Providing a precise statement of their position has long been a central challenge facing the scientific realist. This paper draws some morals about how realism ought to be formulated from the renormalization group framework in high energy physics.
The perturbative approach to quantum field theory has long been viewed with suspicion by philosophers of science. This article offers a diagnosis of its conceptual problems. Drawing on Norton’s discussion of the notion of approximation I argue that perturbative QFT ought to be understood as producing approximations without specifying an underlying QFT model. This analysis leads to a reassessment of common worries about perturbative QFT. What ends up being the key issue with the approach on this picture is not mathematical (...) rigour, or the threat of inconsistency, but the need for a physical explanation of its empirical success. 1Three Worries about Perturbative Quantum Field Theory2The Perturbative Formalism 2.1Expanding the S-matrix2.2Perturbative renormalization3Approximations and Models4Perturbative Quantum Field Theory Produces Approximations5The Real Problem. (shrink)
The orthodox characterization of spontaneous symmetry breaking in statistical mechanics appeals to novel properties of systems with infinite degrees of freedom, namely, the existence of multiple equilibrium states. This raises the same puzzles about the status of the thermodynamic limit fueling recent debates about phase transitions. I argue that there are prospects of explaining the success of the standard approach to SSB in terms of the properties of large finite systems. Consequently, despite initial appearances, the need to account for SSB (...) phenomena does not offer decisive support to claims about the explanatory and representational indispensability of the thermodynamic limit. (shrink)
"Only a wayfarer born under unruly stars would attempt to put into practice in our epoch of proliferating knowledge the Heraclitean dictum that `men who love wisdom must be inquirers into very many things indeed.'" Thus begins this remarkable interdisciplinary study of time by a master of the subject. And while developing a theory of "time as conflict," J. T. Fraser does offer "many things indeed"--an enormous range of ideas about matter, life, death, evolution, and value.
This case series presents two general practice cases where HIV testing occurred, or results suggestive of HIV were received, before informed consent was obtained. Bioethical and professional principles are used to explore these dilemmas.
Although many facets of Lev Vygotsky’s life have drawn considerable attention from historians of science, perhaps the most popular feature of his personal narrative was that his work was actively chastised by the Stalinist government. Almost all contemporary references to Vygotsky’s personal history emphasize that from 1936 to 1956, it was forbidden to either discuss or disseminate any of Vygotsky’s works within the Soviet Union. Although this ‘Vygotsky ban’ is both widely acknowledged and frequently cited by a variety of scholars, (...) the exact nature of this alleged Communist party censure has received far less historical attention. Through focusing on the logistics of Soviet ‘bans,’ this article attempts to shed light on this historical mystery and augment the growing body of revisionist literature that serves to deconstruct the mythologized persona of Lev Vygotsky. (shrink)
The present state of ethical theory and practice is disquieting. Objectivism, in all its varieties, is unconvincing, and subjectivism, hedonic or emotive, is intellectually incredible and socially intolerable. No one is ethically content—except the dogmatist and the sceptic, who act willy nilly with the exponents of “might-cum-persuasion makes right.” Can we find a happier middle region between these inhospitable poles? Perhaps the very limitations of human valuation will provide the ground that ethics requires. Let us begin by considering the conditions (...) which must hold if ethical action is to be possible: 1. Only if the agent can provide a justifying reason for his choice of action can he claim to act ethically. For ethical action is a species of purposive action, and to act purposively entails the ability to give justifying reasons for one's choice of action. . Thus ethical action presupposes putatively grounded ethical judgment. 2. Justifying reasons must be acknowledgeable by all competent judges, i.e. by all persons who are acquainted with all relevant knowledge of the nature and consequences of the alternative courses of action, allow as far as possible for congenital, cultural and idiosyncratic bias, are capable of sane and serious reflection, and are able to make survey of their experience and to draw conclusions from it. For the judgment “the action A is ethically preferable to its alternatives B ” entails “A ought to be done” which in turn entails “every competent judge is capable of acknowledging the ground of the judgment ‘A is ethically preferable to B’ and consequently would be able to set himself to perform A as an ethical act, .” We can assure ourselves of this requirement of acknowledgeability by observing that whenever we resolve, and not merely settle, an ethical disagreement, we have achieved not only a factual, predictive, valuational and attitudinal agreement between the disputants, but a joint acknowledgment of the ground of the ethical judgment. Without this, the agreement could not be said to be ethical, whether the judgment be right or wrong or neither, but merely an agreement to disagree, ethically. Unless ethical disagreement is in principle resolvable, ethical judgment is impossible, for we should be unable to claim that our choice ought to be acted upon. (shrink)