This volume contains 17 articles on various aspects of Islamic thought in the Middle East and in Southeast Asia. The first 9 articles concentrate especially on the Qur’ān and its exegesis, Kalām and Sufism; the second 8 articles deal with Javanese Islam, and with Islam and modernity in Southeast Asia.
There is a long history of philosophical intuition that the human mind must be more than physical or mechanical. I argue that this intuition arises from the perfect “transparency” of physical and mechanical states, in the sense that such states have no obscure or occult elements, but are fully intelligible in mathematical terms. In the paper, I derive a contradiction from the claim that such a physical system has genuine intentionality, comparable with an intelligent human. The contradiction arises from the (...) fact that, according to physicalism, the physical properties of a brain state determine the narrow propositional content of any conscious thought occurring in that state. This fact allows a physical property of brain states to be defined using Cantor’s diagonal construction, and then a contradiction results if a physical system is assumed to form thoughts involving that property. (shrink)
The Principle of Indifference, which dictates that we ought to assign two outcomes equal probability in the absence of known reasons to do otherwise, is vulnerable to well-known objections. Nevertheless, the appeal of the principle, and of symmetry-based assignments of equal probability, persists. We show that, relative to a given class of symmetries satisfying certain properties, we are justified in calling certain outcomes equally probable, and more generally, in defining what we call relative probabilities. Relative probabilities are useful in providing (...) a generalized approach to conditionalization. The technique is illustrated by application to simple examples. (shrink)
This paper explores the American bankruptcy system -- especially the Chapter 11 code -- which since 1978 has allowed insolvent companies the opportunity to restructure and reorganise with the benefit of court protection from creditors. Particular attention is focused on asbestos companies, such as Johns--Manville, which have been among the most consistent and controversial filers for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. The history of asbestos and Chapter 11 is explored, against the backdrop of the burgeoning asbestos crisis, caused by increasing (...) mortality and litigation. Some of the business and ethical issues involved are highlighted by examining in detail a recent bankruptcy (Federal Mogul/T&N in 2001) that has implications in both Britain and America. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is evaluated, particularly in the light of the trend towards similar mechanisms of insolvency in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. It is concluded that, certainly as regards the experience with asbestos, Chapter 11 offers an inefficient and inequitable method of rehabilitating or rescuing failing businesses. (shrink)
Epistemic theories of objective chance hold that chances are idealised epistemic probabilities of some sort. After giving a brief history of this approach to objective chance, I argue for a particular version of this view, that the chance of an event E is its epistemic probability, given maximal knowledge of the possible causes of E. The main argument for this view is the demonstration that it entails all of the commonly-accepted properties of chance. For example, this analysis entails that chances (...) supervene on the physical facts, that the chance function is an expert probability, that the existence of stable frequencies results from invariant chances in repeated experiments, and that chances are probably close to long-run relative frequencies in repeated experiments. Despite these virtues, the epistemic approach to chance have been neglected in recent decades, on account of their conflict with accepted views about closely related topics such as causation, laws of nature, and epistemic probability. However, existing views on these topics are also very problematic, and I believe that the epistemic view of chance is a key piece of this puzzle that, once in place, allows all the other pieces to fit together into a new and coherent way. I also respond to some criticisms of the epistemic theory that I favour. (shrink)
A theory of objective, single-case chances is presented and defended. The theory states that the chance of an event E is its epistemic probability, given maximal knowledge of the possible causes of E. This theory is uniquely successful in entailing all the known properties of chance, but involves heavy metaphysical commitment. It requires an objective rationality that determines proper degrees of belief in some contexts.
There is presently considerable interest in the phenomenon of "self-organisation" in dynamical systems. The rough idea of self-organisation is that a structure appears "by itself in a dynamical system, with reasonably high probability, in a reasonably short time, with no help from a special initial state, or interaction with an external system. What is often missed, however, is that the standard evolutionary account of the origin of multi-cellular life fits this definition, so that higher living organisms are also products of (...) self-organisation. Very few kinds of object can selforganise, and the question of what such objects are like is a suitable mathematical problem. Extending the familiar notion of algorithmic complexity into the context of dynamical systems, we obtain a notion of "dynamical complexity". A simple theorem then shows that only objects of very low dynamical complexity can self organise, so that living organisms must be of low dynamical complexity. On the other hand, symmetry considerations suggest that living organisms are highly complex, relative to the dynamical laws, due to their large size and high degree of irregularity. In particular, it is shown that since dynamical laws operate locally, and do not vary across space and time, they cannot produce any specific large and irregular structure with high probability in a short time. These arguments suggest that standard evolutionary theories of the origin of higher organisms are incomplete. (shrink)
What I’m calling “Subjective Logic” is a new approach to logic. Fundamentally it is a theory about what sentences mean, i.e. a theory of the proposition, but it includes an account of logical consequence, the propositional connectives, probability, and the nature of truth.
The Luck Argument seems to show that libertarianism is false, since indeterministic free will is impossible. We should be wary of this argument, however, since a very similar argument shows that indeterministic causation1 is impossible. Further, since chancy events require causes, but are not determined, it would also follow that chancy events do not exist. If we are to conclude that free actions are all deterministic (or nonexistent), then the same reasoning should also persuade us that events with physical chances (...) do not exist. The Luck Argument, in its various formulations, assumes that a human being, like any physical system, has a set of complete (or exact, or precise) possible states. The same assumption drives the similar argument against indeterministic causation. This spells disaster for both free actions and chancy events, as these require causes. The assumption that physical systems have precise states should therefore be subjected to the closest scrutiny, which is not usually the case. On the contrary, it enjoys a wide and uncritical acceptance. (shrink)
The term “spontaneous self-organisation” (SSO for short) is used to describe the emergence of an object or structure “by itself” within a dynamical system. While usage of the term will no doubt vary somewhat, in this paper I will take it to have three key features: 1. The appearance of the object does not require a special, “fine-tuned” initial state. 2. There is no need for interaction with an external system. 3. The object is likely to appear in a reasonably (...) short time. The first two conditions say that the object arises from the dynamics of the system alone, without any help. The third condition says that, for an object s to appear by spontaneous self-organisation, its appearance should not just a matter of dumb luck (e.g. a monkey with a typewriter just happening to produce Hamlet), nor just from waiting long enough (e.g. a monkey typing for long enough that Hamlet was likely to appear), or any combination of the two. What is “reasonably short” in this context? The time needed for spontaneous self-organisation should be much shorter than the expected time required to assemble the object purely at random from its components. Note that, for very large and intricate systems, the random-assembly time will be unimaginably vast, so that the appearance of such objects in merely billions of years will count as spontaneous self-organisation. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide a mathematical basis for the plausible idea that regular dynamical laws can only produce (quickly and reliably) regular structures. Thus the actual laws, which are regular, can only produce regular objects, like crystals, and not irregular ones, like living organisms.
The basic disagreement between Richard Shiff and me is one of approach and ultimately of intellectual taste. What I tried to do in “Painting memories” was read Charles Baudelaire’s Salon of 1846 with a view to construing its central argument as rigorously as possible, which for me meant without appealing, except in one crucial, authorized instance, to other writings by Baudelaire or indeed anyone else. This seemed to me desirable, first, because on the strength of a long familiarity with (...) the Salon of 1846 I had become convinced that it was not the fragmented, somewhat incoherent, less than fully mature performance that many previous commentators had taken it to be but rather that it possessed a problematic consistency, even systematicness, which I wanted to explore; and second, because I had come to feel that one of the principal sources of the dreariness and predictability of much exegesis not only of that Salon but of Baudelaire’s art criticism generally was the tendency of many commentators to treat his art writing as a single, barely differentiated mass, to be supplemented when desired by selected passages from the lyric poems. Let me be as clear as I can. I am not claiming that the only fruitful approach to Baudelaire’s art criticism is to consider each of his writings in isolation from the rest. I am saying that the widespread tendency to read a particular Salon or article on the visual arts in the light of others has meant that insufficient attention has been paid to the workings of individual texts, with dismaying consequences both for our understanding of those texts and for our sense of the shape of Baudelaire’s intellectual career. Michael Fried, professor of humanities and the history of art and director of the Humanities Center at the Johns Hopkins University, is the author of Morris Louis and Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot. He is currently at work on books on Gustave Courbet and on Thomas Eakins and Stephen Crane. His most recent contributions to Critical Inquiry are “The Structure of Beholding in Courbet’s Burial at Ornans” and “Paitnig Memories: On the Containment of the Past in Baudelaire and Manet”. (shrink)
Lawful patterns in an orderless universe Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9615-4 Authors Alexander Reutlinger, Department of Philosophy, University of Cologne, Richard-Strauss-Str. 2, 50931 Koln, Germany Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.