The multifarious nature of biodiversity is considered in relation to difficulties of definite determination and managerial mandates for monitoring. At a micro scale there is some convergence with the concept of community, but the linkage is largely lost in the spectra of temporal scope, spatial scales, successional seres, and taxonomic trajectories. Practicality points to selecting suitable suites of indicators as surrogates for particular purposes. Domains of partial ordering on multiple indicators constitute comparable collectives, whereas different domains require recognition of special (...) situations. Theoretical treatise and practical process can proceed in parallel, with dialogue and cross-fertilization serving to invigorate and inspire; whereas compulsive concern for completeness and consistency can be counter-productive as well as unduly expensive. Inability to completely capture all aspects of biodiversity in one full formulation is interesting and integral to issues of biocomplexity. (shrink)
In ‘Wittgenstein on Language and Rules’, Professor N. Malcolm took us to task for misinterpreting Wittgenstein's arguments on the relationship between the concept of following a rule and the concept of community agreement on what counts as following a given rule. Not that we denied that there are any grammatical connections between these concepts. On the contrary, we emphasized that a rule and an act in accord with it make contact in language. Moreover we argued that agreement in judgments and (...) in definitions is indeed necessary for a shared language. But we denied that the concept of a language is so tightly interwoven with the concept of a community of speakers as to preclude its applicabilty to someone whose use of signs is not shared by others. Malcolm holds that ‘This is an unwitting reduction of Wittgenstein's originality. That human agreement is necessary for “shared” language is not so striking a thought as that it is essential for language simpliciter.’ Though less striking, we believe that it has the merit of being a true thought. We shall once more try to show both that it is correct, and that it is a correct account of Wittgenstein's arguments. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's Method: Neglected Aspects By Gordon Baker. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004 pp. 328. £40.00 HB.. Wittgenstein's Copernican Revolution: The Question of Linguistic Idealism By Ilham Dilman. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002. pp. 240. £52.50 HB. Wittgenstein: Connections and Controversies By P. M. S. Hacker. Oxford: Oxford University Press,. pp. 400. £45.00 HB; £19.99 PB. Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: An Introduction By David G. Stern. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. pp. 224. £40.00 HB; £10.99 PB.
Given the fact that both R.G. Collingwood and P.F. Strawson introduced, inspired by Kant, a 'reform of metaphysics' and thereby used a strikingly similar terminology, the absence of an extensive article about the comparison between their concepts of a 'reformed metaphysics' is, to say the least, rather surprising. The first aim of this article is filling up this gap. But there is more at stake. Traditionally, a twofold connection is laid between their concepts of metaphysics. First, there is the fact (...) that both authors consider metaphysics as a reflexion about the basic presuppositions of our thought and so subscribe to Kant's 'reform of metaphysics'. Subsequently, the central point of difference to be considered is that Strawson sets basic presuppositions as universal and invariable and so more directly leans against Kant than Collingwood who ascribes to these presuppositions a variable and cultural-historical character. In this article — and that is its central aim — I would like to make some critical remarks to this interpretation. First, I try to show how the resemblances between their concepts of metaphysics originate from their adoption of both Kants 'Copernican revolution' and his repudiation of transcendent metaphysics. Furthermore, I want to point out the differences between both their concepts of metaphysics, starting from their respective interpretations of Kant s transcendental idealism. While Strawson propounds an 'anodyne' interpretation of transcendental idealism, Collingwood proposes a 'radicalization' of transcendental idealism. Against the backdrop of these different interpretations, the contrast between the universal character of Strawson's metaphysics and the so-called historical-relativist character of Collingwood s metaphysics can be clarified. Finally, I will dwell on six repercussions of both their views of metaphysics. (shrink)
Though P. G. Tait was in a seemingly perfect position to teach both William Thomson's thermodynamics and James Clerk Maxwell's electromagnetic theory of light, he did not. Tait probably first encountered the new thermodynamics in the 1850s at Queen's College, Belfast, and presented the ideas in his inaugural lecture at Edinburgh in 1860, soon making energy theory the centre-piece of his course there. The comprehensiveness of energy theory plus Thomson's opposition to Maxwell's electromagnetic theory evidently combined in causing Tait to (...) de-emphasize Maxwell's theory. Ironically, Tait, the loyal Scot, thus inadvertently contributed to what might be termed the Anglicization of Scottish natural philosophy. (shrink)