An interview with Hasok Chang, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the publication of his book Is Water H2O?, which won the Fernando Gil International Prize for the Philosophy of Science. So far, the last work of prof. Changa is a book of Realism for Realistic People. A New Pragmatist Philosophy of Science, published in late 2022 by Cambridge University Press.
The paper discusses some of the poorly explored links between the conceptual systems of logic in Kurt Gödel, the theory of automata in Alan Turing, and the theory of self-reproducing automata in John von Neumann. Traditional controversies are left aside (especially the opposition of Gödel and Turing in the view of mind) and attention is focused on the similarities between all three authors. In individual chapters, the text deals with: the form of differentiation of syntax and semantics in formal system (...) in Gödel, Turing and von Neumann; von Neumann’s variant of Gödel’s theorem and von Neumann’s and Gödel’s conception of Turing machine; and finally the same basis of the view of the relation between mind and automaton in all three authors. (shrink)
This paper explores the subjective psychophysiological research of the so-called subjective audition conducted by the Czech physician and endocrinologist Stanislav Vomela in the 1930s. It examines Vomela’s attempts to analyze his own peculiar experience of hearing what he called subjective music (music heard only by the subject) and introduces the concept of acousmatics Vomela developed to study this kind of auditory perception. Vomela’s methodology is studied against the background of J. E. Purkyně’s understanding of the subjective empiricist methodology of self-knowing (...) in the physiology of the senses and in the context of research into eidetic imagery by E. R. Jaensch and Victor Urbantschitsch. (shrink)
We compare two well-known set-theoretical statements, namely the axiom of choice and the continuum hypothesis, with regard to their historical development and formulation, as well as their consequences in mathematics. It is known that both statements are independent from the other axioms of set theory (if they are consistent). The axiom of choice – despite initial controversies – is today almost universally accepted as an axiom. However, the status of the continuum hypothesis is more complex and no agreement has been (...) found so far: both the continuum hypothesis and its negation (often as consequences of stronger statements) decide several mathematical problems differently, but in contrast with the axiom of choice it is not clear which of the two solutions should be the “correct” one (in the sense of an agreement within the community). (shrink)
This paper examines the methodological propositions of Quentin Skinner, whose influence on intellectual history, including the history and philosophy of science (HPS), cannot be disregarded. It is well known that Skinner’s method is based on John L. Austin’s theory of speech acts. Nonetheless, the very idea of applying ordinary language philosophy to the subject matter of history rests on other assumptions that form Skinner’s philosophy of historiography. The paper focuses on reconstructing this philosophy of historiography and especially on R. G. (...) Collingwood as a primary source of inspiration. This famous British philosopher, historian, and archaeologist authored many inspirational texts concerning the historical craft. The complex and sometimes contradictory structure of his posthumously published texts requires careful interpretation, and many philosophers see Collingwood as an obscure thinker. The paper argues that even though Skinner openly denounces Collingwood’s central concept of re-enactment, his philosophy of historiography is deeply influenced by a specific understanding of Collingwood’s legacy. (shrink)
What are philosophers doing when they prescribe a particular epistemology for science? According to science and technology studies, the answer to this question implicates both knowledge and politics, even when the latter is hidden. Exploring this dynamic via a specific case, I argue that Longino’s “critical contextual empiricism” ultimately relies on a form of political liberalism. Her choice to nevertheless foreground epistemological concerns can be clarified by considering historical relationships between science and society, as well as the culture of academic (...) philosophy. This example, I conclude, challenges philosophers of science to consider the political ideals and accountability entailed by their prescribed knowledge practices. (shrink)
Cantor's diagonal proof is significant both because the central method of proof used in it has been subsequently applied in a number of other proofs, and because it is considered to confirm the existence of infinite sets whose size fun damentally and by an order of magnitude exceeds the size of the "classical" infinite set represented by all natural numbers, while their size can theoretically exceed every conceivable limit. Although Cantor's proof is generally accepted by the scientific community, some experts (...) are somewhat reserved about it. The aim of this paper is to present Cantor's proof in an accessible way, while pointing out its (hidden) assumptions and possible problematic points, and pointing out that some of its underlying assumptions are not indisputable mathematical truths, but rather postulated propositions that may or may not be accepted. (shrink)