In Chapters 6 and 7 of Language, Truth and Poetry I attempted to solve the ancient problem of fictional reference by claiming that a fictional construct ‘points’ or refers to certain features of reality in rather the same way as an abstraction like ‘gravitation’ or ‘cruelty’ does. I now believe that this theory of mine is unsatisfactory; and I should like to propose a new solution to the problem.
In a paper presented at a symposium on structuralism at the Johns Hopkins University in 1968, the historian Charles Morazé analyzed the issue of invention largely with reference to mathematics and the theory of Henri Poincare.1 Poincare, along with the physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz, was the first to put forward a theory of scientific discovery as occurring in discrete phases. In 1926, Joseph Wallas generalized this theory to apply to all creativity, positing phrases which closely resemble those of Morazé. (...) While both Poincare and Wallas use a four-phrase model of invention, Morazé reduces his to three phrases: information, cogitation, and intellection. In information, the inventor becomes familiar with the sign systems and knowledge, the "collective contributions of society," relevant to his field of problems. Cogitation assembles these materials and concentrates them until "a certain moment" when "a light breaks through." This "sudden illumination...forces us to insist upon the neurological character" of the inventive moment. Finally, in intellection, the inventor rationally evaluates the utility of his invention and thus, in a sense, steps outside of himself and rejoins society. The distinction which organizes Morazé 's entire account, as well as most of the discussion that followed his presentation, is between the "collective" support and control of the inventor and his own individual, or "neurological," act of synthesis or creation. · 1. See Charles Morazé 's "Literary Invention," in The Structuralist Controversy: The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man, ed. Richard Macksey and Eugenio Donato, pp. 22-55. Loy D. Martin is an assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago. He has written The Language of Invention, a study of Robert Browning and the genesis of the dramatic monologue. "A Reply to Carl Pletsch and Richard Schiff" appeared in the Spring 1981 issue of Critical Inquiry. (shrink)
Objections to the use of historical case studies for philosophical ends fall into two categories. Methodological objections claim that historical accounts and their uses by philosophers are subject to various biases. We argue that these challenges are not special; they also apply to other epistemic practices. Metaphysical objections, on the other hand, claim that historical case studies are intrinsically unsuited to serve as evidence for philosophical claims, even when carefully constructed and used, and so constitute a distinct class of challenge. (...) We show that attention to what makes for a canonical case can address these problems. A case study is canonical with respect to a particular philosophical aim when the features relevant to that aim provide a reasonably complete causal account of the results of the historical process under investigation. We show how to establish canonicity by evaluating relevant contingencies using two prominent examples from the history of science: Eddington’s confirmation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity using his data from the 1919 eclipse and Watson and Crick’s determination of the structure of DNA. (shrink)
Why do similar scientific enterprises garner unequal public approbation? High energy physics attracted considerable attention in the late-twentieth-century United States, whereas condensed matter physics – which occupied the greater proportion of US physicists – remained little known to the public, despite its relevance to ubiquitous consumer technologies. This paper supplements existing accounts of this much remarked-upon prestige asymmetry by showing that popular emphasis on the mundane technological offshoots of condensed matter physics and its focus on human-scale phenomena have rendered it (...) more recondite than its better-known sibling field. News reports about high energy physics emphasize intellectual achievement; reporting on condensed matter physics focuses on technology. And whereas frontier-oriented rhetoric of high energy physics communicates ideals of human potential, discoveries that smack of the mundane highlight human limitations and fail to resonate with the widespread aspirational vision of science – a consequence I call “the purloined letter effect.”. (shrink)
The contingentist/inevitabilist debate contests whether the results of successful science are contingent or inevitable. This article addresses lingering ambiguity in the way contingency is defined in this debate. I argue that contingency in science can be understood as a collection of distinct concepts, distinguished by how they hold science contingent, by what elements of science they hold contingent, and by what those elements are contingent upon. I present a preliminary taxonomy designed to characterize the full-range positions available and illustrate that (...) these constitute a diverse array rather than a spectrum. (shrink)
In 1934, Edward Uhler Condon, amid supervising graduate students and crafting a research program on atomic spectra, found time to publish an article in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings. “Food and the Theory of Probability” explained, from the standpoint of probability theory, something naval commissarymen had long known: to feed double the number of people, you need not quite double the recipe. “We interpret the effect as due to the statistical fluctuation in the amount of food desired by a (...) particular man from day to day,” Condon wrote, leading into a detailed and technical treatment of the probability calculations that substantiated the folk wisdom encoded in the Navy Cook Book (Condon 1934). (shrink)
Relativity is one of the most overfished streams in the history of science. Albert Einstein has doubtless graced the covers of more monographs than any other scientist—possibly save Charles Darwin—in the decade since the 2005 centenary of his annus mirabilis. I was skeptical that Jimena Canales would be able land new catch from such thoroughly exploited waters. The Physicist and the Philosopher proved that skepticism misplaced. By exploring a decades-long feud that pitted Albert Einstein against the French savant Henri Bergson, (...) Canales shows how relativity intertwined with an intellectual context that has been roundly ignored by historians and philosophers of science and presents one of history’s most iconic scientists in new light. (shrink)
This paper explores the process by which new technologies supplant or constrain cultural scaffolding processes and the consequences thereof. As elaborated by William Wimsatt and James Griesemer, cultural scaffolds support the acquisition of new capabilities by individuals or organizations. When technologies displace scaffolds, those who previously acquired capabilities from them come to rely upon the new technologies to complete tasks they could once accomplish on their own. Therefore, the would-be beneficiaries of those scaffolds are deprived of the agency to exercise (...) the capabilities the scaffolds supported. Evaluating how technologies displace cultural scaffolds can ground philosophical assessments of the cultural value of technologies. (shrink)
The twentieth century enjoys a firm grip on our profession. Well over half the research articles published in this journal since 2000 devote significant attention to the period between the 1890s and the 1990s. Similar trends prevail in other leading publications. But this outpouring of scholarship alone does not create a collective sense of how historians of science should confront the twentieth century as an epoch. The synthetic reflection that established the scientific revolution as a historiographical category and lent the (...) nineteenth century a sense of cohesion remains to be undertaken for the twentieth. A panoramic outlook on more recent historical eras is a pressing necessity. Publishing trends suggest that we will confront future methodological questions and navigate our evolving professional identity largely on twentieth-century turf. What, then, defines twentieth-century science? In some ways, this question is naive, even trivial: it surprises no one that the currents of history disdain our thin calendrical embankments. But centuries, decades, and other conventional durations often prove useful for collating practices that shared a family resemblance and naming periods about which we might claim that continuity prevailed over discontinuity. Can the twentieth century offer such utility? The books under review can each be read as an attempt to use the twentieth century in that way and, in so doing, to claim it for a particular vision of how the history of science should be done. (shrink)
Solid state physics, the study of the physical properties of solid matter, was the most populous subfield of Cold War American physics. Despite prolific contributions to consumer and medical technology, such as the transistor and magnetic resonance imaging, it garnered less professional prestige and public attention than nuclear and particle physics. Solid State Insurrection argues that solid state physics was essential to securing the vast social, political, and financial capital Cold War physics enjoyed in the twentieth century. Solid state’s technological (...) bent, and its challenge to the “pure science” ideal many physicists cherished, helped physics as a whole respond more readily to Cold War social, political, and economic pressures. Its research kept physics economically and technologically relevant, sustaining its cultural standing and policy influence long after the sheen of the Manhattan Project had faded. (shrink)
We know from Li's theorem (1993) that the stability set of order d may be empty for some preference profiles. However, one may wonder whether such situations are just rare oddities or not. In this paper, we partially answer this question by considering the restrictive case where the number of alternatives is the smallest compatible with an empty stability set. More precisely, we provide an upper bound on the probability for having an empty stability set of order d for the (...) majority game under the Impartial Weak Ordering Culture assumption. This upper bound is already extremely low for small population and tends to zero as the number of individuals goes to infinity. (shrink)
Dispositions are essential to our understanding of the world. Dispositions: A Debate is an extended dialogue between three distinguished philosophers - D.M. Armstrong, C.B. Martin and U.T. Place - on the many problems associated with dispositions, which reveals their own distinctive accounts of the nature of dispositions. These are then linked to other issues such as the nature of mind, matter, universals, existence, laws of nature and causation.
Though the selections included in this book have all been previously available in English, this is the first presentation of Buber's thought to cover the whole range of his interests. It is an extremely well-chosen selection and has been approved by Buber himself. Will Herberg's Introduction relates the different aspects of Buber's thought to each other and presents a coherent picture of a leading religious figure of our age. --D. R.
Fragments of extensional Martin-Löf type theory without universes,ML 0, are introduced that conservatively extend S.A. Cook and A. Urquhart'sIPV ω. A model for these restricted theories is obtained by interpretation in Feferman's theory APP of operators, a natural model of which is the class of partial recursive functions. In conclusion, some examples in group theory are considered.