Over the course of human history, the sciences, and biology in particular, have often been manipulated to cause immense human suffering. For example, biology has been used to justify eugenic programs, forced sterilization, human experimentation, and death camps—all in an attempt to support notions of racial superiority. By investigating the past, the contributors to _Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins_ hope to better prepare us to discern ideological abuse of science when it occurs in the future. Denis R. (...) class='Hi'>Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers bring together fourteen experts to examine the varied ways science has been used and abused for nonscientific purposes from the fifteenth century to the present day. Featuring an essay on eugenics from Edward J. Larson and an examination of the progress of evolution by Michael J. Ruse, _Biology and Ideology_ examines uses both benign and sinister, ultimately reminding us that ideological extrapolation continues today. An accessible survey, this collection will enlighten historians of science, their students, practicing scientists, and anyone interested in the relationship between science and culture. (shrink)
There is a common misconception that our genomes - all unique, except for those in identical twins - have the upper hand in controlling our destiny. The latest genetic discoveries, however, do not support that view. Although genetic variation does influence differences in various human behaviours to a greater or lesser degree, most of the time this does not undermine our genuine free will. Genetic determinism comes into play only in various medical conditions, notably some psychiatric syndromes. Denis Alexander (...) here demonstrates that we are not slaves to our genes. He shows how a predisposition to behave in certain ways is influenced at a molecular level by particular genes. Yet a far greater influence on our behaviours is our world-views that lie beyond science - and that have an impact on how we think the latest genetic discoveries should, or should not, be applied. Written in an engaging style, Alexander's book offers tools for understanding and assessing the latest genetic discoveries critically. (shrink)
Assuming S5, the main controversial premise in modal ontological arguments is the possibility premise, such as that possibly a maximally great being exists. I shall offer a new way of arguing that the possibility premise is probably true.
Some, notably Peter van Inwagen, in order to avoid problems with free will and omniscience, replace the condition that an omniscient being knows all true propositions with a version of the apparently weaker condition that an omniscient being knows all knowable true propositions. I shall show that the apparently weaker condition, when conjoined with uncontroversial claims and the logical closure of an omniscient being's knowledge, still yields the claim that an omniscient being knows all true propositions.
The free-will defence holds that the value of significant free will is so great that God is justified in creating significantly free creatures even if there is a risk or certainty that these creatures will sin. A difficulty for the FWD, developed carefully by Quentin Smith, is that God is unable to do evil, and yet surely lacks no genuinely valuable kind of freedom. Smith argues that the kind of freedom that God has can be had by creatures, without a (...) risk of creatures doing evil. I shall show that Smith's argument fails – the case of God is disanalogous to the case of creatures precisely because creatures are creatures. (shrink)
This chapter considers and evaluates the philosophical relationship between Alexander and R.G. Collingwood, focusing particularly on metaphysics and the philosophy of history. Their relationship was founded not on their agreement but to a considerable extent on their differences and their willingness to offer and accept critical commentary on each other’s writings. Following the publication of his An Essay on Philosophical Method in 1933, Collingwood sought to develop his own positive metaphysical system, which consists of a developmental and historical view (...) of reality. It is argued that Alexander’s Space, Time, and Deity played a central part in Collingwood’s construction of his system, supplemented by the work of Whitehead and other process and emergence philosophers. (shrink)
Alexander R. Pruss examines a large family of paradoxes to do with infinity - ranging from deterministic supertasks to infinite lotteries and decision theory. Having identified their common structure, Pruss considers at length how these paradoxes can be resolved by embracing causal finitism.
The Principle of Sufficient Reason says that all contingent facts must have explanation. In this 2006 volume, which was the first on the topic in the English language in nearly half a century, Alexander Pruss examines the substantive philosophical issues raised by the Principle Reason. Discussing various forms of the PSR and selected historical episodes, from Parmenides, Leibnez, and Hume, Pruss defends the claim that every true contingent proposition must have an explanation against major objections, including Hume's imaginability argument (...) and Peter van Inwagen's argument that the PSR entails modal fatalism. Pruss also provides a number of positive arguments for the PSR, based on considerations as different as the metaphysics of existence, counterfactuals and modality, negative explanations, and the everyday applicability of the PSR. Moreover, Pruss shows how the PSR would advance the discussion in a number of disparate fields, including meta-ethics and the philosophy of mathematics. (shrink)
Necessary Existence breaks ground on one of the deepest questions anyone ever asks: why is there anything? Pruss and Rasmussen present an original defence of the hypothesis that there is a necessarily existing being capable of providing an ultimate foundation for the existence of all things.
This important philosophical reflection on love and sexuality from a broadly Christian perspective is aimed at philosophers, theologians, and educated Christian readers. Alexander R. Pruss focuses on foundational questions on the nature of romantic love and on controversial questions in sexual ethics on the basis of the fundamental idea that romantic love pursues union of two persons as one body. _One Body_ begins with an account, inspired by St. Thomas Aquinas, of the general nature of love as constituted by (...) components of goodwill, appreciation, and unitiveness. Different forms of love, such as parental, collegial, filial, friendly, fraternal, or romantic, Pruss argues, differ primarily not in terms of goodwill or appreciation but in terms of the kind of union that is sought. Pruss examines romantic love as distinguished from other kinds of love by a focus on a particular kind of union, a deep union as one body achieved through the joint biological striving of the sort involved in reproduction. Taking the account of the union that romantic love seeks as a foundation, the book considers the nature of marriage and applies its account to controversial ethical questions, such as the connection between love, sex, and commitment and the moral issues involving contraception, same-sex activity, and reproductive technology. With philosophical rigor and sophistication, Pruss provides carefully argued answers to controversial questions in Christian sexual ethics. "This is a terrific—really quite extraordinary—work of scholarship. It is quite simply the best work on Christian sexual ethics that I have seen. It will become the text that anyone who ventures into the field will have to grapple with—a kind of touchstone. Moreover, it is filled with arguments with which even secular writers on sexual morality will have to engage and come to terms." —_Robert P. George, Princeton University __ "_One Body_ is an excellent piece of philosophical-theological reflection on the nature of sexuality and marriage. This book has the potential to become a standard go-to text for professors and students working on sex ethics issues, whether in philosophy or theology, both for the richness of its arguments, and the scope of its coverage of cases. " — Christopher Tollefsen, University of South Carolina_ "Alexander Pruss here develops sound and humane answers to the whole range of main questions about human sexual and reproductive choices. His principal argument for the key answers is very different from the one I have articulated over the past fifteen years. But his argumentation is at every point attractively direct, careful, energetic in framing and responding to objections, and admirably attentive to realities and the human goods at stake." —_John Finnis, University of Oxford _. (shrink)
The bulk of this volume consists of a somewhat revised version of the Axel Hägerström Lectures given in Uppsala, Sweden in 1991. It also contains previously published papers on the relevance of philosophy of language to ethics and the interpretation of Kant’s moral philosophy. The latter, in particular, deserves comment, but space considerations force me to devote my attention to the Hägerström Lectures, entitled “A Taxonomy of Ethical Theories.”.
Ideology and science Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9535-3 Authors David E. Packham, Materials Research Centre, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
_Laruelle_ is one of the first books in English to undertake in an extended critical survey of the work of the idiosyncratic French thinker François Laruelle, the promulgator of non-standard philosophy. Laruelle, who was born in 1937, has recently gained widespread recognition, and Alexander R. Galloway suggests that readers may benefit from colliding Laruelle’s concept of the One with its binary counterpart, the Zero, to explore more fully the relationship between philosophy and the digital. In _Laruelle_, Galloway argues that (...) the digital is a philosophical concept and not simply a technical one, employing a detailed analysis of Laruelle to build this case while referencing other thinkers in the French and Continental traditions, including Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, Martin Heidegger, and Immanuel Kant. In order to explain clearly Laruelle’s concepts such as the philosophical decision and the principle of sufficient philosophy, Galloway lays a broad foundation with his discussions of “the One” as it has developed in continental philosophy, the standard model of philosophy, and how philosophers view “the digital.” Digital machines dominate today’s world, while so-called digital thinking—that is, binary thinking such as presence and absence or self and world—is often synonymous with what it means to think at all. In examining Laruelle and digitality together, Galloway shows how Laruelle remains a profoundly non-digital thinker—perhaps the only non-digital thinker today—and engages in an extensive discussion on the interconnections between media, philosophy, and technology. (shrink)
Introduction : the computer as a mode of mediation -- The unworkable interface -- Software and ideology -- Are some things unrepresentable? -- Disingenuous informatics -- Postscript : we are the gold farmers.
Regularity is the thesis that all contingent propositions should be assigned probabilities strictly between zero and one. I will prove on cardinality grounds that if the domain is large enough, a regular probability assignment is impossible, even if we expand the range of values that probabilities can take, including, for instance, hyperreal values, and significantly weaken the axioms of probability.
One of the problems that Bayesian regularity, the thesis that all contingent propositions should be given probabilities strictly between zero and one, faces is the possibility of random processes that randomly and uniformly choose a number between zero and one. According to classical probability theory, the probability that such a process picks a particular number in the range is zero, but of course any number in the range can indeed be picked. There is a solution to this particular problem on (...) the books: a measure that assigns the same infinitesimal probability to each number between zero and one. I will show that such a measure, while mathematically interesting, is pathological for use in confirmation theory, for the same reason that a measure that assigns an infinitesimal probability to each possible outcome in a countably infinite lottery is pathological. The pathology is that one can force someone to assign a probability within an infinitesimal of one to an unlikely event. (shrink)
Always connect—that is the imperative of today’s media. But what about those moments when media cease to function properly, when messages go beyond the sender and receiver to become excluded from the world of communication itself—those messages that state: “There will be no more messages”? In this book, Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker, and McKenzie Wark turn our usual understanding of media and mediation on its head by arguing that these moments reveal the ways the impossibility of communication is (...) integral to communication itself—instances they call excommunication. In three linked essays, _Excommunication_ pursues this elusive topic by looking at mediation in the face of banishment, exclusion, and heresy, and by contemplating the possibilities of communication with the great beyond. First, Galloway proposes an original theory of mediation based on classical literature and philosophy, using Hermes, Iris, and the Furies to map out three of the most prevalent modes of mediation today—mediation as exchange, as illumination, and as network. Then, Thacker goes boldly beyond Galloway’s classification scheme by examining the concept of excommunication through the secret link between the modern horror genre and medieval mysticism. Charting a trajectory of examples from H. P. Lovecraft to Meister Eckhart, Thacker explores those instances when one communicates or connects with the inaccessible, dubbing such modes of mediation “haunted” or “weird” to underscore their inaccessibility. Finally, Wark evokes the poetics of the infuriated swarm as a queer politics of heresy that deviates from both media theory and the traditional left. He posits a critical theory that celebrates heresy and that is distinct from those that now venerate Saint Paul. Reexamining commonplace definitions of media, mediation, and communication, _Excommunication_ offers a glimpse into the realm of the nonhuman to find a theory of mediation adequate to our present condition. (shrink)
Classical real-valued probabilities come at a philosophical cost: in many infinite situations, they assign the same probability value—namely, zero—to cases that are impossible as well as to cases that are possible. There are three non-classical approaches to probability that can avoid this drawback: full conditional probabilities, qualitative probabilities and hyperreal probabilities. These approaches have been criticized for failing to preserve intuitive symmetries that can be preserved by the classical probability framework, but there has not been a systematic study of the (...) conditions under which these symmetries can and cannot be preserved. This paper fills that gap by giving complete characterizations under which symmetries understood in a certain “strong” way can be preserved by these non-classical probabilities, as well as by offering some results to make it plausible that the strong notion of symmetry here is the right one. Philosophical implications are briefly discussed, but the main purpose of the paper is to offer technical results to help make further philosophical discussion more sophisticated. (shrink)
“Ex nihilo nihil fit,” goes the classic adage: nothing comes from nothing. Parmenides used the Principle of Sufficient Reason to argue that there was no such thing as change: If there was change, why did it happen when it happened rather than earlier or later? “Nothing happens in vain, but everything for a reason and under necessitation,” claimed Leucippus. Saint Thomas insisted in the.
I offer examples showing that, pace G. E. Moore, it is possible to assert ?Q and I don't believe that Q? sincerely, truly, and without any absurdity. The examples also refute the following principles: (a) justification to assert p entails justification to assert that one believes p (Gareth Evans); (b) the sincerity condition on assertion is that one believes what one says (John Searle); and (c) to assert (to someone) something that one believes to be false is to lie (Don (...) Fallis). (shrink)
It is often loosely said that Ramsey The foundations of mathematics and other logical essays, Routledge and Kegan Paul, Abingdon, pp 156–198, 1931) and de Finetti Studies in subjective probability, Kreiger Publishing, Huntington, 1937) proved that if your credences are inconsistent, then you will be willing to accept a Dutch Book, a wager portfolio that is sure to result in a loss. Of course, their theorems are true, but the claim about acceptance of Dutch Books assumes a particular method of (...) calculating expected utilities given the inconsistent credences. I will argue that there are better ways of calculating expected utilities given a potentially inconsistent credence assignment, and that for a large class of credences—a class that includes many inconsistent examples—these ways are immune to Dutch Books and single-shot domination failures. The crucial move is to replace Finite Additivity with Monotonicity, then \\le P\)) and then calculate expected utilities for positive U via the formula \\, dy\). This shows that Dutch Book arguments for probabilism, the thesis that one’s credences should be consistent, do not establish their conclusion. Finally, I will consider a modified argument based on multi-step domination failure that does better, but nonetheless is not as compelling as the Dutch Book arguments appeared to be. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have attempted to solve the problem of null-probability possible events in Bayesian epistemology by proposing that there are infinitesimal probabilities. Hájek and Easwaran have argued that because there is no way to specify a particular hyperreal extension of the real numbers, solutions to the regularity problem involving infinitesimals, or at least hyperreal infinitesimals, involve an unsatisfactory ineffability or arbitrariness. The arguments depend on the alleged impossibility of picking out a particular hyperreal extension of the real numbers (...) and/or of a particular value within such an extension due to the use of the Axiom of Choice. However, it is false that the Axiom of Choice precludes a specification of a hyperreal extension—such an extension can indeed be specified. Moreover, for all we know, it is possible to explicitly specify particular infinitesimals within such an extension. Nonetheless, I prove that because any regular probability measure that has infinitesimal values can be replaced by one that has all the same intuitive features but other infinitesimal values, the heart of the arbitrariness objection remains. (shrink)