John Searle has argued against the viability of strong versions of artificial intelligence. His most well-known counter-example is the Chinese Room thought experiment where he stressed that syntax is not semantics. We reason by analogy to highlight previously unnoticed similarities between Searle and F.A. Hayek's critique of socialist planning. We extend their insights to explain the failure of many reforms in Eastern Europe in the 1990's.
In his new book, "The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe," Robert J. Richards argues that Charles Darwin's true evolutionary roots lie in the German Romantic biology that flourished around the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is argued that Richards is quite wrong in this claim and that Darwin's roots are in the British society within which he was born, educated, and lived.
“God knows,” lamented the physicist Isidor Rabi, “I'm not the simplest person, but compared to Oppenheimer, I'm very, very simple.” J. Robert Oppenheimer played myriad roles in the science and politics of modern America: as a physicist working to establish a synthetic American school uniting theoretical and experimental approaches; as a government functionary and “weaponeer” piloting the development and fine-tuning the deployment of the first atomic bombs; as insider, consultant, and oracle speaking in the name of American science; but (...) also as outsider, voice of conscience, and political pariah. (shrink)
The seventeen seminal essays by Robert J. Gordon collected here, including three previously unpublished works, offer sharply etched views on the principal topics of macroeconomics - growth, inflation, and unemployment. The author re-examines their salient points in a uniquely creative, accessible introduction that serves on its own as an introduction to modern macroeconomics. Each of the four parts into which the essays are grouped also offers a new introduction. The papers in Part I explore different key aspects of the (...) history, theory, and measurement of productivity growth. The essays in Part II investigate the sources of business cycles and productivity fluctuations. Those in Part III cover the effects of supply shocks in macroeconomics. The final group presents empirical studies of the dynamics of inflation in the United States. The foreword by Nobel Laureate Robert M. Solow comments on the abiding importance of these essays drawn from 1968 to the present. (shrink)
Supervaluationism is often described as the most popular semantic treatment of indeterminacy. There???s little consensus, however, about how to fill out the bare-bones idea to include a characterization of logical consequence. The paper explores one methodology for choosing between the logics: pick a logic that norms belief as classical consequence is standardly thought to do. The main focus of the paper considers a variant of standard supervaluational, on which we can characterize degrees of determinacy. It applies the methodology above to (...) focus on degree logic. This is developed first in a basic, single-premise case; and then extended to the multipremise case, and to allow degrees of consequence. The metatheoretic properties of degree logic are set out. On the positive side, the logic is supraclassical???all classical valid sequents are degree logic valid. Strikingly, metarules such as cut and conjunction introduction fail. (shrink)
In the same year, 1961, Peter D. Mitchell and Robert R.J.P. Williams both put forward hypotheses for the mechanism of oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria and photophosphorylation in chloroplasts. Mitchell's proposal was ultimately adopted and became known as the chemiosmotic theory. Both hypotheses were based on protons and differed markedly from the then prevailing chemical theory originally proposed by E.C. Slater in 1953, which by 1961 was failing to account for a number of experimental observations. Immediately following the publication of (...) Williams 's hypothesis and before his own was published, Mitchell initiated a correspondence. Examination of the letters shows the development of a dispute based on the validity of the proposals, who should have priority and particularly whether Mitchell had drawn on Williams 's work without acknowledgement. We have concluded that Mitchell's proposals were original although it is evident that prior to the correspondence Williams had considered and rejected a proposition similar to Mitchell's theory. However, a major cause of the dispute was the difference in disciplinary backgrounds of Mitchell, a microbial biochemist and Williams, a chemist. (shrink)
In Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Robert Nozick contrasts entitlement theories of justice and “traditional” theories such as Rawls', utilitarianism or egalitarianism, and advocates the former against the latter. What exactly is an entitlement theory of justice? Nozick's book offers two distinct characterizations. On the one hand, he explicitly describes “the general outlines of the entitlement theory” as maintaining “that the holdings of a person are just if he is entitled to them by the principles of justice in acquisition and (...) transfer, or by the principle of rectification of injustice ”. On the other hand, his famous “Wilt Chamberlain” argument against alternative theories is first said to apply to “non-entitlement conceptions”, and later to any “end-state principle or distributional patterned principle of justice” — which amounts to an implicit characterization of an entitlement conception as a conception of justice which is neither end-state nor patterned. (shrink)
The main title of Robert J. Russell's Cosmology from Alpha to Omega: The Creative Mutual Interaction of Theology and Science catches the substance of the essays; the subtitle his methodological vision. The mutualis modest as far as the influence from theology on science goes; in no way is Russell curtailing the pursuit of science. Driven by intellectual honesty, he holds that in the end religious convictions will have to stand the test of compatibility with scientific knowledge. And as a (...) Christian he believes core beliefs of Christianity, reformulated as needed, will be able to stand this test. The essays address the origin and contingency of our universe in relation to belief in creation, and his proposal for noninterventionist objective divine action. For him a stumbling block is natural evil; the evolutionary intelligibility of evil falls short of what would be desirable theologically. As steps toward an adequate eschatology Russell seeks to develop a more complex understanding of temporality, and proposes to understand the resurrection of Jesus as the First Instantiation of a New Law of the New Creation. This area is more in tension with current science, but that could be expected when one moves from creation to redemption. Within his self-imposed boundaries, these essays are well informed and well argued, and together they provide a sincere and sustained research program. (shrink)
The traditional problem of evil is set forth, by no means for the first time, in Part X of Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion in these familiar words: ‘Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?’ This formulation of the problem of evil obviously suggests an argument to the effect that the existence of evil in (...) the world demonstrates that God does not exist. The purpose of this paper is to examine this argument, with a view to showing that while it is not a conclusive argument, it is much stronger than some apologists for traditional theism allow. (shrink)
Robert J. Lacey has reservations about both the philosophical roots and the institutional legacy of American participatory democracy. In his combination of political philosophy and intellectual history, Lacey explores several ideas that he takes to be central to participatory democracy in America. Although students of pragmatism may be unsatisfied with some of Lacey’s evaluative conclusions, this book looks at a well-worn topic with new eyes, and offers a fresh interpretation of democratic thought in America. The central event around which (...) this book pivots is the 1962 meeting of Students for a Democratic Society, which culminated in the Port Huron Statement. For Lacey, we can understand this moment .. (shrink)
This article examines the arguments used by Robert Watts, a contemporary of John Stuart Mill, in his criticism of Mill's Utilitarianism. The pamphlet in which Watts expresses his views is a scarce and neglected work. Pioneering studies by J.C. Rees and J.B. Schneewind emphasize the importance of Mill's early critics for historians of nineteenth-century ethics and politial thought. Rees, however, confines his study to the responses to Mill's On Liberty. Schneewind's work is more comprehensive and does mention Watts, but (...) without examining in detail the actual arguments that Watts uses. Further, while Watts criticizes Mill's ethical views from a theological standpoint the arguments he uses are philosophical in character. Watts should not be thought of as a major philosophical critic of Mill, but his relative neglect leaves a gap in the study of the reception of Mill's thought which this article is intended to fill. (shrink)
Whilst Edward Gibbon's Memoirs of My Life comprise a notoriously complex document of autobiographical artifice, there is no reason to question the honesty of its revelation of his attitudes to geography and its relationship to the historian's craft. Writing of his boyhood before going up to Oxford, Gibbon commented that his vague and multifarious reading could not teach me to think, to write, or to act; and the only principle, that darted a ray of light into the indigested chaos, was (...) an early and rational application of the order of time and place. The maps of Cellarius and Wells imprinted in my mind the picture of ancient geography: from Stranchius I imbibed the elements of chronology: the Tables of Helvicus and Anderson, the Annals of Usher [ sic ] and Prideaux, distinguished the connection of events. . . This seems a fairly direct comment on Gibbon's attitude to geography as a historian in that it is confirmed by various of his working documents and commonplace book comments not aimed at posterity and by the practice embodied in his great work that was thus targeted, the Decline and Fall. Taking Gibbon's private documents, the first manuscript we have in his English Essays, for example, is a tabulated chronology from circa 1751 when Gibbon was fourteen years old, which begins with the creation of the world in 6000 BC and runs up to 1590 BC, this being exactly the sort of material which could be commonplaced from the likes of Ussher and Prideaux. Matching this attention to chronology is a concern with geography, and indeed the two are coupled together as in his comment in the Memoirs. Thus in his Index Expurgatoris, Gibbon berates Sallust as “no very correct historian” on the grounds that his chronology is not credible and that “notwithstanding his laboured description of Africa, nothing can be more confused than his Geography without either division of provinces or fixing of towns”. In this regard, Gibbon the author of the Decline and Fall was a “correct” historian, in that he was careful to frame each arena in which historical events were narrated in the light of a prefatory description of the geography of the location under discussion. This is most readily apparent in the second half of the opening chapter of the work, where Gibbon proceeds on what his “Table of Contents” calls a “View of the Provinces of the Roman Empire”, starting in the West with Spain and then proceeding clockwise to reach Africa on the other side of the Pillars of Hercules, a pattern of geographical description directly mirroring ancient practice in Strabo's Geography and Pomponius Mela's De Situ Orbis. But this practice of prefacing a historical account with geographical description repeats itself at various points in the work, as when, approaching the end of his grand narrative, Gibbon reaches the impact of “Mahomet, with sword in one hand and the Koran in the other” on “the causes of the decline and fall of the Eastern empire”. Before discussing the birth of Islam, Gibbon treats his readers to a discussion of the geography of Arabia, beginning with its size and shape before moving on to its soils, climate and physical–geographic subdivisions. (shrink)
In the same year, 1961, Peter D. Mitchell and Robert R.J.P. Williams both put forward hypotheses for the mechanism of oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria and photophosphorylation in chloroplasts. Mitchell's proposal was ultimately adopted and became known as the chemiosmotic theory. Both hypotheses were based on protons and differed markedly from the then prevailing chemical theory originally proposed by E.C. Slater in 1953, which by 1961 was failing to account for a number of experimental observations. Immediately following the publication of (...) Williams's hypothesis and before his own was published, Mitchell initiated a correspondence. Examination of the letters shows the development of a dispute based on the validity of the proposals, who should have priority and particularly whether Mitchell had drawn on Williams's work without acknowledgement. We have concluded that Mitchell's proposals were original although it is evident that prior to the correspondence Williams had considered and rejected a proposition similar to Mitchell's theory. However, a major cause of the dispute was the difference in disciplinary backgrounds of Mitchell, a microbial biochemist and Williams, a chemist. (shrink)
If we set aside personal edification, what reasons remain for a philosopher of science to study the intellectual biography of a famous (or infamous) scientist? This question raises familiar and perhaps tired arguments about the relationship between history of science and philosophy of science, but it is also practical: why take the time to digest almost six hundred pages devoted to the controversial German zoologist Ernst Haeckel? A preliminary answer is the author. The historical investigations of Robert Richards have (...) been of ongoing interest to philosophers, whether it be evolutionary explanations of mind and behavior in the 19th century, or his contentious claims—reinvigorated in the present volume—about Darwin’s commitment to embryonic recapitulation. Richards has a knack for unearthing details germane to conceptual reflection, in no small part because of his own philosophical predilections (e.g., a selection model of scientific theory development). Here I entertain three more reasons to follow the injunction tolle lege: the prescient synthesis exemplified in Haeckel’s evolutionary theorizing, the impact of model organism choice, and the critical role of pictures in scientific reasoning accented by Haeckel’s artistic proclivities. (shrink)
In Hitchcock as Philosopher, Robert Yanal argues that not only can we find illustrations of philosophical ideas in Hitchcock's films, but that Hitchcock does philosophy through his movies. This is a bold claim. It would be ambitious to merely assert that there are elements in Hitchcock's movies that can support rich philosophical interpretations. This sets the bar high and forces the interpreter to prove the point by supplying productive readings of the films. But Yanal accepts an even more ambitious (...) challenge -- to present Hitchcock as a philosopher in his own right, doing philosophy through his films. Unfortunately, Yanal fails to realize his project, but his book is nevertheless valuable, albeit for mostly non-philosophical reasons. (shrink)