How do historians, comparative linguists, biblical and textual critics and evolutionary biologists establish beliefs about the past? How do they know the past? This book presents a philosophical analysis of the disciplines that offer scientific knowledge of the past. Using the analytic tools of contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science the book covers such topics as evidence, theory, methodology, explanation, determination and underdetermination, coincidence, contingency and counterfactuals in historiography. Aviezer Tucker's central claim is that historiography as a scientific discipline should (...) be thought of as an effort to explain the evidence of past events. He also emphasizes the similarity between historiographic methodology to Darwinian evolutionary biology. This is an important, fresh approach to historiography and will be read by philosophers, historians and social scientists interested in the methodological foundations of their disciplines. (shrink)
The fifty entries in this _Companion_ cover the main issues in the philosophies of historiography and history, including natural history and the practices of historians. Written by an international and multi-disciplinary group of experts A cutting-edge updated picture of current research in the field Part of the renowned _Blackwell Companions_ series.
The epistemology of the historical sciences has been debated recently. Cleland argued that the effects of the past overdetermine it. Turner argued that the past is underdetermined by its effects because of the decay of information from the past. I argue that the extent of over- and underdetermination cannot be approximated by philosophical inquiry. It is an empirical question that each historical science attempts to answer. Philosophers should examine how paradigmatic cases of historical science handled underdetermination or utilized overdetermination. I (...) analyze such a paradigmatic case, Darwin’s phylogenetic inferences. Darwin proceeded in three consecutive stages. The initial inference that there was some common cause of homologies was usually overdetermined. The final inference of the character traits of ancestor species was usually underdetermined. The second stage inference of the causal net that connected the species that share some common cause was inbetween. A comparison with Comparative Historical Linguistics demonstrates similar three stages of inference that move from the over- to the underdetermined. (shrink)
Philosophers have often noted that science displays an uncommon degree of consensus on beliefs among its practitioners. Yet consensus in the sciences is not a goal in itself. I consider cases of consensus on beliefs as concrete events. Consensus on beliefs is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for presuming that these beliefs constitute knowledge. A concrete consensus on a set of beliefs by a group of people at a given historical period may be explained by different factors according (...) to various hypotheses. A particularly interesting hypothesis from an epistemic perspective is the knowledge hypothesis: shared knowledge explains a consensus on beliefs. If all the alternative hypotheses to the knowledge hypotheses are false or are not as good in explaining a concrete consensus on beliefs, the knowledge hypothesis is the best explanation of the consensus. If the knowledge hypothesis is best, a consensus becomes a plausible, though fallible, indicator of knowledge. I argue that if a consensus on beliefs is uncoerced, uniquely heterogeneous and large, the gap between the likelihood of the consensus given the knowledge hypothesis and its likelihoods given competing hypotheses tends to increase significantly. Consensus is a better indicator of knowledge than "success" or "human flourishing". (shrink)
This paper applies Bayesian theories to critically analyse and offer reforms of intelligence analysis, collection, analysis, and decision making on the basis of Human Intelligence, Signals Intelligence, and Communication Intelligence. The article criticises the reliabilities of existing intelligence methodologies to demonstrate the need for Bayesian reforms. The proposed epistemic reform program for intelligence analysis should generate more reliable inferences. It distinguishes the transmission of knowledge from its generation, and consists of Bayesian three stages modular model for the generation of reliable (...) intelligence from multiple coherent and independent testimonial sources, and for the tracing and analysis of intelligence failures. The paper concludes with suggestions for further research, the development of artificial intellignce that may measure coherence and reliability of HUMINT sources and infer intelligence following the outlined general modular model. (shrink)
A critical study of the philosophy and political practice of the Czech dissident movement Charter 77. Aviezer Tucker examines how the political philosophy of Jan Patocka (1907–1977), founder of Charter 77, influenced the thinking and political leadership of Vaclav Havel as dissident and president. Presents the first serious treatment of Havel as philosopher and Patocka as a political thinker. Through the Charter 77 dissident movement in Czechoslovakia, opponents of communism based their civil struggle for human rights on philosophic foundations, and (...) members of the Charter 77 later led the Velvet Revolution. After Patocka's self-sacrifice in 1977, Vaclav Havel emerged a strong philosophical and political force, and he continued to apply Patocka's philosophy in order to understand the human condition under late communism and the meaning of dissidence. However, the political/philosophical orientation of the Charter 77 movement failed to provide President Havel with an adequate basis for comprehending and responding to the extraordinary political and economic problems of the postcommunist period. In his discussion of Havel's presidency and the eventual corruption of the Velvet Revolution, Tucker demonstrates that the weaknesses in Charter 77 member's understanding of modernity, which did not matter while they were dissidents, seriously harmed their ability to function in a modern democratic system. Within this context, Tucker also examines Havel's recent attempt to topple the democratic but corrupt government in 1997–1998. The Philosophy and Politics of Czech Dissidence from Patocka to Havel will be of interest to students of philosophy and politics, scholars and students of Slavic studies, and historians, as well as anyone fascinated by the nature of dissidence. (shrink)
The paper explicates unique events and investigates their epistemology. Explications of unique events as individuated, different, and emergent are philosophically uninteresting. Unique events are topics of why-questions that radically underdetermine all their potential explanations. Uniqueness that is relative to a level of scientific development is differentiated from absolute uniqueness. Science eliminates relative uniqueness by discovery of recurrence of events and properties, falsification of assumptions of why-questions, and methodological simplification e.g. by explanatory methodological reduction. Finally, an overview of contemporary philosophical disputes (...) that hinge on issues of uniqueness emphasizes its philosophical significance. (shrink)
The article presents, develops, and defends a non-reductionist model of the generation of knowledge from multiple testimonies. It distinguishes the generation of knowledge from multiple testimonies from the transmission of knowledge by a single testimony. The reiteration of the generation of knowledge from multiple testimonies generates social knowledge.Critical examination of the literature about the coherence of multiple testimonies, their reliability, and independence argues in particular against conditional and causal interpretations and attempts to overcome the limitations of exclusively conceptual and formal (...) epistemologies. Instead, the article introduces an analysis of the generation of knowledge from multiple testimonies in terms of tracing information flows. The article presents a new three-stage modular model of knowledge generation from multiple testimonies that fits the actual veritistic best practices of institutionally embedded professionals like intelligence analysts, detectives, investigat.. (shrink)
First attempt at applying contemporary philosophy of science to the basic problems of the philosophy of historiography that culminated in "Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of Historiography" (Cambridge University Press 2004).
Issues concerning technological risk have increasingly become the subject of deliberative exercises involving participation of ordinary citizens. The most popular topic for deliberation has been genetically modified foods. Despite the varied circumstances of their establishment, deliberative “minipublics” almost always produce recommendations that reflect a worldview more “precautionary” than the “Promethean” outlook more common among governing elites. There are good structural reasons for this difference. Its existence raises the question of why elites sponsor mini-publics and if policy is little affected by (...) the results of deliberations, questions the possibility of deliberative legitimation of public policy. We make this argument by looking at mini-publics on GM foods in France, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and Switzerland. Deliberative legitimation becomes plausible if elites can attenuate their Promethean outlook. This is possible if ecological modernization discourse pervades their politics; Denmark provides an illustration. (shrink)
The scarcity of resources required to produce justice is manifested in the relation between the accuracy, depth, and scope of materially possible forms of justice. Ceteris paribus , increases in the accuracy of justice must come at the expense of its depth and scope, and vice versa, though they are not linearly proportioned. The accuracy of justice is the degree of agreement between the possible results of attempts to implement a theory or principles of justice and the desired result according (...) to that theory or those principles of justice. The scope of justice measures how broadly the principle or theory of justice is intended to apply. The depth of justice measures the gap between existing social norms and the theory or principles of justice we examine within the specified scope. This three-dimensional model explains public policies, laws, and regulations that increase the scope or depth of justice at the cost of a decrease in its accuracy – rough forms of justice such as measures of transitional justice, affirmative action, mandatory sentencing, simplified tax codes, collective guilt and victimhood, and general amnesties. The scarcity of resources necessary for justice can contract or expand. The normative choice between principles of justice that prefer accuracy and those that favor scope or depth usually corresponds, respectively, with rights-based deontological theories and consequentialist ethics. (shrink)
Explanations of descriptions of events are undivided, holistic, units of analysis for the purpose of justification. Their justifications are based on the transmission of information about the past and its interpretation and analysis. Further analysis of explanations of descriptions of events is redundant. The “holistic” model of explanations fits better the actual practices of scientists, historians and ordinary people who utter explanatory propositions than competing models. I consider the “inference to the best explanation” model and argue that under one interpretation, (...) it cannot account for all the paradigmatic cases of explanation of description of events that I present, though under another interpretation it fits comfortably with my holistic model. Finally, I argue that there is nothing intrinsic or structural to distinguish holistic explanations of descriptions of events from other hypothetical propositions because the pragmatic context of inquiry may well determine exclusively whether a proposition is considered explanatory. (shrink)
The topic and methods of David Hume’s "Of Miracles" resemble his historiographical more than his philosophical works. Unfortunately, Hume and his critics and apologists have shared the prescientific, indeed ahistorical, limitations of Hume’s original historical investigations. I demonstrate the advantages of the critical methodological approach to testimonies, developed initially by German biblical critics in the late eighteenth century, to a priori discussions of miracles. Any future discussion of miracles and Hume must use the critical method to improve the quality and (...) relevance of the debate. (edited). (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 333 - 348 Philosophers and historians debate not only the correct analysis of historiographic counterfactuals and their possible utilities for historiography and its philosophy but whether they can be more than speculative. This introduction presents the articles in the special issue on historiographic counterfactuals, show how they hang together and what are the main agreements and disagreements among the authors. Finally, it argues that the debate over historiographic counterfactuals spills over now into the (...) debate about applied or practical historiography, what we can learn from historiography. (shrink)
: Science Studies, as developed initially in France attempt to overcome the distinctions between science and society, and correspondingly between the philosophy of science and political and social theory. Science Studies considers the theories and beliefs of scientists political rather than direct reflections of an objective natural world. I consider here Science Studies as a political theory that emerged and has developed in reaction to a particular social and political context, a crisis of technocratic politics in France. Some of the (...) leading contemporary French exponents Science Studies, a group around the journal. (shrink)
Panarchy suggests that an optimal framework for the emergence of the best states is that of free competition between states. In Panarchy, people and states negotiate the relationships between them, as sellers and buyers and formalize them in explicit social contracts. Different states may offer varying levels of services in areas such as health, education, and social security for different prices. Low costs for consumer mobility from state to state are necessary for competition. These can be optimized by non-territorial states (...) that offer services to citizens instead of rule a territory and compete over customers in a political market. The right of such states to coerce their clients differentiates them from mere protective associations, and is founded on explicit social contracts (law codes) rather than on monopoly over territory-- sovereignty. First, I explicate the unique properties of Panarchy, non-territorial states and explicit social contracts. Then, following the theories of Douglass North (1986) and Albert Hirschman (1970) I explain why Panarchy appears to be an appropriate framework for avoiding political monopolies and increasing political competitiveness and efficiency through cheap exit mechanisms. Then, I consider possible challenges to Panarchy: Panarchy may be utopian if the state is a natural monopoly; Panarchy does not advocate any political utopia but it may reify the utopian element to the meta-political level, to the preconditions for the emergence of the best states. If non-territorial states are inconsistent with human nature, they may be utopian. I also consider possible ethical objections to Panarchy. I argue that: The territorial sovereign state is not a natural monopoly. A free market in non-territorial states does not have to assume a coercive monopoly regulatory “super-state.” The territoriality of the state is not natural. Though there are valid ethical criticisms of Panarchy, from a utilitarian perspective, they are outweighed by ethical arguments that support it. Finally, I argue that several recent technological innovations have rendered the sovereign nation-state increasingly obsolete, while facilitating and reducing the costs of establishing Panarchy and running non-territorial states. (shrink)
This article examines historicism as the expansion of historiography beyond its bounds, analogous to Physicalism, Naturalism, Psychologism, and Scientism. Five senses of historicism are distinguished: Ontological Historicism claims ultimate reality is, and only is, historical. Idiographic historicism considers historiography an empirical science that results in observational descriptions of unique singular events. Introspective historicism considers the epistemology of historiography to be founded on self-knowledge. Scientistic historicism considers historiography an applied psychology or social science that can expand to overtake the social sciences. (...) Methodological historicism extends the use of historiographic methodologies to unreliable or dependent evidence. The first four historicisms are inconsistent with historiography within bounds and implode. Methodological historicism describes proper historiographic methodologies that are applied out of their proper bounds, but are used in historiography based on the epistemology of testimony and the tracing of the transmission of information from historical event to historiographic evidence. (shrink)
Experimental and theoretical studios are reported of the current-voltage characteristics and Josephson radiations from granular Y1Ba2Cu3Oy bridges. We show that the granular structure of bridges can be understood as a series connected independent and inhomogeneous resistively shunted junction army. When we take typical values of junction critical parameters, the experimental results are well understood quantitatively.
This chapter contains sections titled: Some Common Cause vs. a Particular common Cause Type vs. Token Common Cause Information Preservation and the Inference of the Existence of Some Common Causes The Meaning of the Existence of Some Common Cause Likelihoods of the Variational Group given Common and Separate Causes Alternative Common Cause Hypotheses Bibliography.
RÉSUMÉ: La pragmatique et la sémantique de l’historiographie révèlent une fragmentation croissante qui s’étend par-delà les écoles jusqu’aux historiens individuels. Alors que les scientifiques normalisent les données pour qu’elles s’ajustent aux théories, les historiens interprètent leurs théories, de manières incompatibles entre elles, pour qu’elles s’ajustent aux différents cas historiques. Les difficultés qui en découlent dans la communication historiographique remettent en cause les philosophies herméneutiques de l’historiographie et redonnent un nouvel intérêt à la question d’une historiographie scientifique. Mais les réponses existantes (...) sont philosophiquement obsolètes. Une façon de reformuler le problème est de partir de la complexité du chaos et de l’unicité de l’histoire. Seule la science peut évaluer si les propriétés d’un domaine donné en interdisent une approche scientifique. Or la science s’étend par réductions méthodologiques explicatives, en ramenant des propriétés d’événements complexes, chaotiques et uniques, qui sont familières, mais d’un niveau plus élevé, à des propriétés ou interrelations non familières et d’un niveau moins élevé. La culture disciplinaire de l’historiographie, cependant, empêche le développement par essais et erreurs de telles tentatives de réductions scientifiques, qui seules permettraient d’évaluer les possibilités d’une historiographie scientifique, laquelle, dans la situation présente, relève de la science-fiction. (shrink)
Philosophical defenses of property regimes can be classified as supporting either a conservative politics of property rights—the political protection of existing property titles—or a radical politics of direct political intervention to redistribute property titles. Traditionally, historical considerations were used to legitimize conservative property‐rights politics, while consequentialist arguments led to radical politics. Recently, however, the philosophical legitimations have changed places. Conservatives now point to the beneficial economic consequences of something like the current private‐property regime, while radicals justify political redistribution as restitution (...) for historical misappropriations. This shift can be explained by such factors as the failure of state‐directed redistributions of property during the twentieth century to benefit the poor. But there are limitations to the usefulness of historical arguments for radicals, and of consequentialist arguments for conservatives: namely, the undeserving poor and the idle rich, respectively. (shrink)
Five of Platos most famous dialogues rewritten as accessible and entertaining short stories in modern settings. For instructors looking for an engaging way to interest undergraduates in Plato and for students who find the original works a bit daunting, Plato for Everyone offers an enlightening and enjoyable read.
The first political theory of post-Communism examines its implications for understanding liberty, rights, transitional justice, property rights, privatization, rule of law, centrally planned public institutions, and the legacies of totalitarian thought in language and discourse. The transition to post-totalitarianism was the spontaneous adjustment of the rights of the late-totalitarian elite to its interest. Post-totalitarian governments faced severe scarcity in the supply of justice. Rough justice punished the perpetrators and compensated their victims. Historical theories of property rights became radical, and consequentialist (...) theories, conservative. Totalitarianism in Europe disintegrated but did not end. The legacies of totalitarianism in higher education met New Public Management, totalitarian central planning under a new label. Totalitarianism divorced language from reality through the use of dialectics that identified opposites and the use of logical fallacies to argue for ideological conclusions. This book illustrates these legacies in the writings of Habermas, Derrida, and Žižek about democracy, personal responsibility, dissidence, and totalitarianism. (shrink)
This is a critical study of the philosophies of Jan Patocka and Vaclav Havel, as leading to, and flowing from, Charter 77. In part one, Patocka's philosophy is presented as between Platonic-humanistic and Heideggerian poles. In his Heideggerian moments, Patocka looked for a way to transcend productionist metaphysics and return to unspecified authenticity. In his Platonic-humanistic moments, Patocka found authenticity in "care for the soul" and "life in truth," the practice of the Socratic method. For these basic human rights, the (...) necessary preconditions for life in truth, Patocka chose to write Charter 77 and eventually to sacrifice himself. ;In part two, I examine the influence of Patocka on the philosophy of his fellow Charterist, the dissident Vaclav Havel, who attempted to apply Patocka's thought to the situation in post-totalitarian societies. ;In part three, I examine to what extent did president Havel adapt or change his positions through the practice of his new responsibilities, and confrontation between his conscience directed consciousness with Czechoslovak being. (shrink)
I argue against preservationism, the epistemic claim that memories can at most preserve knowledge generated by other basic types of sources. I show how memories can and do generate knowledge that is irreducible to other basic sources of knowledge. In some epistemic contexts, memories are primary basic sources of knowledge; they can generate knowledge by themselves or with trivial assistance from other types of basic sources of knowledge. I outline an ontology of information transmission from events to memory as an (...) alternative to causal theories of memory. I derive from information theory a concept of reliability of memories as the ratio of retrieved information to transmitted information. I distinguish the generation of knowledge from reliable memories from its generation from unreliable memories. Reliable memories can generate new knowledge by forming together narratives and via colligation. Coherent, even unreliable, memories can generate knowledge if they are epistemically independent of each other and the prior probability of the knowledge they generate is sufficiently low or high. Ascertaining the epistemic independence of memories and eliminating possible confounders may be achieved through the generation of knowledge from independent memories in different minds, when memories are primary basic sources of knowledge and the testimonies that report them are trivial. (shrink)
This paper advocates the reduction of the inference of common cause to that of common origins. It distinguishes and subjects to critical analysis thirteen interpretations of “the inference of common cause” whose conclusions do not follow from their assumptions. Instead, I introduce six types of inferences of common origins of information signals from their receivers to reduce, in the sense of supersede and replace, the thirteen inferences of common causes. I show how the paradigmatic examples of inferences of common cause, (...) as well as a broader scope of inferences in the historical sciences, are better explained by inferences of origins. Inferences of origins from information rich coherences between receivers of information signals both fit more closely and explain better the range of examples that have traditionally been associated with inferences of common causes, as well as a broader scope of examples from the historical sciences. Shannon’s concept of information as reduction in uncertainty, rather than physicalist concepts of information that relate it to entropy or waves, simplifies the inferences, preempts objections, and avoids the underdetermination of conclusions that challenge models of inferences of causes from information transmissions. In the second part of the paper I model inferences of information about common origins from information preserved in their receivers. I distinguish information poor inferences that there were some common origins of receivers from the information richer inferences of ranges of possible common origins and the information transmission channels by which they transmitted signals to receivers. Lastly and most information rich, I distinguish the inference of the defining properties of common origins. The information transmission model from origins to receivers allows the reconceptualization of the concepts of independence as absence of intersections between information channels and reliability as the preservation of information from origins in receivers. Finally, I show how inferences of origins form the epistemic basis of the historical sciences. (shrink)
Giambattista Vico referred throughout his writings to Plato as the most important single influence on his own philosophy [SN 1109]. Nevertheless, Plato’s influence on Vico has not received sufficient attention by contemporary commentators. The purpose of this paper is to suggest what aspects of Plato’s philosophy influenced which parts of Vico’s Scienza Nuova and in what fashion; to reinterpret Vico’s philosophy in light of the Platonic influence on it; to reject some interpretations of Vico that do not take into account (...) the Platonic origin of his thought; and to find clues for the relation between the Platonic aspects of Vico’s New Science and its other non-Platonic elements. (shrink)
The three most lasting legacies of late-totalitarian ideology have been the subversion of the ability of language to say something about the world, most notably by gradual elimination of the differences between distinct and indeed opposite concepts; the endorsement of logical fallacies as normal forms of argument; and thirdly, the deconstructed atomized concept of the person, as a collection of primal needs and fears, devoid of a personality and communal identity, ready to be manipulated through needs and fears. I illustrate (...) these characteristics by examining the writings of a Czech former secret police officer about Czech democracy, Derrida about Patočka's concept of responsibility, and Žižek on totalitarianism. (shrink)
Panarchy is a normative political meta-theory that advocates non-territorial states founded on actual social contracts that are explicitly negotiated and signed between states and their prospective citizens. The explicit social contract, or a constitution, sets the terms under which a state may use coercion against its citizens and the conditions under which the contract may be annulled, revised, rescinded, or otherwise exited from. Panarchy does not advocate any particular model of the state or social justice, but intends to encourage political (...) variety, innovation, experimentation, and choice. With its emphasis on explicit social contracts, Panarchy offers an interesting variation on traditional social contract theories. Today, Panarchist political thought is particularly relevant and interesting in the context of globalization, increased international migration, the weakening of national sovereignty, the rise of the internet "cloud" as a non-territorial locus of political and protopolitical social networks that are not geographic, the invention of cryptocurrencies that may replace national currencies, and the rise of urban centers where people of many different political identities live and work together. This is the first volume to bring together key philosophically and politically interesting yet often overlooked Panarchist texts. From the first published translation of de Puydt seminal 1860 article to contemporary Silicon Valley political theory, the volume includes Panarchist texts from different eras, cultures and geographical regions. The amassed wealth of theoretical insight enables readers to compare different texts in this tradition of political thought and distinguish different streams and varieties within this political tradition, in comparison with Cosmopolitanism, Contractarianism, and Anarchism. (shrink)