I argue that there are non-trivial objective chances (that is, objective chances other than 0 and 1) even in deterministic worlds. The argument is straightforward. I observe that there are probabilistic special scientific laws even in deterministic worlds. These laws project non-trivial probabilities for the events that they concern. And these probabilities play the chance role and so should be regarded as chances as opposed, for example, to epistemic probabilities or credences. The supposition of non-trivial deterministic chances might seem to (...) land us in contradiction. The fundamental laws of deterministic worlds project trivial probabilities for the very same events that are assigned non-trivial probabilities by the special scientific laws. I argue that any appearance of tension is dissolved by recognition of the level-relativity of chances. There is therefore no obstacle to accepting non-trivial chance-role-playing deterministic probabilities as genuine chances. (shrink)
In Making Things Happen, James Woodward influentially combines a causal modeling analysis of actual causation with an interventionist semantics for the counterfactuals encoded in causal models. This leads to circularities, since interventions are defined in terms of both actual causation and interventionist counterfactuals. Circularity can be avoided by instead combining a causal modeling analysis with a semantics along the lines of that given by David Lewis, on which counterfactuals are to be evaluated with respect to worlds in which their antecedents (...) are realized by miracles. I argue, pace Woodward, that causal modeling analyses perform just as well when combined with the Lewisian semantics as when combined with the interventionist semantics. Reductivity therefore remains a reasonable hope. (shrink)
The starting point in the development of probabilistic analyses of token causation has usually been the naïve intuition that, in some relevant sense, a cause raises the probability of its effect. But there are well-known examples both of non-probability-raising causation and of probability-raising non-causation. Sophisticated extant probabilistic analyses treat many such cases correctly, but only at the cost of excluding the possibilities of direct non-probability-raising causation, failures of causal transitivity, action-at-a-distance, prevention, and causation by absence and omission. I show that (...) an examination of the structure of these problem cases suggests a different treatment, one which avoids the costs of extant probabilistic analyses. (shrink)
An influential tradition in the philosophy of causation has it that all token causal facts are, or are reducible to, facts about difference-making. Challenges to this tradition have typically focused on pre-emption cases, in which a cause apparently fails to make a difference to its effect. However, a novel challenge to the difference-making approach has recently been issued by Alyssa Ney. Ney defends causal foundationalism, which she characterizes as the thesis that facts about difference-making depend upon facts about physical causation. (...) She takes this to imply that causation is not fundamentally a matter of difference-making. In this paper, I defend the difference-making approach against Ney’s argument. I also offer some positive reasons for thinking, pace Ney, that causation is fundamentally a matter of difference-making. (shrink)
In this book, Mumford and Anjum advance a theory of causation based on a metaphysics of powers. The book is for the most part lucidly written, and contains some interesting contributions: in particular on the necessary connection between cause and effect and on the perceivability of the causal relation. I do, however, have reservations about some of the book’s central theses: in particular, that cause and effect are simultaneous, and that causes can fruitfully be represented as vectors.
An actual cause of some token effect is itself a token event that helped to bring about that effect. The notion of an actual cause is different from that of a potential cause – for example a pre-empted backup – which had the capacity to bring about the effect, but which wasn't in fact operative on the occasion in question. Sometimes actual causes are also distinguished from mere background conditions: as when we judge that the struck match was a cause (...) of the fire, while the presence of oxygen was merely part of the relevant background against which the struck match operated. Actual causation is also to be distinguished from type causation: actual causation holds between token events in a particular, concrete scenario; type causation, by contrast, holds between event kinds in scenario kinds. (shrink)
In an illuminating article, Claus Beisbart argues that the recently-popular thesis that the probabilities of statistical mechanics (SM) are Best System chances runs into a serious obstacle: there is no one axiomatization of SM that is robustly best, as judged by the theoretical virtues of simplicity, strength, and fit. Beisbart takes this 'no clear winner' result to imply that the probabilities yielded by the competing axiomatizations simply fail to count as Best System chances. In this reply, we express sympathy for (...) the 'no clear winner' thesis. However, we argue that an importantly different moral should be drawn from this. We contend that the implication for Humean chances is not that there are no SM chances, but rather that SM chances fail to be sharp. (shrink)
The discovery of high-level causal relations seems a central activity of the special sciences. Those same sciences are less successful in formulating strict laws. If causation must be underwritten by strict laws, we are faced with a puzzle, which might be dubbed the 'no strict laws' problem for high-level causation. Attempts have been made to dissolve this problem by showing that leading theories of causation do not in fact require that causation be underwritten by strict laws. But this conclusion has (...) been too hastily drawn. Philosophers have tended to equate non-strict laws with ceteris paribus laws. I argue that there is another category of non-strict law that has often not been properly distinguished: namely, minutiae rectus laws. If, as it appears, many special science laws are minutiae rectus laws, then this poses a problem for their ability to underwrite causal relations in a way that their typically ceteris paribus nature does not. I argue that the best prospect for resolving the resurgent 'no strict laws' problem is to argue that special science laws are in fact typically probabilistic, rather than being minutiae rectus laws. (shrink)
Though almost forty years have elapsed since its first publication, it is a testament to the philosophical acumen of its author that 'The Matter of Chance' contains much that is of continued interest to the philosopher of science. Mellor advances a sophisticated propensity theory of chance, arguing that this theory makes better sense than its rivals (in particular subjectivist, frequentist, logical and classical theories) of ‘what professional usage shows to be thought true of chance’ (p. xi) – in particular ‘that (...) chance is objective, empirical and not relational, and that it applies to the single case’ (ibid.). The book is short and dense, with the serious philosophical content delivered thick and fast. There is little by way of road-mapping or summarising to assist the reader: the introduction is hardly expansive and the concluding paragraph positively perfunctory. The result is that the book is often difficult going, and the reader is made to work hard to ensure correct understanding of the views expressed. On the other hand, the author’s avoidance of unnecessary use of formalism and jargon ensures that the book is still reasonably accessible. In the following, I shall first summarise the key features of Mellor’s propensity theory, and then offer a few critical remarks. (shrink)
Actual causes - e.g. Suzy's being exposed to asbestos - often bring about their effects - e.g. Suzy's suffering mesothelioma - probabilistically. I use probabilistic causal models to tackle one of the thornier difficulties for traditional accounts of probabilistic actual causation: namely probabilistic preemption.
Amazon.com Love, fear, hope, calculus, and game shows-how do all these spring from a few delicate pounds of meat? Neurophysiologist Ian Glynn lays the foundation for answering this question in his expansive An Anatomy of Thought, but stops short of committing to one particular theory. The book is a pleasant challenge, presenting the reader with the latest research and thinking about neuroscience and how it relates to various models of consciousness. Combining the aim of a textbook with the style (...) of a popularization, it provides all the lay reader needs to know to participate in the philosophical debate that is redefining our attitudes about our minds. Drawing on the rich history of neurological case studies, Glynn picks through the building blocks of our nervous system, examines our visual and linguistic systems, and probes deeply into our higher thought processes. The stories of great scientists, like Ramon y Cajal, and famous patients, like Sperry's split-brained epileptics, illuminate the scientific issues Glynn selects as essential for understanding consciousness. Some might argue that his lengthy explorations of natural selection overemphasize evolutionary explanations of psychological phenomena, but they must also agree that evolutionary psychology has distanced itself mightily from social Darwinism in recent years and merits a reappraisal. The great consciousness debate may form the core of the 21st-century Zeitgeist; get ready for it with An Anatomy of Thought. -Rob Lightner From Publishers Weekly How do we know? What do we think? How could a philosophical problem-'the mind-body problem,' say-induce a headache? What can evolutionary theory, molecular biology, the history of medicine and experimental psychology tell us about the features of human consciousness, and (once again) how do we know? Glynn, a physician and Cambridge University professor, meticulously attempts to answer these questions and more, setting forth the results of all sorts of research relevant to our brains-from 19th-century dissections to Oliver Sacks-like case studies, work with monkeys and supercomputers, and the enduring puzzles of philosophy, which he rightly saves for near the end. After explaining evolution by natural selection and 'clearing away much dross,' Glynn lays out the experiments and theories that have shown 'how nerve cells can carry information about the body, how they can interact' and how sense organs work; demonstrates the 'mixture of parallel and hierarchical organization' in our brains and 'the striking localization of function within it'; considers where neuroscience is likely to go; and admits that, among the many fields of exciting research just ahead, 'we can be least confident of progress toward a complete, scientific explanation of our sensations and thoughts and feelings.' Other recent explaining-the-brain books have sometimes advanced simplistic, or implausibly grand, claims about the nature and features of consciousness in general. Instead, Glynn offers a patient, informative, well-laid-out researcher's-eye view of what we have learned, how we figured it out and what we still don't know about neurons, senses, feelings, brains and minds. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Library Journal The nature of consciousness, which perennially troubles the minds of scientists and philosophers, is the subject of an ever-growing body of literature. Two of the latest entries approach the topic from different perspectives. Glynn, a professor of physiology and head of the Physiological Laboratory at Cambridge, offers a comprehensive summary of what we know about the brain-both its evolution and its mechanisms. Among the topics he covers are natural selection, molecular evolution, nerves and the nervous system, sensory perception, and the specific structures responsible for our intellect. Using the mechanisms involved in vision and speech as models, Glynn skillfully describes various neurological deficiencies that can lead to 'disordered seeing' and problems with the use of language. He carefully distinguishes what we know through experimental evidence from what we know through the observation of patients with neurological damage. He also describes some of the major theories that attempt to explain why these structures arose. While his book concentrates on the structures that make up the mind, Glynn is well aware that some physical events appear explicable only in terms of conscious mental events-a situation that conflicts with the laws of modern physics. Only briefly, however, does he consider the various approaches that have been taken to deal with the issues of mind/body and free will. In contrast, this is the primary focus of The Physics of Consciousness. After reviewing the fundamentals of classic physics, Walker (who has a Ph.D. in physics) summarizes elements of the new physics in which our knowledge of space, time, matter, and energy are all dependent on the moment of observation. Walker explores the meaning of consciousness as a characteristic of the observer. In this context both the observer and the act of measurement are critical. In essence, Walker leads his reader on a journey through his concept of a 'quantum mind,' which can both affect matter (including other minds) and can be affected by other distant matter/minds. To break up what would otherwise be an extremely dense text, Walker also relates the very touching story of the loss of his high-school sweetheart to leukemia. Indeed, it is his memory of their relationship that drives Walker to seek an understanding of ultimate reality. At times, he has a tendency to be dogmatic-as when he concludes, 'our consciousness, our mind, and the will of God are the same mind.' While An Anatomy of Thought is appropriate for most academic libraries, the Physics of Consciousness will be most accessible to readers with some knowledge of advanced physics. -Laurie Bartolini, Illinois State Lib., Springfield Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Booklist The codiscoverers of natural selection-Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace-disagreed over the possibility of finding an evolutionary explanation for the human mind. Glynn here argues Darwin's side of the debate, tracing an eons-long path of development starting from simple amino acids floating in primal seas and extending through the erect hominids in which the powers of a massive brain first manifest themselves. Patiently adducing evidence of an evolutionary origin for the underlying molecular machinery, Glynn dissects the nerve centers that make possible speech and hearing, sight, and reading. Pressing deeper, he lays bare the cortical foundations of personality. But those who deal with the mind must attend also to the arguments advanced by philosophers. And it is when he turns from dendrites to syllogisms (especially the vexing mind-body paradox) that Glynn's empirical reasoning fails him. In the end, he concedes his perplexity in trying to conceive of an evolutionary origin for human consciousness. This concession may set the shade of Alfred Wallace to chortling, but it will draw readers into an honest confrontation with a profound enigma. Bryce Christensen. (shrink)
At a time when global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions pose a present and clear threat to the environment, the Nuclear Energy Industry is gearing up to provide a solution to this problem, trading upon a number of fallacies to argue that it neither makes, nor will in future make, any significant contribution to these or to other radiation-linked diseases. This paper exposes these fallacies and argues, to the contrary, that even should the industry be able to avoid all (...) accidents, routine radioactive emissions to the environment during power production and fuel reprocessing threaten to destroy all human life on the planet. Dr. Glynn is a Full Professor of Philosophy at Florida Atlantic University, having earned his doctorate at The University of Manchester, England. His many publications include Continental and Postmodern Perspectives in the Philosophy of Science, eds. Babette Babich, Debra Bergoffen and Simon Glynn, (Vermont: Avebury, 1995). This paper was presented at the Comparative Studies Association 2008 Conference: Interdisciplinarity and Environmental Sustainability. (shrink)
The idea of elegance in science is not necessarily a familiar one, but it is an important one. The use of the term is perhaps most clear-cut in mathematics - the elegant proof - and this is where Ian Glynn begins his exploration. Scientists often share a sense of admiration and excitement on hearing of an elegant solution to a problem, an elegant theory, or an elegant experiment. The idea of elegance may seem strange in a field of endeavour (...) that prides itself in its objectivity, but only if science is regarded as a dull, dry activity of counting and measuring. It is, of course, far more than that, and elegance is a fundamental aspect of the beauty and imagination involved in scientific activity. Ian Glynn, a distinguished scientist, selects historical examples from a range of sciences to draw out the principles of science, including Kepler's Laws, the experiments that demonstrated the nature of heat, and the action of nerves, and of course the several extraordinary episodes that led to Watson and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA. With a highly readable selection of inspiring episodes highlighting the role of beauty and simplicity in the sciences, the book also relates to important philosophical issues of inference, and Glynn ends by warning us not to rely on beauty and simplicity alone - even the most elegant explanation can be wrong. (shrink)
In this cross-cultural exploration of the comparative experiences of Asian and Western women in higher education management, leading feminist theorist Carmen Luke constructs a provocative framework that situates her own standpoint and experiences alongside those of Asian women she studied over a three-year period. She conveys some of the complexity of global sweeps and trends in education and feminist discourse as they intersect with local cultural variations but also dovetail into patterns of regional similarities. Western feminist research has established (...) that relatively few women hold senior positions in universities and colleges. Using the now common metaphor of the "glass ceiling," this research has developed a range of social, cultural, and institutional explanations for women's underrepresentation in academic life. International studies show that women in non-Western countries are also underrepresented in higher education. Yet do Western explanations and strategies for change hold for academic women working in non-Western universities? The very diversity among women's experiences calls into question many of the analytic tools, terms, claims, and solutions formulated by Western feminism. This is the first study to show how cultural differences figure into the institutional dynamics of "glass ceilings." It raises important theoretical and practical, strategic, and tactical questions about issues of cultural difference and institutional power. (shrink)
David DeGrazia’s stated purposes for Taking Animals Seriously are to apply a coherentist methodology to animal ethics, to do the philosophical work necessary for discussing animal minds, and to fill in some of the gaps in the existing literature on animal ethics.
The meaning of elegance -- Celestial mechanics : the route to Newton -- Bringing the heavens down to earth -- So what is heat? -- Elegance and electricity -- Throwing light on light : with the story of Thomas Young -- How do nerves work? -- Information handling in the brain -- The genetic code -- Epilogue : a cautionary tale.
This article describes the nature of animal abuse and the response of the criminal justice system to all cruelty cases prosecuted by the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals between 1975 and 1996. Dogs were the most common target; when combined with cats, these domestic animals composed the vast majority of incidents. Almost all of these animals were owned, and females were the majority of complainants. Suspects were almost always young males, and most of the time they allegedly (...) shot, beat, stabbed, or threw their victims. Reportedly, adults were more likely than minors to abuse dogs, shoot them, and commit such acts alone rather than in a group, while minors were more likely to abuse cats, beat them, and commit such acts with peers present. Less than half of the alleged abusers were found guilty in court, one-third were fined, less than one-quarter had to pay restitution, one-fifth were put on probation, one-tenth were sent to jail, and an even smaller percent were required to undergo counseling or perform community service. (shrink)
I analyze the “Sportsman’s Code,” arguing that several of its rules presuppose a respect for animals that renders hunting a prima facie wrong. I summarize the main arguments used to justify hunting and consider them in relation to the prima facie case against hunting entailed by the sportsman’s code. Sport hunters, I argue, are in a paradoxical position—the more conscientiously they follow the code, themore strongly their behavior exemplifies a respect for animals that undermines the possibilities of justifying hunting altogether. (...) I consider several responses, including embracing the paradox, renouncing the code, and renouncing hunting. (shrink)
In Democracy and the Claims of Nature, the leading thinkers in the fields of environmental, political, and social theory come together to discuss the tensions and sympathies of democratic ideals and environmental values. The prominent contributors reflect upon where we stand in our understanding of the relationship between democracy and the claims of nature. Democracy and the Claims of Nature bridges the gap between the often competing ideals of the two fields, leading to a greater understanding of each for the (...) other. (shrink)
Micro and small businesses contribute the majority of business activity in the most developed economies. They are typically embedded in local communities and therefore well placed to influence community wellbeing. While there has been considerable theoretical and empirical analysis of corporate citizenship and corporate social responsibility (CSR), the nature of micro-business community responsibility (mBCR) remains relatively under-explored. This article presents findings from an exploratory study of mBCR that examined the approaches, motivations and barriers of this phenomenon. Analysis of data from (...) 36 semi-structured interviews with micro-business owner-operators in the Australian city of Brisbane revealed three mBCR approaches, suggesting an observable mBCR typology. Each mBCR type was at least partly driven by enlightened self-interest (ESI). In addition to a pure ESI approach, findings revealed ESI combined with philanthropic approaches and ESI combined with social entrepreneurial approaches. The combination of doing business and doing good found amongst participants in this study suggests that many micro-business owner-operators are supporters of their local communities and, therefore, driven by more than profit. This study provides a fine-grained understanding of micro-business involvement in community wellbeing through a lens of responsible business behaviour. (shrink)
I argue that meaning or significanceper se, along with the capacity to be conscious thereof, and the values, motives and aspirations, etc. central to the constitution of our intrinsic personal identities, arise, as indeed do our extrinsic social identities, and our very self-consciousness as such, from socio-cultural structures and relations to others. However, so far from our identities and behavior therefore being determined, I argue that the capacity for critical reflection and evaluation emerge from these same structural relations, the more (...) complex and quintessentially human aspects of our behavior being explained not in terms of responses to stimuli but as choices reflecting our evaluation of meaningful or significant alternatives. Finally I provide theoretical grounds for accepting the existence of other subjects and give a holistic, as opposed to a dialectical, account of the way individuals may challenge and change the very socio-cultural ways of relating to and interacting with others so central to constituting their capacities and identities. (shrink)
This article explores how the press reports nonhuman animal hoarding and hoarders. It discusses how 100 articles from 1995 to the present were content analyzed. Analysis revealed five emotional themes that include drama, revulsion, sympathy, indignation, and humor. While these themes draw readers' attention and make disparate facts behind cases understandable by packaging them in familiar formats, they also present an inconsistent picture of animal hoarding that can confuse readers about the nature and significance of this behavior as well as (...) animal abuse, more generally. (shrink)
One implication of Godel’s Proof is that, as Barry Barnes has observed, “For people to operate...rationally they need to have internalized some non-rational commitment to rationality”. In which case “The customary Enlightenment formula, according to which the process of demagification of the world leads necessarily from mythos to logos, seems . . .” Gadamer suggests, “. . . to be a modern prejudice”, or myth. Yet some myths are more useful than others, and therefore it may be on pragmatic grounds (...) that, following Nietzsche’s characterization of “. . . logic and the categories of reason as means to . . . useful falsification . . .” we may wish to resist the abandonment of reason that many take to be the corollary of its deconstruction. (shrink)