, as historian A.J.P. Taylor (...) said, the "essential social habit of the age." And yet, although we know something about the demographics of British cinemagoers, we know almost nothing of their experience of film, how film affected them, how it fit into their daily lives, what role cinema played in the larger culture of the time, and in what ways cinemagoing shaped the generation that came of age in the 1930s. In Dreaming of Fred and Ginger , Annette Kuhn draws upon contemporary publications, extensive interviews with cinemagoers themselves, and readings of selected film, to produce a provocative and perspective-altering ethno-historical study. Taking cinemagoers' accounts of their own experiences as both "the engine and product of investigation," Kuhn enters imaginatively into the world of 1930s cinema culture and analyzes its place in popular memory. Among the topics she examines are the physical space of the cinemas; the role film played in growing up; the experience of being a member of a cinema audience; film-inspired fantasies of American life; the importance of cinema to adolescence in offering role models, ideals of romance, as well as practical opportunities for courtship; and the sheer pleasure of watching such film stars as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Nelson Eddy, Ronald Colman, and many others. Engagingly written and painstakingly researched, with contributions to film history, cultural studies, and social history, Dreaming of Fred and Ginger offers an illuminating account of a key moment in British cultural memory. (shrink)
Applications of game theory to moral philosophy are impededby foundational issues and troublesome examples. In the first part of this paper,questions are raised about the appropriate game-theoretical frameworks for applications to moralphilosophy and about the proper interpretations of the theoretical devices employed inthese frameworks. In the second part, five examples that should be of particular interest to thoseinterested in the connections between ethics and game theory are delineated and discussed. Thefirst example comprises games in which there is an outcome unanimously (...) preferred to the``solution'' of the game, appropriately defined. The second comprises games whose solution callsfor different players to employ different strategies. The third comprises games whosesolution calls for players to adopt mixed strategies. The fourth comprises games whose solutionrequires players to cycle among a variety of strategies. The fifth comprises games whose solutionrequires players to discriminate in morally inappropriate ways. (shrink)
Montague, Prior, von Wright and others drew attention to resemblances between modal operators and quantifiers. In this paper we show that classical quantifiers can, in fact, be regarded as S5-like operators in a purely propositional modal logic. This logic is axiomatized and some interesting fragments of it are investigated.
The system obtained by adding full propositional quantification to S5 is known to be decidable, while that obtained by doing so for T is known to be recursively intertranslatable with full second-order logic. Recently it was shown that the system with two S5 operators and full propositional quantification is also recursively intertranslatable with second-order logic. This note establishes that the map assigning p to \squarep provides a validity and satisfaction preserving translation between the T system and the double S5 system, (...) thus providing an easier proof of the recent result. (shrink)
Born in 1918 in New York, awarded a doctorate in analytical chemistry (1944), Leonard K. Nash enjoyed a distinguished career at Harvard, holding a chair of chemistry from 1959 to 1986. Conducting research in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, Nash authored successful textbooks, some of which remain in print (e.g. Elements of Chemical Thermodynamics, and Elements of Statistical Thermodynamics).This essay describes the theory of science that Nash developed in a book he published in 1963, The Nature of the Natural Sciences. The (...) present author is of the view that Nash's neglected theory is worth retrieving, as one that is likely to kindle the interest of historians of metascience on several counts. Part of .. (shrink)
This paper offers a refutation of J. C. Pinto de Oliveira's recent critique of revisionist Carnap scholarship as giving undue weight to two brief letters to Kuhn expressing his interest in the latter's work. First an argument is provided to show that Carnap and Kuhn are by no means divided by a radical mismatch of their conceptions of the rationality of science as supposedly evidenced by their stance towards the distinction of the contexts of discovery and justification. This (...) is followed by an argument to the effect that the fact that Carnap's own work concentrated on formal aspects of scientific theories does not licence the conclusion that he thought historical investigations and concerns irrelevant for what we nowadays would rightly call "philosophy of science". (shrink)
The causal theory of reference is often taken to provide a solution to the problems, such as incomparability and referential discontinuity, that the meaning-change thesis raised. I show that Kuhn successfully questioned the causal theory and Putnam's idea that reference is determined via the sameness relation of essences that holds between a sample and other members of a kind in all possible worlds. Putnam's single ‘essential' properties may be necessary but not sufficient to determine membership in a kind category. (...)Kuhn argued that extension is fixed by similarity-dissimilarity relations that are liable to change in taxonomic reorganizations of science. *Received October 2009; revised January 2010. †To contact the author, please write to: Institute of Philosophy, University of Leiden, Martin de Vrieshof 4, 2300 RS Leiden, The Netherlands; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
In recent years, a revisionist process focused on logical positivism can be observed, particularly regarding Carnap’s work. In this paper, I argue against the interpretation that Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions having been published in the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, co-edited by Carnap, is evidence of the revisionist idea that Carnap “would have found Structure philosophically congenial”. I claim that Kuhn’s book, from Carnap’s point of view, is not in philosophy of science but rather in history (...) of science (in the context of a sharp discovery–justification distinction). It could also explain the fact that, despite his sympathetic letters to Kuhn as editor, Carnap never refers to Kuhn’s book in his work in philosophy of science. (shrink)
En el presente trabajo se pone de relieve una tesis del último Kuhn que ha sido, y aún es, desatendida: el carácter no universal del lenguaje. Luego de ubicarla en los textos y contextos teóricos donde aparece, se intenta aclararla a partir de algunos de sus textos posteriores. En este afán, el trabajo presente en primer lugar muestra, cómo, deben ser modificadas algunas de las propuestas filosóficas atribuidas al Kuhn clásico para poder comprender esta tesis y en segundo (...) lugar, intenta dar cuenta muy brevemente de ciertas innovaciones filosóficas del último Kuhn. Además, se comparan algunas de esas nuevas tesis de Kuhn con sus posibles -aunque nunca explicitados- interlocutores, a saber: N. Chomsky y J. Fodor. This paper draws attention to one of the theses of the Later Kuhn, which has been ignored: the non-universal character of language. After locating the thesis in the texts and theoretical contexts in which it appears, it is attempted to be clarified in view of some of his later texts. In regard of this, the paper firstly shows, how some of the philosophical proposals attributed to the Early Kuhn must be modified in order to understand it. Secondly, a very brief account for certain philosophical innovations in the Later Kuhn is attempted to be given. In addition, some of Kuhn's new theses are compared with his most likely, even if never explicit, interlocutors, namely N. Chomsky and J. Fodor. (shrink)
The paper discusses some aspects of the relationship between Feyerabend and Kuhn. First, some biographical remarks concerning their connections are made. Second, four characteristics of Feyerabend and Kuhn's concept of incommensurability are discussed. Third, Feyerabend's general criticism of Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions is reconstructed. Fourth and more specifically, Feyerabend's criticism of Kuhn's evaluation of normal science is critically investigated. Finally, Feyerabend's re-evaluation of Kuhn's philosophy towards the end of his life is presented.
Scientific realism is the view that the aim of science is to produce true or approximately true theories about nature. It is a view which not only is shared by many philosophers but also by scientists themselves. Regarding Kuhn’s rejection of scientific progress, Steven Weinberg once declared: “All this is wormwood to scientists like myself, who think the task of science is to bring us closer and closer to objective truth.” But such a realist view on scientific theories (...) is not without problems. The paper discusses some arguments for and against the ontological commitments that scientific theories may entail. The upshot is that scientific realism according to which the semantic content of theories should be understood literally is not sustainable. Instead, it is argued that only realism with respect to entities can be reasonably and practically maintained. Finally, the paper discusses structural realism which presents itself as a modern alternative to scientific realism which may meet both the optimistic no-miracle argument and the pessimistic meta-induction argument. My conclusion is that such a position is neither attractive nor defendable. (shrink)
The incommensurability thesis, as introduced by T.S. Kuhn and P.K. Feyerabend, states that incommensurable theories are conceptually incompatible theories which share a common domain of application. Such claim has often been regarded as incoherent, since it has been understood that the determination of a common domain of application at least requires a certain degree of conceptual compatibility between the theories. The purpose of this work is to contribute to the defense of the notion of local or gradual incommensurability, as (...) proposed by late Kuhn. The application of this notion would allow to render the incommensurability thesis coherent. To support this view, a typical example of incommensurability will be formally analyzed by applying the structuralist metatheory developed, among others by W. Balzer, C.U. Moulines and J.D. Sneed. The structural reconstruction of the relation between the phlogiston theory and the oxygen theory offered here will reveal that they are locally incommensurable, and will even make possible to determine the ontological reduction relation that they also exemplify. (shrink)
Following Kuhn's main thesis according to which theory revision and acceptance is always paradigm relative, I propose to outline some possible consequences of such a view. First, asking the question in what sense Bayesian decision theory could serve as the appropriate (normative) theory of rationality examined from the point of view of the epistemology of theory acceptance, I argue that Bayesianism leads to a narrow conception of theory acceptance. Second, regarding the different types of theory revision, i. e. expansion, (...) contraction, replacement and residuals shifts, I extract from Kuhn's view a series of indications showing that theory replacement cannot be rationalized within the framework of Bayesian deciston theory, not even within a more sophisticated version of that model. Third, and finally, I will point to the need for a more comprehensive model of rationality than the Bayesian expected utility maximization model, the need for a model which could better deal with the different aspects of theory replacement. I will show that Kuhn's distinction between normal and revolutionary science gives us several hints for a more adequate theory of rationality in science. I will also show that Kuhn is not in a position to fully articulate his main ideas and that he well be confronted with a serious problem concerning collective choice of a paradigm. (shrink)
As frequently pointed out in this discussion, one of the most characteristic features of Mayr's approach to the history of biology stems from the fact that he is dealing to a considerable degree with his own professional history. Furthermore, his main criterion for the selection of historical episodes is their relevance for modern biological theory. As W. F. Bynum and others have noted, the general impression of his reviewers is that “one of the towering figures of evolutionary biology has now (...) written a towering history of his discipline.”138 Bynum is here referring to The Growth of Biological Thought, but this observation holds equally true for Mayr's other historical writings: One must surely read this book [One Long Argument] not only for its content in itself, but for what it tells of its author. And certainly as one does so, one comes away full-handed. Many, if not all, of the disputes and controversies that have driven Mayr through his long intellectual life reappear, stated as forcefully and elegantly as ever.139Up to this point, most reviewers agree; the bone of contention is, rather, how to evaluate Mayr's historical work, considering this observation. The two related characteristics of his work-I will call them subjectivity and presentism-stand in opposition to a widespread approach in the history of science exemplified by Kuhn's suggestion that “insofar as possible..., the historian should set aside the science that he knows. His science should be learned from the textbooks and journals of the period he studies.”140 There are, however, historians who consider the close connection between Mayr and the subject matter of his historical studies to be an advantage.141On the other hand, it is assumed that the connection between past and present must result in a distortion of the historical truth and lead to a historiographical fallacy, commonly referred to as “Whig history”. Herbert Butterfield, who in 1931 gave the term its now generally accepted meaning, believed that “real historical understanding is not achieved by the subordination of the past to the present, but rather by our making the past our present and attempting to see life with the eyes of another century than our own”142. Unfortunately, Butterfield's definition of what he considers Whig history remains somewhat vague, and modern authors have emphasized what they consider most important. Butterfield's “subordination of the past to the present” is referred to in respect to the selection of subjects (there are more biographies of Charles Darwin than of, let's say, Louis Agassiz),143 to the evaluation of historical authors,144 or, more generally, to all kinds of histories “with one eye, so to speak, upon the present.”145 The underlying tendency of Whig historians is to produce a “historical account told from the viewpoint of those in power,”146 leading to a “glorification of the present.”147 It is obvious that Mayr's strongly presentist approach to the history of biology can be called Whiggish, if we apply the criteria of “selection” or “reference.” However, it might be worth mentioning that the program of writing a strictly historicist account of the history of science is challenged by various authors.148 For Mayr, it is not only legitimate but necessary to compare the present situation with the past. “Whiggish” is only the evaluation of an author in terms of our time.149I cannot discuss the Whit/anti-Whig controversy in any detail here, apart from saying that Mayr has defended himself rather extensively against the charges of being Whiggish.150 Nevertheless, it may be useful to touch on some of the criticisms that are predominant in reviews of his writings. First, we encounter the notion that historians can write a true and convincing historical account only if they have no personal interest or interpretation of their own; Mayr, on the other hand, because he “has such strong interpretations of his own, ... cannot possibly convince everyone that he is right about everything.”151 It makes one wonder, what historian has ever been able to convince everyone that he or she is right about everything? But apart from this peculiar idea, it unquestionably poses certain dangers if the subject matter of historical scrutiny and the author are identical. At the same time, this identity brings certain advantages with it, especially firsthand experiences of the period in discussion. Whether these personal memories ultimately result in a distorted picture of the past has to be decided in every particular instance. The notion that a scientific study can be conducted by a completely detached observer from a neutral standpoint has been shown to be impossible in physics, and it is also an illusion in historiography. The question is not whether, but which kind of interest are the underlying motivation for a historian. At this point, Mayr is ahead of his critics when he suggests that our understanding of the past always has a subjective component: The main reason, however, why histories are in constant need of revision is that at any given time they merely reflect the present state of understanding; they depend on how the author interpreted the current zeitgeist of biology and on his own conceptual framework and background. Thus, by necessity the writing of history is subjective and ephemeral.152Second, the temporal proximity between the event and the historical analysis makes difficulties inevitable and will finally result in certain false assessments. But this applies to all historians when they discuss recent problems, regardless of whether they are personally involved or not: As long as the battle between Darwinism and Lamarckism was raging, it was quite impossible to undertake an unbiased evaluation of Lamarck. ...[The] definite refutation of Lamarck's theory of evolutionary causation clears the air. We can now study him without bias and emotion and give him the attention that this major figure in the history of biology clearly deserves.153Third, Mayr is primarily interested in biological problems and not, for instance, historiographical, sociological, or psychological questions. Several authors have remarked that since the beginning of the professionalization of the history of science in the 1960s, a rift between two groups has developed, resulting from the heterogeneous professional backgrounds and interests of the people involved: the authors who were originally biologists and became interested in the history of their discipline only later on, and the authors who were trained as historians.154 Whereas the first group, the “biologists,” tend to be laymen in history proper, the “historians” are in most cases laymen in biology. Different professional backgrounds obviously shape the historical perspective in both groups, but neither approach is necessarily superior. The great number of important books in the history of biology written by “biologist” documents how valuable this point of view can be. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the writings of biologists in the history of science tend to have a strong “internalist” tendency and often neglect the professional, cultural, and political context of science. Mayr's approach is that of a “biologist”; it is “internalist,” and typical for scientists who turn to the history of their discipline.I want to conclude my analysis with a quotation from a review by Douglas J. Futuyma, which gives a perceptive glimpse of Mayr's personality and style: One cannot help standing in awe of the germanic capacity for vast, allembracing synthesis: consider the lifelong devotion of Goethe to Faust, or Wagner's integration of the arts into a Gesamtkunstwerk in which all of human history and experience is wrought into epic myth. It is perhaps in this tradition that Ernst Mayr's The Growth of Biological Thought stands: a history of all of biology, a Ring des Nibelungen complete with leitmotivs such as the failures of reductionism, the struggle of biology for independence from physics, and the liberation of population thinking from the bounds of essentialism.155 Within this style of thinking Mayr has “to offer...nothing less than a vision of biology that places neodarwinian evolutionary theory firmly at the centre.”156 There may be other visions of biology, but few of them have as indefatigable and able representatives as Darwinism has in Ernst Mayr. (shrink)
Scholars in the field of social studies of science marked the year 2012 as the 50th anniversary of the publication of Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn’s book is routinely cited as the beginning of a new intellectual movement that jettisoned logical and empiricist accounts of scientific progress in favor of sociological and psychological explanations of scientific practice. In contrast, this essay argues that the roots of the social construction of science lie earlier, in the (...) 1930s, in the political milieu, scientific careers, and intellectual debates of a generation in which Michael Polanyi was a central figure. Crucial elements in the development of Polanyi’s philosophy of science are examined, with comparisons to J. D Bernal, Karl Mannheim and others of their generation, as well as to the younger Thomas Kuhn and to Karl Popper. (shrink)