Inflationary cosmology won a large following on the basis of the claim that it solves various problems that beset the standard big bang model. We argue that these problems concern not the empirical adequacy of the standard model but rather the nature of the explanations it offers. Furthermore, inflationary cosmology has not been able to deliver on its proposed solutions without offering models which are increasingly complicated and contrived, which depart more and more from the standard model it was supposed (...) to improve upon, and which sever the connection between cosmology and particle physics that initially made the inflationary paradigm so attractive. Nevertheless, inflationary cosmology remains a promising research program, not least because it offers an explanation of the origin of the density perturbations that seeded the formation of galaxies and other cosmic structures. Tests of this explanation are underway and may settle the issue of whether inflation played an important role in the early universe. (shrink)
The claims of some authors to have introduced a new type of explanation in cosmology, based on the anthropic principle, are examined and found wanting. The weak anthropic principle is neither anthropic nor a principle. Either in its direct or in its Bayesian form, it is a mere tautology lacking explanatory force and unable to yield any prediction of previously unknown results. It is a pattern of inference, not of explanation. The strong anthropic principle is a gratuitous speculation with no (...) other support than previous religious commitment or the assumption of an actual infinity of universes, for which there is no the slightest empirical hint. But even assuming so much, it does not work. In particular, the assumption of an infinity of different universes is no guarantee of finding among them one like this one. The loose anthropic way of reasoning does not stand up to the usual methodological standards of empirical science. And it does not signal any anthropocentric turn in contemporary science. (shrink)
Standard (classical) logic is not independent of set theory. Which formulas are valid in logic depends on which sets we assume to exist in our set-theoretical universe. Second-order logic is just set theory in disguise. The typically logical notions of validity and consequence are not well defined in second-order logic, at least as long as there are open issues in set theory. Such contentious issues in set theory as the axiom of choice, the continuum hypothesis or the existence of inaccessible (...) cardinals, can be equivalently transformed into question about the logical validity of pure sentences of second-order logic, where “pure” means that they only contain logical symbols and bound variables. Even standard first-order logic depends on the acceptance on infinite sets in our set-theoretical universe. Should we choose to admit only finite sets, the number of logically valid pure first-order formulas would increase dramatically and first-order logic would not be recursively enumerable any longer. (shrink)
This paper provides a brief survey of the human consciousness, beginning with the origins of humanism in the Renaissance period, moving on through the anthropocentrism of Enlightenment individualism, and its ensuing breakdown in our contemporary era. In agreement with the thesis that the task of the humanities is the enhancement of our selfconsciousness as human beings, I argue that only from the standpoint of a deeper and better-informed human self-consciousness, rooted in a cosmic consciousness, can we engage the unforeseen problems, (...) opportunities and dilemmas that lie before us. (shrink)
You cannot overcome addiction or impulsiveness through abstract patterns alone. They show you the way to go, but do not fuel the effort. Some further variable is needed in the equation, some internal force or motivational mechanism, whatever its nature. Overlooking this leads to a neo-Socratic exaggeration of the role of cognition in selfcontrol.
The history of genetics offers abundant material for the study of the influence of social factors in the development of science. Several of these factors are listed and briefly touched upon. Especial attention is paid to the interference of political power in the business of science, exemplified and analyzed in the tragic case of the Lysenko affair, which lead to the death of the best geneticists of Russia and the destruction of a whole and fruitful scientific community.
Any inconsistent theory whose underlying logic is classical encompasses all the sentences of its own language. As it denies everything it asserts, it is useless for explaining or predicting anything. Nevertheless, paraconsistent logic has shown that it is possible to live with contradictions and still avoid the collapse of the theory. The main point of this paper is to show that even if it is formally possible to isolate the contradictions and to live with them, this cohabitation is neither desired (...) by working scientists not desirable for the progress of science. Several cases from the recent history of physics and cosmology are analyzed. (shrink)
La evolución biológica nos ha proporcionado una agresividad congénita, que constituye la base de nuestra competitividad y liderazgo. También nos ha proporcionado mecanismos reguladores e inhibidores de esa agresividad. Cuando estos mecanismos fallan, la agresividad se descontrola y conduce a la violencia, la destrucción y la muerte. La cultura es la información que hemos recibido por aprendizaje social y reside en el cerebro, no en el genoma . La cultura no es siempre algo bueno; también puede conducir al dolor y (...) la violencia. Nuestra agresividad congénita puede ser exacerbada por influencias culturales e ideológicas. Aquí analizamos con algún detalle ciertos casos concretos, como el de la tenencia y uso de las armas de fuego. Y nos preguntamos qué se puede hacer para reducir la violencia en el mundo. (shrink)