The present paper presents a philosophical analysis of earth science, a discipline that has received relatively little attention from philosophers of science. We focus on the question of whether earth science can be reduced to allegedly more fundamental sciences, such as chemistry or physics. In order to answer this question, we investigate the aims and methods of earth science, the laws and theories used by earth scientists, and the nature of earth-scientific explanation. Our analysis leads to the tentative conclusion that (...) there are emergent phenomena in earth science but that these may be reducible to physics. However, earth science does not have irreducible laws, and the theories of earth science are typically hypotheses about unobservable (past) events or generalised - but not universally valid - descriptions of contingent processes. Unlike more fundamental sciences, earth science is characterised by explanatory pluralism: earth scientists employ various forms of narrative explanations in combination with causal explanations. The main reason is that earth-scientific explanations are typically hampered by local underdetermination by the data to such an extent that complete causal explanations are impossible in practice, if not in principle. (shrink)
In the past 150 years there have been many attempts to draw parallels between cultural and biological evolution. Most of these attempts were flawed due to lack of knowledge and false ideas about evolution. In recent decades these shortcomings have been cleared away, thus triggering a renewed interest in the subject. This paper offers a critical survey of the main issues and arguments in that discussion. The paper starts with an explication of the Darwinian algorithm of evolution. It is argued (...) that this ‘formula’ is substrate-neutral, which means that biological evolution might not be the only Darwinian process. Other dynamic systems could evolve as well provided that certain conditions are met. In the case of human culture this seems to be the case. The paper then focuses on the notion of niche construction. It is argued that niche construction plays a crucial role in human evolution because it has altered the sources of natural selection and thus the path of evolution. Next two approaches to cultural evolution are discussed: sociobiology and memetics. I will argue that both approaches have flaws because they either underestimate the influence of culture or they stretch analogies too far. Finally two common objections against the idea of cultural evolution are addressed: Lamarckian inheritance and the issue of guided variation. I will argue that although cultural evolution differs from biological evolution in several respects, these discrepancies do not jeopardize the claim that cultural evolution is essentially Darwinian. (shrink)
Chris Tucker's paper on the hiddenness argument seeks to turn aside a way of defending the latter which he calls the value argument. But the value argument can withstand Tucker's criticisms. In any case, an alternative argument capable of doing the same job is suggested by his own emphasis on free will.
Recently, the Dimension Problem for effective Hausdorff dimension was solved by J. Miller in , where the author constructs a Turing degree of non-integral Hausdorff dimension. In this article we settle the Dimension Problem for effective packing dimension by constructing a real of strictly positive effective packing dimension that does not compute a real of effective packing dimension one (on the other hand, it is known via [10, 3, 7] that every real of strictly positive effective Hausdorff dimension computes reals (...) whose effective packing dimensions are arbitrarily close to, but not necessarily equal to, one). (shrink)
Correspondence: Chris Fraser (J) (Assistant Professor) Department of Philosophy Rm. 430, Fung King Hey Bldg. Chinese University of Hong Kong Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong Telephone: 852-9782-0560 Fax: 852-2603-5323 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org..
In his concept of an anthropological physiology, F.J.J. Buytendijk has tried to lay down the theoretical and scientific foundations for an anthropologically-oriented medicine. The aim of anthropological physiology is to demonstrate, empirically, what being specifically human is in the most elementary physiological functions. This article contains a sketch of Buytendijk''s life and work, an overview of his philosophical-anthropological presuppositions, an outline of his idea of an anthropological physiology and medicine, and a discussion of some episternological and methodological problems. It is (...) demonstrated that Buytendijk''s design of an anthropological physiology is fragmentary and programmatic and that his methodology offers few points of contact for specific anthropological experimental research.Notwithstanding, it is argued that Buytendijk''s description of the subjective, animated body forms a pre-eminent point of reference for all research in physiology and psychology in which the specific human aspect is not ignored beforehand. (shrink)
It is a pleasure for me to give this opening address to the Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference on ‘Explanation’ for two reasons. The first is that it is succeeded by exciting symposia and other papers concerned with various special aspects of the topic of explanation. The second is that the conference is being held in my old alma mater , the University of Glasgow, where I did my first degree. Especially due to C. A. Campbell and George Brown there (...) was in the Logic Department a big emphasis on absolute idealism, especially F. H. Bradley. My inclinations were to oppose this line of thought and to espouse the empiricism and realism of Russell, Broad and the like. Empiricism was represented in the department by D. R. Cousin, a modest man who published relatively little, but who was of quite extraordinary philosophical acumen and lucidity, and by Miss M. J. Levett, whose translation of Plato's Theaetetus formed an important part of the philosophy syllabus. (shrink)
In ‘Belief-In and Belief in God’ , J. N. Williams suggests that belief in God cannot be rational unless one has rational beliefs that God exists. While agreeing with his conclusion , I disagree at almost every step with his method of arriving at it. In particular I suggest that Williams goes astray concerning the dual aspect of belief in , the nature of performatives, the arousal of belief states, and the correct account of belief in God.