Stove argues that Popper and his successors in the philosophy of science, Kuhn, Lakatos and Feyerabend, were irrationalists because they were deductivists. That is, they believed all logic is deductive, and thus denied that experimental evidence could make scientific theories logically more probable. The book was reprinted as Anything Goes (1998) and Scientific Irrationalism: Origins of a Postmodern Cult (1998).
Writing on the justification of certain inductive inferences, the author proposes that sometimes induction is justified and that arguments to prove otherwise are not cogent. In the first part he defends the argument of D.C. Williams' The Ground of Induction that induction is justified as a matter of logic by the proportional syllogism: "The vast majority of large samples match the population, therefore (probably) this sample matches the population"). In the second part he deals with such topics as deductive logic (...) (arguing that deductive logic is not formal), the theory of logical probability, and probability and truth. (shrink)
This is a book of philosophy, written by a philosopher and intended for anyone who knows enough philosophy to have been seriously injured, antagonised, mystified or intoxicated by it. Stove is passionately polemical, a philosophical counterpart to Tom Wolfe. Setting out to deflate a few philosophical reputations, he lambastes both the dead and the living. Yet he says things that need to be said, and that others often lack the courage to say.
Revealed that Bertrand Russell's Wisdom of the West was most likely actually written by its "editor", Paul Foulkes, in view of the prominence in the text of the ideas of Foulkes' teacher, John Anderson. That suspicion later turned out to be true.
David Stove reviews Selwyn Grave's History of Philosophy in Australia, and praises philosophers for thinking harder about the bases of science, mathematics and medicine than the practitioners in the field. The review is reprinted as an appendix to James Franklin's Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia.
This book aims to discuss probability and David Hume's inductive scepticism. For the sceptical view which he took of inductive inference, Hume only ever gave one argument. That argument is the sole subject-matter of this book. The book is divided into three parts. Part one presents some remarks on probability. Part two identifies Hume's argument for inductive scepticism. Finally, the third part evaluates Hume's argument for inductive scepticism. Hume's argument that induction must be either deductively valid or circular because based (...) on experience neglects the possibility that it is an argument of non-deductive logic (logical probability, in the sense of Keynes). (shrink)
The central argument of the book is that Darwin's theory, in both Darwin's and recent sociobiological versions, asserts many things about the human and other species that are known to be false, but protects itself from refutation by its logical complexity. A great number of ad hoc devices, he claims, are used to protect the theory. If co operation is observed where the theory predicts competition, then competition is referred to the time of the cavemen, or is reinterpreted as competition (...) between some hidden entities like genes or abstract entities like populations. In a characteristic sally, Stove writes of the sociobiologists' oscillation on the meaning of kin altruism: Any discussion of altruism with an inclusive fitness theorist is, in fact, exactly like dealing with a pair of balloons connected by a tube, one balloon being the belief that kin altruism is an illusion, the other being the belief that kin altruism is caused by shared genes. If a critic puts pressure on the illusion balloon - perhaps by ridiculing the selfish theory of human nature - air is forced into the causal balloon. There is then an increased production of earnest causal explanations of why we love our children, why hymenopteran workers look after their sisters, etc., etc. Then, if the critic puts pressure on the causal balloon - perhaps about the weakness of sibling altruism compared with parental, or the absence of sibling altruism in bacteria - then the illusion balloon is forced to expand. There will now be an increased production of cynical scurrilities about parents manipulating their babies for their own advantage, and vice versa, and in general, about the Hobbesian bad times that are had by all. In this way critical pressure, applied to the theory of inclusive fitness at one point, can always be easily absorbed at another point, and the theory as a whole is never endangered. (shrink)
‘There is no opinion so absurd but that some philosopher has held it.’ Cicero wrote this around 44 B.C., and even then he was only repeating a saying already current. The reputation of philosophers for holding absurd opinions is therefore very old. Equally undeniably, it is also a well-founded reputation.
Most educated people nowadays, I believe, think of themselves as Darwinians. If they do, however, it can only be from ignorance: from not knowing enough about what Darwinism says. For Darwinism says many things, especially about our species, which are too obviously false to be believed by any educated person; or at least by an educated person who retains any capacity at all for critical thought on the subject of Darwinism.
In part ix of "dialogues concerning natural religion", Demea advances an "a priori" argument for the existence of god: an argument of which cleanthes and philo then make a number of trenchant criticisms. These criticisms are acknowledged by all commentators to be hume's own, And they are regarded by almost all commentators as being fatal to demea's argument. I show that, On the contrary, Hume's main criticisms are all worthless, And that they even include an inconsistency of the most glaring (...) kind. (shrink)
The author claims to prove by example that, Contrary to what is generally maintained, A singular preposition of an observational kind is in some cases deducible from a natural law alone. On this basis he raises the question whether the universe might not be deterministic in a 'hyper-Laplacean' sense: that is, Whether the laws of nature might not be logically sufficient on their own to determine every actual state of the universe.
It is obvious that two contingent statements, each of which denies the existence of something, can be inconsistent with one another: for example, ‘There are no non-black ravens, and there is at least one raven’, and ‘There are no black ravens’. But it is also obvious that these two statements are inconsistent only because one of them, as well as denying the existence of something, asserts the existence of something. The mere denials of existence, ‘There are no non-black ravens’ and (...) ‘There are no black ravens’, are consistent with one another. Indeed, it must hold quite generally that two contingent statements cannot be inconsistent, where each is a mere denial of existence in the sense that it denies existence and does not also assert existence. For in order to be inconsistent with a mere denial of existence, a second statement must assert existence, whatever else it may do; and if it asserts existence, it is not itself a mere denial of existence. (shrink)
Discusses whether Watkins, following Popper, holds a "labour theory of confirmation" (of scientific hypotheses, that is, holds that there is some logical connection between there being evidence for a hypothesis and efforts having been made to test it.
THE FACULTY OF Arts at the University of Sydney is a disaster-area, and not of the merely passive kind, like a bombed building, or an area that has been flooded. It is the active kind, like a badly-leaking nuclear reactor, or an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle.
Collection of essays by the conservative Australian philosopher David Stove, author of Popper and After: Four Modern Irrationalists and The Rationality of Induction. Some are on philosophy and some not. They include his controversial essays "The intellectual capacity of women" and "Racial and other antagonism", his "Judge's report on the competition to find the worst argument in the world", and an attack on the anti-conservative "Columbus argument" (that "they said Columbus was mad", so let's approve change in general).
A tribute, originally given at David Armstrong's retirement in 1991 as Challis Professor of Philosophy at Sydney University. Stove recalls Armstrong's role in the "Sydney disturbances" of the 1970s when under attack from Marxists.
Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, at a time when they were both millionaires many times over, recorded a song called "Gone Fishin'". Its theme was as familiar as it was implausible: how they would much rather sit by "some shady, wady pool", etc., than be enmeshed, as they were, in the feverish pursuit of money and fame. The record was a huge success, making the singers even richer and more famous than they had been before: which was, after all, their (...) intention in making it. It will hardly need saying that neither singer ever did in fact renounce show business and "go fishin'" instead; or that this experiment, if it had been tried, would have been an ignominious failure. It has been tried often enough. (shrink)