The present note will be concerned only with Sir Partha Dasgupta's recent article in this journal. What is more, it will concentrate on those parts of the article which contain a serious misreading of Hilary Putnam's position on the entanglement of facts, theories and values. These philosophical matters can perhaps be clarified for economist readers by considering, to begin with, Dasgupta's interpretation of the Bergson–Samuelson position. What Burk and Samuelson were doing, according to Dasgupta, was to establish ‘the ethical (...) foundations of the subject. . .over five decades ago’. 2 Thus a major theme of the article is heard at once: economics is supposedly based on sound ethical foundations, and these can be traced to specific work written long ago, and hence needing no augmentation. These ethical foundations, it is claimed, ‘are now regarded to be a settled matter’. (shrink)
A Philosopher Looks at Quantum Mechanics’ (Putnam ) explained why the interpretation of quantum mechanics is a philosophical problem in detail, but with only the necessary minimum of technicalities, in the hope of making the difficulties intelligible to as wide an audience as possible. When I wrote it, I had not seen Bell (), nor (of course) had I seen Ghirardi et al. (). And I did not discuss the ‘Many Worlds’ interpretation. For all these reasons, I have decided (...) to make a similar attempt forty years later, taking account of additional interpretations and of our knowledge concerning non-locality. (The Quantum Logical interpretation proposed in Putnam  is not considered in the present paper, however, because Putnam [1994b] concluded that it was unworkable.) Rather than advocate a particular interpretation, this paper classifies the possible kinds of interpretation, subject only to the constraints of a very broadly construed scientific realism. Section 7 does, however, argue that two sorts of interpretation—ones according to which a ‘collapse’ is brought about by the measurement (e.g. the traditional ‘Copenhagen’ interpretation), and the Many Worlds interpretation or interpretations—should be ruled out. The concluding section suggests some possible morals of a cosmological character. Background Scientific realism is the premise of my discussion What ‘quantum mechanics’ says—and some problems Other interpretations of quantum mechanics The problem of Einstein's bed Classification of the possible kinds of interpretation Which interpretations I think we can rule out The ‘moral’ of this discussion. (shrink)
We have synthesized a 582,970-base pair Mycoplasma genitalium genome. This synthetic genome, named M. genitalium JCVI-1.0, contains all the genes of wild-type M. genitalium G37 except MG408, which was disrupted by an antibiotic marker to block pathogenicity and to allow for selection. To identify the genome as synthetic, we inserted "watermarks" at intergenic sites known to tolerate transposon insertions. Overlapping "cassettes" of 5 to 7 kilobases (kb), assembled from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, were joined by in vitro recombination to produce intermediate (...) assemblies of approximately 24 kb, 72 kb ("1/8 genome"), and 144 kb ("1/4 genome"), which were all cloned as bacterial artificial chromosomes in Escherichia coli. Most of these intermediate clones were sequenced, and clones of all four 1/4 genomes with the correct sequence were identified. The complete synthetic genome was assembled by transformation-associated recombination cloning in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, then isolated and sequenced. A clone with the correct sequence was identified. The methods described here will be generally useful for constructing large DNA molecules from chemically synthesized pieces and also from combinations of natural and synthetic DNA segments. 10.1126/science.1151721. (shrink)
In this festschrift for the eminent philosopher Hilary Putnam, a team of distinguished philosophers write on a broad range of topics and thus reflect the remarkably fertile and provocative research of Putnam himself. The volume is not merely a celebration of a man, but also a report on the state of philosophy in a number of significant areas. The essays fall naturally into three groups: a central core on the theme of conventionality and content in the philosophy of (...) mind, language, and science, and two smaller sections on the relationship of ethics and language, and on the philosophy of logic and aesthetics.In this festschrift for the eminent philosopher Hilary Putnam, a team of distinguished philosophers write on a broad range of topics and thus reflect the remarkably fertile and provocative research of Putnam himself. The volume is not merely a celebration of a man, but also a report on the state of philosophy in a number of significant areas. The essays fall naturally into three groups: a central core on the theme of conventionality and content in the philosophy of mind, language, and science, and two smaller sections on the relationship of ethics and language, and on the philosophy of logic and aesthetics. (shrink)
Distinguished philosopher Hilary Putnam, who is also a practicing Jew, questions the thought of three major Jewish philosophers of the 20th century—Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, and Emmanuel Levinas—to help him reconcile the philosophical and religious sides of his life. An additional presence in the book is Ludwig Wittgenstein, who, although not a practicing Jew, thought about religion in ways that Putnam juxtaposes to the views of Rosenzweig, Buber, and Levinas. Putnam explains the leading ideas of each of (...) these great thinkers, bringing out what, in his opinion, constitutes the decisive intellectual and spiritual contributions of each of them. Although the religion discussed is Judaism, the depth and originality of these philosophers, as incisively interpreted by Putnam, make their thought nothing less than a guide to life. (shrink)
The present note will be concerned only with Sir Partha Dasgupta's recent article in this journal (Dasgupta 2005). What is more, it will concentrate on those parts of the article which contain a serious misreading of Hilary Putnam's position on the entanglement of facts, theories and values. These philosophical matters can perhaps be clarified for economist readers (they should require no clarification for philosophers) by considering, to begin with, Dasgupta's interpretation of the Bergson–Samuelson position. What (Bergson) Burk (1938) and (...) Samuelson (1947) were doing, according to Dasgupta, was to establish ‘the ethical foundations of the subject. . .over five decades ago’ (Dasgupta 2005: 221–2).2 Thus a major theme of the article is heard at once: economics is supposedly based on sound ethical foundations, and these can be traced (it is supposed) to specific work written long ago, and hence needing no augmentation. These ethical foundations, it is claimed, ‘are now regarded to be a settled matter’ (2005: 222). (shrink)
A laboratory-testable, solid-state Maxwell demon is proposed that utilizes the electric field energy of an open-gap p-n junction. Numerical results from a commercial semiconductor device simulator (Silvaco International–Atlas) verify primary results from a 1-D analytic model. Present day fabrication techniques appear adequate for laboratory tests of principle.
Dual-process theories of conditional reasoning predict that relationships among four basic logical forms, and to intellectual ability and thinking predictions, are most evident when conflict arises between experiential and analytic processing (e.g., Stanovich & West, 2000). To test these predictions, 210 undergraduates were presented with conditionals for which the consequents were either weakly or strongly associated with alternative antecedents (i.e., WA and SA problems, respectively). Consistent with predictions, modus ponens inferences were not related to inferences on the uncertain forms (affirmation (...) of the consequent, denial of the antecedent). On WA problems, modus tollens, affirmation of the consequent, and denial of the antecedent were related to each other and to verbal ability. Modus ponens was linked to verbal ability only when disabling conditions were activated. In accord with the predictions of Stanovich and West (2000), on most problems, thinking dispositions predicted variance in inferences independently from verbal ability. We argue that a largely automatic experiential processing system governs performance on modus ponens, unless disablers are activated. Consciously controlled analytic processing predominates on the uncertain forms and, under some conditions, on modus tollens. (shrink)
Daniel, Michael E Review of: My door is always open: A conversation on faith, hope and the church in a time of change, by Pope Francis with Antonio Spadaro, trans. Shaun Whiteside, London: Bloomsbury, 2014, pp. 172, $30.00.
How important is Jiang Qing, whose extraordinary proposals for political change make up the core of the new book A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future? In his Introduction to the volume, co-editor Daniel Bell maintains that Jiang’s views are “intensely controversial” and that conversations about political reform in China rarely fail to turn to Jiang’s proposals. At least in my experience, this is something of an exaggeration. Chinese political thinking today is highly (...) pluralistic, and for many participants Jiang is simply a curiosity—if indeed they are aware of him. Still, for three reasons Jiang is very much worth our attention. First, there is a vibrant and .. (shrink)
Politicians’ decisions affect not only the lives of their fellow countrymen but also the lives of people living in other countries, the global economy, financial markets, the environment, and ultimately the lives of future generations. Therefore, if a cordial human existence depends in part on the quality of political decision making, the system adopted by societies to choose their political leaders is of crucial importance. However, are democratic elections the best way to select political leaders? Not according to Daniel (...) Bell’s recent book, China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy. The book attempts to cover China’s political system from two perspectives: on the one hand it... (shrink)
Daniel Dennett has argued that consciousness can be satisfactorily accounted for in terms of physical entities and processes. In some of his most recent publications, he has made this case by casting doubts on purely conceptual thought experiments and proposing his own thought experiments to "pump" the intuition that consciousness can be physical. In this paper, I will summarize Dennett's recent defenses of physicalism, followed by a careful critique of his position. The critique presses two flaws in Dennett's defense (...) of physicalism. First, I will rebut his case against the traditional conceptual arguments against physicalism. Second, I will present some empirical grounds for thinking that a crucial move in the argument against physicalism is well-supported. For someone, like Dennett, who finds conceptual arguments dubious, the empirical findings make it exceptionally difficult to deny the anti-physicalist argument. (shrink)
Dombrowski and Murdoch offer versions of the ontological argument which aim to avoid two types of objection – those concerned with the nature of the divine, and those concerned with the move from an abstract concept to a mind-independent reality. For both, the nature of the concept of God/Good entails its instantiation, and both supply a supporting argument from experience. It is only Murdoch who successfully negotiates the transition from an abstract concept to the instantiation of that concept, however, and (...) this is achieved by means of an ontological argument from moral experience which, in a reversal of the Kantian doctrine, depends ultimately on a form of the cosmological argument. (shrink)
Putnam’s internal realism is aimed at reconciling realist and antirealist intuitions about truth and the nature of reality. A common complaint about internal realism is that it has never been stated with due precision. This paper attempts to render the position precise by drawing on the literature on conceptual spaces as well as on earlier work of the authors on the notion of identity.
Transpersonal psychology first emerged as an academic discipline in the 1960s and has subsequently broadened into a range of transpersonal studies. Jorge Ferrer (2002) has called for a 'revisioning' of transpersonal theory, dethroning inner experience from its dominant role in defining and validating spiritual reality. In the current paradigm he detects a lingering Cartesianism, which subtly entrenches the very subject-object divide that transpersonalists seek to overcome. This paper outlines the development and current shape of the transpersonal movement, compares Ferrer's epistemology (...) with the heterophenomenology of Daniel Dennett, and speculates on the integration of the latter into transpersonal theory. (shrink)
In an earlier paper, I claimed that one version of Putnam's model-theoretic argument against realism turned on a subtle, but philosophically significant, mathematical mistake. Recently, Luca Bellotti has criticized my argument for this claim. This paper responds to Bellotti's criticisms.
In The illusion of conscious will , Daniel Wegner offers an exciting, informative, and potentially threatening treatise on the psychology of action. I offer several interpretations of the thesis that conscious will is an illusion. The one Wegner seems to suggest is "modular epiphenomenalism": conscious experience of will is produced by a brain system distinct from the system that produces action; it interprets our behavior but does not, as it seems to us, cause it. I argue that the evidence (...) Wegner presents to support this theory, though fascinating, is inconclusive and, in any case, he has not shown that conscious will does not play a crucial causal role in planning, forming intentions, etc. This theory's potential blow to our self-conception turns out to be a glancing one. (shrink)
Daniel Russell's Practical Intelligence and the Virtues is principally a defense of the Aristotelian claim that phronesis is part of every unqualified virtue—a defense of what Russell calls "hard virtue theory" and "hard virtue ethics." The main support for this is the further claim that we would be unable to act well reliably, or form our character reliably, without phronesis performing its "twin roles": correctly identifying the mean of each virtue, and integrating the mean of each virtue with those (...) of others so as to enable us to act in an overall virtuous manner. In following Russell's argument for these claims, we find much else of interest, including a persuasive account of right action and a resurrection of the old doctrine of cardinal virtues. Here I seek first to give readers a sense of the range and depth of this important book by summarizing the main lines of its argument. But I also raise some critical points, the most substantive of which concern his treatments of the unity of the virtues and of responsibility for character. (shrink)
Many philosophers have shown great interest in the recent anti-realist turn in Hilary Putnam's thought, whereby he rejects "meta-physical realism" in favor of "internal realism". However, many have also found it difficult to gain an exact understanding, and hence a correct assessment of Putnam's ideas. This work strives for some progress on both of these accounts. ;Part one explicates what Putnam understands by "metaphysical realism" and considers to what extent Putnam himself formerly adhered to it. It (...) reconstructs Putnam's arguments for the indeterminacy of reference and for the rejection of reference and of truth as correspondence, and it shows how such arguments hinge both on considerations in the theory of reference and in metaphysics. It suggests that commentators have often missed the actual structure of Putnam's argumentation, e.g. by simply identifying it with the so called "model-theoretic" argument. Finally, Part One examines Putnam's "internal realism", stressing its ties to such authors as Kant, Goodman and Dummett, and explaining in what senses it is really a strong kind of anti-realism. Basically, Putnam does not deny that a mind-independent world exists, but he denies that we may refer to it, and claims that the world we know is thoroughly mind-dependent. ;Part two criticizes Putnam's arguments for indeterminacy along with some similar indeterminacy arguments such as Goodman's argument on confirmation, and the Kripke-Wittgenstein argument on rules. This is done by vindicating the notion of objective similarity, and by relying on it to fix reference. Putnam's claim that we have no theory showing how reference could possibly be determinate is countered by sketching a possible account of reference--distinctly owing to functionalism--which might answer such question. Putnam's notorious "brains in the vat" argument is also discussed and criticized. ;Putnam's metaphysical picture, by which the mind-independent world is not sorted out into objects or properties, is granted. But it is argued that nonetheless we may refer to the mind-independent world, and have beliefs which are true of it. (shrink)
In this dissertation I propose a new reading of the philosophical itinerary of Hilary Putnam on the matter of realism. In essence, my purpose is to argue that there is much more continuity than is normally understood, and even a degree of permanence, in the way in which Putnam has viewed the question of realism throughout his career. To arrive at this interpretation of Putnam I essentially followed two veins in his work. First, in a volume published (...) in the early 2000s entitled Ethics without Ontology (2004), Putnam establishes a parallel between his conception of objectivity in the philosophy of mathematics and in ethics. The second vein comes from a comment he made in the introduction to the first volume of his Philosophical Papers (1975) to the effect that the kind of realism he presupposed in his work of the 1960s and 70s was the same that he upheld in the philosophy of mathematics and wished to argue for at a later date in ethics. Following the first vein makes it possible to better grasp Putnam’s general conception of objectivity, but in order to understand how such a conception of objectivity is not unique to mathematics but is instead a general conception of objectivity one must follow the second vein. There, in the 1960s and 70s, Putnam adopted the same kind of realism in the philosophy of science and in ethics as he had in the philosophy of mathematics. Following this path, one realises that there exists a very strong structural similarity between Putnam’s first realism and his internal realism. After establishing this connection between Putnam’s first and second realism, I draw on Putnam’s remarks and compare the internal realism discourse to his current realism (the natural realism of ordinary people) to demonstrate, contrary to the prevalent interpretation, that there has been a great deal of consistency in his conception of realism from the 1960s to the present day. I conclude the dissertation by demonstrating how my new interpretation of Putnam’s philosophical itinerary makes it possible to shed light on the kind of realism he wishes to champion in ethics./Dans cette thèse, je propose une lecture renouvelée de l’itinéraire philosophique d’Hilary Putnam concernant la problématique du réalisme. Mon propos consiste essentiellement à défendre l’idée selon laquelle il y aurait beaucoup plus de continuité, voir une certaine permanence, dans la manière dont Putnam a envisagé la question du réalisme tout au long de sa carrière. Pour arriver à une telle interprétation de son oeuvre, j’ai essentiellement suivi deux filons. D’abord, dans un ouvrage du début des années 2000, Ethics without Ontology (2004), Putnam établit un parallèle entre sa conception de l’objectivité en philosophie des mathématiques et en éthique. Le deuxième filon vient d’une remarque qu’il fait, dans l’introduction du premier volume de ses Philosophical Papers (1975), affirmant que la forme de réalisme qu’il présupposait dans ses travaux des années 1960-1970 était la même que celle qu’il défendait en philosophie des mathématiques et qu’il souhaitait défendre ultérieurement en éthique. En suivant le premier filon, il est possible de mieux cerner la conception générale que se fait Putnam de l’objectivité, mais pour comprendre en quel sens une telle conception de l’objectivité n’est pas propre aux mathématiques, mais constitue en réalité une conception générale de l’objectivité, il faut suivre le second filon, selon lequel Putnam aurait endossé, durant les années 1960-1970, le même type de réalisme en philosophie des sciences et en éthique qu’en philosophie des mathématiques. Suivant cette voie, on se rend compte qu’il existe une similarité structurelle très forte entre le premier réalisme de Putnam et son réalisme interne. Après avoir établi la parenté entre le premier et le second réalisme de Putnam, je montre, en m’inspirant de commentaires du philosophe ainsi qu’en comparant le discours du réalisme interne au discours de son réalisme actuel (le réalisme naturel du commun des mortels), que, contrairement à l’interprétation répandue, il existe une grande unité au sein de sa conception du réalisme depuis les années 1960 à nos jours. Je termine la thèse en montrant comment mon interprétation renouvelée de l’itinéraire philosophique de Putnam permet de jeter un certain éclairage sur la forme de réalisme que Putnam souhaite défendre en éthique. (shrink)
Both Putnam and Searle have argued that that every abstract automaton is realized by every physical system, a claim that leads to a reductio argument against Cognitivism or Strong AI: if it is possible for a computer to be conscious by virtue of realizing some abstract automaton, then by Putnam’s theorem every physical system also realizes that automaton, and so every physical system is conscious—a conclusion few supporters of Strong AI would be willing to accept. Dennett has suggested (...) a criterion of reverse engineering for identifying “real patterns,” and I argue that this approach is also very effective at identifying “real realizations.” I focus on examples of real-world implementations of complex automata because previous attempts at answering Putnam’s challenge have been overly restrictive, ruling out some realizations that are in fact paradigmatic examples of practical automaton realization. I also argue that some previous approaches have at the same time been overly lenient in accepting counter-intuitive realizations of trivial automata. I argue that the reverse engineering approach avoids both of these flaws. Moreover, Dennett’s approach allows us to recognize that some realizations are better than others, and the line between real realizations and non-realizations is not sharp. (shrink)
Near the end of the last century, some legal philosophers adapted the so called causal theories of reference to solve internal problems in legal theory. Among those philosophers, Nicos Stavropoulos adjusted Hilary Putnam’s semantic externalism claiming it as a better philosophical view than legal positivism defended by Herbert Hart. According to him, what determines the correct application of a legal rule must be determined by the objects themselves. In that case, what determines the reference of legal terms is an (...) issue to be solved by the best theory developed. However, this is not the case necessarily: Hart’s model can reach to the same conclusions as an externalist adjustment of law. Furthermore, the epistemic criteria required by Putnam to deal with value judgements are also acceptable in a positivist model. This paper presents the central thesis of Putnam’s semantic externalism, with Stavropoulos adaptations to law, and defends that Hart’s approach to deal with legal rules and Putnam’s approach to deal with language rules can converge. (shrink)
We have never entirely agreed with Daniel Cohnitz on the status and rôle of thought experiments. Several years ago, enjoying a splendid lunch together in the city of Ghent, we cheerfully agreed to disagree on the matter; and now that Cohnitz has published his considered opinion of our views, we are glad that we have the opportunity to write a rejoinder and to explicate some of our disagreements. We choose not to deal here with all the issues that Cohnitz (...) raises, but rather to restrict ourselves to three specific points. (shrink)
Pragmatic bioethics represents a novel approach to the discipline of bioethics, yet has met with criticisms which have beset the discipline of bioethics in the past. In particular, pragmatic bioethics has been criticized for its excessively fuzzy approach to fundamental questions of normativity, which are crucial to a field like bioethics. Normative questions need answers, and consensus is not always enough. The approach here is to apply elements of the discourse ethics of Habermas and Putnam to the sphere of (...) bioethics, in order to develop a normative structure out of the framework of bioethical inquiry as it stands. The idea here is that the process of inquiry contains its own normative structure as it aims to discover norms. Such an approach, which fuses pragmatic bioethics with discourse ethics, may rightly be called a "Pragmatic Discourse Bioethics.". (shrink)
Putnam's ``model-theoretic'' argument against metaphysical realism presupposes that an ideal scientific theory is expressible in a first order language. The central aim of this paper is to show that Putnam's ``first orderization'' of science, although unchallenged by numerous critics, makes his argument unsound even for adequate theories, never mind an ideal one. To this end, I will argue that quantitative theories, which dominate the natural sciences, can be adequately interpreted and evaluated only with the help of so-called theories (...) of measurement whose epistemological and methodological purpose is to justify systematic assignments of quantitative values to objects in the world. And, in order to fulfill this purpose, theories of measurement must have an essentially higher order logical structure. As a result, Putnam's argument fails because much of science turns out to rest on essentially higher order theoretical assumptions about the world. (shrink)
In A New Form of Agent-Based Virtue Ethics , Daniel Doviak develops a novel agent-based theory of right action that treats the rightness (or deontic status) of an action as a matter of the action’s net intrinsic virtue value (net-IVV)—that is, its balance of virtue over vice. This view is designed to accommodate three basic tenets of commonsense morality: (i) the maxim that “ought” implies “can,” (ii) the idea that a person can do the right thing for the wrong (...) reason, and (iii) the idea that a virtuous person can have “mixed motives.” In this paper, I argue that Doviak’s account makes an important contribution to agent-based virtue ethics, but it needs to be supplemented with a consequentialist account of the efficacy of well-motivated actions—that is, it should be transformed into a mixed (motives-consequences) account, while retaining its net-IVV calculus. This is because I believe that there are right-making properties external to an agent’s psychology which it is important to take into account, especially when an agent’s actions negatively affect other people. To incorporate this intuition, I add to Doviak’s net-IVV calculus a scale for outcomes . The result is a mixed view which accommodates tenets (ii) and (iii) above, but allows for (i) to fail in certain cases. I argue that, rather than being a defect, this allowance is an asset because our intuitions about ought-implies-can break down in cases where an agent is grossly misguided, and our theory should track these intuitions. (shrink)
Two of Hilary Putnam's model-theoretic arguments against metaphysical realism are examined in detail. One of them is developed as an extension of a model-theoretic argument against mathematical realism based on considerations concerning the so-called Skolem-Paradox in set theory. This argument against mathematical realism is also treated explicitly. The article concentrates on the fine structure of the arguments because most commentators have concentrated on the major premisses of Putnam's argument and especially on his treatment of metaphysical realism. It is (...) shown that the validity of Putnam's arguments is doubtful and that realists are by no means forced to accept the theses Putnam ascribes to them. It is concluded that Putnam fails to give convincing arguments for rejecting mathematical or metaphysical realism. Furthermore, Putnam's internal realism is discussed critically. (shrink)
Nevertheless, when we cannot specify how a statement may actually be false it has a special methodological status for us, according to Putnam—it is contextually a priori . In these circumstances, he suggests, it is epistemically reasonable for us to accept the statement without evidence and hold it immune from disconfirmation.
1.: In this paper I discuss Putnam’s view on time and the special theory of relativity. I first locate Putnam’s philosophical approach within a more general framework, essentially making reference to Sellar’s distinction between the scientific image and the manifest image of the world. I then reconstruct Putnam’s argument in favour of the reality of the future and the determinateness of truth-value for future tense sentences by showing that it is based on three premises that generate a (...) contradiction. In the second part of the paper I discuss Putnam’s argument both by using later results belonging to the foundations of STR and quantum mechanics, and by invoking some conceptual analysis on the pseudo-predicate “is real”. Since I will show that the presentists/eternalists debate is ill-founded if regarded as ontological, I will conclude that it boils down to our different practical attitudes towards past, present and future. (shrink)