Werner Jaeger was at his time the most brilliant and the most influential German classicist. His most important project was a tripartite study that he finally published under the title of Paideia. Die Formung des griechischen Menschen. Paideia was much more than a detailed scholarly book on pedagogy in the ancient world. It was an attempt to interpret the history of ancient thought—from Homeric epics to Attic tragedy and Platonic philosophy—as rooted in the intention to educate human beings. And it (...) was the attempt to contribute to a contemporary German movement called ‘Third Humanism’. In this article, I give a critical overview of this work, its strengths and its shortcomings. (shrink)
Joshua Spencer has recently used the problem of spatial intrinsics in conjunction with the possibility of extended atomic regions of space to argue against the possibility of extended heterogeneous simples. In part 1, I explain Spencer’s argument against the possibility of heterogeneous simples. In part 2, I argue that if his argument is sound, then a parody argument can be constructed showing that heterogeneous composite objects are also impossible. In part 3, I provide an objection to my parody argument. I (...) then go on to argue that if this objection is successful, then Spencer’s argument is left susceptible to an analogous objection. In short, I argue that either Spencer has shown that composite and simple heterogeneous objects are impossible, or that Spencer’s argument against the possibility of extended heterogeneous simples is unsound. (shrink)
We often predicate capacities of substances in such a way so as to modify the way that they exist . However, sometimes a capacity is not for the modification of a substance but for the existence of one. Moreover, we have reason to think that these capacities are just as real as other capacities. If that’s right, then the question arises: if these capacities are real features in the world, what they are real features of? Part I argues that they (...) can’t be capacities of substances, and so they must be capacities of some part of substances. Part II argues that they can’t be capacities of the substance’s integral/substantial parts. Part III argues that a possessor of such capacities would have to be a lot like prime matter in not being characterized by substantial forms. (shrink)
When assessing the cost effectiveness of health care programmes, health economists typically presume that distant events should be given less weight than present events. This article examines the moral reasonableness of arguments advanced for positive discounting in cost-effectiveness analysis both from an intergenerational and an intrapersonal perspective and assesses if arguments are equally applicable to health and monetary outcomes. The article concludes that behavioral effects related to time preferences give little or no reason for why society at large should favour (...) the present over the future when making intergenerational choices regarding health. The strongest argument for discounting stems from the combined argument of diminishing marginal utility in the presence of growth. However, this hinges on the assumption of actual growth in the relevant good. Moreover, current modern democracy may be insufficiently sensitive to the concerns of future generations. The second part of the article categorises preference failures (which justify paternalistic responses) into two distinct groups, myopic and acratic. The existence of these types of preference failures makes elicited time preferences of little normative relevance when making decisions regarding the social discount rate, even in an intrapersonal context. As with intergenerational discounting, the combined arguments of growth and diminishing marginal utility offer the strongest arguments for discounting in the intrapersonal context. However, there is no prima facie reason to assume that this argument should apply equally to health and monetary values. To be sure, selecting an approach towards discounting health is a complex matter. However, the life-or-death implications of any approach require that the discussion not be downplayed to merely a technical matter for economists to settle. (shrink)
In a recent opinion piece, Denis Duboule has claimed that the increasing shift towards systems biology is driving evolutionary and developmental biology apart, and that a true reunification of these two disciplines within the framework of evolutionary developmental biology may easily take another 100 years. He identifies methodological, epistemological, and social differences as causes for this supposed separation. Our article provides a contrasting view. We argue that Duboule’s prediction is based on a one-sided understanding of systems biology as a science (...) that is only interested in functional, not evolutionary, aspects of biological processes. Instead, we propose a research program for an evolutionary systems biology, which is based on local exploration of the configuration space in evolving developmental systems. We call this approach—which is based on reverse engineering, simulation, and mathematical analysis—the natural history of configuration space. We discuss a number of illustrative examples that demonstrate the past success of local exploration, as opposed to global mapping, in different biological contexts. We argue that this pragmatic mode of inquiry can be extended and applied to the mathematical analysis of the developmental repertoire and evolutionary potential of evolving developmental mechanisms and that evolutionary systems biology so conceived provides a pragmatic epistemological framework for the EvoDevo synthesis. (shrink)
We welcome the proposal to use forward models to understand predictive processes in language processing. However, Pickering & Garrod (P&G) miss the opportunity to provide a strong framework for future work. Forward models need to be pursued in the context of learning. This naturally leads to questions about what prediction error these models aim to minimize.
" The project of Greek culture in its heroic period was the creation of the perfect state-a goal that seemed within reach in the Athens of the fifth century B.C. But with the fall of Athens that prospect evaporated, and the result, which ..
In this paper, I argue that adherents of Patrick Toner’s hylemorphic animalism who also assent to orthodox Christology and a thesis about the necessity of identity must reject a prima facie plausible theological possibility held by Ockham, entertained in one form by St. Thomas Aquinas, and recently held by Richard Cross, Thomas Flint,, and, and Timothy Pawl and concerning which individual concrete human natures an omnipotent God could assume.
Evolutionary systems biology aims to integrate methods from systems biology and evolutionary biology to go beyond the current limitations in both fields. This article clarifies some conceptual difficulties of this integration project, and shows how they can be overcome. The main challenge we consider involves the integration of evolutionary biology with developmental dynamics, illustrated with two examples. First, we examine historical tensions between efforts to define general evolutionary principles and articulation of detailed mechanistic explanations of specific traits. Next, these tensions (...) are further clarified by considering a recent case from another field focused on developmental dynamics: stem cell biology. In the stem cell case, incompatible explanatory aims block integration. Experimental approaches aim at mechanistic explanation while dynamical system models offer explanation in terms of general principles. We then discuss an ESB case in which integration succeeds: search for general attractors using a dynamical systems framework synergizes with the experimental search for detailed mechanisms. Contrasts between the positive and negative cases suggest general lessons for achieving an integrated understanding of developmental and evolutionary dynamics. The key integrative move is to acknowledge two complementary aims, both relevant to explanation: identifying the space of possible dynamic states and trajectories, and mechanistic understanding of causal interactions underlying a specific phenomenon of interest. These two aims can support one another in a joint project characterizing dynamic aspects of evolving lineages. This more inclusive project can lead to insights that cannot be reached by either approach in isolation. (shrink)
Ordinary normative discourse includes talk about the reasons for action we had in the past but only came to discover in hindsight. In some cases, we come to discover these reasons not because new information has come to light, but because our values have changed. Contemporary metaethical views, namely Street's Humean constructivism and Blackburn's and Gibbard's quasi-realism, have some difficulty accounting for these reasons and the claims we make about them. This difficulty hinges on the diachronic complexity of these reasons (...) and claims. It cannot be the case that these reasons were constructed by the perspective we had in the past before our values changed. If there were no extant reasons in the past, then it would seem that our claims about them in the present cannot be true. Quasi-realists can account for the way in which reason claims purport to be true by appealing to a deflationary sense of truth and so can remain agnostic on the actual existence of these reasons. Nevertheless, Street argues that t.. (shrink)
Werner Jaeger's classic three-volume work, originally published in 1939, is now available in paperback. Paideia, the shaping of Greek character through a union of civilization, tradition, literature, and philosophy is the basis for Jaeger's evaluation of Hellenic culture.Volume I describes the foundation, growth, and crisis of Greek culture during the archaic and classical epochs, ending with the collapse of the Athenian empire. The second and third volumes of the work deal with the intellectual history of ancient Greece in the Age (...) of Plato, the 4th century B.C.--the age in which Greece lost everything that is valued in this world--state, power, liberty--but still clung to the concept of paideia. As its last great poet, Menander summarized the primary role of this ideal in Greek culture when he said: "The possession which no one can take away from man is paideia.". (shrink)
In the standard mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics, measurement is an additional, exceptional fundamental process rather than an often complex, but ordinary process which happens also to serve a particular epistemic function: during a measurement of one of its properties which is not already determined by a preceding measurement, a measured system, even if closed, is taken to change its state discontinuously rather than continuously as is usual. Many, including Bell, have been concerned about the fundamental role thus given to (...) measurement in the foundation of the theory. Others, including the early Bohr and Schwinger, have suggested that quantum mechanics naturally incorporates the unavoidable uncontrollable disturbance of physical state that accompanies any local measurement without the need for an exceptional fundamental process or a special measurement theory. Disturbance is unanalyzable for Bohr, but for Schwinger it is due to physical interactions’ being borne by fundamental particles having discrete properties and behavior which is beyond physical control. Here, Schwinger’s approach is distinguished from more well known treatments of measurement, with the conclusion that, unlike most, it does not suffer under Bell’s critique of quantum measurement. Finally, Schwinger’s critique of measurement theory is explicated as a call for a deeper investigation of measurement processes that requires the use of a theory of quantum fields. (shrink)
David Lewis has proposed an analysis of lawhood in terms of membership of a system of regularities optimizing simplicity and strength in information content. This article studies his proposal against the broader background of the project of Humean supervenience. In particular, I claim that, in Lewis's account of lawhood, his intuition about small deviations from a given law in nearby worlds (in order to avoid backtracking and epiphenomena) leads to the conclusion that laws do not support (certain) counterfactuals and do (...) not bestow nomic necessity on (certain) facts induced by these laws. Support of counterfactuals and nomic necessity, however, are widely held to be important aspects of the concept of lawhood. In my view, therefore, it is not possible to abandon these criteria in any satisfactory analysis of the notion of laws of nature. In a final section, I suggest that the whole project of Humean supervenience is misleading. It does not sufficiently take notice of the important role that reasoning about contrary-to-fact situations plays in modern scientific practice. (shrink)
Unification grammars are known to be Turing-equivalent; given a grammar G and a word w, it is undecidable whether w L(G). In order to ensure decidability, several constraints on grammars, commonly known as off-line parsability (OLP), were suggested, such that the recognition problem is decidable for grammars which satisfy OLP. An open question is whether it is decidable if a given grammar satisfies OLP. In this paper we investigate various definitions of OLP and discuss their interrelations, proving that some of (...) the OLP variants are indeed undecidable. We then present a novel, decidable OLP constraint which is more liberal than the existing decidable ones. (shrink)
Explanation in terms of gene regulatory networks has become standard practice in evolutionary developmental biology. In this paper, we argue that GRNs fail to provide a robust, mechanistic, and dynamic understanding of the developmental processes underlying the genotype–phenotype map. Explanations based on GRNs are limited by three main problems: the problem of genetic determinism, the problem of correspondence between network structure and function, and the problem of diachronicity, as in the unfolding of causal interactions over time. Overcoming these problems requires (...) dynamic mechanistic explanations, which rely not only on mechanistic decomposition, but also on dynamic modeling to reconstitute the causal chain of events underlying the process of development. We illustrate the power and potential of this type of explanation with a number of biological case studies that integrate empirical investigations with mathematical modeling and analysis. We conclude with general considerations on the relation between mechanism and process in evo-devo. (shrink)
The belief that laws of nature are contingent played an important role in the emergence of the empirical method of modern physics. During the scientific revolution, this belief was based on the idea of voluntary creation. Taking up Peter Mittelstaedt’s work on laws of nature, this article explores several alternative answers which do not overtly make use of metaphysics: some laws are laws of mathematics; macroscopic laws can emerge from the interplay of numerous subsystems without any specific microscopic nomic structures (...) (John Wheeler’s “law without law”); laws are the preconditions of scientific experience (Kant); laws are theoretical abstractions which only apply in very limited circumstances (Nancy Cartwright). Whereas Cartwright’s approach is in tension with modern scientific methodology, the first three strategies count as illuminating, though partial answers. It is important for the empirical method of modern physics that these three strategies, even when taken together, do not provide a complete explanation of the order of nature. Thus the question of why laws are valid is still relevant. In the concluding section, I argue that the traditional answer, based on voluntary creation, provides the right balance of contingency and coherence which is in harmony with modern scientific method. (shrink)