The notion that our society, its education system and its intellectual life, is characterised by a split between two cultures – the arts or humanities on one hand, and the sciences on the other – has a long history. But it was C. P. Snow's Rede lecture of 1959 that brought it to prominence and began a public debate that is still raging in the media today. This 50th anniversary printing of The Two Cultures and its successor piece, A Second (...) Look features an introduction by Stefan Collini, charting the history and context of the debate, its implications and its afterlife. The importance of science and technology in policy run largely by non-scientists, the future for education and research, and the problem of fragmentation threatening hopes for a common culture are just some of the subjects discussed. (shrink)
Offering an original perspective on the central project of Descartes' Meditations, this book argues that Descartes' free will theodicy is crucial to his refutation of skepticism. A common thread runs through Descartes' radical First Meditation doubts, his Fourth Meditation discussion of error, and his pious reconciliation of providence and freedom: each involves a clash of perspectives-thinking of God seems to force conclusions diametrically opposed to those we reach when thinking only of ourselves. Descartes fears that a skeptic could exploit this (...) clash of perspectives to argue that Reason is not trustworthy because self-contradictory. To refute the skeptic and vindicate the consistency of Reason, it is not enough for Descartes to demonstrate that our Creator is perfect; he must also show that our errors cannot prove God's imperfection. To do this, Descartes invokes the idea that we err freely. However, prospects initially seem dim for this free will theodicy, because Descartes appears to lack any consistent or coherent understanding of human freedom. In an extremely in-depth analysis spanning four chapters, Ragland argues that despite initial appearances, Descartes consistently offered a coherent understanding of human freedom: for Descartes, freedom is most fundamentally the ability to do the right thing. Since we often do wrong, actual humans must therefore be able to do otherwise-our actions cannot be causally determined by God or our psychology. But freedom is in principle compatible with determinism: while leaving us free, God could have determined us to always do the good. Though this conception of freedom is both consistent and suitable to Descartes' purposes, when he attempts to reconcile it with divine providence, Descartes's strategy fails, running afoul of his infamous doctrine that God created the eternal truths. (shrink)
God’s providence appears to threaten the existence of human freedom. This paper examines why Descartes considered this threat merelyapparent. Section one argues that Descartes did not reconcile providence and freedom by adopting a compatibilist conception of freedom. Sections two and three argue that for Descartes, God’s superior knowledge allows God to providentially arrange free choices without causally determining them. Descartes’ position thus strongly resembles the “middle knowledge” solution of the Jesuits. Section four examines the problematic relationship between this solution and (...) the creation of the eternal truths, arguing that Descartes’ position depends on his unique understanding of divine simplicity. (shrink)
: The principle of alternative possibilities (PAP) says that doing something freely implies being able to do otherwise. I show that Descartes consistently believed not only in PAP, but also in clear and distinct determinism (CDD), which claims that we sometimes cannot but judge true what we clearly perceive. Because Descartes thinks judgment is always a free act, PAP and CDD seem contradictory, but Descartes consistently resolved this apparent contradiction by distinguishing between two senses of 'could have done otherwise.' In (...) one sense alternative possibilities are necessary for freedom and in another they are not. I discuss three possible interpretations of the two senses. (shrink)
The principle of alternative possibilities says that doing something freely implies being able to do otherwise. I show that Descartes consistently believed not only in PAP, but also in clear and distinct determinism, which claims that we sometimes cannot but judge true what we clearly perceive. Because Descartes thinks judgment is always a free act, PAP and CDD seem contradictory, but Descartes consistently resolved this apparent contradiction by distinguishing between two senses of 'could have done otherwise.' In one sense alternative (...) possibilities are necessary for freedom and in another they are not. I discuss three possible interpretations of the two senses. (shrink)
In an influential article, Anthony Kenny charged that the view of freedom in Descartes’ “1645 letter to Mesland” is incoherent, and that this incoherence was present in Descartes’ thought from the beginning. Against , I argue that such incoherence would rather support Gilson’s suspicions that the 1645 letter is dishonest. Against , I offer a close reading of the letter, showing that Kenny’s objection seems plausible only if we misconstrue a key ambiguity in the text. I close by defending Descartes (...) against some related worries of my own about the degrees of Cartesian freedom. I conclude that there is really no good reason to deny that Descartes’ view in the 1645 letter is both internally coherent and a genuine explication of the Meditations’ account of freedom. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: René Descartes' Cogito is an example of a paradigmatic thought experiment, herald of both subjectivism and new science in Europe's Modern Age, that seems to have escaped the attention of thought experiment philosophers. On deep analysis, the Cogito appears as universal instantiation. The Cogito has strong rhetorical effects for it narratively generalizes from I to all human kind, and its historical and philosophical success can be explained from its concise enthymematic structure that rings true in many possible senses. We (...) consider it a preeminent example of a thought experiment as it states the power of thinking as its very contents. From Descartes' methodology of doubt we can conclude that, e.g., on a Wittgensteinian interpretation, the Cogito is a logical thought experiment rather than a psychological one. RESUMO: O Cogito de René Descartes é um exemplo de experimento mental paradigmático, precursor tanto do subjetivismo quanto da nova ciência, na Idade Moderna europeia, o qual parece ter escapado à atenção dos filósofos que estudaram o experimento mental. Na análise profunda, o Cogito aparece como uma instanciação universal. O Cogito tem fortes efeitos retóricos por si mesmo, generalizando narrativamente desde o eu para toda a espécie humana, e seu sucesso histórico e filosófico pode ser explicado por sua estrutura entimemática concisa, que soa através de muitos sentidos possíveis. Consideramos que é um exemplo proeminente de um experimento mental, na medida em que afirma o poder de pensar como seus próprios conteúdos. A partir da metodologia da dúvida de Descartes, podemos concluir que, em uma interpretação wittgensteiniana, o Cogito é um experimento mental mais lógico que psicológico. (shrink)
This paper discusses abductive reasoning---that is, reasoning in which explanatory hypotheses are formed and evaluated. First, it criticizes two recent formal logical models of abduction. An adequate formalization would have to take into account the following aspects of abduction: explanation is not deduction; hypotheses are layered; abduction is sometimes creative; hypotheses may be revolutionary; completeness is elusive; simplicity is complex; and abductive reasoning may be visual and non-sentential. Second, in order to illustrate visual aspects of hypothesis formation, the paper describes (...) recent work on visual inference in archaeology. Third, in connection with the evaluation of explanatory hypotheses, the paper describes recent results on the computation of coherence. (shrink)
In the Fourth Meditation, Descartes asks: 'If God is no deceiver, why do we sometimes err?' Descartes's answer (despite initial appearances) is both systematic and necessary for his epistemological project. Two atheistic arguments from error purport to show that reason both proves and disproves God's existence. Descartes must block them to escape scepticism. He offers a mixed theodicy: the value of free will justifies God in allowing our actual errors, and the perfection of the universe may justify God in making (...) us able to err. Though internally coherent, Descartes's theodicy conflicts with his view of divine providence. (shrink)
We formalise the notion of those infinite binary sequences z that admit a single program P which expresses the entire algorithmical structure of z. Such a program P minimizes the information which must be used in a relative computation for z. We propose two concepts with different strength for this notion, the learnable and the super-learnable sequences. We establish three different equivalent characterizations of learnable (super-learnable, resp.) sequences. In particular, we prove that a sequences z is learnable (super-learnable, resp.) if (...) and only if there is a computable probability measure p such that p is Schnorr (Martin-Lof, resp.) p-random. There is a recursively enumerable sequence which is not learnable. The learnable sequences are invariant with respect to all total and effective transformations of infinite binary sequences. (shrink)
According to “hard” compatibilists, we can be responsible for our actions not only when they are determined by mindless natural causes, but also when some agent other than ourselves intentionally determines us to act as we do. “Soft” compatibilists consider freedom compatible with merely natural determinism, but not with intentional determinism. Because he believes there is no relevant difference between a naturally determined agent and a relevantly similar intentionally determined agent, John Martin Fischer is a hard compatibilist. However, he argues (...) for “historical” compatibilism by appealing to the intuition that certain manipulated agents are not responsible. By considering a new type of manipulation case, I show that Fischer’s appeal to ordinary intuitions about manipulation conflicts with NRD, so that he must choose between the two. The closing section explains why I think going “soft” is Fischer’s better option. (shrink)
In the 1970s and 1980s a strong opposition and anxiety towards biological and naturalizing knowledges was the norm in feminist discourse. In the past decades the certainties of that ‘anti-biologism’ have been challenged, in part because of a new recognition of the role of contingency in both biological determination and biological science. What seems to have survived the shift is a set of normative assumptions concerning the role of determinacy and contingency in the political implications of ontological claims: an assumed (...) political valorization of contingency. This article challenges those assumptions. It draws attention to the embrace of contingency and processuality on the part of supremacist biopolitical discourse, and suggests the need to think again about the politics of contingency and becoming . Focusing on the issue of racism and supremacist-specification, the article takes a genealogical look at ‘second-wave’ feminist anti-biologism. Monique Wittig’s materialist feminist attack on naturalizing ideology and ‘the myth of woman’ provides the historical example. The article draws attention to curious absences in Wittig’s anti-biologistic statements concerning early 20th-century biologistic feminism: the absence of a critique of eugenics, racism and supremacism. Arguably the condemnation of biology as a conservative ‘ideology of the status quo’ created masks for biopolitical ontology, obscuring the progressive, dynamic, processual character of biologism and of modern racism. While dislodging some powers of biologistic discourse, feminist anti-biologism might also have played a part in facilitating the revitalization of biopolitical racism within the constructivist culturalist rubric. The aim of the article is not to critique ‘second-wave’ feminism from the perspective of contemporary scholarship, but to help generate new ways of thinking and feeling about the role of ontology, contingency and temporality in the present politics of classification. (shrink)
This study investigates the relative influences of professional values and selected demographic variables on the ethical perceptions of services marketing professionals. The relationship between ethical perceptions and ethical judgments of service marketers is also examined. The data were obtained from a mail survey of the American Marketing Association's professional members of service industries. The survey results indicate a positive relationship between a service professional's professional values and his/her perceptions of ethical problems. The results also suggest that ethical judgments of a (...) service professional can be partially explained by his/her perceptions of ethical problems. Implications of the research findings were discussed. (shrink)
This paper suggests that moral neutrality erodes the liberal practices which sustain a free society. It supports the Polanyian claim that a free society is the political arrangement which is best able to realise universal ideals.
In 163 Galen gave an anatomy lesson in Rome before an audience that included ‘Demetrius of Alexandria, a friend of Favorinus, who was every day speakingin public on themes proposed to him, in the style and manner of Favorinus’.