This book, first published in 1938, is based on the Muirhead Lectures given at Birmingham University in February and March of 1937. The first half of this book is mainly devoted to an exposition of the principles of genetics, whilst the second half deals with more controversial topics, with the text providing an insight into the ideology of the time. This title will be of interest to students of politics and history.
Starting from the early decades of the twentieth century, evolutionary biology began to acquire mathematical overtones. This took place via the development of a set of models in which the Darwinian picture of evolution was shown to be consistent with the laws of heredity discovered by Mendel. The models, which came to be elaborated over the years, define a field of study known as population genetics. Population genetics is generally looked upon as an essential component of modern evolutionary theory. This (...) article deals with a famous dispute between J. B. S. Haldane, one of the founders of population genetics, and Ernst Mayr, a major contributor to the way we understand evolution. The philosophical undercurrents of the dispute remain relevant today. Mayr and Haldane agreed that genetics provided a broad explanatory framework for explaining how evolution took place but differed over the relevance of the mathematical models that sought to underpin that framework. The dispute began with a fundamental issue raised by Mayr in 1959: in terms of understanding evolution, did population genetics contribute anything beyond the obvious? Haldane's response came just before his death in 1964. It contained a spirited defense, not just of population genetics, but also of the motivations that lie behind mathematical modelling in biology. While the difference of opinion persisted and was not glossed over, the two continued to maintain cordial personal relations. (shrink)
This is a detailed commentary on Hume's first Inquiry. Flew argues, rightly, that it should not be treated simply as a weakened abridgement of part of the Treatise. He gives a great deal of the historical context in an interesting and helpful way, but he is primarily concerned to lay out and to assess Hume's arguments. Inevitably much of the book covers quite familiar ground, but in discussing Hume's arguments on miracles and on religion generally, Flew has a number of (...) new and suggestive points to make. The book as a whole will be useful for the student beginning the study of Hume, and Flew's criticisms, as well as his frequent review of other criticisms, should prove helpful to the advanced student. --J. B. S. (shrink)
This paper seeks to reinterpret the life and work of J. B. S. Haldane by focusing on an illuminating but largely ignored essay he published in 1927, "The Last Judgment" -- the sequel to his better known work, "Daedalus" (1924). This astonishing essay expresses a vision of the human future over the next 40,000,000 years, one that revises and updates Wellsian futurism with the long range implications of the "new biology" for human destiny. That vision served as a kind of (...) lifelong credo, one that infused and informed his diverse scientific work, political activities, and popular writing, and that gave unity and coherence to his remarkable career. (shrink)
Adopting a noncognitivist metaethics, Smart presents hedonistic-act utilitarianism as a position which appeals to benevolent and sympathetic men. He renounces any attempt to prove the position, but he does try to show that it is not open to the usual objections. There are some interesting comments on the concept of happiness and a brief attempt to show a way in which game theory can be used in a utilitarian position.--J. B. S.
The first of these massive volumes, edited by Aiken, covers American and English philosophy. Royce, Peirce, James, Santayana, and Dewey are given in varying length; there is a chapter from Bradley; and Moore, Russell, Wittgenstein, Wisdom, Austin, and Whitehead are amply and interestingly represented. Aiken's general introduction is well worth reading, and his special introductions should be helpful to the student. In the second volume Barrett presents a much wider variety of opinion: Positivism, Phenomenology, Existentialism, Marxism, Philosophy of History, and (...) Neo-Orthodoxy. The volumes are well printed.--J. B. S. (shrink)
Woodger's substitution of the "allegedly more precise term 'an environmentally insensitive set of lives'" for the term 'an inborn character' is discussed by haldane. He proposes that "woodger's definitions do not appear to have reached precision." (staff).
Plato's Statesman is the second of a projected trilogy of dialogues, in which an unnamed stranger sets out to satisfy Socrates' desire for an account of sophist, statesman, and philosopher. It includes a clear English translation along with notes and supplementary materials.
Biologists have as yet taken but little cognizance of the revolution in human thought which has been inaugurated by physicists in the last five years, and philosophers have stressed its negative rather than its positive side.
Passmore examines a number of kinds of argument frequently used by philosophers, in an attempt to find out whether there is any kind of reasoning which is especially appropriate for philosophy. He discusses the ways in which philosophers have used deduction, induction, reminders about obvious facts, infinite regress arguments, paradigm case arguments, claims that certain views are self-refuting, and accusations of meaninglessness. Numerous illustrations of these moves in argument, drawn from philosophers from Plato to Popper, help to make this an (...) interesting essay in the philosophy of philosophy.--J. B. S. (shrink)
After a chapter on the theory of the concrete universal, Milne discusses the moral and political views of Bradley, Bosanquet, Green, and Royce. Milne's view is that the social philosophy of Idealism is permanently valuable, the metaphysics not. The work of Bradley and Bosanquet, he argues, is weakened by unnoticed ambiguities in their conception of the concrete universal; Green's work, though more consistent, involves a fundamental error in the theory of knowledge; and there is doubt as to the consistency of (...) Royce's metaphysics with his ethics. We can develop a humanistic Idealism which will be free of the metaphysics of the Absolute and the conservative tendencies of that view, Milne says, and his expositions and criticisms of earlier views are part of his effort to do this. The theory of a scale of standards of rationality in activity, on which Milne rests his reconstruction, needs to be more clearly developed, but it is useful to have so sympathetic a discussion of this general point of view.--J. B. S. (shrink)
Early in this century, only a few biologists accepted that natural selection was the chief cause of evolution, until the independent calculations of John Burdon Sanderson Haldane , Sewall Wright and R. A. Fisher demonstrated that ideal populations subject to Mendel's laws could behave as Darwin had said they would. Evolutionary theorist John Maynard Smith, a student of Haldane's, has raised the question of why Haldane, who was no naturalist, took up the subject of evolution, and he suggests that the (...) answer may have to do with Haldane's lively interest in religion. In fact Maynard Smith's answer has much more evidence in its favour than he knew. (shrink)