The present paper presents a philosophical analysis of earth science, a discipline that has received relatively little attention from philosophers of science. We focus on the question of whether earth science can be reduced to allegedly more fundamental sciences, such as chemistry or physics. In order to answer this question, we investigate the aims and methods of earth science, the laws and theories used by earth scientists, and the nature of earth-scientific explanation. Our analysis leads to the tentative conclusion that (...) there are emergent phenomena in earth science but that these may be reducible to physics. However, earth science does not have irreducible laws, and the theories of earth science are typically hypotheses about unobservable (past) events or generalised - but not universally valid - descriptions of contingent processes. Unlike more fundamental sciences, earth science is characterised by explanatory pluralism: earth scientists employ various forms of narrative explanations in combination with causal explanations. The main reason is that earth-scientific explanations are typically hampered by local underdetermination by the data to such an extent that complete causal explanations are impossible in practice, if not in principle. (shrink)
Chris Tucker's paper on the hiddenness argument seeks to turn aside a way of defending the latter which he calls the value argument. But the value argument can withstand Tucker's criticisms. In any case, an alternative argument capable of doing the same job is suggested by his own emphasis on free will.
Adam Smith and J-J Rousseau share some common ground when it comes to religion, namely that they were born into and educated in cultural contexts deeply shaped by Reformed Christianity. However, close consideration of their writings on religion reveal marked difference. This paper explores those differences and finds that Rousseau and Smith are radically at odds on this score. Smith has almost nothing to say about personal spirituality, and locates the significance of religion in its social role. Rousseau, on the (...) other hand, accords religion no social role whatever, and finds its value to be purely of a personal and spiritual nature. This difference is not without some contemporary relevance, since it highlights some of the issues surrounding the distinction between ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’ in modern secularized societies. (shrink)
It is a pleasure for me to give this opening address to the Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference on ‘Explanation’ for two reasons. The first is that it is succeeded by exciting symposia and other papers concerned with various special aspects of the topic of explanation. The second is that the conference is being held in my old alma mater , the University of Glasgow, where I did my first degree. Especially due to C. A. Campbell and George Brown there (...) was in the Logic Department a big emphasis on absolute idealism, especially F. H. Bradley. My inclinations were to oppose this line of thought and to espouse the empiricism and realism of Russell, Broad and the like. Empiricism was represented in the department by D. R. Cousin, a modest man who published relatively little, but who was of quite extraordinary philosophical acumen and lucidity, and by Miss M. J. Levett, whose translation of Plato's Theaetetus formed an important part of the philosophy syllabus. (shrink)
Thomas J.J. Altizer is one of the most important theologians of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and all radical theology must pass through and be conversant with his work and the historical significance of his earlier contributions. This chapter presents Altizer’s essential ideas in a straightforward and accessible manner and provides a guide for the beginning reader.
In his concept of an anthropological physiology, F.J.J. Buytendijk has tried to lay down the theoretical and scientific foundations for an anthropologically-oriented medicine. The aim of anthropological physiology is to demonstrate, empirically, what being specifically human is in the most elementary physiological functions. This article contains a sketch of Buytendijk''s life and work, an overview of his philosophical-anthropological presuppositions, an outline of his idea of an anthropological physiology and medicine, and a discussion of some episternological and methodological problems. It is (...) demonstrated that Buytendijk''s design of an anthropological physiology is fragmentary and programmatic and that his methodology offers few points of contact for specific anthropological experimental research.Notwithstanding, it is argued that Buytendijk''s description of the subjective, animated body forms a pre-eminent point of reference for all research in physiology and psychology in which the specific human aspect is not ignored beforehand. (shrink)
In ‘Belief-In and Belief in God’ , J. N. Williams suggests that belief in God cannot be rational unless one has rational beliefs that God exists. While agreeing with his conclusion , I disagree at almost every step with his method of arriving at it. In particular I suggest that Williams goes astray concerning the dual aspect of belief in , the nature of performatives, the arousal of belief states, and the correct account of belief in God.