I examine G.B. Bagci’s arguments for the Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber (GRW) interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics as ideally suited for Whitehead’s philosophy. Much of Bagci’s claims are in response to Michael Epperson, who argues in the same vein in favor of decoherence accounts (Omnès; Zureck). Pace Epperson, I do not think that decoherence is the final arbiter here, and instead I contrast GRW with several other accounts addressing foundational problems of quantum theory (Finkelstein; Green; Peres and Terno; etc.), which also account (...) for relativistic covariance, while GRW does not. I argue that such latter research programs align themselves in a more convincing manner with Whitehead’s scheme, in epistemic as well as metaphysical senses, than GRW. (shrink)
Alfred North Whitehead introduces in Process and Reality the notion that the “philosophy of organism is a cell-theory of actuality.” I argue here that the most promising venue for a concordance with process ontology vis- -vis extant physical theory includes the notions of dynamical and ontological emergence in the physical sciences, as described in Silberstein and McGeever (1999) as well as in Kronz and Tiehen (2002). Here I draw on my previous claims (1997, 2005, 2006) to show in more general (...) terms how process ontology provides a more unified characterization of ontological and dynamical emergence. (shrink)
I argue that the distinctions Robert Batterman (2004) presents between ‘epistemically fundamental’ versus ‘ontologically fundamental’ theoretical approaches can be subsumed by methodologically fundamental procedures. I characterize precisely what is meant by a methodologically fundamental procedure, which involves, among other things, the use of multilinear graded algebras in a theory’s formalism. For example, one such class of algebras I discuss are the Clifford (or Geometric) algebras. Aside from their being touted by many as a “unified mathematical language for physics,” (Hestenes (1984, (...) 1986) Lasenby, et. al. (2000)) Finkelstein (2001, 2004) and others have demonstrated that the techniques of multilinear algebraic ‘expansion and contraction’ exhibit a robust regularizablilty. That is to say, such regularization has been demonstrated to remove singularities, which would otherwise appear in standard field-theoretic, mathematical characterizations of a physical theory. I claim that the existence of such methodologically fundamental procedures calls into question one of Batterman’s central points, that “our explanatory physical practice demands that we appeal essentially to (infinite) idealizations” (2003, 7) exhibited, for example, by singularities in the case of modeling critical phenomena, like fluid droplet formation. By way of counterexample, in the field of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), I discuss the work of Mann & Rockwood (2003) and Gerik Scheuermann, (2002). In the concluding section, I sketch a methodologically fundamental procedure potentially applicable to more general classes of critical phenomena appearing in fluid dynamics. (shrink)
I summarize Silberstein, et. al’s (2006) discussion of the derivation of the Heisenberg commutators, whose work is based on Kaiser (1981, 1990) and Bohr, et. al. (1995, 2004a,b). I argue that Bohr and Kaiser’s treatment is not geometric enough, as it still relies on some unexplained residual notions concerning the unitary representation of transformations in a Hilbert space. This calls for a more consistent characterization of the role of i than standard QM can offer. I summarize David Hestenes’ (1985,1986) major (...) claims concerning the essential role Clifford algebras play in such a fundamental characterization of i, and I present a Clifford- algebraic derivation of the Heisenberg commutation relations (taken from Finkelstein, et. al. (2001)). I argue that their derivation exhibits a more fundamentally geometrical approach, which unifies geometric and ontological content. I also point out how some of Finkelstein’s ontological notions of “chronon dynamics” can give a plausible explanatory account of RBW’s “geometric relations.”. (shrink)
The notion of emergence has received much renewed attention recently. Most of the authors I review (§ II), including most notably Robert Batterman (2002, 2003, 2004) share the common aim of providing accounts for emergence which offer fresh insights from highly articulated and nuanced views reflecting recent developments in applied physics. Moreover, the authors present such accounts to reveal what they consider as misrepresentative and oversimplified abstractions often depicted in standard philosophical accounts. With primary focus on Batterman, however, I show (...) (in § III), that despite (or perhaps because of) such novel and compelling insights; underlying thematic tensions and ambiguities persist nevertheless, due to subtle reifications made of particular (albeit central) mathematical methods employed in asymptotic analysis. I offer a potential candidate (in § IV), for regularization advanced by the theoretical physicist David Finkelstein (1996, 2002, 2004). The richly characterized multilinear algebraic theories employed by Finkelstein would, for instance, serve the two-fold purpose of clearing up much of the inevitably “epistemological emergence” accompanying divergent limiting cases treated in the standard approaches, while at the same time characterize in relatively greater detail the “ontological emergence” of particular quantum phenomena under study. Among other things, this suggests that the some of the structures suggested by Batterman as essentially involving the superseded theory are better understood as regular algebraic contraction (Finkelstein). Because of the regularization latent in such powerful multilinear algebraic methods, among other things this calls into question Batterman’s claims that explanation and reduction should be kept separate, in instances involving singular limits. (§ V). (shrink)
To address the statistical challenges associated with genome-wide association studies, we present an independent component analysis (ICA) with reference approach to target a specific genetic variation and associated brain networks. First, a small set of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are empirically chosen to reflect a feature of interest and these SNPs are used as a reference when applying ICA to a full genomic SNP array. After extracting the genetic component maximally representing the characteristics of the reference, we test its association (...) with brain networks in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. The method was evaluated on both real and simulated datasets. Simulation demonstrates that ICA with reference can extract a specific genetic factor, even when the variance accounted for by such a factor is so small that a regular ICA fails. Our real data application from 48 schizophrenia patients and 40 healthy controls include 300K SNPs and fMRI images in an auditory oddball task. Using SNPs with allelic frequency difference in two groups as a reference, we extracted a genetic component that maximally differentiates patients from controls (p<4×10-17), and discovered a brain functional network that was significantly associated with this genetic component (p<1×10-4). The regions in the functional network mainly locate in the thalamus, anterior and posterior cingulate gyri. The contributing SNPs in the genetic factor mainly fall into two clusters centered at chromosome 7q21 and chromosome 5q35. The findings from the schizophrenia application are in concordance with previous knowledge about brain regions and gene function. All together, the results suggest that the ICA with reference can be particularly useful to explore the whole genome to find a specific factor of interest and further study its effect on brain. (shrink)
Through an analysis and explication of William James’s writings, such as “The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life” and The Varieties of Religious Experience, Michael Slater successfully defends the argument “that on James’s view morality cannot be finally separated from religion, because there are moral goods that only religious faith—and in some cases, only the objects of religious faith—can plausibly bring about” (7). Slater advances this argument by making two significant claims concerning James’s work. First, James’s ethics require (...) “the possession of a morally strenuous attitude” (7). By emphasizing our attitudes and dispositions, rather than the calculations or consequences of our moral actions, Slater .. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. May scientists rely on substantive, a priori presuppositions? Quinean naturalists say "no," but Michael Friedman and others claim that such a view cannot be squared with the actual history of science. To make his case, Friedman offers Newton's universal law of gravitation and Einstein's theory of relativity as examples of admired theories that both employ presuppositions (usually of a mathematical nature), presuppositions that do not face empirical evidence directly. In fact, Friedman claims that the use of such presuppositions (...) is a hallmark of "science as we know it." But what should we say about the special sciences, which typically do not rely on the abstruse formalisms one finds in the exact sciences? I identify a type of a priori presupposition that plays an especially striking role in the development of empirical psychology. These are ontological presuppositions about the type of object a given science purports to study. I show how such presuppositions can be both a priori and rational by investigating their role in an early flap over psychology's contested status as a natural science. The flap focused on one of the field's earliest textbooks, William James's Principles of Psychology. The work was attacked precisely for its reliance on a priori presuppositions about what James had called the "mental state," psychology's (alleged) proper object. I argue that the specific presuppositions James packed into his definition of the "mental state" were not directly responsible to empirical evidence, and so in that sense were a priori; but the presuppositions were rational in that they were crafted to help overcome philosophical objections (championed by neo-Hegelians) to the very idea that there can be a genuine science of mind. Thus, my case study gives an example of substantive, a priori presuppositions being put to use—to rational use—in the special sciences. In addition to evaluating James's use of presuppositions, my paper also offers historical reflections on two different strands of pragmatist philosophy of science. One strand, tracing back through Quine to C. S. Peirce, is more naturalistic, eschewing the use of a priori elements in science. The other strand, tracing back through Kuhn and C. I. Lewis to James, is more friendly to such presuppositions, and to that extent bears affinity with the positivist tradition Friedman occupies. (shrink)
In the 1960s and 1970s, Hilary Putnam articulated a notion of relativized apriority that was motivated to address the problem of scientific change. This paper examines Putnam’s account in its historical context and in relation to contemporary views. I begin by locating Putnam’s analysis in the historical context of Quine’s rejection of apriority, presenting Putnam as a sympathetic commentator on Quine. Subsequently, I explicate Putnam’s positive account of apriority, focusing on his analysis of the history of physics and geometry. In (...) the remainder of the paper, I explore connections between Putnam’s account of relativized a priori principles and contemporary views. In particular, I situate Putnam’s account in relation to analyses advanced by Michael Friedman, David Stump, and William Wimsatt. From this comparison, I address issues concerning whether a priori scientific principles are appropriately characterized as “constitutive” or “entrenched”. I argue that these two features need to be clearly distinguished, and that only the constitutive function is essential to apriority. By way of conclusion, I explore the relationship between the constitutive function of a priori principles and entrenchment. (shrink)
This 9,000+ word entry briefly assesses five models of the Trinity, those espoused by (i) Richard Swinburne, (ii) William Lane Craig, (iii) Brian Leftow, (iv) Jeff Brower and Michael Rea, and (v) Peter van Inwagen.
We argue that Michael Peterson's and William Hasker's attempts to show that God and gratuitous evil are compatible constitute miserable failures. We then sketch Peter van Inwagen's attempt to do the same and conclude that, to date, no one has shown his attempt a failure.
This book offers a new interpretation of William James's ethical and religious thought. Michael Slater shows that James's conception of morality, or what it means to lead a moral and flourishing life, is intimately tied to his conception of religious faith, and argues that James's views on these matters are worthy of our consideration. He offers a reassessment of James's 'will to believe' or 'right to believe' doctrine, his moral theory, and his neglected moral arguments for religious faith. (...) And he argues that James's pragmatic account of religion is based on an ethical view of the function of religion and a realist view of the objects of religious belief and experience, and is compatible with his larger conception of pragmatism. The book will appeal to readers interested in the history of modern philosophy, especially pragmatism, as well as those interested in moral philosophy, religion, and the history of ideas. (shrink)
Skeptical theism seeks to defend theism against the problem of evil by invoking putatively reasonable skepticism concerning human epistemic limitations in order to establish that we have no epistemological basis from which to judge that apparently gratuitous evils are not in fact justified by morally sufficient reasons beyond our ken. This paper contributes to the set of distinctively practical criticisms of skeptical theism by arguing that religious believers who accept skeptical theism and take its practical implications seriously will be forced (...) into a position of paralysis or "aporia" when faced with a wide set of morally significant situations. It is argued that this consequence speaks strongly against the acceptance of skeptical theism insofar as such moral "aporia" is inconsistent with religious moral teaching and practice. In addition, a variety of arguments designed to show that accepting skeptical theism does not lead to this consequence are considered, and shown to be deficient. (shrink)
Michael Williams: Deforesting the Earth: From Prehistory to Global Crisis, an Abridgment Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s10806-010-9294-y Authors Doug Seale, 21 Turner Ridge Road, Marlborough, MA 01752, UK Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
In the nineteenth century protozoology and early cell biology intersected through the nexus of Darwin's theory of evolution. As single-celled organisms, amoebae offered an attractive focus of study for researchers seeking evolutionary relationships between the cells of humans and other animals, and their primitive appearance made them a favourite model for the ancient ancestor of all living things. Their resemblance to human and other metazoan cells made them popular objects of study among morphologists, physiologists, and even those investigating animal behaviour. (...) The amoeba became the exemplar of the new protoplasmic cell concept of mid-century and because its apparent simplicity made it widely generalizable it became a popular subject in a breadth of experimental investigations and theoretical speculations. It was able to do this because "the amoeba" denotes not a particular organism, but a general type of behaviour common to the cells of a range of protozoa, simple plants and higher animals. Its status as an exemplary cell also rested upon auxiliary philosophical assumptions about what constitutes a primitive characteristic and the thesis that evolution is a progressive development of order from chaos. (shrink)
The relationship between William James and Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) has recently been the subject of intense scholarly research. We know for instance that the later Wittgenstein's reflections on the philosophy of psychology found in James a major source of inspiration. Not surprisingly therefore, the pragmatist nature of the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein is increasingly acknowledged, in spite of Wittgenstein’s adamant refusal of being labeled a “pragmatist”. In this brief paper I merely want to piece together some of the (...) available evidence of Wittgenstein’s high regard for William James, not only for his thoughts, but even more so for his character. (shrink)
In this short paper I try to present William James’s connection with the Argentinian writer Macedonio Fernández (1874-1952), who was in some sense a mentor of Borges and might be considered the missing link between Borges and James.
The year of the centennial of the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges is probably the right time to exhume one of the links that this universal writer had with William James. In 1945, Emece, a publisher from Buenos Aires, printed a Spanish translation of William James’s book Pragmatism, with a foreword by Jorge Luis Borges.
This paper deals with Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought styles and Michael Polanyi’s theory of tacit knowledge. Though both concepts have been very influential for science studies in general, and both have been subject to numerous interpretations, their accounts have, somewhat surprisingly, hardly been comparatively analyzed. Both Fleck and Polanyi relied on the physiology and psychology of the senses in order to show that scientific knowledge follows less the path of logical principles than the path of accepting or rejecting (...) specific conventions, where these may be psychologically or sociologically grounded. It is my aim to show that similarities and differences between Fleck and Polanyi are to be seen in the specific historical and political context in which they worked. Both authors, I shall argue, emphasized the relevance of perception in close connection to their respective understanding of science, freedom, and democracy. (shrink)
In a previous issue of Philo, Michael Almeida claimed to have “defeated” William Rowe’s “New Evidential Argument from Evil” againstthe existence of a benevolent god. However, Almeida’s argument suffers from serious logical errors and even logical absurdities, leaving Rowe’s argument intact and quite unthreatened by anything Almeida argues.
It is well known that Francis of Marchia and William of Ockham joined Michael of Cesena's rebellion against the pope, together escaping from Avignon and signing documents supporting Cesena's defence of Franciscan poverty. The relationship between the works of the two thinkers, on the other hand, is the subject of ongoing investigation. After discussing Francis' rejection in his Commentary on the Sentences of Ockham's theory of quantity, this paper shows how Francis' Improbatio became a source for Ockham's Opus (...) Nonaginta Dierum. Building on Offler's ground-breaking critical edition of the latter work, it is argued that Ockham made extensive use of Francis' Improbatio, even though on several points he felt it necessary to reformulate the arguments of his confrère or even to substantially modify his positions. The two Franciscan theologians differed deeply both in their basic philosophical commitments and in their methodological attitude. These differences emerged even when they were—so to speak—fighting on the same front. (shrink)
This paper examines the contribution of the PhD dissertation of the American cytologist Michael F. Guyer (1874-1959) to the early establishment (in 1902-1903) of the parallel relationship between cytological chromosome behaviour in meiosis and Mendel's laws. Guyer's suggestions were among the first, which attempted to relate the variation observed in the offspring in hybridisation studies by a coherent cytological chromosome mechanism to meiosis before the rediscovery of Mendel's principles. This suggested for the first time that the chromosome mechanism involved (...) a conjugation of maternal and paternal chromosomes during the synapsis followed by a segregation of parental chromosomes in the final germ cells and a random union of the final germ cells in the fertilization. It shows that this early suggestion was similar to William Austin Cannon's later chromosome proposal attempting to explain Mendel's principles and had some influence on Walter Sutton's cytological suggestion explaining correctly the behaviour of Mendel's particle by 1903. (shrink)
As is well known among readers of Tradition and Discovery, William H. Poteat was a central influence in bringing Michael Polanyi to the attention of American scholars and, particularly, to the interest of scholarship in religion and theology. Poteat’s own work was heavily impacted by Polanyi. In turn, Polanyi’s affiliation with Poteat at Duke and elsewhere clearly impressed and edified Polanyi and led to Polanyi’s request for Poteat’s collaboration with him on Meaning and to the prospect of Polanyi’s (...) coming to Duke for six weeksto facilitate this. Unfortunately, that promising time was not realized. This present essay represents an effort to discern a direction in which such a collaboration might have deeply and felicitously influenced Polanyi’s interpretation and celebration of his own poignant, yet quite restless, religious sensibilities. (shrink)
These remarks are an obituary for William T. Scott who worked for many years on a biography of Michael Polanyi. In addition to providing an overview of Scott’s own life and work, his connection with Polanyi is reviewed.
I here introduce a set of essays on William H. Poteat by quoting in full a 1968 letter from Poteat to Marjorie Grene. Poteat articulates reasons he cannot collaborate with Grene in editing the volume of Polanyi essays that was eventually published as Knowing and Being: Essays by Michael Polanyi in 1969.
William H. Poteat’s thought, while indebted to Michael Polanyi, originates in Poteat’s own project of remembering all articulate significances to their pre-articulate grounding in the mindbody. He invented the term mindbody both to overstep the traditional distinction between mind and body and to name the living arche of all meaning and meaning-discernment. In focusing on the recovery of the mindbody as the bedrock ontological matrix for the aquisition of speech, the act of explicit reference par excellence, Poteat radicalizes (...) and advances Polanyi’s efforts to reclaim the tacit roots of all explicit knowledge. (shrink)
This article discusses the 2005 OUP biography of Michael Polanyi by William T. Scott and Martin X. Moleski S.J., Michael Polanyi, Scientist and Philosopher . The discussants are N. E. Wetherick, Brian G Gowenlock, and John Puddefoot; Martin X. Moleski, S. J. briefly responds, providing a previously unpulished letter from Polanyi to Reverend Dr. Knox, a Presbyterian mininster.
Suppose a fire broke out in a fertility clinic. One had time to save either a young girl, or a tray of ten human embryos. Would it be wrong to save the girl? According to Michael Sandel, the moral intuition is to save the girl; what is more, one ought to do so, and this demonstrates that human embryos do not possess full personhood, and hence deserve only limited respect and may be killed for medical research. We will argue, (...) however, that no relevant ethical implications can be drawn from the thought experiment. It demonstrates neither that one always ought to let the embryos die, nor does it allow for any general conclusion concerning the moral status of human embryos. (shrink)
The original 1907 text of James' Pragmatism is accompanied with a series of critical essays from scholars including Moore and Russell. In the introduction Olin evaluates the strength of the criticisms made against James.