This article provides, for the first time, an overview of all images sent by the Dutch microscopist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek to the Royal Society during their fifty-year long correspondence. Analyses of the images and close reading of the letters have led to an identification of three periods in which Leeuwenhoek worked together with artists. The first period is characterized by the work of several draughtsmen as well as Leeuwenhoek’s own improving attempts to depict his observations. In (...) the second period Leeuwenhoek worked together with one unknown draughtsman, while the work in the third period can now be attributed to the young draughtsman Willem vander Wilt. This article also shows how Leeuwenhoek did not only rely on draughtsmen for the depiction of his own observations, but rather, how he worked together with them in his workshop to observe, confirm, and witness microscopic experiments, replicating the collaborative working methods of the Royal Society in Delft. (shrink)
SUMMARYThis paper discusses the scientific instruments made and used by the microscopist Antony van Leeuwenhoek. The immediate cause of our study was the discovery of an overlooked document from the Delft archive: an inventory of the possessions that were left in 1745 after the death of Leeuwenhoek's daughter Maria. This list sums up which tools and scientific instruments Leeuwenhoek possessed at the end of his life, including his famous microscopes. This information, combined with the results of earlier (...) historical research, gives us new insights about the way Leeuwenhoek began his lens grinding and how eventually he made his best lenses. It also teaches us more about Leeuwenhoek's work as a surveyor and a wine gauger.A further investigation of the 1747 sale of Leeuwenhoek's 531 single lens microscopes has not only led us to the identification of nearly all buyers, but also has provided us with some explanation about why only a dozen of this large number of microscopes has survived. (shrink)
A special interest in optics among various seventeenth-century painters living in the Dutch city of Delft has intrigued historians, including art historians, for a long time. Equally, the impressive career of the Delft microscopist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek has been studied by many historians of science. However, it has never been investigated who, at that time, had access to the mathematical and optical knowledge necessary for the impressive achievements of these Delft practitioners. We have tried to gain insight into (...) Delft as a ‘node’ of optical knowledge by following the careers of three minor local figures in early seventeenth-century Delft. We argue that through their work, products, discussions in the vernacular and exchange of skills, rather than via learned publications, these practitioners constituted a foundation on which the later scientific and artistic achievements of other Delft citizens were built. Our Delft case demonstrates that these practitioners were not simple and isolated craftsmen; rather they were crucial components in a network of scholars, savants, painters and rich virtuosi. Decades before Vermeer made his masterworks, or Van Leeuwenhoek started his famous microscopic investigations, the intellectual atmosphere and artisanal knowledge in this city centred on optical topics. (shrink)
Over 300 years ago the father of microscopy, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, observed dried rotifers “coming back to life” upon rehydration. Since then, scientists have been fascinated by the enduring mystery of how certain organisms survive losing essentially drying out completely. Historically sugars, such as the disaccharide trehalose, have been viewed as major functional mediators of desiccation tolerance. However, some desiccation tolerant organisms do not produce this sugar, hinting that additional mediators, and potentially novel mechanisms exist. It has become apparent (...) that a common theme among such organisms is the production and use of intrinsically disordered proteins to mediate survival in this dry state. However, the basic biology of these proteins – which unlike globular proteins lack persistent three-dimensional structure – is poorly understood, as are the functional mechanisms utilized by these enigmatic proteins that allow them to mediate desiccation tolerance. We purpose that probing the biochemical and biophysical nature of stress-related IDPs will provide mechanistic insights into these fascinating proteins. Remarkably, organisms from every kingdom of life can survive losing nearly all their intracellular water. A hallmark of desiccation tolerance is the use of intrinsically disordered proteins, but how IDPs contribute to tolerance is poorly understood. Here, we discuss possible mechanisms and avenues for studying these enigmatic proteins. (shrink)
The observable/unobservable distinction, realistically construed, is a feature which lies at the very heart of van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism. The aim of this paper is to approach it by taking a close look at van Fraassen’s concept of observation. We will argue that if van Fraassen’s most recent writings about “literate experience”, especially his remarks on the status of observation reports and his general a-metaphysical stance, are taken into account, his realistic interpretation of the observable/unobservable distinction paves the road for (...) inconsistency. In particular, we will show that a dilemma emerges to the effect that van Fraassen is forced to accept skeptical consequences blatantly at odds with constructive empiricism and its restatement of the aim of science. We will finally suggest that the only way out for van Fraassen involves giving up his realistic construal of observability and thus taking sides with constructivism. (shrink)
In this paper, the author defends Peter van Inwagen’s modal skepticism. Van Inwagen accepts that we have much basic, everyday modal knowledge, but denies that we have the capacity to justify philosophically interesting modal claims that are far removed from this basic knowledge. The author also defends the argument by means of which van Inwagen supports his modal skepticism, offering a rebuttal to an objection along the lines of that proposed by Geirrson. Van Inwagen argues that Stephen Yablo’s recent and (...) influential account of the relationship between conceivability and possibility supports his skeptical claims. The author’s defence involves a creative interpretation and development of Yablo’s account, which results in a recursive account of modal epistemology, what the author calls the “safe explanation” theory of modal epistemology. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Peter van Inwagen’s claim (in “Free Will Remains a Mystery”), that agent-causal views of free will could do nothing to solve the problem of free will (specifically, the problem of chanciness). After explaining van Inwagen’s argument, I argue that he does not consider all possible manifestations of the agent-causal position. More importantly, I claim that, in any case, van Inwagen appears to have mischaracterized the problem in some crucial ways. Once we are clear on (...) the true nature of the problem of chanciness, agent-causal views do much to eradicate it. (shrink)
We show that van Lambalgen's Theorem fails with respect to recursive randomness and Schnorr randomness for some real in every high degree and provide a full characterization of the Turing degrees for which van Lambalgen's Theorem can fail with respect to Kurtz randomness. However, we also show that there is a recursively random real that is not Martin-Löf random for which van Lambalgen's Theorem holds with respect to recursive randomness.
Peter van Inwagen ’s argument for incompatibilism uses a sentential operator, “N”, which can be read as “No one has any choice about the fact that....” I show that, given van Inwagen ’s understanding of the notion of having a choice, the argument is invalid. However, a different interpretation of “N” can be given, such that the argument is clearly valid, the premises remain highly plausible, and the conclusion implies that free will is incompatible with determinism.
Some artworks are called sublime because of their capacity to move human imagination in a different way than the experience of beauty. The following discussion explores how Van Gogh’s The Starry Night along with some of his other late landscape paintings accomplish this peculiar movement of imagination thus qualifying as sublime artworks. These artworks constitute examples of the higher aesthetic principles and must be judged according to the cosmological-aesthetic criteria for they manage to generate a transition between ethos and phusis (...) and present them in unity. Here, referring to Heraclitean, Kantian, Nietzschean and Heideggerian metaphysics and aesthetics, I propose that the principles of motion and transition be the new cosmologic-aesthetic categories for the judgment of sublime artworks as well as for the understanding of the world (Weltanschauung) they represent. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen’s recent book Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective modifies and refines the “constructive empiricism” of The Scientific Image in a number of ways. This paper investigates the changes concerning one of the most controversial aspects of the overall position, that is, van Fraassen’s agnosticism concerning the veridicality of microscopic observation. The paper tries to make plausible that the new formulation of this agnosticism is an advance over the older rendering. The central part of this investigation is an attempt (...) to answer Marc Alspector-Kelly’s 2004-criticism of an early version of van Fraassen’s new position. Alspector-Kelly’s contribution it is to date the most extensive attack on van Fraassen’s twenty-first-century work on the topic of microscopic observation. One of the central ideas emerging from the present discussion is a link between the debate over the veridicality of microscopic observation and the issue of the theory-ladenness of experience. (shrink)
I consider the broad perspectives in biology known as ‘functionalism’ and ‘structuralism’, as well as a modern version of functionalism, ‘adaptationism’. I do not take a position on which of these perspectives is preferable; my concern is with the prior question, how should they be understood? Adapting van Fraassen’s argument for treating materialism as a stance, rather than a factual belief with propositional content, in the first part of the paper I offer an argument for construing functionalism and structuralism as (...) stances also. The argument draws especially on Gould’s insights concerning functionalism and structuralism, in particular their apparent historical continuity from the pre-Darwinian period through to today. In the second part of the paper I consider Godfrey-Smith’s distinction between empirical and explanatory adaptationism, and suggest that while the former is an empirical scientific hypothesis, the latter is closely related to the functionalist stance. (shrink)
In his recent book on the problem of evil, Peter van Inwagen argues that both the global and local arguments from evil are failures. In this paper, we engagevan Inwagen’s book at two main points. First, we consider his understanding of what it takes for a philosophical argument to succeed. We argue that while his criterion for success is interesting and helpful, there is good reason to think it is too stringent. Second, we consider his responses to the global and (...) local arguments from evil. We argue that although van Inwagen may have adequately responded to each of these arguments, his discussion points us toa third argument from evil to which he has yet to provide a response. (shrink)
Three-dimensional material models of molecules were used throughout the 19th century, either functioning as a mere representation or opening new epistemic horizons. In this paper, two case studies are examined: the 1875 models of van ‘t Hoff and the 1890 models of Sachse. What is unique in these two case studies is that both models were not only folded, but were also conceptualized mathematically. When viewed in light of the chemical research of that period not only were both of these (...) aspects, considered in their singularity, exceptional, but also taken together may be thought of as a subversion of the way molecules were chemically investigated in the 19th century. Concentrating on this unique shared characteristic in the models of van ‘t Hoff and the models of Sachse, this paper deals with the shifts and displacements between their operational methods and existence: between their technical and epistemological aspects and the fact that they were folded, which was forgotten or simply ignored in the subsequent development of chemistry. (shrink)
Van Heijenoort’s main contribution to history and philosophy of modern logic was his distinction between two basic views of logic, first, the absolutist, or universalist, view of the founding fathers, Frege, Peano, and Russell, which dominated the first, classical period of history of modern logic, and, second, the relativist, or model-theoretic, view, inherited from Boole, Schröder, and Löwenheim, which has dominated the second, contemporary period of that history. In my paper, I present the man Jean van Heijenoort (Sect. 1); then (...) I describe his way of arguing for the second view (Sect. 2); and finally I come down in favor of the first view (Sect. 3). There, I specify the version of universalism for which I am prepared to argue (Sect. 3, introduction). Choosing ZFC to play the part of universal, logical (in a nowadays forgotten sense) system, I show, through an example, how the usual model theory can be naturally given its proper place, from the universalist point of view, in the logical framework of ZFC; I outline another, not rival but complementary, semantics for admissible extensions of ZFC in the very same logical framework; I propose a way to get universalism out of the predicaments in which universalists themselves believed it to be (Sect. 3.1). Thus, if universalists of the classical period did not, in fact, construct these semantics, it was not that their universalism forbade them, in principle, to do so. The historical defeat of universalism was not technical in character. Neither was it philosophical. Indeed, it was hardly more than the victory of technicism over the very possibility of a philosophical dispute (Sect. 3.2). (shrink)
In a recent work published in this journal, “Van Fraassen e a inferência da melhor explicação” (2016), Minikoski and Rodrigues da Silva identify four critical lines proposed by Bas van Fraassen against the form of abductive reasoning known as ‘inference to the best explanation’ (IBE). The first one, put forward by the Dutch philosopher in his seminal book The Scientific Image (1980), concerns the distinction between observable and unobservable entities. Minikoski and Rodrigues da Silva consider that the distinction is of (...) no relevance to the scientific practice. For this reason, they address van Fraassen’s allegations against IBE qua justification of the existence of unobservable entities in a couple of pages and prefer focusing on the other lines they identified. The aim of this work is to pour over the analysis that the two authors perform about van Fraassen’s mentioned argument and some realists’ replies, particularly in the section that Minikoski and Rodrigues da Silva devote to this topic. This will allow us to clarify van Fraassen’s vision on scientific practice and on the ‘immersion in the theoretical world-picture’. The importance and the relevance of the distinction between observables and unobservables will also be reaffirmed. (shrink)
I discuss van inwagen's "first formal argument" for the incompatibility of causal determinism and freedom to do otherwise. I distinguish different interpretations of the important notion, "s can render p false." I argue that on none of these interpretations is the argument clearly sound. I point to gaps in the argument, Although I do not claim that it is unsound.
Van Inwagen has an ingenious argument for the non-existence of human artefacts . But the argument cannot be accepted, since human artefacts are everywhere. However, it cannot be ignored. The proper response to it is to treat it as a refutation of its least plausible premise, i.e., to ‘tollens’ it. I first set out van Inwagen’s argument. I then identify its least plausible premise and explain the consequence of denying it, that is, the acceptance of a plenitudinous, pluralist ontology. I (...) argue that denying it is not so difficult, since its denial is an easy consequence of ordinary beliefs. I finish by explaining why van Inwagen has not persuaded me that it may be that artefacts do not exist and conclude that nothing stands in the way of tollensing van Inwagen and accepting the consequence of doing so. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen has long claimed that he doesn’t understand substitutional quantification and that the notion is, in fact, meaningless. Van Inwagen identifies the source of his bewilderment as an inability to understand the proposition expressed by a simple sentence like “,” where “$\Sigma$” is the existential quantifier understood substitutionally. I should think that the proposition expressed by this sentence is the same as that expressed by “.” So what’s the problem? The problem, I suggest, is that van Inwagen takes (...) traditional existential quantification to be ontologically committing and substitutional quantification to be ontologically noncommitting, which requires that the two quantifiers have different meanings—but no different meaning for the substitutional quantifier is forthcoming. What van Inwagen fails to appreciate is that substitutional quantification is directed at a criterion of ontological commitment, namely, W. V. O. Quine’s, which is quite different from van Inwagen’s criterion. Substitutional quantification successfully avoids the commitments Quine’s criterion would engender but has the same commitments as existential quantification given van Inwagen’s criterion. The question, then, is whether the existential quantifier is ontologically committing, as van Inwagen believes. The answer to that question will depend on whether the ordinary language “there is/are,” which is codified by the existential quantifier, is ontologically committing. There are good reasons to doubt that it is. (shrink)
A careful analysis of Salmon’s Theoretical Realism and van Fraassen’s Constructive Empiricism shows that both share a common origin: the requirement of literal construal of theories inherited by the Standard View. However, despite this common starting point, Salmon and van Fraassen strongly disagree on the existence of unobservable entities. I argue that their different ontological commitment towards the existence of unobservables traces back to their different views on the interpretation of probability via different conceptions of induction. In fact, inferences to (...) statements claiming the existence of unobservable entities are inferences to probabilistic statements, whence the crucial importance of the interpretation of probability. (shrink)
In regards to the problem of evil, van Inwagen thinks there are two arguments from evil which require different defenses. These are the global argument from evil—that there exists evil in general, and the local argument from evil—that there exists some particular atrocious evil X. However, van Inwagen fails to consider whether the problem of God’s hiddenness also has a “local” version: whether there is in fact a “local” argument from God’s hiddenness which would be undefeated by his general defense (...) of God’s hiddenness. This paper will argue that van Inwagen’s present account contains no implicit response to the “local” argument from God’s hiddenness, and, worse, the “local” argument brings to the fore crucial inconsistencies in van Inwagen’s account. These inconsistencies concern van Inwagen’s criterion for philosophical success—his methodological use of an “ideal audience” in an ideal debate—and a crucial premise in his argument: namely, that people who do not believe in God are culpably deceiving themselves regarding the manifest presence of God. These considerations will be a platform for my arguing that the failures of van Inwagen’s account amount to his ignoring the extra-rational, concrete aspect of grasping “spiritual propositions”—propositions which, in order to be affirmed, require the full self-understanding which precipitates out of the mind, body, and will of a particular existing individual. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n1p49 The aim of this article is to offer a rejoinder to an argument against scientific realism put forward by van Fraassen, based on theoretical considerations regarding microphysics. At a certain stage of his general attack to scientific realism, van Fraassen argues, in contrast to what realists typically hold, that empirical regularities should sometimes be regarded as “brute facts”, which do not ask for explanation in terms of deeper, unobservable mechanisms. The argument from microphysics formulated by van Fraassen is based (...) on the claim that in microphysics the demand for explanation leads to a demand for the so-called hidden-variable theories, which “runs contrary to at least one major school of thought in twentieth-century physics”. It is shown here that this argument does not represent an insurmountable obstacle to scientific realism, not even when a series of important theoretical and experimental results against hidden-variable theories — and not merely a conflict with a certain school of thought—is taken into account. (shrink)
I use van Heijenoort’s published writings and manuscript materials to provide a comprehensive overview of his conception of modern logic as a first-order functional calculus and of the historical developments which led to this conception of mathematical logic, its defining characteristics, and in particular to provide an integral account, from his most important publications as well as his unpublished notes and scattered shorter historico-philosophical articles, of how and why the mathematical logic, whose he traced to Frege and the culmination of (...) its formative period in the incompleteness results of Gödel, became modern logic, as distinct from the traditional logic of Aristotle, and why and how the logistic tradition that led from Frege through Russell, rather than the algebraic tradition that led from De Morgan and Boole through Peirce and Schröder, came, in his view, to define modern logic. (shrink)
Teun van Dijk, despite he initiated his academic path on linguistics, and more specifically, in the area of grammars; he has developed over his academic whereabouts the idea that we cannot elucidate the mysteries of discourse by its purely structural analysis. More so, in time he has explored the fi..