The late John Burrow, one of the most stimulating promoters of the distinctively interdisciplinary enterprise that is Intellectual History, was a vital member of what has become known as the ‘Sussex School’. In exploring the resonances of his singular and richly idiosyncratic contribution, this article places his unique historical sensibility within a series of interpretative contexts, demonstrating the vitality of writings that will continue to inspire and inform scholarship in the field for decades to come.
This provocative but persuasive book is essentially a radical attack upon the Humean conception of causality and the presentation and defense of a counter-theory, closer to everyday experience and pre-Humean traditional views. As formulated by empiricist philosophers, the Humean approach depends on two basic postulates. The philosophical analysis of any non-empirical concept must be a formal explication; any residue elements have to be accounted for in terms of their psychological origins. The world as experienced can be conceived adequately as a (...) logically independent system of things or flux of events, without the unwarranted assumption that individuals persist diachronically. As the grounds for undermining these assumptions, the authors develop a conception of causes as "powerful particulars," i.e., things which have both a nature and powers. So long as the nature remains unchanged the agent in question will continue to behave in this fashion with a natural necessity, stemming from the individual’s nature and specific powers. The opening chapter discusses the problem of conceptual and natural necessity—as distinct from logical necessity which alone is allowed by the Humean empiricists. Natural necessity is the mark of the relationship between real causes and their respective effects, whereas conceptual necessity characterizes the way our statements about such are themselves related. Later the irreducibility of natural necessity is emphasized and its differences from logical entailment spelled out. Chapter two takes up the subject of the "regularity theory and its allies." Characteristic of such are two claims: the empirical content of a causal-relationship statement is exhausted by the actual or hypothetical regularity between independent entities, and the necessity ordinarily attributed to causal production is an illusion, to be accounted for in various ways. Subsequent chapters are devoted to assaulting the pillars of the Humean notion either directly or indirectly through an illuminating and attractive account of their own theory of nature, causal powers, and natural necessity. The final chapter, entitled "Fields of Potential," indulges in speculation about the nature of ultimate entities on the basis of an extended generalization of the notion of the powerful individual, and concludes with a brief account of the historical antecedents of Faraday’s modern field theory and the metaphysical implications of a generalized field theory.—A.B.W. (shrink)
This is a description and analysis of the intellectual culture of the eighteenth-century Church of England. Challenging conventional perceptions of the Church as an intellectually moribund institution, the study traces the influence of thinkers such as Locke, Newton, Burke, and Gibbon on theological debate in England during this period.
The use of placebo as a control condition in clinical trials of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders continues to be an area of ethical concern. Typically, opponents of placebo controls argue that they violate the beneficent-based, “best proven diagnostic and therapeutic method” that the original Helsinki Declaration of 1964 famously asserted participants are owed. A more consequentialist, oppositional argument is that participants receiving placebo might suffer enormously by being deprived of their usual medication(s). Nevertheless, recent findings of potential for (...) suicidality in young people treated with antidepressants, along with meta-analyses suggesting that antidepressants add no significant clinical benefit over placebos, warrant a re-evaluation of the arguments against placebo. Furthermore, the nature of placebo treatment in short-term clinical trials is often not well understood, and lack of understanding can foster opposition to it. This paper will show how scientific justifications for placebo use are morally relevant. The fundamental ethical importance of placebo controls is discussed in relation to several aspects of clinical trials, including detection of adverse events, accurate assessment of clinical benefit, advancing understanding of the heterogeneity of depression and anxiety disorders and respecting informed consent requirements. Prohibiting the use of placebo controls is morally concerning in that such prohibitions allow for the possibility of serious adverse public health consequences. Moral worries that research participants receiving placebo are being unduly jeopardised will be shown to be exaggerated, especially in relation to the net benefits for end-users to be gained from the quality of data resulting from using placebo controls. (shrink)
This useful anthology comprises seventy-nine selections arranged under three headings. Part I is titled "Ancient and Classical Ideas of Space"; part II, "The Classical and Ancient Concepts of Time"; part III, "Modern Views of Space and Time and their Anticipations." According to the general editors of the Boston series, R. S. Cohen and Marx W. Wartofsky, Capek’s choice of contents was governed by the desire to show that "parts of our view of nature greatly and mutually influence other parts, and (...) that our conception of the world keeps evolving. Thus, ideas of time intertwine with ideas of space, and both with ideas of matter and force." F. M. Cornford’s essays, "The Invention of Space" and "The Elimination of Time by Parmenides," introduce parts I and II respectively. In part I, while Descartes, Pascal, Gassendi, Newton, etc., speak for themselves, the ancients and medievals are given other mouthpieces—Duhem’s monumental Le système du monde, for Plato, Aristotle, and the medievals; C. Bailey, for Leucippus, Epicurus and Lucretius; Koyré, Höffding, Jammer, for the period from Bradwardine to William Gilbert. On the subject of time, however, both ancient and classical authors are allowed to express their opinions in their own words, with the understandable exception of the Stoics. Part III begins with the prerelativistic critique of Newton as well as the well-known Clarke-Leibniz discussion on the nature of space and time. This third part, however, is dominated largely by the implications of Einstein’s general and special relativity theories. For instance, we have Minkowski’s "Union of Space and Time." Four items, at least, are devoted to the twin-paradox. Some argue for a static, subjective, or even idealistic conception of space-time whereas positivists like Frank attack Sir James Jeans’ and other idealistic interpretations of relativity as instances of meaningless metaphysics. Part III concludes with Weyl’s objectivistic interpretation of quantum-mechanical indeterminacy. While it is difficult to find an anthology that will please all readers or teachers, this work goes far towards dealing comprehensively with the subject of space and time. As Cohen and Wartofsky note, what is distinctive of Capek’s approach within the field of philosophy of nature and its history is that "he is greatly appreciative of Bergson, James, Peirce and Whitehead" and though influenced by them, he is also critical because of the "understanding of the philosophical import that contemporary physics brings into our picture of the world." In a lengthy introduction, the editor explains his rationale for each item he includes. In general this is very helpful, but in some instances the suggested historical connections are misleading at best, if not simply false or questionable. Einstein for instance is said to have "rejected any absolute frame of reference which would be a substrate of absolutely simultaneous events... within the context of Michelson’s vain search for the absolute motion of the earth." This seems to imply—as many others have claimed—that the negative results of the ether-drift experiment influenced Einstein in formulating his relativity theory, whereas historians have pointed out that if Einstein referred to the experiment, it would have to be as a confirmation of his theory, since he did not learn of the results obtained by Michelson and Morley until after the publication of his revolutionary paper in 1905. Though there are other generalizations in the introduction which might be open to dispute, Capek’s prefatory remarks are in general helpful, and the essay collection as a whole stands on its own feet. It is valuable, if for no other reason, that a number of the selections appear in English translation for the first time.—A.B.W. (shrink)
The present edition of Ockham's seven quodlibets marks the fifth volume of the Opera theologica to appear in the critical edition of his non-political works in progress at the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University, and lives up in every way to the high standards of scholarship that characterized the other seven volumes of his philosophical and theological works that have been published so far. The Quodlibets are among Ockham's most important and mature works. The 170 questions contained here cover (...) almost every major aspect of his thought, and the topics are treated in a clearer, more concise and accurate fashion than in his earlier works. As usual each individual volume of this edition is accompanied by extensive indices. The topical index of some thirty pages makes the present work a particularly valuable research instrument. (shrink)
From what has been argued, it should now be apparent how Heidegger's philosophy of the affect, its ontological disclosures and its relation to authenticity might be enlarged to meet certain marxist challenges. The most valuable instruction to be gained from these citicisms, I think, is that which Lukacs offers in the example of Szilasi's intuition of co-presence. Traditional phenomenology needs to enrich its investigations into the social and historical reality of situation. Kosik's point that Heideggerian authenticity lacks the crucial third (...) step (revolutionary change of society) is also profound but again, not incompatiblein se with Heidegger's concept. Alternatively, one might as easily say that Critical Marxism or any Marxist Humanism can still be enriched by certain Heideggerian insights. (shrink)