GeorgeMolnar came to see that the solution to a number of the problems in contemporary philosophy lay in the development of an alternative to Hume's metaphysics, with real causal powers at its center. Molnar's eagerly anticipated book setting out his theory of powers was almost complete when he died, and has been prepared for publication by Stephen Mumford, who provides a context-setting introduction.
GeorgeMolnar came to see that the solution to a number of the problems of contemporary philosophy lay in the development of an alternative to Hume's metaphysics. This alternative would have real causal powers at its centre. Molnar set about developing a thorough account of powers that might persuade those who remained, perhaps unknowingly, in the grip of Humean assumptions. He succeeded in producing something both highly focused and at the same time wide-ranging. He showed both that (...) the notion of a power was central and that it could serve to dispel a number of long-standing philosophical problems.Molnar's account of powers is as realist as any that has so far appeared. He shows that dispositions are as real as any other properties. Specifically, they do not depend for their existence on their manifestations. Nevertheless, they are directed towards such manifestations. Molnar thus appropriates the notion of intentionality, from Brentano, and argues that it is the essential characteristic of powers. He offers a persuasive case for there being some basic and ungrounded powers, thus ruling out the reducibility of the dispositional to the non-dispositional. However, he does allow that there are non-power properties as well as power properties. In this respect, his final position is dualistic.This is contemporary metaphysics of the highest quality. It is a work that was almost complete when its author died. It has been edited for publication by another specialist in the subject, Stephen Mumford, who has also provided an introduction that will allow non-specialists to become acquainted with the issues. David Armstrong, one of the greatest living metaphysicians and personal friend of GeorgeMolnar, has provided a Foreword. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker’s causal theory of properties is an important starting place for some contemporary metaphysical perspectives concerning the nature of properties. In this paper, I discuss the causal and intrinsic criteria that Shoemaker stipulates for the identity of genuine properties and relations, and address GeorgeMolnar’s criticism that holding both criteria presents an unbridgeable hypothesis in the causal theory of properties. The causal criterion requires that properties and relations contribute to the causal powers of objects if they are (...) to be deemed genuine rather than ‘mere-Cambridge’. The intrinsic criterion requires that all genuine properties and relations be intrinsic. Molnar’s S-property argument says that these criteria conflict if one considers extrinsic spatiotemporal properties and relations to contribute causally. In this paper, I argue that a solution to the contradiction that Molnar identifies involves a denial of discreteness between objects, leading to a power holist perspective and a resulting deflationary account of intrinsicality. (shrink)
The paper aims to elucidate in better detail than before the dispute about whether or not dispositional monism—the view that all basic properties are pure powers—entails a vicious infinite regress. Particular focus is on Alexander Bird's and GeorgeMolnar's attempts to show that the arguments professing to demonstrate a vicious regress are inconclusive because they presuppose what they aim to prove, notably that powers are for their nature dependent on something else. I argue that Bird and Molnar (...) are mistaken. It is true that dispositional monism is popularly assumed to characterize powers as dependent entities, but this is not what the arguments aim to prove. They merely aim to demonstrate that it would be absurd to assume that all properties are dependent in this way. Finally, it is argued that there is an unresolved tension in Bird's and Molnar's accounts of powers. They characterize them as being for their nature dependent on the manifestations that they are for, and yet ontologically independent of those same manifestations. Until that tension is resolved, their accounts are not equipped to remove the threat of vicious regress. (shrink)
In the present paper, I offer a conceptual argument against the view that all properties are pure powers. I claim that thinking of all properties as pure powers leads to a regress. The regress, I argue, can be solved only if non-powers are admitted. The kernel of my thesis is that any attempt to answer the title question in an informative way will undermine a pure-power view of properties. In particular, I focus my critique on recent arguments in favour of (...) pure powers by the Late GeorgeMolnar and Jennifer McKitrick. The lines of defence of the friends of powers converge on what I call 'the ultimate argument for powers', viz., that current physics entails (or supports) the view that the fundamental properties (spin, mass, charge) are ungrounded powers. I take issue with this argument and make a modest suggestion: that the evidence from current physics is inconclusive. (shrink)
Powers are popularly assumed to be distinct from, and dependent upon, inert qualities, mainly because it is believed that qualities have their nature independently of other properties while powers have their nature in virtue of a relation to distinct manifestation property. GeorgeMolnar and Alexander Bird, on the other hand, characterize powers as intrinsic and relational. The difficulties of reconciling the characteristics of being intrinsic and at the same time essentially related are illustrated in this paper and it (...) is argued that the reasons for thinking of powers as essentially relational are based on misguided epistemological consideration. Finally, I present a way of thinking of fundamental properties as primitive natures that we can only understand in virtue of what they do but which we should not think of as being ontologically constituted by these doings. According to this view, properties are both qualities and powers. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialists U. T. Place, GeorgeMolnar, and C. B. Martin hold that dispositions are intrinsically directed to their manifestations. Thomists have noted that this directedness is similar to Thomistic directedness to an end. I argue that Place, Molnar, and Martin would benefit from conceiving of dispositional directedness as the sort of directedness associated with Thomistic inclinations. Such Thomistic directedness can help them to account for the production of manifestations; to justify their reliance on dispositional directedness; to (...) show the causal relevance of dispositions; and to motivate their view that dispositions are not reducible to categorical bases. I argue, moreover, that Thomistic inclination to an end does not succumb to the most common objections to finality: it is not mentalistic or vitalistic, and it does not involve backwards causation. Place, Molnar, and Martin, therefore, can embrace the directedness associated with Thomistic inclination—and reap its benefits—without incurring any high metaphysical cost. (shrink)
Dispositions can combine as vector sums. Recent authors on dispositions, such as GeorgeMolnar and Stephen Mumford, have responded to this feature of dispositions by introducing a distinction between effects and contributions to effects, and by identifying disposition-manifestations with the latter. But some have been sceptical of the reality or knowability of component vectors; Jennifer McKitrick (forthcoming) presses these concerns against the conception of manifestations as contributions to effects. In this paper, I aim to respond to McKitrick's arguments (...) and to defend the metaphysical and epistemological propriety of component vectors. My strategy appeals to varying kinematic frames of reference. By transforming to the appropriate non-inertial frame, component acceleration vectors can be transformed into resultant acceleration vectors, and in such frames they become directly observable. Being a component acceleration vector and being a resultant acceleration vector are both frame-dependent properties of properties; they are not to be thought of as intrinsic or fundamental properties of an acceleration vector, but as artefacts of our frame-dependent notation for representing vector quantities. To conclude the paper, I defend the view proposed against two styles of objection. The first objection resurrects scepticism about component vectors as scepticism about fundamental component vectors. The second objection questions the need for reference frames in the explanation by invoking a 'counterfactual' theory of contributions. (shrink)
Dispositional Realism is the view according to which some denizens of reality – i.e., dispositions – are properties, that may exist in the natural world and have an irreducible modal character. Among Dispositional Realists, Charlie Martin, Ullin Place and GeorgeMolnar most notably argued that the modal character of dispositions should be understood in terms of their intentionality. Other Dispositional Realists, most notably Stephen Mumford, challenged this understanding of the modal character of dispositions. In this paper, I defend (...) a fresh version of the intentional understanding of dispositions. I start by distinguishing two questions about properties, respectively addressing their identity conditions and their individuation conditions. I, then, define categorical and dispositional properties in terms of their qualitative character, and examine their identity and individuation conditions. I conclude that the attribution of intentions is a conceptual tool: it was introduced in order to help specifying the conditions of individuation of a disposition; however, such attribution does not affect the identity of a disposition. (shrink)
This paper argues that there is a heretofore unresolved tension between truthmaker-style metaphysics and a plausible version of Naturalism. At the turn of the century, GeorgeMolnar proposed four prima facie plausible principles for a realist metaphysics in order to expose truthmaker theory’s incapacity to find truthmakers for negative truths. I marshal the current plethora of attempted solutions to the problem into a crisp trilemma. Those who solve it claim that Molnar’s tetrad is consistent; those who dissolve (...) it do away with the requirement that every truth needs a truthmaker; and those who absolve it embrace a negative ontology. I argue that one is forced to absolve the problem: all other avenues undermine the truthmaker principle itself. Absolving the problem, however, does not sit well with a version of Naturalism that most would accept. We are drawn to a simple dilemma: either embrace a negative ontology, or reject truthmaker-style metaphysics. (shrink)
This paper provides an outline of a theory of causal truthmaking according to which contingent truths are made true by causal facts and dispositional mechanisms. These facts and mechanisms serve to account for the truth of propositions by explaining in a non-epistemic fashion why they have come about as truths. Given that negative causation is allowed for, we are able to provide truthmakers for negative truths without making appeal to negative facts, lacks or absences. The paper takes its starting point (...) in the following claims by GeorgeMolnar: the world is everything that exists; everything that exists is positive; some negative claims about the world are true; and every true claim about the world is made true by something that exists. The conclusion is reached that we can keep in a consistent manner if causal truthmaking is permitted. (shrink)
In his book Powers (2003), GeorgeMolnar argues against Dispositional Monism by presenting a posteriori reasons to believe in the existence of actual categorical features. In this paper I argue that either Molnar’s project is misdirected, since the properties he concentrates on are most possibly irrelevant for the debate between Dispositional Monism and Property Dualism, or, granted that the properties he chooses are indeed relevant, his arguments cannot prove that they are categorical without begging the question against (...) Dispositional Monism. (shrink)
GeorgeMolnar’s contention that some dispositional properties are displayed without the aid of any activating conditions poses a challenge to the conditional analysis of dispositions. Since the invocation of activating conditions is regarded as a crucial feature of the analysis, spontaneous dispositions are believed to expose its inadequacy by eluding its scope. The challenge goes to the very heart of the conditional approach to dispositions, allegedly revealing a deep flaw in all its incarnations. Granting that there may be (...) spontaneously manifestable dispositions, I argue that the conditional analysis can successfully accommodate them by elevating the potential causal relation between a disposition and its manifestation. (shrink)
GeorgeMolnar came to see that the solution to a number of the problems of contemporary philosophy lay in the development of an alternative to Hume's metaphysics, with real causal powers at its centre. Molnar's eagerly anticipated book setting out his theory of powers was almost complete when he died, and has been prepared for publication by Stephen Mumford, who provides a context-setting introduction.
Tradução para o português do verbete "George Berkeley, de Michael Ayers, retirado de "A Companion to Epistemology", ed. Jonathan Dancy e Ernest Sosa (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997), pp. 261–264. Criticanarede. ISSN 1749-8457.
En su Tratado sobre los principios del conocimiento humano, George Berkeley ofrece una serie de argumentos cuyo objetivo es criticar la tesis materialista. Mi propósito en este artículo es reconstruir y analizar en detalle estos argumentos. Dado que la crítica de Berkeley al materialismo es, fundamentalmente, una crítica al materialismo representacionalista de John Locke, empezaré este artículo explicando cuáles son las ideas básicas de la propuesta de Locke.
George H. Mead and Alfred Schutz proposed foundations for an interpretative sociology from opposite standpoints. Mead accepted the objective meaning structure a priori. His problem became therefore the explanation of the individuality and creativity of human actors in his social behavioristic approach. In contrast, Schutz started from the subjective consciousness of an isolated actor as a result of a phenomenological reduction. He was concerned with the problem of explaining the possibility of this isolated actor’s perceiving other actors in their (...) existence, their concreteness, and the motives for their behavior. I treat these two approaches and their associated problems as equally relevant. My evaluation is based on their success in solving their specific problems. The aim is to decide which of the two approaches provides the more adequate foundation for an interpretative sociology. (shrink)
2006. George Boole. Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2nd edition. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. -/- George Boole (1815-1864), whose name lives among modern computer-related sciences in Boolean Algebra, Boolean Logic, Boolean Operations, and the like, is one of the most celebrated logicians of all time. Ironically, his actual writings often go unread and his actual contributions to logic are virtually unknown—despite the fact that he was one of the clearest writers in the field. Working with various students including Susan Wood (...) and Sriram Nambiar, I have written several publications trying to set the record straight—but so far to little avail. This encyclopedia entry is one more attempt to set the record straight in a way that can be appreciated by non-experts.Also see https://www.academia.edu/10161999/Booles_criteria_of_validity_and_invalidity . (shrink)
Most philosophers have given up George Berkeley’s proof for the existence of God as a lost cause, for in it, Berkeley seems to conclude more than he actually shows. I defend the proof by showing that its conclusion is not the thesis that an infinite and perfect God exists, but rather the much weaker thesis that a very powerful God exists and that this God’s agency is pervasive in nature. This interpretation, I argue, is consistent with the texts. It (...) is also an important component of Berkeley’s philosophical project, which consists of launching many small arguments against his philosophical and theological opponents. (shrink)
This article discusses the work of George Udny Yule in relation to the evolutionary synthesis and the biometric-Mendelian debate. It has generally been claimed that (i.) in 1902, Yule put forth the first account showing that the competing biometric and Mendelian programs could be synthesized. Furthermore, (ii.) the scientific figures who should have been most interested in this thesis (the biometricians W. F. Raphael Weldon and Karl Pearson, and the Mendelian William Bateson) were too blinded by personal animosity towards (...) each other to appreciate Yule's proposal. This essay provides a detailed account of (i.), maintaining that Yule's 1902 proposal is better understood as a reduction, not a synthesis of the two programs. The results of this analysis are then used to evaluate (ii.), where I will instead argue that Bateson and the biometricians had good reasons to avoid endorsing Yule's account. (shrink)
In this article, the cosmological positions of George of Trebizond are regrouped and an attempt to evaluate his offer to the philosophy of nature in the Renaissance is presented. George of Trepizond dedicated a huge part of his work to the philosophical and scientific study of the world; he also renewed the way the Greek letters are studied and used.
The paper studies Heidegger's reading of the poet Stefan George (1868-1933), particularly of his poem "Das Wort" (1928), in the context of Heidegger's narrative of the history of metaphysics. Heidegger reads George's poem as expressing certain experiences with language: first, the constitutive role of language, of naming and discursive determination, in granting things stable identities; second, the unnameable and indeterminable character of language itself as a constitutive process and the concomitant insight into the human being's dependency on language (...) and her incapacity to master in subjectively. Heidegger characterizes this experience as "transitional" (übergänglich). It is shown that in Heidegger's historical narrative, this places George's poem in the ongoing transition (Übergang) from the Hegelian and Nietzschean end of metaphysics to a forthcoming "other beginning" of thinking. (shrink)
Historically labor has been central to human interactions with the environment, yet environmentalists pay it scant attention. Indeed, they have been critical of those who foreground labor in their politics, socialists in particular. However, environmentalists have found the nineteenth-century socialist William Morris appealing despite the fact that he wrote extensively on labor. This paper considers the place of labor in the relationship between humanity and the natural world in the work of Morris and two of his contemporaries, the eminent scientist (...) Thomas Henry Huxley, and the Fabian socialist Herbert George Wells. I suggest that Morris's conception of labor has much to recommend it to environmentalists who are also interested in issues of social justice. (shrink)
This article discusses the work of George Seddon as a significant Australian intellectual whose writing on postcolonial settler-descendant relations with land and nature is a major contribution to academic and public life. Seddon’s originality lies partly in his bridging knowledge and expertise in both the humanities and sciences. However, while there is a reliance upon factual data drawn from geology, botany and zoology, Seddon’s analyses of language and culture can appear idiosyncratic and unsystematic in terms of social science methods. (...) Based on introspection, the work might be considered ‘autoethnography’, though Seddon seeks to do more than tell stories about himself. In acknowledging both the brilliance and shortcomings of Seddon’s work, I present some examples of how it has stimulated my own research on the cultural implications of naming species and places in Australia. (shrink)
George Herbert Mead's early lectures at the University of Chicago are more important to understanding the genesis of his views in social psychology than some commentators, such as Hans Joas, have emphasized. Mead's lecture series "The Evolution of the Psychical Element," preserved through the notes of student H. Heath Bawden, demonstrate his devotion to Hegelianism as a method of thinking and how this influenced his non-reductionistic approach to functional psychology. In addition, Mead's breadth of historical knowledge as well as (...) his commitments in the natural and social sciences are on display here, culminating in the Darwinian observation that human animals only achieve the degree of control they have over their environment by the achievement of social organization. (shrink)
After Heitler and London published their pioneering work on the application of quantum mechanics to chemistry in 1927, it became an almost unquestioned dogma that chemistry would soon disappear as a discipline of its own rights. Reductionism felt victorious in the hope of analytically describing the chemical bond and the structure of molecules. The old quantum theory has already produced a widely applied model for the structure of atoms and the explanation of the periodic system. This paper will show two (...) examples of the entry of quantum physics into more classical fields of chemistry: inorganic chemistry and physical chemistry. Due to their professional networking, George Hevesy and Michael Polanyi found their ways to Niels Bohr and Fritz London, respectively, to cooperate in solving together some problems of classical chemistry. Their works on rare earth elements and adsorption theory throws light to the application of quantum physics outside the reductionist areas. They support the heuristic and persuasive value of quantum thinking in the 1920–1930s. Looking at Polanyi’s later oeuvre, his experience with adsorption theory could be a starting point of his non-justificationist philosophy. (shrink)
The article analyzes Henri Bergson’s understanding of human life in the light of his metaphor of life as “insinuation.” Comparing his ideas with the ideas of another original thinker of the age, George Santayana, allows shedding light on Bergson’s ontological strategy of making matter– as a threat to life –subject to mediation. Memory and imagination use matter to play out the past in the guise of the present–for the sake of life. The text also focuses on the formulas of (...) freedom arising out of both thinkers’ conceptions of conscious life – that of Bergson, for whom the horizon and the fulfillment can be found in the beginning, or the primary vital impulse, and that of Santayana, who sees fulfillment in the forms of finitude assumed by each particular life. Looking at humanity in terms of a spiritual challenge links both conceptions. The whole discussion responds to the need to return to such fundamental but sidestepped terms as “humanity” and “spirituality”. (shrink)
In this essay, I reconstruct H. Richard Niebuhr's interpretation of George Herbert Mead's account of the social constitution of the self. Specifically, I correct Niebuhr's interpretation, because it mischaracterizes Mead's understanding of social constitution as more dialogical than ecological. I also argue that Niebuhr's interpretation needs completing because it fails to engage one of Mead's more significant notions, the I/me distinction within the self. By reconstructing Niebuhr's account of faith and responsibility as theologically self-constitutive through Mead's I/me distinction, I (...) demonstrate Niebuhr's deep yet unacknowledged agreement with Mead: the self is constituted by its participation in multiple communities, but responds to them creatively by enduring the moral perplexity of competing communal claims. I conclude by initiating a constructive account of conscience that follows from this agreement. Conscience is more ecological than dialogical because it regards our creative participation in multiple ecologies of social roles oriented by patterns of responsive relations. (shrink)
This article focuses on George Herbert Mead's life and his philosophy of the act. Mead divides the act into four stages: impulse, perception, manipulation, and consummation. The impulse sets the organism in motion, whereas consummation marks the satisfaction of the desire that initiated the act. Hence, consummation brings the act to a close. This should not be taken as a linear chain of responses to neatly self-contained problematic situations. Organisms often multitask, and problematic situations are typically nested, as when (...) an animal in its search for food is being attacked by a predator. (shrink)
This paper discusses George John Romanes’ (1848-1894) contributions to evolution theory. In his early evolutionary work, Romanes could be regarded as a mere disciple and collaborator of Darwin. Strictly speaking, a follower of Darwin would only attempt to develop and to diffuse Darwin’s ideas, to apply them to new cases, to obtain new evidence for this theory and to answer to problems and objections against Darwin’s theory. However, after working for some time under Darwin’s guidance (for instance, trying to (...) provide an experimental foundation for the hypothesis of pangenesis), Romanes adopted another strategy. As several other so-called Darwinians of the late 19th century, he endeavored to correct and to complement Darwin’s theory, with the introduction of new concepts and hypotheses (especially his “physiological selection”). Romanes’ new attitude might be regarded as an effort to step out of Darwin’s shadow and to exhibit his own brightness. Besides that, Romanes strove to undermine the work of other Darwinians that aimed at similar goals. (shrink)
The life of George Price (1922-1975), the eccentric polymath genius and father of the Price equation, is used as a prism and counterpoint through which to consider an age-old evolutionary conundrum: the origins of altruism. This biographical project, and biography and history more generally, are considered in terms of the possibility of using form to convey content in particular ways. Closer to an art form than a science, this approach to scholarship presents both a unique challenge and promise.
Existe já uma grande quantidade de literatura dedicada à presença na filosofia inicial de Berkeley de alguns assuntos tipicamente platônicos (arquétipos, o problema da mente de Deus, a relaçáo entre ideias e coisas, etc.). Baseados em alguns desses escritos, nas próprias palavras de Berkeley, assim como no exame de alguns elementos da tradiçáo platônica num amplo sentido, sugiro que, longe de serem apenas tópicos isolados, livremente espalhados nos primeiros escritos de Berkeley, eles formam uma perfeita rede de aspectos, atitudes e (...) modos de pensar platônicos, e que, por mais alusivos ou ambíguos que esses elementos platônicos possam parecer, eles constituem um todo coerente e complexo, desempenhando um papel importante na formaçáo da própria essência do pensamento de Berkeley. Em outras palavras, sugiro que, dadas algumas das ideias apresentadas em suas primeiras obras, foi de certo modo inevitável para George Berkeley, em virtude da lógica interna do desenvolvimento de seu pensamento, chegar a uma obra táo abertamente platônica e especulativa como Siris (1744). (shrink)
Philosopher, poet, literary and cultural critic, George Santayana is a principal figure in Classical American Philosophy. His naturalism and emphasis on creative imagination were harbingers of important intellectual turns on both sides of the Atlantic. He was a naturalist before naturalism grew popular; he appreciated multiple perfections before multiculturalism became an issue; he thought of philosophy as literature before it became a theme in American and European scholarly circles; and he managed to naturalize Platonism, update Aristotle, fight off idealisms, (...) and provide a striking and sensitive account of the spiritual life without being a religious believer. His Hispanic heritage, shaded by his sense of being an outsider in America, captures many qualities of American life missed by insiders, and presents views equal to Tocqueville in quality and importance. Beyond philosophy, only Emerson may match his literary production. As a public figure, he appeared on the front cover of Time (3 February 1936), and his autobiography (Persons and Places, 1944) and only novel (The Last Puritan, 1936) were the best-selling books in the United States as Book-of-the-Month Club selections. The novel was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and Edmund Wilson ranked Persons and Places among the few first-rate autobiographies, comparing it favorably to Yeats's memoirs, The Education of Henry Adams, and Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. Remarkably, Santayana achieved this stature in American thought without being an American citizen. He proudly retained his Spanish citizenship throughout his life. Yet, as he readily admitted, it is as an American that his philosophical and literary corpuses are to be judged. Using contemporary classifications, Santayana is the first and foremost Hispanic-American philosopher. (shrink)