This book pursues the question of how and whether natural language allows for reference to abstract objects in a fully systematic way. By making full use of contemporary linguistic semantics, it presents a much greater range of linguistic generalizations than has previously been taken into consideration in philosophical discussions, and it argues for an ontological picture is very different from that generally taken for granted by philosophers and semanticists alike. Reference to abstract objects such as properties, numbers, propositions, and degrees (...) is considerably more marginal than generally held. (shrink)
In this book, Zalta attempts to lay the axiomatic foundations of metaphysics by developing and applying a (formal) theory of abstract objects. The cornerstones include a principle which presents precise conditions under which there are abstract objects and a principle which says when apparently distinct such objects are in fact identical. The principles are constructed out of a basic set of primitive notions, which are identified at the end of the Introduction, just before the theorizing begins. The main reason for (...) producing a theory which defines a logical space of abstract objects is that it may have a great deal of explanatory power. It is hoped that the data explained by means of the theory will be of interest to pure and applied metaphysicians, logicians and linguists, and pure and applied epistemologists. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have recently suggested that some abstract, plausibly non-causal and/or mathematical, explanations explain in a way that is radically dif- ferent from the way causal explanation explain. Namely, while causal explanations explain by providing information about causal dependence, allegedly some abstract explanations explain in a way tied to the independence of the explanandum from the microdetails, or causal laws, for example. We oppose this recent trend to regard abstractions as explanatory in some sui generis way, and argue (...) that a prominent ac- count of causal explanation can be naturally extended to capture explanations that radically abstract away from microphysical and causal-nomological details. To this end, we distinguish di erent senses in which an explanation can be more or less abstract, and analyse the connection between explanations’ abstractness and their explanatory power. According to our analysis abstract explanations have much in common with counterfactual causal explanations. (shrink)
The need for quantitative measurement represents a unifying bond that links all the physical, biological, and social sciences. Measurements of such disparate phenomena as subatomic masses, uncertainty, information, and human values share common features whose explication is central to the achievement of foundational work in any particular mathematical science as well as for the development of a coherent philosophy of science. This book presents a theory of measurement, one that is "abstract" in that it is concerned with highly general axiomatizations (...) of empirical and qualitative settings and how these can be represented quantitatively. It was inspired by, and represents a generalization and extension of, the last major research work in this field, Foundations of Measurement Vol. I, by Krantz, Luce, Suppes, and Tversky published in 1971. (shrink)
An abstract framework for structured arguments is presented, which instantiates Dung's ('On the Acceptability of Arguments and its Fundamental Role in Nonmonotonic Reasoning, Logic Programming, and n- Person Games', Artificial Intelligence , 77, 321-357) abstract argumentation frameworks. Arguments are defined as inference trees formed by applying two kinds of inference rules: strict and defeasible rules. This naturally leads to three ways of attacking an argument: attacking a premise, attacking a conclusion and attacking an inference. To resolve such attacks, preferences may (...) be used, which leads to three corresponding kinds of defeat: undermining, rebutting and undercutting defeats. The nature of the inference rules, the structure of the logical language on which they operate and the origin of the preferences are, apart from some basic assumptions, left unspecified. The resulting framework integrates work of Pollock, Vreeswijk and others on the structure of arguments and the nature of defeat and extends it in several respects. Various rationality postulates are proved to be satisfied by the framework, and several existing approaches are proved to be a special case of the framework, including assumption-based argumentation and DefLog. (shrink)
This article focuses on a case that expert practitioners count as an explanation: a mathematical account of Plateau’s laws for soap films. I argue that this example falls into a class of explanations that I call abstract explanations.explanations involve an appeal to a more abstract entity than the state of affairs being explained. I show that the abstract entity need not be causally relevant to the explanandum for its features to be explanatorily relevant. However, it remains unclear how to unify (...) abstract and causal explanations as instances of a single sort of thing. I conclude by examining the implications of the claim that explanations require objective dependence relations. If this claim is accepted, then there are several kinds of objective dependence relations. 1 Introduction2 A Case3 Abstract and Causal Explanations4 Recent Work on Mathematical Explanation5 Explanation and Dependence6 Conclusion. (shrink)
In artificial intelligence, recent research has demonstrated the remarkable potential of Deep Convolutional Neural Networks (DCNNs), which seem to exceed state-of-the-art performance in new domains weekly, especially on the sorts of very difficult perceptual discrimination tasks that skeptics thought would remain beyond the reach of artificial intelligence. However, it has proven difficult to explain why DCNNs perform so well. In philosophy of mind, empiricists have long suggested that complex cognition is based on information derived from sensory experience, often appealing to (...) a faculty of abstraction. Rationalists have frequently complained, however, that empiricists never adequately explained how this faculty of abstraction actually works. In this paper, I tie these two questions together, to the mutual benefit of both disciplines. I argue that the architectural features that distinguish DCNNs from earlier neural networks allow them to implement a form of hierarchical processing that I call “transformational abstraction”. Transformational abstraction iteratively converts sensory-based representations of category exemplars into new formats that are increasingly tolerant to “nuisance variation” in input. Reflecting upon the way that DCNNs leverage a combination of linear and non-linear processing to efficiently accomplish this feat allows us to understand how the brain is capable of bi-directional travel between exemplars and abstractions, addressing longstanding problems in empiricist philosophy of mind. I end by considering the prospects for future research on DCNNs, arguing that rather than simply implementing 80s connectionism with more brute-force computation, transformational abstraction counts as a qualitatively distinct form of processing ripe with philosophical and psychological significance, because it is significantly better suited to depict the generic mechanism responsible for this important kind of psychological processing in the brain. (shrink)
Abstract creationism about fictional characters is the view that fictional characters are abstract objects that authors create. I defend this view against criticisms from Stuart Brock that hitherto have not been adequately countered. The discussion sheds light on how the number of fictional characters depends on authorial intention. I conclude also that we should change how we think intentions are connected to artifacts more generally, both abstract and concrete.
Think of a number, any number, or properties like fragility and humanity. These and other abstract entities are radically different from concrete entities like electrons and elbows. While concrete entities are located in space and time, have causes and effects, and are known through empirical means, abstract entities like meanings and possibilities are remarkably different. They seem to be immutable and imperceptible and to exist "outside" of space and time. This book provides a comprehensive critical assessment of the problems raised (...) by abstract entities and the debates about existence, truth, and knowledge that surround them. It sets out the key issues that inform the metaphysical disagreement between platonists who accept abstract entities and nominalists who deny abstract entities exist. Beginning with the essentials of the platonist–nominalist debate, it explores the key arguments and issues informing the contemporary debate over abstract reality: arguments for platonism and their connections to semantics, science, and metaphysical explanation the abstract–concrete distinction and views about the nature of abstract reality epistemological puzzles surrounding our knowledge of mathematical entities and other abstract entities. arguments for nominalism premised upon concerns about paradox, parsimony, infinite regresses, underdetermination, and causal isolation nominalist options that seek to dispense with abstract entities. Including chapter summaries, annotated further reading, and a glossary, _Entities_ is essential reading for anyone seeking a clear and authoritative introduction to the problems raised by abstract entities. (shrink)
It is widely supposed that every entity falls into one of twocategories: Some are concrete; the rest abstract. The distinction issupposed to be of fundamental significance for metaphysics andepistemology. This article surveys a number of recent attempts to sayhow it should be drawn.
We characterize abstraction in computer science by first comparing the fundamental nature of computer science with that of its cousin mathematics. We consider their primary products, use of formalism, and abstraction objectives, and find that the two disciplines are sharply distinguished. Mathematics, being primarily concerned with developing inference structures, has information neglect as its abstraction objective. Computer science, being primarily concerned with developing interaction patterns, has information hiding as its abstraction objective. We show that abstraction (...) through information hiding is a primary factor in computer science progress and success through an examination of the ubiquitous role of information hiding in programming languages, operating systems, network architecture, and design patterns. (shrink)
Some philosophers have recently suggested that the reason mathematics is useful in science is that it expands our expressive capacities. Of these philosophers, only Stephen Yablo has put forward a detailed account of how mathematics brings this advantage. In this article, I set out Yablo’s view and argue that it is implausible. Then, I introduce a simpler account and show it is a serious rival to Yablo’s. 1 Introduction2 Yablo’s Expressionism3 Psychological Objections to Yablo’s Expressionism4 Introducing Belief Expressionism5 Objections and (...) Replies5.1 Yablo’s likely response5.2 Charity6 Conclusion. (shrink)
Neologicists have sought to ground mathematical knowledge in abstraction. One especially obstinate problem for this account is the bad company problem. The leading neologicist strategy for resolving this problem is to attempt to sift the good abstraction principles from the bad. This response faces a dilemma: the system of ‘good’ abstraction principles either falls foul of the Scylla of inconsistency or the Charybdis of being unable to recover a modest portion of Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory with its intended (...) generality. This article argues that the bad company problem is due to the ‘static’ character of abstraction on the neologicist's account and develops a ‘dynamic’ account of abstraction that avoids both horns of the dilemma. 1 Introduction2ion Reconstructed3 From Bad to Worse4 Abstraction Reconceived5 Bad Company Made GoodA AppendixA.1SemanticsA.2LogicA.3ConsistencyA.4Strength. (shrink)
Theories of explanation need to account for a puzzling feature of our explanatory practices: the fact that we prefer explanations that are relatively abstract but only moderately so. Contra Franklin-Hall (), I argue that the interventionist account of explanation provides a natural and elegant explanation of this fact. By striking the right balance between specificity and generality, moderately abstract explanations optimally subserve what interventionists regard as the goal of explanation, namely identifying possible interventions that would have changed the explanandum.
Invariantists argue that the notion of concept in psychology should be reserved for knowledge that is retrieved in a context-insensitive manner. Contextualists argue that concepts are to be understood in terms of context-sensitive ad hoc constructions. I review the central empirical evidence for and against both views and show that their conclusions are based on a common mischaracterization of both theories. When the difference between contextualism and invariantism is properly understood, it becomes apparent that the way the question of stability (...) is currently investigated will not lead to a consensus. Instead of focusing directly on stability, we should turn our attention to other desiderata on a theory of concepts. In particular, I show that invariantism, but not contextualism, fails to account for compositionality and abstract concepts. (shrink)
Abstract rationality has increasingly been a target of attack in contemporary educational research and practice and in its place practical reason and situated thinking have become a focus of interest. The argument here is that something is lost in this. In illustrating how we might think about the issue, this paper makes a response to the charge that as a result of his commitment to the ‘Enlightenment project’ Vygotsky holds abstract rationality as the pinnacle of thought. Against this it is (...) argued that Vygotsky had a far more sophisticated appreciation of reason and of its remit. The paper proceeds first by examining the picture of Vygotsky that is presented in the work of James Wertsch, and especially his claim that Vygotsky was an ambivalent rationalist, goes on to provide an account of Vygotsky that corrects this picture, and develops this in the light of the work of Robert Brandom, who shares Vygotsky’s inheritance of Hegel. The conclusion towards which this piece points is that the philosophical underpinnings of Vygotsky’s work provide a radically different idea of rationality and epistemology from that characterised as abstract rationality and that this has significance for education studies. (shrink)
Philosophers have often claimed that general ideas or representations have their origin in abstraction, but it remains unclear exactly what abstraction as a psychological process consists in. We argue that the Lockean aspiration of using abstraction to explain the origins of all general representations cannot work and that at least some general representations have to be innate. We then offer an explicit framework for understanding abstraction, one that treats abstraction as a computational process that operates (...) over an innate quality space of fine-grained general representations. We argue that this framework has important philosophical implications for the nativism-empiricism dispute, for questions about the acquisition of unstructured representations, and for questions about the relation between human and animal minds. (shrink)
argumentation has been shown to be a powerful tool within many fields such as artificial intelligence, logic and legal reasoning. In this paper we enhance Dung’s well-known abstract argumentation framework with explanatory capabilities. We show that an explanatory argumentation framework (EAF) obtained in this way is a useful tool for the modeling of scientific debates. On the one hand, EAFs allow for the representation of explanatory and justificatory arguments constituting rivaling scientific views. On the other hand, different procedures for selecting (...) arguments, corresponding to different methodological and epistemic requirements of theory evaluation, can be formulated in view of our framework. (shrink)
Kit Fine develops a Fregean theory of abstraction, and suggests that it may yield a new philosophical foundation for mathematics, one that can account for both our reference to various mathematical objects and our knowledge of various mathematical truths. The Limits ofion breaks new ground both technically and philosophically.
objects are standardly taken to be causally inert, but this claim is rarely explicitly argued for. In the context of his platonism about musical works, in order for musical works to be audible, Julian Dodd argues that abstracta are causally efficacious in virtue of their concrete tokens participating in events. I attempt to provide a principled argument for the causal inertness of abstracta by first rejecting Dodd’s arguments from events, and then extending and generalizing the causal exclusion argument to the (...) abstract/concrete distinction. For reasons of parsimony, if concrete tokens or instantiations of abstract objects account for all causal work, then there is no reason to attribute causal efficacy to abstracta, and thus reason to maintain their causal inertness. I then consider how one of the main arguments against causal exclusion, namely Stephen Yablo’s notion of “proportionality”, could be modified to support the causal efficacy of abstracta. I argue that from a few simple premises Yablo’s account in fact supports their causal inertness. Having a principled reason for the causal inertness of abstracta appears to entail that the musical platonist must admit that we never literally hear the musical work, but only its performances. I sketch a solution to this problem available to Dodd, so that the musical platonist can maintain that musical works are abstract objects and are causally inert while retaining their audibility. (shrink)
The neo-Fregean program in the philosophy of mathematics seeks a foundation for a substantial part of mathematics in abstraction principles—for example, Hume’s Principle: The number of Fs D the number of Gs iff the Fs and Gs correspond one-one—which can be regarded as implicitly definitional of fundamental mathematical concepts—for example, cardinal number. This paper considers what kind of abstraction principle might serve as the basis for a neo- Fregean set theory. Following a brief review of the main difficulties (...) confronting the most widely discussed proposal to date—replacing Frege’s inconsistent Basic Law V by Boolos’s New V which restricts concepts whose extensions obey the principle of extensionality to those which are small in the sense of being smaller than the universe—the paper canvasses an alternative way of implementing the limitation of size idea and explores the kind of restrictions which would be required for it to avoid collapse. (shrink)
Although Burke, Bentham, Hegel and Marx do not often agree, all criticized certain ethical theories, in particular theories of rights, for being too abstract . The complaint is still popular. It was common in Existentialist and in Wittgensteinian writing that stressed the importance of cases and examples rather than principles for the moral life; it has been prominent in recent Hegelian and Aristotelian flavoured writing, which stresses the importance of the virtues; it is reiterated in discussions that stress the distinctiveness (...) and particularity of moral vicissitudes and query the importance of ethical theory. Recent critics of abstraction are opposed not only to theories of rights, and the Kantian notions with which these are linked, but also to consequentialist ethical theories. The two ethical theories that are most influential in the English-speaking world now both stand accused of being too abstract. (shrink)
In the recent literature on causal and non-causal scientific explanations, there is an intuitive assumption according to which an explanation is non-causal by virtue of being abstract. In this context, to be ‘abstract’ means that the explanans in question leaves out many or almost all causal microphysical details of the target system. After motivating this assumption, we argue that the abstractness assumption, in placing the abstract and the causal character of an explanation in tension, is misguided in ways that are (...) independent of which view of causation or causal explanation one takes to be most accurate. On major accounts of causation, as well as on major accounts of causal explanation, the abstractness of an explanation is not sufficient for it being non-causal. That is, explanations are not non-causal by dint of being abstract. (shrink)
Libertarianism—and classical liberalism generally—presupposes (or entails) a specific, but implicit, conception of liberty. Imagine two lists of property-rights: one list is all those that are libertarian; the other list is all those that are not. What determines into which list a property-right is assigned? If libertarianism is really about liberty, then the determining factor must be whether the property-right fits what liberty is in a more abstract sense. It greatly clarifies matters to have an explicit theory of this presupposed conception (...) of abstract liberty and how it relates to its practical application and morality. This can be distinguished into five stages. (shrink)
We provide an explicit taxonomy of legitimate kinds of abstraction within constitutive explanation. We argue that abstraction is an inherent aspect of adequate mechanistic explanation. Mechanistic explanations—even ideally complete ones—typically involve many kinds of abstraction and therefore do not require maximal detail. Some kinds of abstraction play the ontic role of identifying the specific complex components, subsets of causal powers, and organizational relations that produce a suitably general phenomenon. Therefore, abstract constitutive explanations are both legitimate and (...) mechanistic. (shrink)
Several modern accounts of explanation acknowledge the importance of abstraction and idealization for our explanatory practice. However, once we allow a role for abstraction, questions remain. I ask whether the relation between explanations at different theoretical levels should be thought of wholly in terms of abstraction, and argue that changes of the quantities in terms of which we describe a system can lead to novel explanations that are not merely abstractions of some more detailed picture. I use (...) the example of phase transitions as described by statistical mechanics and thermodynamics to illustrate this, and to demonstrate some details of the relationship between abstraction, idealization, and novel explanation. (shrink)
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explain how abstract space of the State – universally and specifically within the context of Middle Eastern cities – aims to homogenise the city and eliminate any anomaly that threatens its power structure. Design/methodology/approach – Through a historical and discourse analysis of these policies and processes in the two case studies, this paper presents a contextualised reading of Lefebvre’s concept of abstract space and process of abstraction in relation to the (...) alienation of political public spaces. Findings – The paper proposes that regardless of these homogenising strategies being applied universally, they fail to respond to contextual particularities and therefore they – in a contradictory manner – may themselves produce a space of resistance and difference. Originality/value – This paper focusses on Iran, the case of Tehran and Turkey, the case of Taksim Square and Gezi Park in Istanbul. Recent policies and strategies have been proposed and implemented to reduce, alienate and possibly neutralise the impacts of urban and political protests in these cities and socio-political contexts. (shrink)
Awareness is a two-place determinable relation some determinates of which are seeing, hearing, etc. Abstract objects are items such as universals and functions, which contrast with concrete objects such as solids and liquids. It is uncontroversial that we are sometimes aware of concrete objects. In this paper I explore the more controversial topic of awareness of abstract objects. I distinguish two questions. First, the Existence Question: are there any experiences that make their subjects aware of abstract objects? Second, the Grounding (...) Question: if an experience makes its subject aware of an abstract object, in virtue of what does it do so? I defend the view that intuitions, specifically mathematical intuitions, sometimes make their subjects aware of abstract objects. In defending this view, I develop an account of the ground of intuitive awareness. (shrink)
Software is a ubiquitous artifact, yet not much has been done to understand its ontological nature. There are a few accounts offered so far about the nature of software. I argue that none of those accounts give a plausible picture of the nature of software. I draw attention to the striking similarities between software and musical works. These similarities motivate to look more closely on the discussions regarding the nature of the musical works. With the lessons drawn from the ontology (...) of musical works I offer a novel account of the nature of software. In this account, software is an abstract artifact. I elaborate the conditions under which software comes into existence; how it persists; how and on which entities its existence depends. (shrink)
concepts typically are defined in terms of lacking physical or perceptual referents. We argue instead that they are not devoid of perceptual information because knowledge of real-world situations is an important component of learning and using many abstract concepts. Although the relationship between perceptual information and abstract concepts is less straightforward than for concrete concepts, situation-based perceptual knowledge is part of many abstract concepts. In Experiment 1, participants made lexical decisions to abstract words that were preceded by related and unrelated (...) pictures of situations. For example, share was preceded by a picture of two girls sharing a cob of corn. When pictures were presented for 500 ms, latencies did not differ. However, when pictures were presented for 1,000 ms, decision latencies were significantly shorter for abstract words preceded by related versus unrelated pictures. Because the abstract concepts corresponded to the pictured situation as a whole, rather than a single concrete object or entity, the necessary relational processing takes time. In Experiment 2, on each trial, an abstract word was presented for 250 ms, immediately followed by a picture. Participants indicated whether or not the picture showed a normal situation. Decision latencies were significantly shorter for pictures preceded by related versus unrelated abstract words. Our experiments provide evidence that knowledge of events and situations is important for learning and using at least some types of abstract concepts. That is, abstract concepts are grounded in situations, but in a more complex manner than for concrete concepts. Although people's understanding of abstract concepts certainly includes knowledge gained from language describing situations and events for which those concepts are relevant, sensory and motor information experienced during real-life events is important as well. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore a line of argument against one form of realism about fictional characters : abstract artifact theory, the view according to which fictional characters like Harry Potter are part of our reality, but, they are abstract objects created by humans, akin to the institution of marriage and the game of soccer. I will defend artifactualism against an objection that Mark Sainsbury considers decisive against it: the category-mistake objection. The objection has it that artifactualism attributes to people (...) who produce and process sentences and thoughts about Harry Potter massive error, indeed, a category mistake about what kind of thing Harry Potter is; for an abstract object isn’t the sort of thing that can wear glasses, ride a double-decker bus, attend school. Given problems with this objection, artifactualism, I shall conclude, remains a tenable contender. (shrink)
This article improves two existing theorems of interest to neologicist philosophers of mathematics. The first is a classification theorem due to Fine for equivalence relations between concepts definable in a well-behaved second-order logic. The improved theorem states that if an equivalence relation E is defined without nonlogical vocabulary, then the bicardinal slice of any equivalence class—those equinumerous elements of the equivalence class with equinumerous complements—can have one of only three profiles. The improvements to Fine’s theorem allow for an analysis of (...) the well-behaved models had by an abstraction principle, and this in turn leads to an improvement of Walsh and Ebels-Duggan’s relative categoricity theorem. (shrink)
Fine and Antonelli introduce two generalizations of permutation invariance — internal invariance and simple/double invariance respectively. After sketching reasons why a solution to the Bad Company problem might require that abstraction principles be invariant in one or both senses, I identify the most fine-grained abstraction principle that is invariant in each sense. Hume’s Principle is the most fine-grained abstraction principle invariant in both senses. I conclude by suggesting that this partially explains the success of Hume’s Principle, and (...) the comparative lack of success in reconstructing areas of mathematics other than arithmetic based on non-invariant abstraction principles. (shrink)
This paper presents a formalization of first-order arithmetic characterizing the natural numbers as abstracta of the equinumerosity relation. The formalization turns on the interaction of a nonstandard cardinality quantifier with an abstraction operator assigning objects to predicates. The project draws its philosophical motivation from a nonreductionist conception of logicism, a deflationary view of abstraction, and an approach to formal arithmetic that emphasizes the cardinal properties of the natural numbers over the structural ones.
How can a metaphysics of abstract entities be built upon a metaphysics of time? In this paper, I address the question of how to accommodate abstract entities in a presentist world. I consider both the traditional metaontological approach of unrestricted fundamental quantification and then ontological pluralism. I argue that under the former we need to impose two constraints in the characterization of presentism in order to avoid undesired commitments to abstract entities: we have to characterize presentism as a thesis only (...) about the concrete, and we also need to avoid the widely held distinction between tensed and tenseless senses of existence. Under ontological pluralism, instead, I argue that we can naturally accommodate any view of abstract objects in a presentist world. (shrink)
A general theory of logical oppositions is proposed by abstracting these from the Aristotelian background of quantified sentences. Opposition is a relation that goes beyond incompatibility (not being true together), and a question-answer semantics is devised to investigate the features of oppositions and opposites within a functional calculus. Finally, several theoretical problems about its applicability are considered.
While the fundamental laws of physics are time-reversal invariant, most macroscopic processes are irreversible. Given that the fundamental laws are taken to underpin all other processes, how can the fundamental time-symmetry be reconciled with the asymmetry manifest elsewhere? In statistical mechanics, progress can be made with this question. What I dub the ‘Zwanzig–Zeh–Wallace framework’ can be used to construct the irreversible equations of SM from the underlying microdynamics. Yet this framework uses coarse-graining, a procedure that has faced much criticism. I (...) focus on two objections in the literature: claims that coarse-graining makes time-asymmetry ‘illusory’ and ‘anthropocentric’. I argue that these objections arise from an unsatisfactory justification of coarse-graining prevalent in the literature, rather than from coarse-graining itself. This justification relies on the idea of measurement imprecision. By considering the role that abstraction and autonomy play, I provide an alternative justification and offer replies to the illusory and anthropocentric objections. Finally, I consider the broader consequences of this alternative justification: the connection to debates about inter-theoretic reduction and the implication that the time-asymmetry in SM is weakly emergent. 1Introduction 1.1Prospectus2The Zwanzig–Zeh–Wallace Framework3Why Does This Method Work? 3.1The special conditions account3.2When is a density forwards-compatible?4Anthropocentrism and Illusion: Two Objections 4.1The two objections in more detail4.2Against the justification by measurement imprecision5An Alternative Justification 5.1Abstraction and autonomy5.2An illustration: the Game of Life6Reply to Illusory7Reply to Anthropocentric8The Wider Landscape: Concluding Remarks 8.1Inter-theoretic relations8.2The nature of irreversibility. (shrink)
When creating theory to understand or implement change at the social and/or organizational level, it is generally accepted that part of the theory building process includes a process of abstraction. While the process of abstraction is well understood, it is not so well understood how abstractions “fit” together to enable the creation of better theory. Starting with a few simple ideas, this paper explores one way we work with abstractions. This exploration challenges the traditionally held importance of abstracting (...) concepts from experience. That traditional focus has been one-sided—pushing science toward the discovery of data without the balancing process that occurs with the integration of the data. Without such balance, the sciences have been pushed toward fragmentation. Instead, in the present paper, new emphasis is placed on the relationship between abstract concepts. Specifically, this paper suggests that a better theory is one that is constructed of concepts that exist on a similar level of abstraction. Suggestions are made for quantifying this claim and using the insights to enable scholars and practitioners to create more effective theory. (shrink)
What is the best way to analyse abstraction in scientific modelling? I propose to focus on abstracting as an epistemic activity, which is achieved in different ways and for different purposes depending on the actual circumstances of modelling and the features of the models in question. This is in contrast to a more conventional use of the term ‘abstract’ as an attribute of models, which I characterise as black-boxing the ways in which abstraction is performed and to which (...) epistemological advantage. I exemplify my claims through a detailed reconstruction of the practices involved in creating two types of models of the flowering plant Arabidopsisthaliana, currently the best-known model organism in plant biology. This leads me to distinguish between two types of abstraction processes: the ‘material abstracting’ required in the production of Arabidopsis specimens and the ‘intellectual abstracting’ characterising the elaboration of visual models of Arabidopsis genomics. Reflecting on the differences between these types of abstracting helps to pin down the epistemic skills and research commitments used by researchers to produce each model, thus clarifying how models are handled by researchers and with which epistemological implications. (shrink)
This article reconsiders Marx’s thinking on religion in light of current preoccupations with the encroachment of religious practices and beliefs into political life. It argues that Marx formulates a critique of the anticlerical and Enlightenment-critique of religion, in which he subsumes the secular repudiation of spiritual authority and religious transcendence into a broader analysis of the ‘real abstractions’ that dominate our social existence. The tools forged by Marx in his engagement with critiques of religious authority allow him to discern the (...) ‘religious’ and ‘transcendent’ dimension of state and capital, and may contribute to a contemporary investigation into the links between capitalism as a religion of everyday life and what Mike Davis has called the current ‘reenchantment of catastrophic modernity’. (shrink)
> Context • The alleged dichotomy between mind and matter is pervasive. Therefore, the attempt to explain mat- ter in terms of mind (idealism) is often considered a mirror image of that of explaining mind in terms of mat- ter (mainstream physicalism), in the sense of being structurally equivalent despite being reversely arranged. > Problem • I argue that this is an error arising from language artifacts, for dichotomies must reside in the same level of abstraction. > Method • (...) I show that, because matter outside mind is not an empirical observation but rather an explanatory model, the epistemic symmetry between the two is broken. Consequently, matter and mind cannot reside in the same level of abstraction. > Results • It then becomes clear that attempting to explain mind in terms of matter is epistemically more costly than attempting to explain matter in terms of mind. > Implications • The qualities of experience are suggested to be not only epistemically, but also ontologically primary. > Constructivist content • I high- light the primacy of perceptual constructs over explanatory abstraction on both epistemic and ontic levels. > Key words • Idealism, physicalism, pancomputationalism, anti-realism, hard problem of consciousness, epistemic symmetry, explanatory abstraction, levels of abstraction. (shrink)
This paper contains a joint study of two sentential logics that combine a many-valued character, namely tetravalence, with a modal character; one of them is normal and the other one quasinormal. The method is to study their algebraic counterparts and their abstract models with the tools of Abstract Algebraic Logic, and particularly with those of Brown and Suszko's theory of abstract logics as recently developed by Font and Jansana in their "A General Algebraic Semantics for Sentential Logics". The logics studied (...) here arise from the algebraic and lattice-theoretical properties we review of Tetravalent Modal Algebras, a class of algebras studied mainly by Loureiro, and also by Figallo, Landini and Ziliani, at the suggestion of the late Antonio Monteiro. (shrink)