The Sweep of Probability broadly surveys this burgeoning field of philosophical inquiry. The book is unique because it engages the reader in contemporary debates about a variety of issues in probability theory without requiring a background in probability and mathematics. It also illustrates how the concerns of probability relate not only to philosophical inquiry but to aspects of everyday life. The primary aim of this book, claims George N.Schlesinger in the introduction, is to illustrate, by discussing a wide variety of (...) topics, that elementary probability belongs to one of those rare intellectual ventures where the returns are disproportionately high to the initial investment of effort. (shrink)
Originally published in 1963. Can one discern certain regularities in the manoeuvrings and techniques employed by scientists and can these be formulated into the methodological principles of science? What is the origin and basis of such principles? Are they imposed by objective realities, do they derive from conceptual necessities or are they rooted in our own deep seated predilections? This volume investigates these questions and sheds light on the growth mechanism of the evolving structure of science itself.
This book explores recently opened avenues in logic and philosophical analysis to offer new perspectives on time-honored religious beliefs. Topics covered include the nature of divine attributes, the implications of divine benevolence and divine justice, arguments in support of theism and atheism, and religion and morality.
According to popular opinion, thought experiments are limited in scope, since no novel empirical results could be expected to be produced by thought alone. Yet consider the spectacular 16th century experiment by Stevin. leading to the discovery of the principles of the resolution and combination of forces. He conducted no experiments, for he derived his novel and highly important conclusions by several steps of ingenious reasoning alone. To understand why mental experiments may serve as very effective scientific tools. we need (...) to explicate carefully their underlying mechanism. Thought experiments invariably involve the widely debated notion of “counterfactual conditionals.” A variety of historical examples are offered designed to illustrate the nature of thought experiments, their associated counterfactual conditionals. as well a the nature of the vital link between the two. (shrink)
Basic yet familiar and non-technical features of time are investigated. Two novel and detailed arguments are advanced defending the common view that 'time rolls relentlessly'. A number of hitherto neglected but important differences between spatio-temporal location and every other physical property are discussed. Also explored are the locations of circular time; the uniformity of nature, temporal positions and possible worlds, as well as the famous, unresolved problem, 'Why do we know so much more about the past than about the future?'. (...) For those who wish to delve deeper, a portion of the book consists of problems to ponder and their possible solutions. (shrink)
Die Welt ist voller Leid. Gott ist entweder unfähig, es zu verhindern – dann ist Er nicht allmächtig –, oder Er will es nicht verhindern – dann ist Er nicht vollkommen gut. Seit Generationen wird dies als das schlagendste Argument gegen den Glauben angesehen, daß ein allmächtiges und allgütiges Wesen existiert. Natürlich haben Theisten sich die größte Mühe gegeben, eine angemessene Erwiderung vorzubringen. ... Selbst wenn nur ein einziges Individuum unnötigerweise für einen kurzen Moment eine leichte Unannehmlichkeit zu ertragen hätte, (...) wäre das Problem logisch ebenso real – obwohl es nicht so schmerzhaft wäre oder möglicherweise sogar unbemerkt bliebe. (shrink)
Anselm begins his famous ontological argument by describing God as the being greater than which none is conceivable. His description seems coherent and intelligible. Consequently a divine being thus described may be spoken of as existing in the understanding. But if so, He must actually exist as well, otherwise a being greater than Him could possibly exist, namely, one of whom the additional great-making-term ‘actual existence’ may also be predicated. The result would be a contradiction, for we would now have (...) to concede, that contrary to our initial claim, the being harbored in our understanding is inferior to the greatest since another being who had actual existence would be greater. To avoid the contradiction we must concede actual existence to the absolutely perfect being. (shrink)
It is commonly the case that a problem concerning a mathematical or physical system can be solved in two quite different ways--by an internal or an external approach. For example, the area of a triangle can be found by integration or by showing it to be half that of a certain rectangle. In general, the first approach is, to analyse the given system into component parts, and the second approach is to deal with the system as a whole. It seems (...) that even in cases where solutions to physical problems obtained according to these two approaches are equally valid, and are equally good as explanations, scientists prefer the solution obtained by the internal approach. The reasons for this preference are examined. And it is suggested that whatever the reasons, this preference may have been partly responsible for the 19th century preference for the Kinetic Theory rather than Thermodynamics. (shrink)