Scientific development influences philosophical thought, and vice versa. If philosophy is to be of any use to the production, evaluation or application of biochemical knowledge, biochemistry will have to explicate its needs. This paper concentrates on the need for a philosophical analysis of methodological challenges in biochemistry, above all the problematic relation between in vitro experiments and the desire for in vivo knowledge. This problem receives much attention within biochemistry, but the focus is on practical detail. (...) It is discussed how a theoretical analysis can go beyond a naïve understanding of scientific success and failure in such cases. Several examples are presented to elucidate this issue, including the methodological implications of the precautionary principle, the possible interplay between theoretical methodology of biochemistry and the science studies, and the methodological complexities related to experimental protocol standardisation and use of instruments and kits. (shrink)
This paper investigates the interface between philosophy and biochemistry. While it is problematic to justify the application of a particular philosophical model to biochemistry, it seems to be even more difficult to develop a special “Philosophy for Biochemistry”. Alternatively, philosophy can be used in biochemistry based on an alternative approach that involves an interdependent iteration process at a philosophical and (bio)chemical level (“Exeter Method”). This useful iteration method supplements more abstract approaches at the (...) interface between philosophy and natural sciences, and serves the biochemical community to systematically locate logical inconsistencies that arise from more theoretical aspects of the scientific process. Initial cycles of this iteration process identify the in vitro–in vivo problem as a central epistemological difficulty in biochemical research. While previous attempts have generated ad hoc rules to mend the gap between chemistry, biochemistry and biology in order to justify in vitro experimentation, this paper concludes that in vitro experimentation is heavily based on chemistry and cannot derive definite statements about biological processes. It can, however, generate results that will influence the direction of future biological research. The consequence is that the relationship between in vitro and in vivo experimentation is more of a psychological or social one than of a logical nature. Apart from highlighting these inconsistencies in biochemical thinking (“problem awareness”), the Exeter Method demands an improvement of biochemical terminology that contains separate and unequivocally defined terms for in vitro and in vivo systems. (shrink)
Popper's critical rationalism is widely accepted under scientists and philosophers of science as a proper method for the reconstruction of scientific theories. On occasion of the application of the Popperian ideas for the reconstruction of chemistry by Akeroyd the flaws of the critical rationalist approach are criticised and a methodical alternative is proposed, involving the operational definition of scientific terms.
Philosophy of Experimental Biology explores some central philosophical issues concerning scientific research in experimental biology, including genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, developmental biology, neurobiology, and microbiology. It seeks to make sense of the explanatory strategies, concepts, ways of reasoning, approaches to discovery and problem solving, tools, models and experimental systems deployed by scientific life science researchers and also integrates developments in historical scholarship, in particular the New Experimentalism. It concludes that historical explanations of scientific change that are based on (...) local laboratory practice need to be supplemented with an account of the epistemic norms and standards that are operative in science. This book should be of interest to philosophers and historians of science as well as to scientists. (shrink)
On the whole our study has made a plea for the combined research into the history, methodology and philosophy of science. There is an intricate communication between these aspects of science, philosophy being both a fruit of scientific developments and a higher-level frame of reference for discussion on the inevicable metaphysical issues in science.As such philosophy can be very useful to science, but should never impose its ideas on the conduct of scientists . ... Zie: Summary.
This paper analyzes the interaction between science, philosophy and politics (including ideology) in the early work of J. B. S. Haldane (from 1922 to 1937). This period is particularly important, not only because it is the period of Haldane's most significant biological work (both in biochemistry and genetics), but also because it is during this period that his philosophical and political views underwent their most significant transformation. His philosophical stance first changed from a radical organicism to a position (...) far more compatible with mechanical materialism. The primary intellectual influence that was responsible for this shift was that of F. G. Hopkins. Later, Haldane came to accept Marxism and its official metaphysics, dialectical materialism, a move that let him accept the materialist conception of the world while still maintaining a resolute distance from mechanism. Throughout all these changes, what is most obvious is the influence of science on Haldane's philosophical views. An influence in the opposite direction is far less apparent. (shrink)
The Other Perennial Philosophy: A Metaphysical Dialectic seeks to synthesize the many fields within science, philosophy, and religion to achieve the most comprehensive picture ever constructed to incorporate universally held beliefs about God, man, and the universe. This book attempts to accomplish several interrelated purposes: to describe the Perennial Philosophy in its depth; to analyze the critical elements contained within such a body of thought; to bring to light the vast literature of views which are oppositional, at (...) least on some level, to those contained in the Perennial Philosophy; to synthesize these seemingly discordant thoughts into a new vision of the nature of reality; to dissect the implications of this new model; and lastly and perhaps most importantly, to demonstrate that intellect has no innate constraints. This book rigorously explores the connections to be made by weaving together the threads of philosophy, religious theology, mysticism, mythology, mathematics, physics, and biochemistry. In this study is both a critique and an homage to Perennial Philosophy. In evoking a new vision of reality, which is at the same time a modernized version of an old image, The Other Perennial Philosophy: A Metaphysical Dialectic seeks to entice readers to rethink their own views on a subject of crucial importance to all. This book will appeal to anyone interested in philosophy and religion. (shrink)
Kincaid argues that molecular biology provides little support for the reductionist program, that biochemistry does not reveal common mechanisms, indeed that biochemical theory obstructs discovery. These assertions clash with biologists' stated advocacy of reductionist programs and their claims about the consequent unity of experimental biology. This striking disagreement goes beyond differences in meaning granted to the terms. More significant is Kincaid's misunderstanding of what biochemists do, for a closer look at scientific practice-- and one of Kincaid's examples--reveals substantial progress (...) toward explaining biological function with biochemical models. With the molecular detail emerge unifying generalizations as well as further aspects of the functional processes. (shrink)
In this essay we take creationist biochemist Michael Behe to task for failing to make an evidentially grounded case for the supernatural intelligent design of biochemical systems. In our earlier work on Behe we showed that there were dimensions to biochemical complexity---redundant complexity---that he appeared to have ignored. Behe has recently replied to that work. We show here that his latest arguments contain fundamental flaws.
Reasoning in Biological Discoveries brings together a series of essays, which focus on one of the most heavily debated topics of scientific discovery. Collected together and richly illustrated, Darden's essays represent a groundbreaking foray into one of the major problems facing scientists and philosophers of science. Divided into three sections, the essays focus on broad themes, notably historical and philosophical issues at play in discussions of biological mechanism; and the problem of developing and refining reasoning strategies, including interfield relations and (...) anomaly resolution. Darden summarizes the philosophy of discovery and elaborates on the role that mechanisms play in biological discovery. Throughout the book, she uses historical case studies to extract advisory reasoning strategies for discovery. Examples in genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology reveal the process of discovery in action. (shrink)
Biological systems exhibit complexity at all levels of organization. It has recently been argued by Michael Behe that at the biochemical level a type of complexity exists--irreducible complexity--that cannot possibly have arisen as the result of natural, evolutionary processes and must instead be the product of (supernatural) intelligent design. Recent work on self-organizing chemical reactions calls into question Behe's analysis of the origins of biochemical complexity. His central interpretative metaphor for biochemical complexity, that of the well-designed mousetrap that ceases to (...) function if critical parts are absent, is undermined by the observation that typical biochemical systems exhibit considerable redundancy and overlap of function. Real biochemical systems, we argue, manifest redundant complexity--a characteristic result of evolutionary processes. (shrink)
Discovery proceeds in stages of construction, evaluation, and revision. Each of these stages is constrained by what is known or conjectured about what is being discovered. A new characterization of mechanism aids in specifying what is to be discovered when a mechanism is sought. Guidance in discovering mechanisms may be provided by the reasoning strategies of schema instantiation, modular subassembly, and forward/backward chaining. Examples are found in mechanisms in molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, and evolutionary biology.
While the phrase "metaphysics of science" has been used from time to time, it has only recently begun to denote a specific research area where metaphysics meets philosophy of science—and the sciences themselves. The essays in this volume demonstrate that metaphysics of science is an innovative field of research in its own right. The principle areas covered are: The modal metaphysics of properties: What is the essential nature of natural properties? Are all properties essentially categorical? Are they all essentially (...) dispositions, or are some categorical and others dispositional? Realism in mathematics and its relation to science: What does a naturalistic commitment of scientific realism tell us about our commitments to mathematical entities? Can this question be framed in something other than a Quinean philosophy? Dispositions and their relation to causation: Can we generate an account of causation that takes dispositionality as fundamental? And if we take dispositions as fundamental, what is the ontological ground of dispositions? Pandispositionalism: Could all properties be dispositional in nature? Natural kinds: Are there natural kinds, and if so what account of their nature should we give? For example, do they have essences? Here we consider how these issues may be illuminated by considering examples from reals science, in particular biochemistry and neurobiology. (shrink)
This paper examines the role of prestige bias in shaping academic philosophy, with a focus on its demographics. I argue that prestige bias exacerbates the structural underrepresentation of minorities in philosophy. It works as a filter against (among others) philosophers of color, women philosophers, and philosophers of low socio-economic status. As a consequence of prestige bias our judgments of philosophical quality become distorted. I outline ways in which prestige bias in philosophy can be mitigated.
Claims about people's intuitions have long played an important role in philosophical debates. The new field of experimental philosophy seeks to subject such claims to rigorous tests using the traditional methods of cognitive science – systematic experimentation and statistical analysis. Work in experimental philosophy thus far has investigated people's intuitions in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics. Although it is now generally agreed that experimental philosophers have made surprising discoveries about people's intuitions in (...) each of these areas, considerable disagreement remains about the philosophical significance of the key findings. Some have argued that work in experimental philosophy should be assessed by asking whether it can contribute to the kind of inquiry that is normally pursued within analytic philosophy, while others suggest that work in experimental philosophy is best understood as a contribution to a more traditional sort of philosophical inquiry that long predates the birth of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Philosophy has been a public endeavor since its origins in ancient Greece, India, and China. However, recent years have seen the development of a new type of public philosophy conducted by both academics and non- professionals. The new public philosophy manifests itself in a range of modalities, from the publication of magazines and books for the general public to a variety of initiatives that exploit the power and flexibility of social networks and new media. In this paper (...) we examine the phenomenon of public philosophy in its several facets, and investigate whether and in what sense it is itself a mix of philosophical practice and teaching. We conclude with a number of suggestions to academic colleagues on why and how to foster further growth of public philosophy for the benefit of society at large and of the discipline itself. (shrink)
This paper argues that explicit reading instruction should be part of lower level undergraduate philosophy courses. Specifically, the paper makes the claim that it is necessary to provide the student with both the relevant background knowledge about a philosophical work and certain metacognitive skills that enrich the reading process and their ability to organize the content of a philosophical text with other aspects of knowledge. A “How to Read Philosophy” handout and student reactions to the handout are provided.
Introduction to the Special Volume, “Method, Science and Mathematics: Neo-Kantianism and Analytic Philosophy,” edited by Scott Edgar and Lydia Patton. At its core, analytic philosophy concerns urgent questions about philosophy’s relation to the formal and empirical sciences, questions about philosophy’s relation to psychology and the social sciences, and ultimately questions about philosophy’s place in a broader cultural landscape. This picture of analytic philosophy shapes this collection’s focus on the history of the philosophy of (...) mathematics, physics, and psychology. The following essays uncover, reflect on, and exemplify modes of philosophy that are engaged with these allied disciplines. They make the case that, to the extent that analytic philosophers are still concerned with philosophy’s ties to these disciplines, we would do well to pay attention to neo-Kantian views on those ties. (shrink)
Obesity is the focus of multiple lines of inquiry that have -- together and separately -- produced many deep insights into the physiology of weight gain and maintenance. We examine three such streams of research and show how they are oriented to obesity intervention through multilevel integrated approaches. The first research programme is concerned with the genetics and biochemistry of fat production, and it links metabolism, physiology, endocrinology and neurochemistry. The second account of obesity is developmental and draws together (...) epigenetic and environmental explanations that can be embedded in an evolutionary framework. The third line of research focuses on the role of gut microbes in the production of obesity, and how microbial activities interact with host genetics, development and metabolism. These interwoven explanatory strategies are driven by an orientation to intervention, both for experimental and therapeutic outcomes. We connect the integrative and intervention-oriented aspects of obesity research through a discussion of translation, broadening the concept to capture the dynamic, iterative processes of scientific practice and therapy development. This system-oriented analysis of obesity research expands the philosophical scrutiny of contemporary developments in the biosciences and biomedicine, and has the potential to enrich philosophy of science and medicine. (shrink)
Experimental moral philosophy began to emerge as a methodology in the last decade of the twentieth century, a branch of the larger experimental philosophy (X-Phi, XΦ) approach. From the beginning, it has been embroiled in controversy on a number of fronts. Some doubt that it is philosophy at all. Others acknowledge that it is philosophy but think that it has produced modest results at best and confusion at worst. Still others think it represents an important advance.
This paper shows that during the first half of the 1960s The Journal of Philosophy quickly moved from publishing work in diverse philosophical traditions to, essentially, only publishing analytic philosophy. Further, the changes at the journal are shown, with the help of previous work on the journals Mind and The Philosophical Review, to be part of a pattern involving generalist philosophy journals in Britain and America during the period 1925-1969. The pattern is one in which journals controlled (...) by analytic philosophers systematically promote a form of critical philosophy and marginalise rival approaches to philosophy. This pattern, it is argued, helps to explain the growing dominance of analytic philosophy during the twentieth century and allows characterising this form of philosophy as, at least during 1925-1969, a sectarian form of critical philosophy. (shrink)
Many philosophers have assumed, without argument, that Wittgenstein influenced Austin. More often, however, this is vehemently denied, especially by those who knew Austin personally. We compile and assess the currently available evidence for Wittgenstein’s influence on Austin’s philosophy of language. Surprisingly, this has not been done before in any detail. On the basis of both textual and circumstantial evidence we show that Austin’s work demonstrates substantial engagement with Wittgenstein’s later philosophy. In particular, Austin’s 1940 paper, ‘The Meaning of (...) a Word’, should be construed as a direct response to and development of ideas he encountered in Wittgenstein’s Blue Book. Moreover, we argue that Austin’s mature speech-act theory in How to Do Things with Words was also significantly influenced by Wittgenstein. (shrink)
What is a game? What are we doing when we play a game? What is the value of playing games? Several different philosophical subdisciplines have attempted to answer these questions using very distinctive frameworks. Some have approached games as something like a text, deploying theoretical frameworks from the study of narrative, fiction, and rhetoric to interrogate games for their representational content. Others have approached games as artworks and asked questions about the authorship of games, about the ontology of the work (...) and its performance. Yet others, from the philosophy of sport, have focused on normative issues of fairness, rule application, and competition. The primary purpose of this article is to provide an overview of several different philosophical approaches to games and, hopefully, demonstrate the relevance and value of the different approaches to each other. Early academic attempts to cope with games tried to treat games as a subtype of narrative and to interpret games exactly as one might interpret a static, linear narrative. A faction of game studies, self-described as “ludologists,” argued that games were a substantially novel form and could not be treated with traditional tools for narrative analysis. In traditional narrative, an audience is told and interprets the story, where in a game, the player enacts and creates the story. Since that early debate, theorists have attempted to offer more nuanced accounts of how games might achieve similar ends to more traditional texts. For example, games might be seen as a novel type of fiction, which uses interactive techniques to achieve immersion in a fictional world. Alternately, games might be seen as a new way to represent causal systems, and so a new way to criticize social and political entities. Work from contemporary analytic philosophy of art has, on the other hand, asked questions whether games could be artworks and, if so, what kind. Much of this debate has concerned the precise nature of the artwork, and the relationship between the artist and the audience. Some have claimed that the audience is a cocreator of the artwork, and so games are a uniquely unfinished and cooperative art form. Others have claimed that, instead, the audience does not help create the artwork; rather, interacting with the artwork is how an audience member appreciates the artist's finished production. Other streams of work have focused less on the game as a text or work, and more on game play as a kind of activity. One common view is that game play occurs in a “magic circle.” Inside the magic circle, players take on new roles, follow different rules, and actions have different meanings. Actions inside the magic circle do not have their usual consequences for the rest of life. Enemies of the magic circle view have claimed that the view ignores the deep integration of game life from ordinary life and point to gambling, gold farming, and the status effects of sports. Philosophers of sport, on the other hand, have approached games with an entirely different framework. This has lead into investigations about the normative nature of games—what guides the applications of rules and how those rules might be applied, interpreted, or even changed. Furthermore, they have investigated games as social practices and as forms of life. (shrink)
The paper begins by introducing a heuristic distinction between the “dogmatist” and the “pragmatist” approaches to philosophy of history. Dogmatists tend to use history to exemplify and shore up their pre-existing philosophical convictions. Pragmatists, on the other hand, construe philosophy of history as a form of critical reflection on the actual historical practice, with epistemic criteria of proper practice emerging in the course of the research itself, not antecedently deduced from general philosophical considerations. The core of the paper (...) discusses the work of Paul Roth, which is treated both as a specimen of the pragmatist mode of argumentation, and as a philosophical vindication, in the context of history, of the central pragmatist contention that we cannot successfully define knowledge in terms of a relation to reality, where reality is somehow understood independently and in advance of us knowing it. It is argued that Roth’s skillful deployment of arguments emerging from the recent philosophy of science to expose naïve realism in philosophy of history as a vestige of the no-longer-tenable philosophical vision opens a way for thinking productively about history as a complex and evolving form of research practice. (shrink)
Once symbolized by a burning armchair, experimental philosophy has in recent years shifted away from its original hostility to traditional methods. Starting with a brief historical review of the experimentalist challenge to traditional philosophical practice, this chapter looks at research undercutting that challenge, and at ways in which experimental work has evolved to complement and strengthen traditional approaches to philosophical questions.
Many have tackled the question ‘What (if anything) is analytic philosophy?’ I will not attempt to answer this vexed question. Rather, I address a smaller, more manageable set of interrelated questions: first, when and how did people begin using the label ‘analytic philosophy’? Second, how did those who used this label understand it? Third, why did many philosophers we today classify as analytic initially resist being grouped together under the single category of ‘analytic philosophy’? Finally, for the (...) first generation who described themselves as analytic philosophers, what was their intended contrast class? Relatedly, when did ‘continental philosophy’ become the standard opposition? Some evidence I present justifies received answers to these questions; other evidence supports surprising and unorthodox answers to these questions. (shrink)
Is Bayesian decision theory a panacea for many of the problems in epistemology and the philosophy of science, or is it philosophical snake-oil? For years a debate had been waged amongst specialists regarding the import and legitimacy of this body of theory. Mark Kaplan had written the first accessible and non-technical book to address this controversy. Introducing a new variant on Bayesian decision theory the author offers a compelling case that, while no panacea, decision theory does in fact have (...) the most profound consequences for the way in which philosophers think about inquiry, criticism and rational belief. The new variant on Bayesian theory is presented in such a way that a non-specialist will be able to understand it. The book also offers new solutions to some classic paradoxes. It focuses on the intuitive motivations of the Bayesian approach to epistemology and addresses the philosophical worries to which it has given rise. (shrink)
In this article, I attempt to bridge the gap between partiality and impartiality in moral philosophy from an oft-neglected African perspective. I draw a solution for this moral-theoretical impasse between partialists and impartialists from Kwasi Wiredu's, one of the most influential African philosophers, distinction between an ethic and ethics. I show how an ethic accommodates partiality and ethics impartiality. Wiredu's insight is that partialism is not concerned with strict moral issues. -/- .
What can--and what can't--philosophy do? What are its ethical risks--and its possible rewards? How does it differ from science? In Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline , Bernard Williams addresses these questions and presents a striking vision of philosophy as fundamentally different from science in its aims and methods even though there is still in philosophy "something that counts as getting it right." Written with his distinctive combination of rigor, imagination, depth, and humanism, the book amply demonstrates (...) why Williams was one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Spanning his career from his first publication to one of his last lectures, the book's previously unpublished or uncollected essays address metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, as well as the scope and limits of philosophy itself. The essays are unified by Williams's constant concern that philosophy maintain contact with the human problems that animate it in the first place. As the book's editor, A. W. Moore, writes in his introduction, the title essay is "a kind of manifesto for Williams's conception of his own life's work." It is where he most directly asks "what philosophy can and cannot contribute to the project of making sense of things"--answering that what philosophy can best help make sense of is "being human." Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline is one of three posthumous books by Williams to be published by Princeton University Press. In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument was published in the fall of 2005. The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy is being published shortly after the present volume. (shrink)
Except for a patina of twenty-first century modernity, in the form of logic and language, philosophy is exactly the same now as it ever was; it has made no progress whatsoever. We philosophers wrestle with the exact same problems the Pre-Socratics wrestled with. Even more outrageous than this claim, though, is the blatant denial of its obvious truth by many practicing philosophers. The No-Progress view is explored and argued for here. Its denial is diagnosed as a form of anosognosia, (...) a mental condition where the affected person denies there is any problem. The theories of two eminent philosophers supporting the No-Progress view are also examined. The final section offers an explanation for philosophy 's inability to solve any philosophical problem, ever. The paper closes with some reflections on philosophy 's future. (shrink)
What does it mean to think about technology philosophically? Why try? These are the issues that Carl Mitcham addresses in this work, a comprehensive, critical introduction to the philosophy of technology and a discussion of its sources and uses. Tracing the changing meaning of "technology" from ancient times to our own, Mitcham identifies the most important traditions of critical analysis of technology: the engineering approach, which assumes the centrality of technology in human life and the humanities approach, which is (...) concerned with its moral and cultural boundaries. Mitcham bridges these two traditions through an analysis of discussions of engineering design, of the distinction between tools and machines, and of engineering science itself. He looks at technology as it is experienced in everyday life--as material objects (from kitchenware to computers), as knowledge ( including recipes, rules, theories, and intuitive "know-how"), as activity (design, construction, and use), and as volition (knowing how to use technology and understanding its consequences). By elucidating these multiple aspects, Mitcham establishes criteria for a more comprehensive analysis of ethical issues in applications of science and technology. This book will guide anyone wanting to reflect on technology and its moral implications. (shrink)
Practitioners of the new ‘experimental philosophy’ have collected data that appear to show that some philosophical intuitions are culturally variable. Many experimental philosophers take this to pose a problem for a more traditional, ‘armchair’ style of philosophizing. It is argued that this is a mistake that derives from a false assumption about the character of philosophical methods; neither philosophy nor its methods have anything to fear from cultural variability in philosophical intuitions.
Prominent critics and champions of Experimental Philosophy (X-Phi) alike have tied its philosophical significance to the philosophical significance of intuition. In this essay, I develop an interpretation of X-Phi which does not require an intuition-driven understanding of traditional philosophy, and the arguments challenged by results in X-Phi. X-Phi's role on this account is primarily dialectical. Its aim is to test the universality of claims which are merely assumed to be true, exploring the limits of our assumptions and showing (...) when a proposition is more controversial than is widely believed. (shrink)
In the past decade, experimental philosophy---the attempt at making progress on philosophical problems using empirical methods---has thrived in a wide range of domains. However, only in recent years has aesthetics succeeded in drawing the attention of experimental philosophers. The present paper constitutes the first survey of these works and of the nascent field of 'experimental philosophy of aesthetics'. We present both recent experimental works by philosophers on topics such as the ontology of aesthetics, aesthetic epistemology, aesthetic concepts, and (...) imagination, as well as research from other disciplines that not only are relevant to philosophy of aesthetics but also open new avenues of research for experimental philosophy of aesthetics. Overall, we conclude that the birth of an experimental philosophy of aesthetics is good news not only for aesthetics but also for experimental philosophy itself, as it contributes to broaden the scope of experimental philosophy. (shrink)
"[Heidegger's] greatest work... essential for all collections." —Choice "... students of Heidegger will surely find this book indispensable." —Library Journal Contributions to Philosophy, written in 1936-38 and first published in 1989 as Beiträge zur Philosophie, is Heidegger’s most ground-breaking work after the publication of Being and Time in 1927. If Being and Time is perceived as undermining modern metaphysics, Contributions undertakes to reshape the very project of thinking.