Whenever we try to make an inventory of humankind’s store of knowledge, we stumble into an ongoing battle between what CP Snow called ‘the two cultures’. On one side are the humanities, on the other are the sciences (natural and physical), with social science and philosophy caught somewhere in the middle. This is more than a turf dispute among academics. It strikes at the core of what we mean by human knowledge.
What Science Offers the Humanities examines some of the deep problems facing current approaches to the study of culture. It focuses especially on the excesses of postmodernism, but also acknowledges serious problems with postmodernism's harshest critics. In short, Edward Slingerland argues that in order for the humanities to progress, its scholars need to take seriously contributions from the natural sciences—and particular research on human cognition—which demonstrate that any separation of the mind and the body is entirely untenable. (...) The author provides suggestions for how humanists might begin to utilize these scientific discoveries without conceding that science has the last word on morality, religion, art, and literature. Calling into question such deeply entrenched dogmas as the "blank slate" theory of nature, strong social constructivism, and the ideal of disembodied reason, What Science Offers the Humanities replaces the human-sciences divide with a more integrated approach to the study of culture. (shrink)
Research Ethics Committees (RECs) or Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are rapidly becoming indispensable mechanisms in the overall workings of university institutions. In fact, the ethical dimension is an important aspect of research governance processes present in institutions of higher learning. However, it is often deemed that research in the social sciences do not require ethical appraisal or clearance, because of the alleged absence of harm in conducting such research. This is an erroneous and dangerous assumption given that research in social (...) sciences poses various and complex dilemmas related to ethics. The article aims to gauge the importance of ethical appraisal at a particular institution of higher learning’s Faculty of Humanities. This is done by scrutinising its defunct REC, and the views that Heads of Departments of the Faculty have of ethics in research and the need for ethical appraisal by this REC. Finally, some suggestions are made to proceed to review and restructure the current REC with the ultimate objective to make it functional again. It was found that the development and discussion around ethics in research and ethical appraisal are part of a much needed thrust to sensitise the entire Faculty and the institution on the widespread beneficial repercussions of ethical awareness in research and beyond. (shrink)
The debate about the appropriate methodology of medical education has been (and still is) dominated by the opposing poles of teaching science versus teaching practical skills. I will argue that this conflict between scientific education and practical training has its roots in the underlying, more systematic question about the conceptual foundation of medicine: how far or in what respects can medicine be considered to be a science? By analyzing the epistemological status of medicine I will show that the (...) internal aim of medicine( promoting health through the prevention and treatment of disease ) differs from the internal aim of science ( the methodological and systematic acquisition of knowledge ). Therefore, medicine as a whole discipline should not be considered as a science. However, medicine can be conceptually and methodologically scientific in so much as it is based on scientific knowledge. There is evidence from cognitive science research that diagnostic reasoning not only relies on the application of scientific knowledge but also â especially in routine cases â on a process of pattern recognition, a reasoning strategy based on the memory of previously encountered patients. Hence, medical education must contain both: the imparting of scientific knowledge and the rich exposure to concrete cases during practical training. Hence, the question of teaching science vs. the apprentice model will not be either-or but rather both â but in which proportion? (shrink)
The National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States, like many other funding agencies all over the globe, has made large investments in interdisciplinary research in the sciences and engineering, arguing that interdisciplinary research is an essential resource for addressing emerging problems, resulting in important social benefits. Using NSF as a case study for problem that might be relevant in other contexts as well, I argue that the NSF itself poses a significant barrier to such research in not sufficiently (...) appreciating the value of the humanities as significant interdisciplinary partners. This essay focuses on the practices of philosophy as a highly valuable but currently under-appreciated partner in achieving the goals of interdisciplinary research. This essay advances a proposal for developing deeper and wider interdisciplinary research in the sciences through coupled ethical-epistemological research. I argue that this more robust model of interdisciplinary practice will lead to better science by providing resources for understanding the types of value decisions that are entrenched in research models and methods, offering resources for identifying the ethical implications of research decisions, and providing a lens for identifying the questions that are ignored, under-examined, and rendered invisible through scientific habit or lack of interest. In this way, we will have better science both in the traditional sense of advancing knowledge by building on and adding to our current knowledge as well as in the broader sense of science for the good of, namely, scientific research that better benefits society. (shrink)
From Knowledge to Wisdom argues that there is an urgent need, for both intellectual and humanitarian reasons, to bring about a revolution in science and the humanities. The outcome would be a kind of academic inquiry rationally devoted to helping humanity learn how to create a better world. Instead of giving priority to solving problems of knowledge, as at present, academia would devote itself to helping us solve our immense, current global problems – climate change, war, poverty, population (...) growth, pollution... of sea, earth and air, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, injustice, tyranny, proliferation of armaments, conventional, chemical, biological and nuclear, depletion of natural resources. The basic intellectual aim of inquiry would be to seek and promote wisdom – wisdom being the capacity to realize what is of value in life for oneself and others, thus including knowledge and technological know-how, but much else besides. This second edition has been revised throughout, has additional material, a new introduction and three new chapters. (shrink)
This paper is a supplement to, and provides a proof of principle of, Kuhn vs. Popper on Criticism and Dogmatism in Science: A Resolution at the Group Level. It illustrates how calculations may be performed in order to determine how the balance between different functions in science—such as imaginative, critical, and dogmatic—should be struck, with respect to confirmation (or corroboration) functions and rules of scientific method.
The relationship between philosophy and the community has become relevant again. It has been the government itself, in the form of public science agencies, which has turned to philosophy and the humanities for help, rather than vice versa. Since 1990, US federal science agencies * agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation * have steadily increased their support of social science and humanities research. This support is all the (...) more striking in that it has happened at a time when federal support for direct humanities research, through the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, has declined. The times demand a corollary to the field of science policy. Just as science policy seeks to offer a systematic evaluation of how science contribute to decision making, humanities policy can methodically investigate how the humanities can better contribute to policy making and how it can help science and technology take better account of societal values. (shrink)
By 'positivism' its contemporary critics mean either (a) the comte-Mill views of science, Or (b) methodological naturalism, Or (c) phenomenalism and/or instrumentalism. However, Most philosophers of science are positivists on some of these criteria and antipositivists otherwise. For example, (b) may be combined with the rejection of (c), E.G., Popper; neo-Wittgensteinians, E.G., Wright, Toulmin, Kuhn, Winch, Like nineteenth century neo-Kantians and conventionalists hold instrumentalist views of language, Theories and explanation; 'positive economics' may be either instrumentalist, E.G., Friedman, Or (...) realist; instrumentalism, Contrary to popper's account, Occurs with any admixture of realism and has pioneered anti-Inductivism, Hypotheticism and theoretical pluralism. (shrink)
The concept of burden of proof is used in a wide range of discourses, from philosophy to law, science, skepticism, and even in everyday reasoning. This paper provides an analysis of the proper deployment of burden of proof, focusing in particular on skeptical discussions of pseudoscience and the paranormal, where burden of proof assignments are most poignant and relatively clear-cut. We argue that burden of proof is often misapplied or used as a mere rhetorical gambit, with little appreciation of (...) the underlying principles. The paper elaborates on an important distinction between evidential and prudential varieties of burdens of proof, which is cashed out in terms of Bayesian probabilities and error management theory. Finally, we explore the relationship between burden of proof and several (alleged) informal logical fallacies. This allows us to get a firmer grip on the concept and its applications in different domains, and also to clear up some confusions with regard to when exactly some fallacies (ad hominem, ad ignorantiam, and petitio principii) may or may not occur. (shrink)
This paper concerns Jean Piaget's (1896–1980) philosophy of science and, in particular, the picture of scientific development suggested by his theory of genetic epistemology. The aims of the paper are threefold: (1) to examine genetic epistemology as a theory concerning the growth of knowledge both in the individual and in science; (2) to explicate Piaget's view of ‘scientific progress’, which is grounded in his theory of equilibration; and (3) to juxtapose Piaget's notion of progress with Thomas Kuhn's (1922–1996). (...) Issues of scientific continuity, scientific realism and scientific rationality are discussed. It is argued that Piaget's view highlights weaknesses in Kuhn's ‘discontinuous’ picture of scientific change. (shrink)
I aim to recover some of the original cultural significance that was attached to the realism-instrumentalism debate (RID) when it was hotly contested by professional scientists in the decades before World War I. Focusing on the highly visible Mach-Planck exchange of 1908-13, I show that arguments about the nature of scientific progress were used to justify alternative visions of science education. Among the many issues revealed in the exchange are realist worries that instrumentalism would subserve science entirely to (...) human interests, as well as instrumentalist worries that realism could become the basis of a science-based religion. I conclude by addressing some issues relating to RID that are now occluded because of Planck's triumph over Mach. (shrink)
The experience with genetically modified foods has been prominent in motivating science, industry and regulatory bodies to address the social and ethical dimensions of nanotechnology. The overall objective is to gain the general public’s acceptance of nanotechnology in order not to provoke a consumer boycott as it happened with genetically modified foods. It is stated implicitly in reports on nanotechnology research and development that this acceptance depends on the public’s confidence in the technology and that the confidence is created (...) on the basis of information, education, openness and debate about scientific and technological developments. Hence, it is assumed that informing and educating the public will create trust, which will consequently lead to an acceptance of nanotechnology. Thus, the humanities and social sciences are seen as tools to achieve public acceptance. In this paper, the author argues that this is a narrow apprehension of the role of the humanities and social sciences. The humanities and social sciences have a critical function asking fundamental questions and informing the public about these reflections. This may lead to scepticism, however, the motivation for addressing the social and ethical dimensions of nanotechnology should not be public acceptance but informed judgement. The author illustrates this critical function by discussing the role, motivation and contribution of ethics as an example. Lastly, the author shows that a possible strategy for incorporating the humanities and the social sciences into nanotechnology research and development is Real-Time Technology Assessment, where the purpose is to integrate natural science and engineering investigations with ethical, legal and social science from the outset. (shrink)
Popper repeatedly emphasised the significance of a critical attitude, and a related critical method, for scientists. Kuhn, however, thought that unquestioning adherence to the theories of the day is proper; at least for ‘normal scientists’. In short, the former thought that dominant theories should be attacked, whereas the latter thought that they should be developed and defended (for the vast majority of the time). -/- Both seem to have missed a trick, however, due to their apparent insistence that each individual (...) scientist should fulfil similar functions (at any given point in time). The trick is to consider science at the group level; and doing so shows how puzzle solving and ‘offensive’ critical activity can simultaneously have a legitimate place in science. This analysis shifts the focus of the debate. The crucial question becomes ‘How should the balance between functions be struck?’. (shrink)
At present the basic intellectual aim of academic inquiry is to improve knowledge. Much of the structure, the whole character, of academic inquiry, in universities all over the world, is shaped by the adoption of this as the basic intellectual aim. But, judged from the standpoint of making a contribution to human welfare, to the quality of human life, academic inquiry of this type, devoted, in the first instance, to the pursuit of knowledge, is grossly and damagingly irrational. Three of (...) four of the most elementary and uncontroversial rules of rational problem solving conceivable are violated. This rarely noticed, damaging, structural irrationality in current academic inquiry stems from the 18th century Enlightenment. In seeking to learn from scientific progress how humanity might make social progress towards a wiser, more enlightened world, Voltaire, Diderot, Condorcet et al. blundered; these blunders were developed throughout the 19th century, and built into the institutional structure of academic inquiry in the 20th century with the creation of diverse branches of social science. In order to create a kind of academic inquiry free of these blunders, devoted in a genuinely rational way to helping promote human welfare by intellectual and educational means, we need to bring about a major revolution in the overall aims and methods of inquiry, in its whole institutional and intellectual structure and character. The basic intellectual aim needs to become to promote wisdom - wisdom being understood to be the capacity to realize what is of value in life for oneself and others (and thus including knowledge, know-how and understanding). The social sciences need to become social philosophy, or social methodology, devoted to promoting more cooperatively rational solving of conflicts and problems of living in the world. Social inquiry, so pursued, would be intellectually more fundamental than natural science. The natural sciences need to recognize three domains of discussion: evidence, theories, and aims. Problems concerning research aims need to be discussed by both scientists and non-scientists alike, involving as they do questions concerning social priorities and values. Philosophy needs to become the sustained rational exploration of our most fundamental problems of understanding; it also needs to take up the task of discovering how we may improve our personal, institutional and global aims and methods in life, so that what is of value in life may be realized more successfully. Education needs to change so that problems of living become more fundamental than problems of knowledge, the basic aim of education being to learn how to acquire wisdom in life. Academic inquiry as a whole needs to become somewhat like a people's civil service, having just sufficient power to retain its independence and integrity, doing for people, openly, what civil services are supposed to do, in secret, for governments. These and many other changes, affecting every branch and aspect of academic inquiry, all result from replacing the aim to acquire knowledge by the aim to promote wisdom by cooperatively rational means. (shrink)
University based academic Research Ethics Boards (REB) face the particularly difficult challenge of trying to achieve representation from a variety of disciplines, methodologies and research interests. Additionally, many are currently facing another decision – whether to have students as REB members or not. At Ryerson University, we are uniquely situated. Without a medical school in which an awareness of the research ethics review process might be grounded, our mainly social science and humanities REB must also educate and (...) class='Hi'>foster awareness of the ethics review process throughout the academic community. Our Board has had and continues to have students as active members. While there are challenges to having students as Board members, these are clearly outweighed by the advantages, for both the academic community and the future of ethically sound research in the social sciences and humanities. Moreover, the challenges are often based on misconceptions and can be easily overcome through increased education and understanding of the research ethics review process by the academic community at large. The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss the experiences, advantages and challenges of having students as REB members. The advantages of having students as REB members include the following: (1) Students are the proposed participants in many of our reviewed protocols and student members may illuminate unique issues of participation. (2) Students are active and highly engaged members of the REB. (3) Having students on the REB enhances awareness of research ethics within the University. (4) Student REB members have an opportunity to mentor other students and provide leadership for both undergraduate and graduate students. (5) Students are more vigorously recruited than faculty members and often apply for student positions with enthusiasm and preparation. (6) In creating an atmosphere of excellence in research, engaging students at the beginning of their research career will help in creating tomorrow’s leaders in research and research ethics. The challenges of having students as REB members include the following: (1) Faculty members may be uneasy regarding the prospect of students reviewing protocols. (2) Faculty members may be concerned about confidentiality and respect with students reviewing faculty research protocols. (3) There may be an increased burden for students who serve as members on an REB. (4) There is concern that students will offer less continuous service to the REB. (5) There is a common misconception that students do not have the experience to carry out ethical reviews. While there are challenges from faculty members and others regarding having students as REB members, these challenges are often based on misconceptions about the nature of the REB work and the ethics review process in general. These challenges are also often based on the misconception of the ethics review process as one of peer review and evaluation, instead of a community-based and inclusive process. Having student members is a long-term strategy for both overcoming the misconceptions of the REB as a “necessary evil” and for fostering an awareness of the imperative for ethically sound research in the social sciences and humanities. (shrink)
The paideia of modernity is now in crisis. What is needed is a deeper, global understanding of the human being, and a broader determination of its ends and needs. Such a picture of the human being, its life, its real problems and expectations, can be called a paideia, in a sense that is the hard core of the different modulations this concept has received during its long history. It is suggested that this new paideia will be of service to humanity (...) only insofar as it bridges the gap between the sciences and the humanities, between facts and values. (shrink)
The nature and scope of medical humanities are under debate. Some regard this field as consisting of those parts of the humanistic sciences that enhance our understanding of clinical practice and of medicine as historical phenomenon. In this article it is argued that aesthetic experience is as crucial to this project as are humanistic studies. To rightly understand what medicine is about we need to acknowledge the equal importance of two modes of understanding, intertwined and mutually reinforcing: the mode (...) of aesthetic imagination and the mode of analytical reflection. (shrink)
Reproduction is at the core of many aspects of human existence. It is intrinsic in our biology and in the broad social constructs in which we all reside. The introduction to this special issue is designed to reflect on some of the differences between the humanities/arts and the sciences on the subject of Reproduction now and in the past. The intellectual/cultural distance between humanists and reproductive biologists is vast, yet communication between the Two Cultures has much to offer in (...) guiding future research, pedagogy, and social policy. The challenges to communication include differences in methodology, professional protocols, specialization, and the increasing speed with which reproductive technology advances. The solutions require a new kind of student who can learn and adapt the approaches from both sides of the disciplinary divide to create new ways of understanding how our current and future concepts of reproduction may be informed by the past. This co-authored introduction reviews the range of interests represented in the essays and represents first steps of a dialogue between a humanist and a reproductive biologist who chart some of the possibilities on what the future of the subject might hold. (shrink)
Empirical adequacy is a central notion in van Fraassen's empiricist view of science. I argue that van Fraassen's account of empirical adequacy in terms of a partial isomorphism between certain structures in some model(s) of the theory and certain actual structures (the observables) in the world, is untenable. The empirical adequacy of a theory can only be tested in the context of an accepted practice of observation. But because the theory itself does not determine the correct practice of observation, (...) its failure to pass the test does not show the failure of an isomorphism between the empirical substructure of some model(s) of the theory and observable structures in nature. Further, because the choice of a practice of observation is a pragmatic one grounded in epistemic goals we seek in observation, van Fraassen's anthropocentric view of observability is epistemically unmotivated. (shrink)
In this paper I try to explain a strange omission in Hume’s methodological descriptions in his first Enquiry. In the course of this explanation I reveal a kind of rationalistic tendency of the latter work. It seems to contrast with “experimental method” of his early Treatise of Human Nature, but, as I show that there is no discrepancy between the actual methods of both works, I make an attempt to explain the change in Hume’s characterization of his own methods. This (...) attempt leads to the question about his interpretation of the science of human nature. I argue that his view on this science was not a constant one and that initially he identified this science with his account of passions. As this presupposes the primacy of Book 2 of his Treatise I try to find new confirmations of the old hypothesis that this Book had been written before the Book 1, dealing with understanding. Finally, I show that this discussion of Hume’s methodology may be of some interest to proponents of conceptual analysis. -/- . (shrink)
In its forty years of existence, Artificial Intelligence has suffered both from the exaggerated claims of those who saw it as the definitive solution of an ancestral dream â that of constructing an intelligent machine-and from its detractors, who described it as the latest fad worthy of quacks. Yet AI is still alive, well and blossoming, and has left a legacy of tools and applications almost unequalled by any other field-probably because, as the heir of Renaissance thought, it represents a (...) possible bridge between the humanities and the natural sciences, philosophy and neurophysiology, psychology and integrated circuits-including systems that today are taken for granted, such as the computer interface with mouse pointer and windows. This writing describes a few results of AI that have modified the scientific world, as well as the way a layman sees computers: thetechnology of programming languages, such asLISP-witness the unique excellence of academic departments that have contributed to them-thecomputing workstations-of which our modern PC is but a vulgarised descendant-theapplications to the educational field-e.g., the realisation of some ideas of genetic epistemology-and tointerdisciplinary philosophy-such as Hofstadter's associations between the arts and mathematics-and the use ofAI techniques in music and musicology. All this has led to a generalisation of AI towards Negrotti's overallTheory of the Artificial, which encompasses further specialisation such asartificial reality, artificial life, and applications ofneural networks among others. (shrink)
For centuries, religion and philosophy have been the primary basis for efforts to guide humans to be more ethical. However, training in ethics and religion and imparting positive values and morality tests such as those emanating from the categorical imperative and the Golden Rule have not been enough to protect humankind from its bad behaviors. To improve ethics education educators must better understand aspects of human nature such as those that lead to “self-deception” and “personal bias.” Through rationalizations, faulty reasoning (...) and hidden bias, individuals trick themselves into believing there is little wrong with their own unethical behavior. The application of science to human nature offers the possibility of improving ethics education through better self-knowledge. The author recommends a new paradigm for ethics education in contemporary modern society. This includes the creation of a new field called “applied evolutionary neuro-ethics” which integrates science and social sciences to improve ethics education. The paradigm can merge traditional thinking about ethics from religious and philosophical perspectives with new ideas from applied evolutionary neuro-ethics. (shrink)
Introduction: Concerning scientific reason -- General themes -- Narrative plan -- What is science? -- Reason in dispute -- Rebuttal to an unfair indictment -- Science and the quest for reality -- Science and its values -- Nineteenth-century positivism -- The argument -- Cultures -- The human sciences -- The fall of positivism -- Polany : personalizing knowledge -- Kuhn : raising the lid of pandora's box -- Quine and the dismantling of logical positivism -- The constructivist (...) challenge -- The science wars -- Battles in the night -- The character of reason -- Taking stock -- Science in its socio-political contexts -- Disentangling facts and values, again -- Science as politics -- Science and human nature -- Science and culture -- A case study : environmentalism -- Claims for a science-based ethics -- Teleology -- Environmentalism's religious origins -- Conclusion: The challenge of coherence -- Science as a world view -- Bridging the divide -- A moral epistemology -- The search for meaning. (shrink)
1. A Historical Look at Unity 2. Field Guide to Modern Concepts of Reduction and Unity 3. Kitcher's Revisionist Account of Unification 4. Critics of Unity 5. Integration Instead of Unity 6. Reduction via Mechanisms 7. Case Studies in Reduction and Unification across the Disciplines.
Since the cognitive revolution, it’s become commonplace that cognition involves both computation and information processing. Is this one claim or two? Is computation the same as information processing? The two terms are often used interchangeably, but this usage masks important differences. In this paper, we distinguish information processing from computation and examine some of their mutual relations, shedding light on the role each can play in a theory of cognition. We recommend that theoristError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode (...) CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMaps of cognition be explicit and careful in choosing 1 notions of computation and information and connecting them together. Much confusion can be avoided by doing so. Keywords: computation, information processing, computationalism, computational theory of mind, cognitivism. (shrink)
This essay points out that Popper's theory of the objectivity of science is ambiguous: it is not clear whether it provides a guarantee of correct evaluations of theories or only a means of uncovering errors in such evaluations. The latter approach seems to be a more natural extension of Popper's fallibilist theory and is needed if his learning theory is adopted. But this leads to serious problems for a fallibilist theory of science.
Engineering science is a scientific discipline that from the point of view of epistemology and the philosophy of science has been somewhat neglected. When engineering science was under philosophical scrutiny it often just involved the question of whether engineering is a spin-off of pure and applied science and their methods. We, however, hold that engineering is a science governed by its own epistemology, methodology and ontology. This point is systematically argued by comparing the different sciences (...) with respect to a particular set of characterization criteria. (shrink)