In his book, The Scientific Image, van Fraassen lucidly draws an alternative to scientific realism, which he calls "Constructive Empiricism". In this epistemological theory, the concept of observability plays the pivotal role: acceptable theories may be believed only where what they say solely concerns observables. Van Fraassen develops a concept of observability which is, as he admits, vague, relative, science-dependent, and anthropocentric. I draw out unacceptable consequences of each of these aspects of his concept. Also, I argue against his assumption (...) that "empirical adequacy" is the same thing as "saving the phenomena", according to his sense of the expressions. (shrink)
Given that the mind is the brain, as materialists insist, those who would understand the mind must understand the brain. Assuming that arrays of neural firing frequencies are highly salient aspects of brain information processing (the vector functional account), four hurdles to an understanding of the brain are identified and inspected: indeterminacy, micro-specificity, chaos, and openness.
Physicalism is an empirical theory of the mind and its place in nature. So the physicalist must show that current neuroscience does not falsify physicalism, but instead supports it. Current neuroscience shows that a nervous system is what I call a vector function system. I provide a brief outline of the resources that empirical research has made available within the constraints of the vector function approach. Then I argue that these resources are sufficient, indeed apt, for the physicalist enterprise, by (...) offering a vector functional, hence physicalist, theory of the percept--the perceptual experience itself, a paradigm of phenomenally immediate, introspectively accessible consciousness. (shrink)
Like everyone with a scientific bent of mind, Dennett thinks our capacity for meaningful language and states of mind is the product of evolution (Dennett [1987, ch. VIII]). But unlike many of this bent, he sees virtue in viewing evolution itself from the intentional stance. From this stance, ?Mother Nature?, or the process of evolution by natural selection, bestows intentionality upon us, hence we are not Unmeant Meaners. Thus, our intentionality is extrinsic, and Dennett dismisses the theories of meaning of (...) Dretske, Fodor, Burge, Putnam, and Kripke on the grounds that each requires that our mental states, unlike those of artifacts, have meaning intrinsically. I argue that we are Unmeant Meaners, incidentally defending Dretske et al., though my goal is to test the explanatory virtue of the intentional stance as applied to the evolution of intentionality. (shrink)
In the fusillade he lets fly against Foss (1984), Bourgeois (1987) sometimes hits a live target. I admit that I went beyond the letter of van Fraassen's The Scientific Image (1980), making inferences and drawing conclusions which are often absurd. I maintain, however, that the absurdities must be charged to van Fraassen's account. While I cannot redress every errant shot of Bourgeois, his essay reveals the need for further discussion of the concepts of the phenomena and the observables as used (...) by van Fraassen. (shrink)
Mele desires to believe that the self-deceived have consistent beliefs. Beliefs are not observable, but are instead ascribed within an explanatory framework. Because explanatory cogency is the only criterion for belief attribution, Mele should carefully attend to the logic of belief-desire explanation. He does not, and the consistency of his own account as well as that of the self-deceived, are the victims.
ABSTRACT: Qualia, the subjectively known qualities of conscious experience, are judged by many philosophers and scientists to lie beyond the domain of scientific explanation, thus making the conscious mind partly incomprehensible to the objective physical sciences. Some, like Kripke and Chalmers, employ modal logic to argue that explanations of qualia are impossible in principle. I argue that there already exist perfectly normal scientific explanations of qualia, and rebut the arguments of those who deny this possibility.
The noted psychologist, Doreen Kimura, has argued that we should not expect to find equal numbers of men and women in various professions because there is a natural sexual inequality of intellect. In rebuttal I argue that each of these mutually supporting theses is insufficiently supported by the evidence to be accepted. The social and ethical dimensions of Kimura's work, and of the scientific study of the nature-nurture controversy in general, are briefly discussed.
The object of this essay is to demonstrate a logical connection between beliefs and values. It is argued that such a connection can be established only if one keeps in mind the question: What is minimally required in order that it makes sense to speak of beliefs and values at all? Thus, the concept of minimal rationality is indispensable to the task at hand. A particular example of a logical connection between a belief and a value is examined, which leads (...) to a formal rule (Rule of Minimal Rationality) which expresses in general the logical connection between beliefs and values. This rule is elaborated to include attempted activities as well as activities simpliciter, activities having been discovered as essential to any logical connection between beliefs and values. Finally, some interesting implications and promising applications of the Rule of Minimal Rationality are outlined. (shrink)
Dayton's account of lewis' pragmatic contradiction seriously misconstrues this key concept by analyzing it in terms of logical contradiction. this order of analysis is explicitly rejected by lewis as the reverse of the proper order in which the pragmatic concept is foundational to logic and epistemology. i outline a correct account of pragmatic contradiction. then lewis' application of the idea to moral skepticism and the liar paradox is reconsidered, and is seen to vindicate his claim that both skeptic and liar (...) are defeated by a non-fallacious "ad hominem" consisting of a demonstration that each is in pragmatic contradiction. (shrink)
Gintis assumes the behavioral (=social) sciences are in disarray, and so proposes a theory for their unification. Examination of the unity of the physical sciences reveals he misunderstands the unity of science in general, and so fails to see that the social sciences are already unified with the physical sciences. Another explanation of the differences between them is outlined. (Published Online April 27 2007).
Elqayam & Evans' (E&E's) laudable program to keep the scientific investigation of human reasoning norm-free and focused on the facts alone is an essential part of a long tradition in the philosophy of science – but it faces deeper difficulties than the authors seem to realize, since reasoning is a competence, and the very concept of competence is normative.
Peirce measures the testability of scientific hypotheses by these oft-repeated standards: "money, time, energy, thought". His concept of testability is outlined and developed. It is found to be strikingly different, but not incompatible with, the positivist-empiricist concept of testability- in-principle. Peirce's concept of testability is, however, much richer than the received positivist-empiricist concept, and plays a larger, more central role in the logic of science, as Peirce sees it. In particular, Peirce's concept, in its role in his theory of the (...) economy of research, shows how the acceptance of scientific hypotheses is itself a function of economic factors, and thus is not value-neutral. (shrink)
Behrendt's & Young's (B&Y's) persuasive scientific theory explains hallucinations, and is supported by a wide variety of psychological evidence, both normal and abnormal – unlike their philosophical thesis, Kantian idealism. I argue that the evidence cited by the authors in support of idealism actually favors realism. Fortunately, their scientific theory is separable from their philosophy, and is methodologically consistent with realism.
Although the first three dimensions of evolution outlined by Jablonka & Lamb (J&L) are persuasively presented as aspects of evolutionary science, the fourth dimension, symbolic evolution, is problematic: Though it may in some metaphorical sense be happening, there cannot be a science of symbolic evolution. Symbolic evolution essentially involves meaning, which, besides being nonphysical, resolutely resists scientific categorization.
Because the reciprocal theory of Mazur & Booth dominates the static basal model, given the evidence they present, it is worth considering the implications for women's equality, supposing it true. Testosterone might well give males a competitive edge, and hence higher status, creating an inequality that mere social legislation would be ill-suited to address. Further research on the role of testosterone is needed.
Despite the heat of their attack, Saunders & van Brakel do illuminate various shortcomings of color research in the tradition of Berlin & Kay. Berlin and Kay elicit a pan-cultural pattern in color language, but the pattern does not provide much insight into the human mind.