While interest in Kant's philosophy has increased in recent years, very little of it has focused on his theory of science. This book gives a general account of that theory, of its motives and implications, and of the way it brought forth a new conception of the nature of philosophical thought. To reconstruct Kant's theory of science, the author identifies unifying themes of his philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of physics, both undergirded by his distinctive logical doctrines, and shows how (...) they come together to form a relatively consistent system of ideas. A new analysis of the structure of central arguments in the Critique of Pure Reason and the Prolegomena draws on recent developments in logic and the philosophy of science. Professor Brittan's unified account of the philosophies of mathematics and physics explores the nature of Kant's commitment to Euclidean geometry and Newtonian mechanics as well as providing an integrated reading of the Critique of Pure Reason and the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Contemporary ideas help both to illuminate Kant's position and to show how that position, in turn, illuminates contemporary problems in the philosophy of science. Originally published in 1978. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905. (shrink)
It can be demonstrated in a very straightforward way that confirmation and evidence as spelled out by us can vary from one case to the next, that is, a hypothesis may be weakly confirmed and yet the evidence for it can be strong, and conversely, the evidence may be weak and the confirmation strong. At first glance, this seems puzzling; the puzzlement disappears once it is understood that confirmation is of single hypotheses, in which there is an initial degree of (...) belief which is adjusted up or down as data accumulate, whereas evidence always has to do with a comparison of one hypothesis against another with respect to the data and is belief-independent. Confusing them is, we suggest, a plausible source of the so-called “base-rate fallacy” identified by Kahneman and Tversky which leads most of us to make mistaken statistical inferences. It is also in the background, or so we argue in some detail, of the important policy controversies concerning human-induced global warming. (shrink)
I said that the book is brilliant. This is not so much because of the conclusions eventually reached about the inadequacy of a purely naturalistic approach to mind. These conclusions are already familiar in the work of Donald Davidson and others. Rather, it is because of the accumulation of historical detail and insight on the basis of which these conclusions are reached. It is often said, for instance, that Kant is a watershed figure, in some sense synthesizing and then moving (...) beyond both empiricism and naturalism. Hatfield uses these terms. But he reinvests them with meaning and energy and in the process shows how radical Kant was in refocusing, by way of a sharp distinction between empirical and transcendental inquiries, the central questions of philosophy. (shrink)
The notion of a severe test has played an important methodological role in the history of science. But it has not until recently been analyzed in any detail. We develop a generally Bayesian analysis of the notion, compare it with Deborah Mayo’s error-statistical approach by way of sample diagnostic tests in the medical sciences, and consider various objections to both. At the core of our analysis is a distinction between evidence and confirmation or belief. These notions must be kept separate (...) if mistakes are to be avoided; combined in the right way, they provide an adequate understanding of severity. Those who think that the weight of the evidence always enables you to choose between hypotheses “ignore one of the factors (the prior probability) altogether, and treat the other (the likelihood) as though it ...meant something other than it actually does. This is the same mistake as is made by someone who has scruples about measuring the arms of a balance (having only a tape measure at his disposal ...), but is willing to assert that the heavier load will always tilt the balance (thereby implicitly assuming, although without admitting it, that the arms are of equal length!). (Bruno de Finetti, Theory of Probability)2. (shrink)
We introduce a distinction, unnoticed in the literature, between four varieties of objective Bayesianism. What we call ' strong objective Bayesianism' is characterized by two claims, that all scientific inference is 'logical' and that, given the same background information two agents will ascribe a unique probability to their priors. We think that neither of these claims can be sustained; in this sense, they are 'dogmatic'. The first fails to recognize that some scientific inference, in particular that concerning evidential relations, is (...) not (in the appropriate sense) logical, the second fails to provide a non-question-begging account of 'same background information'. We urge that a suitably objective Bayesian account of scientific inference does not require either of the claims. Finally, we argue that Bayesianism needs to be fine-grained in the same way that Bayesians fine-grain their beliefs. (shrink)
There is a debate in Bayesian confirmation theory between subjective and non-subjective accounts of evidence. Colin Howson has provided a counterexample to our non-subjective account of evidence: the counterexample refers to a case in which there is strong evidence for a hypothesis, but the hypothesis is highly implausible. In this article, we contend that, by supposing that strong evidence for a hypothesis makes the hypothesis more believable, Howson conflates the distinction between confirmation and evidence. We demonstrate that Howson’s counterexample fails (...) for a different pair of hypotheses. (shrink)
There are three distinct questions associated with Simpson's paradox, (i) Why or in what sense is Simpson's paradox a paradox? (ii) What is the proper analysis of the paradox? (iii) How one should proceed when confronted with a typical case of the paradox? We propose a "formar" answer to the first two questions which, among other things, includes deductive proofs for important theorems regarding Simpson's paradox. Our account contrasts sharply with Pearl's causal (and questionable) account of the first two questions. (...) We argue that the "how to proceed question?" does not have a unique response, and that it depends on the context of the problem. We evaluate an objection to our account by comparing ours with Blyth's account of the paradox. Our research on the paradox suggests that the "how to proceed question" needs to be divorced from what makes Simpson's paradox "paradoxical.". (shrink)
The major competing statistical paradigms share a common remarkable but unremarked thread: in many of their inferential applications, different probability interpretations are combined. How this plays out in different theories of inference depends on the type of question asked. We distinguish four question types: confirmation, evidence, decision, and prediction. We show that Bayesian confirmation theory mixes what are intuitively “subjective” and “objective” interpretations of probability, whereas the likelihood-based account of evidence melds three conceptions of what constitutes an “objective” probability.
There are three distinct questions associated with Simpson’s paradox. Why or in what sense is Simpson’s paradox a paradox? What is the proper analysis of the paradox? How one should proceed when confronted with a typical case of the paradox? We propose a “formal” answer to the first two questions which, among other things, includes deductive proofs for important theorems regarding Simpson’s paradox. Our account contrasts sharply with Pearl’s causal account of the first two questions. We argue that the “how (...) to proceed question?” does not have a unique response, and that it depends on the context of the problem. We evaluate an objection to our account by comparing ours with Blyth’s account of the paradox. Our research on the paradox suggests that the “how to proceed question” needs to be divorced from what makes Simpson’s paradox “paradoxical.”. (shrink)
Elliott Sober is both an empiricist and an instrumentalist. His empiricism rests on a principle called actualism, whereas his instrumentalism violates this. This violation generates a tension in his work. We argue that Sober is committed to a conflicting methodological imperative because of this tension. Our argument illuminates the contemporary debate between realism and empiricism which is increasingly focused on the application of scientific inference to testing scientific theories. Sober’s position illustrates how the principle of actualism drives a wedge between (...) two conceptions of scientific inference and at the same time brings to the surface a deep conflict between empiricism and instrumentalism. (shrink)
Science is made possible by the introduction of theoretical objects. Why this should be so has never been made clear. Indeed, it has never been made clear how theoretical objects are rightly to be understood, or in what ways they differ from more ordinary sorts of physical objects. What follows is a sketch of a new theory. In my view, this theory becomes explicit on the so-called “Copenhagen interpretation” of quantum mechanics. But it has implicitly characterized scientific development since the (...) revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries.How are theoretical objects rightly to be understood? I say that they are objects whose existence is postulated by a theory is alright as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. We also need to know what theories are. (shrink)
The interpretation of Kant's Critical philosophy as a version of traditional idealism has a long history. In spite of Kant's and his commentators’ various attempts to distinguish between traditional and transcendental idealism, his philosophy continues to be construed as committed to various features usually associated with the traditional idealist project. As a result, most often, the accusation is that his Critical philosophy makes too strong metaphysical and epistemological claims.In his The Revolutionary Kant, Graham Bird engages in a systematic and thorough (...) evaluation of the traditionalist interpretation, as part of perhaps the most comprehensive and compelling defence of a revolutionary reading of Kant's thought. In the third part of this special issue, the exchanges between, on the one hand, Graham Bird and, on the other, Gary Banham, Gordon Brittan, Manfred Kuehn, Adrian Moore and Kenneth Westphal focus on specific aspects of Bird's interpretation of Kant's first Critique. More exactly, the emphasis is on specific aspects of Bird's interpretation of the Introduction, Analytic of Principles and Transcendental Dialectic of Kant's first Critique.The second part of the special issue is devoted to discussions of particular topics in Bird's construal of the remaining significant parts of the first Critique, namely, of the Transcendental Aesthetic and the Analytic of Concepts. Written by Sorin Baiasu and Michelle Grier, these articles examine specific issues in these two remaining parts of the Critique, from the perspective of the debate between the traditionalist and revolutionary interpretation. The special issue begins with an Introduction by the guest co-editors. This provides a summary of the exchanges between Bird and his critics, with a particular focus on the debates stemming from the differences between traditional and revolutionary interpretations of Kant. (shrink)
Traditional accounts stress certain features of theoretical objects such as their alleged imperceptibility, that are taken to raise epistemological difficulties. But these accounts do not show how theoretical objects, rightly understood, either differ in kind from more ordinary sorts of objects or make science possible. I sketch a new account that focuses on the underdetermination and similarity of theoretical objects, features closely connected to the explanatory roles they play, and construes them on an algebraic model.
Despite the fact that they are in most respects environmentally benign, electricity-generating wind turbines frequently encounter a great deal of resistance. Much of this resistance is aesthetic in character; wind turbines somehow do not "fit" in the landscape. On one (classical) view, landscapes are beautiful to the extent that they are "scenic," well-balanced compositions. But wind turbines introduce a discordant note, they are out of "scale." On another (ecological) view, landscapes are beautiful if their various elements form a stable and (...) integrated organic whole. But wind turbines are difficult to integrate into the biotic community; at least in certain respects, they are like "weeds." Moreover, there is a reason why the 100-meter, three bladed wind turbines now favored by the industry cannot very well be accommodated to any landscape view. They are, as Albert Borgmann would put it, characteristic of contemporary technology, distanced "devices" for the production of a commodity rather than "things" with which one can engage. It follows that the only way in which the aesthetic resistance to wind turbines can be overcome is to make them more "thing-like." One such "thing-like" turbine is discussed. (shrink)
Despite the fact that they are in most respects environmentally benign, electricity-generating wind turbines frequently encounter a great deal of resistance. Much of this resistance is aesthetic in character; wind turbines somehow do not "fit" in the landscape. On one view, landscapes are beautiful to the extent that they are "scenic," well-balanced compositions. But wind turbines introduce a discordant note, they are out of "scale." On another view, landscapes are beautiful if their various elements form a stable and integrated organic (...) whole. But wind turbines are difficult to integrate into the biotic community; at least in certain respects, they are like "weeds." Moreover, there is a reason why the 100-meter, three bladed wind turbines now favored by the industry cannot very well be accommodated to any landscape view. They are, as Albert Borgmann would put it, characteristic of contemporary technology, distanced "devices" for the production of a commodity rather than "things" with which one can engage. It follows that the only way in which the aesthetic resistance to wind turbines can be overcome is to make them more "thing-like." One such "thing-like" turbine is discussed. (shrink)