We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...) warming, modern armaments and the lethal character of modern warfare, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, immense inequalities of wealth and power across the globe, pollution of earth, sea and air, even the aids epidemic (aids being spread by modern travel). All these global problems have arisen because some of us have acquired unprecedented powers to act, via science and technology, without also acquiring the capacity to act wisely. (shrink)
I address a question recently raised by Simon Saunders [Phil. Sci. 80: 22-48 ] concerning the relationship between the spacetime structure of Newton-Cartan theory and that of what I will call "Maxwell-Huygens spacetime". This discussion will also clarify a connection between Saunders' work and a recent paper by Eleanor Knox [Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 65: 863-880 ].
We present a multiscale integrationist interpretation of the boundaries of cognitive systems, using the Markov blanket formalism of the variational free energy principle. This interpretation is intended as a corrective for the philosophical debate over internalist and externalist interpretations of cognitive boundaries; we stake out a compromise position. We first survey key principles of new radical views of cognition. We then describe an internalist interpretation premised on the Markov blanket formalism. Having reviewed these accounts, we develop our positive multiscale account. (...) We argue that the statistical seclusion of internal from external states of the system—entailed by the existence of a Markov boundary—can coexist happily with the multiscale integration of the system through its dynamics. Our approach does not privilege any given boundary, nor does it argue that all boundaries are equally prescient. We argue that the relevant boundaries of cognition depend on the level being characterised and the explanatory interests that guide investigation. We approach the issue of how and where to draw the boundaries of cognitive systems through a multiscale ontology of cognitive systems, which offers a multidisciplinary research heuristic for cognitive science. (shrink)
There is general agreement, which I share, that among the earliest of Western philosophers were three of the very greatest: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Each of these is on record as saying something – and it is almost the same thing – about the nature of philosophy itself that goes to the heart of the matter. Aristotle said: ‘It is owing to their wonder that men now begin, and first began, to philosophise’ . And Plato wrote, putting his words into (...) the mouth of Socrates: ‘This sense of wonder is the mark of the philosopher. Philosophy indeed has no other origin’. (shrink)
In _Neuroscience and Philosophy_ three prominent philosophers and a leading neuroscientist clash over the conceptual presuppositions of cognitive neuroscience. The book begins with an excerpt from Maxwell Bennett and Peter Hacker's _Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience_, which questions the conceptual commitments of cognitive neuroscientists. Their position is then criticized by Daniel Dennett and John Searle, two philosophers who have written extensively on the subject, and Bennett and Hacker in turn respond. Their impassioned debate encompasses a wide range of central themes: (...) the nature of consciousness, the bearer and location of psychological attributes, the intelligibility of so-called brain maps and representations, the notion of qualia, the coherence of the notion of an intentional stance, and the relationships between mind, brain, and body. Clearly argued and thoroughly engaging, the authors present fundamentally different conceptions of philosophical method, cognitive-neuroscientific explanation, and human nature, and their exchange will appeal to anyone interested in the relation of mind to brain, of psychology to neuroscience, of causal to rational explanation, and of consciousness to self-consciousness. In his conclusion Daniel Robinson explains why this confrontation is so crucial to the understanding of neuroscientific research. The project of cognitive neuroscience, he asserts, depends on the incorporation of human nature into the framework of science itself. In Robinson's estimation, Dennett and Searle fail to support this undertaking; Bennett and Hacker suggest that the project itself might be based on a conceptual mistake. Exciting and challenging, _Neuroscience and Philosophy_ is an exceptional introduction to the philosophical problems raised by cognitive neuroscience. (shrink)
Rationality contains a selection of the best contemporary writing on one of the central issues in the philosophy of social science. The contributors address themselves to questions which have increasingly become the subject of a many-sided debate between philosophers, sociologists and anthropologists: How are we to understand the beliefs and actions of other men in other cultures? Can we translate the meanings and the reason of one culture into the language of another. This volume is essential reading for courses on (...) the methodology and philosophy of social science and is so arranged that the student is introduced step by step to the cut and thrust of scholarly debate. (shrink)
Aristotle’s typical procedure is to identify something's four causes. Intentional action has typically been treated as an exception: most think that Aristotle has the standard causalist account, according to which an intentional action is a bodily movement efficiently caused by an attitude of the appropriate sort. I show that action is not an exception to Aristotle’s typical procedure: he has the resources to specify four causes of action, and thus to articulate a powerful theory of action unlike any other on (...) offer. (shrink)
"Understanding Scientific Progress constitutes a potentially enormous and revolutionary advancement in philosophy of science. It deserves to be read and studied by everyone with any interest in or connection with physics or the theory of science. Maxwell cites the work of Hume, Kant, J.S. Mill, Ludwig Bolzmann, Pierre Duhem, Einstein, Henri Poincaré, C.S. Peirce, Whitehead, Russell, Carnap, A.J. Ayer, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Imre Lakatos, Paul Feyerabend, Nelson Goodman, Bas van Fraassen, and numerous others. He lauds Popper for advancing (...) beyond verificationism and Hume’s problem of induction, but faults both Kuhn and Popper for being unable to show that and how their work could lead nearer to the truth." —Dr. LLOYD EBY teaches philosophy at The George Washington University and The Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC "Maxwell's aim-oriented empiricism is in my opinion a very significant contribution to the philosophy of science. I hope that it will be widely discussed and debated." – ALAN SOKAL, Professor of Physics, New York University "Maxwell takes up the philosophical challenge of how natural science makes progress and provides a superb treatment of the problem in terms of the contrast between traditional conceptions and his own scientifically-informed theory—aim-oriented empiricism. This clear and rigorously-argued work deserves the attention of scientists and philosophers alike, especially those who believe that it is the accumulation of knowledge and technology that answers the question."—LEEMON McHENRY, California State University, Northridge "Maxwell has distilled the finest essence of the scientific enterprise. Science is about making the world a better place. Sometimes science loses its way. The future depends on scientists doing the right things for the right reasons. Maxwell's Aim-Oriented Empiricism is a map to put science back on the right track."—TIMOTHY McGETTIGAN, Professor of Sociology, Colorado State University - Pueblo "Maxwell has a great deal to offer with these important ideas, and deserves to be much more widely recognised than he is. Readers with a background in philosophy of science will appreciate the rigour and thoroughness of his argument, while more general readers will find his aim-oriented rationality a promising way forward in terms of a future sustainable and wise social order."—David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer, 2017/2 "This is a book about the very core problems of the philosophy of science. The idea of replacing Standard Empiricism with Aim-Oriented Empiricism is understood by Maxwell as the key to the solution of these central problems. Maxwell handles his main tool masterfully, producing a fascinating and important reading to his colleagues in the field. However, Nicholas Maxwell is much more than just a philosopher of science. In the closing part of the book he lets the reader know about his deep concern and possible solutions of the biggest problems humanity is facing."—Professor PEETER MŰŰREPP, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia “For many years, Maxwell has been arguing that fundamental philosophical problems about scientific progress, especially the problem of induction, cannot be solved granted standard empiricism (SE), a doctrine which, he thinks, most scientists and philosophers of science take for granted. A key tenet of SE is that no permanent thesis about the world can be accepted as a part of scientific knowledge independent of evidence. For a number of reasons, Maxwell argues, we need to adopt a rather different conception of science which he calls aim-oriented empiricism (AOE). This holds that we need to construe physics as accepting, as a part of theoretical scientific knowledge, a hierarchy of metaphysical theses about the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe, which become increasingly insubstantial as we go up the hierarchy. In his book “Understanding Scientific Progress: Aim-Oriented Empiricism”, Maxwell gives a concise and excellent illustration of this view and the arguments supporting it… Maxwell’s book is a potentially important contribution to our understanding of scientific progress and philosophy of science more generally. Maybe it is the time for scientists and philosophers to acknowledge that science has to make metaphysical assumptions concerning the knowability and comprehensibility of the universe. Fundamental philosophical problems about scientific progress, which cannot be solved granted SE, may be solved granted AOE.” Professor SHAN GAO, Shanxi University, China . (shrink)
This article gives an explicit presentation of Newtonian gravitation on the backdrop of Maxwell space-time, giving a sense in which acceleration is relative in gravitational theory. However, caution is needed: assessing whether this is a robust or interesting sense of the relativity of acceleration depends on some subtle technical issues and on substantive philosophical questions over how to identify the space-time structure of a theory.
This article provides a narrative review of the scholarly writings on professional ethics education for future teachers. Against the background of a widespread belief among scholars working in this area that longstanding and sustained research and reflection on the ethics of teaching have had little impact on the teacher education curriculum, the article takes stock of the field by synthesizing viewpoints on key aspects of teaching ethics to teacher candidates—the role ethics plays in teacher education, the primary objectives of ethics (...) education for teachers, recommended teaching and learning strategies, and challenges to introducing ethics curriculum—and maps out how opinions on these matters have evolved over the three decades since the initial publication of Strike and Soltis’ seminal book, The Ethics of Teaching. In light of the review’s results, the article identifies critical deficits in this literature and proposes a set of recommendations for future inquiry. (shrink)
In this book, Bryan W. Van Norden examines early Confucianism as a form of virtue ethics and Mohism, an anti-Confucian movement, as a version of consequentialism. The philosophical methodology is analytic, in that the emphasis is on clear exegesis of the texts and a critical examination of the philosophical arguments proposed by each side. Van Norden shows that Confucianism, while similar to Aristotelianism in being a form of virtue ethics, offers different conceptions of “the good life,” the virtues, human (...) nature, and ethical cultivation. (shrink)
This is a revised and enlarged version of Bryan Magee's widely praised study of Schopenhauer, the most comprehensive book on this great philosopher. It contains a brief biography of Schopenhauer, a systematic exposition of his thought, and a critical discussion of the problems to which it gives rise and of its influence on a wide range of thinkers and artists. For this new edition Magee has added three new chapters and made many minor revisions and corrections throughout. This new (...) edition will consolidate the book's standing as the definitive study of Schopenhauer. (shrink)
The focus of Norton's book is the distinction between objectives and values in developing environmental policies. Norton argues that environmentalism is a coalition of many groups working toward common objectives, but unlike other social action movements the environmental coalition does not have shared moral principles.
This paper proves that Maxwell's Demon is compatible with classical mechanics. In particular it shows how the cycle of operation - including measurement and erasure - can be carried out with no entropy cost, contrary to the Landauer-Bennett thesis (according to which memory erasure costs kln2 of entropy increase per bit). The Landauer-Bennet thesis is thus proven to be mistaken.
Renewed worries about the unity of the proposition have been taken as a crucial stumbling block for any traditional conception of propositions. These worries are often framed in terms of how entities independent of mind and language can have truth conditions: why is the proposition that Desdemona loves Cassio true if and only if she loves him? I argue that the best understanding of these worries shows that they should be solved by our theory of truth and not our theory (...) of content. Specifically, I propose a version of the redundancy theory according to which ‘it is true that Desdemona loves Cassio’ expresses the same proposition as ‘Desdemona loves Cassio’. Surprisingly, this variant of the redundancy theory treats ‘is true’ as an ordinary predicate of the language, thereby defusing many standard criticisms of the redundancy theory. (shrink)
It is generally accepted, following Landauer and Bennett, that the process of measurement involves no minimum entropy cost, but the erasure of information in resetting the memory register of a computer to zero requires dissipating heat into the environment. This thesis has been challenged recently in a two-part article by Earman and Norton. I review some relevant observations in the thermodynamics of computation and argue that Earman and Norton are mistaken: there is in principle no entropy cost to the acquisition (...) of information, but the destruction of information does involve an irreducible entropy cost. (shrink)
Philosophers often find themselves in disagreement with contemporary philosophers they know full well to be their epistemic superiors on the topics relevant to the disagreement. This looks epistemically irresponsible. I offer a detailed investigation of this problem of the reflective epistemic renegade. I argue that although in some cases the renegade is not epistemically blameworthy, and the renegade situation is significantly less common than most would think, in a troublesome number of cases in which the situation arises the renegade is (...) blameworthy in her disagreement with recognized epistemic superiors. I also offer some thoughts on what it would mean for philosophical practice for us to refrain from being renegades. Finally, I show how a new kind of radical skepticism emerges from modest theses regarding the renegade. (shrink)
The fact that the same equations or mathematical models reappear in the descriptions of what are otherwise disparate physical systems can be seen as yet another manifestation of Wigner's “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics.” James Clerk Maxwell famously exploited such formal similarities in what he called the “method of physical analogy.” Both Maxwell and Hermann von Helmholtz appealed to the physical analogies between electromagnetism and hydrodynamics in their development of these theories. I argue that a closer historical examination of (...) the different ways in which Maxwell and Helmholtz each deployed this analogy gives further insight into debates about the representational and explanatory power of mathematical models. (shrink)
In epistemology the nagging voice of the sceptic has always been present, whispering that 'You can't know that you have hands, or just about anything else, because for all you know your whole life is a dream.' Philosophers have recently devised ingenious ways to argue against and silence this voice, but Bryan Frances now presents a highly original argument template for generating new kinds of radical scepticism, ones that hold even if all the clever anti-sceptical fixes defeat the traditional (...) sceptic. Sharp, witty, and fun to read, Scepticism Comes Alive will be highly provocative for anyone interested in knowledge and its limits. (shrink)
The Comprehensibility of the Universe puts forward a radically new conception of science. According to the orthodox conception, scientific theories are accepted and rejected impartially with respect to evidence, no permanent assumption being made about the world independently of the evidence. Nicholas Maxwell argues that this orthodox view is untenable. He urges that in its place a new orthodoxy is needed, which sees science as making a hierarchy of metaphysical assumptions about the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe, these (...) assumptions asserting less and less as one ascends the hierarchy.This view has significant implications: that it is part of scientific knowledge that the universe is physically comprehensible; that metaphysics and philosophy are central to scientific knowledge; that science possesses a rational, if fallible, method of discovery; that a new understanding of scientific method and rationality is required. Maxwell argues that this new conception makes possible a natural resolution of long-standing philosophical problems about science, regarding simplicity, induction, and progress. His goal is the reform not just of the philosophy of science but of science itself, and the healing of the rift between the two. (shrink)