Radical Orthodoxy (RO) accepts the post-structuralist critiques of autonomous human agency while liberation theologians embrace Enlightenment ideals ofsubjectivity and the secular political space where agency is exercised. RO theologians think that by accepting these premises, liberation theology fails to resist violence and nihilism that are the inevitable fruit of secular autonomy. I want to formulate a liberationist response to these objections. Liberationists do not see human and divine agency as fundamentally opposed, but rather the deepest strivings of the human spirit (...) for justice are on the same trajectory as the Kingdom of God. Human and divine agency are tied together through the notion of a utopia whereby these strivings for justice are expressed in a finite and historical way. This emancipative use of reason in the construction of a utopia provides a means for divine and human agency to interact without destroying the human autonomy of the secular sphere. (shrink)
This paper is a response to some recent discussions of many-minds interpretations in the philosophical literature. After an introduction to the many-minds idea, the complexity of quantum states for macroscopic objects is stressed. Then it is proposed that a characterization of the physical structure of observers is a proper goal for physical theory. It is argued that an observer cannot be defined merely by the instantaneous structure of a brain, but that the history of the brain's functioning must also be (...) taken into account. Next the nature of probability in many-minds interpretations is discussed and it is suggested that only discrete probability models are needed. The paper concludes with brief comments on issues of actuality and identity over time. (shrink)
The explanatory gap and theknowledge argument are rooted in the conflationof propositional and phenomenal knowledge. Thebasic knowledge argument is based on theconsideration that ``physical information'' aboutthe nervous system is unable to provide theknowledge of a ``color experience'' . The implication is that physicalism isincomplete or false because it leaves somethingunexplained. The problem with Jackson'sargument is that physical information has theform of highly symbolic propositional knowledgewhereas phenomenal knowledge consists in innateneurophysiological processes. In addition totheir fundamental epistemological differences,clinical, anatomical, pathological and brainimaging (...) studies demonstrate that phenomenal andpropositional knowledge are fundamentallydifferent neurobiological processes. Propositional knowledge is phylogeneticallynew, highly symbolic, culturally acquired,exclusively human and expressible in differentnatural and artificial languages. By contrast,phenomenal knowledge consists inqualitative experiences and phenomenal conceptsthat provide an internal, language-independentreference to the properties of objects and theneeds of the organism. Language andpropositional knowledge are exclusively humanattributes implemented in specific regions ofthe dominant hemisphere. This contrastssharply with the phylogenicallysensory areas that are common to animals andhumans, which implement qualitativeexperiences. Experiences are hard-wiredneurobiological processes that can neither betransmitted nor re-created through thesymbolism of propositions. Thus, I concludethat the fallacy in the explanatory gap and inthe knowledge argument is a fallacy ofequivocation that results from ignoringfundamental neurobiological differences betweenphenomenal and propositional knowledge. (shrink)
A civic science curriculum is advocated. We discuss practical mechanisms for (and highlight the possible benefits of) addressing the relationship between scientific knowledge and civic responsibility coextensively with rigorous scientific content. As a strategy, we suggest an in-course treatment of well known (and relevant) historical and contemporary controversies among scientists over science policy or the use of sciences. The scientific content of the course is used to understand the controversy and to inform the debate while allowing students to see the (...) role of scientists in shaping public perceptions of science and the value of scientific inquiry, discoveries and technology in society. The examples of the activism of Linus Pauling, Alfred Nobel and Joseph Rotblat as scientists and engaged citizens are cited. We discuss the role of science professors in informing the social conscience of students and consider ways in which a treatment of the function of science in society may find, coherently, a meaningful space in a science curriculum at the college level. Strategies for helping students to recognize early the crucial contributions that science can make in informing public policy and global governance are discussed. (shrink)
In his long 1957 paper, “The Theory of the Universal Wave Function”, Hugh Everett III made some significant preliminary steps towards the application and generalization of Shannon’s information theory to quantum mechanics. In the course of doing so, he conjectured that, for a given wavefunction on a compound space, the Schmidt decomposition maximises the correlation between subsystem bases. This is proved here.
The original development of the formalism of quantum mechanics involved the study of isolated quantum systems in pure states. Such systems fail to capture important aspects of the warm, wet, and noisy physical world which can better be modelled by quantum statistical mechanics and local quantum field theory using mixed states of continuous systems. In this context, we need to be able to compute quantum probabilities given only partial information. Specifically, suppose that B is a set of operators. This set (...) need not be a von Neumann algebra. Simple axioms are proposed which allow us to identify a function which can be interpreted as the probability, per unit trial of the information specified by B, of observing the (mixed) state of the world restricted to B to be σ when we are given ρ – the restriction to B of a prior state. This probability generalizes the idea of a mixed state (ρ) as being a sum of terms (σ) weighted by probabilities. The unique function satisfying the axioms can be defined in terms of the relative entropy. The analogous inference problem in classical probability would be a situation where we have some information about the prior distribution, but not enough to determine it uniquely. In such a situation in quantum theory, because only what we observe should be taken to be specified, it is not appropriate to assume the existence of a fixed, definite, unknown prior state, beyond the set B about which we have information. The theory was developed for the purposes of a fairly radical attack on the interpretation of quantum theory, involving many-worlds ideas and the abstract characterization of observers as finite information-processing structures, but deals with quantum inference problems of broad generality. (shrink)
Presumably, great men, including John Dewey, have great flaws. For decades, Dewey scholars assumed that the Hegelian cast of his early philosophy proved, prima facie, that it was merely derivative and hopelessly metaphysical in the worst possible sense of that term, as though nothing original or practically applicable to real life could possibly come from studying Hegel. I believe it is fair to say that, among Dewey scholars, the term “Hegelian” became an ossified pejorative that required little, if any, explanation. (...) “Hegelian,” and related terms such as “idealism” and “the dialectic,” were exempt from further inquiry. In recent years a growing number of scholars have taken closer looks at Dewey’s early writings .. (shrink)
Rationality and reasonableness are often sharply distinguished from one another and are even held to be in conflict. On this construal, rationality consists in means-end calculation of the most efficient means to one's ends, while reasonableness consists in equitableness whereby one respects the rights of other persons as well as oneself. To deal with this conflict, it is noted that both rationality and reasonableness are based on reason, which is analyzed as the power of attaining truth, and especially necessary truth. (...) It is then shown that, by the rationality involved in reason, the moral principle of reasonableness, the Principle of Generic Consistency, has a stringently rational justification in that to deny or violate it is to incur self-contradiction. Objections are considered bearing on relevance and motivation. It is concluded that, where reasonableness and egoistic rationality conflict, the former is rationally superior. (shrink)