An infinite lottery machine is used as a foil for testing the reach of inductive inference, since inferences concerning it require novel extensions of probability. Its use is defensible if there is some sense in which the lottery is physically possible, even if exotic physics is needed. I argue that exotic physics is needed and describe several proposals that fail and at least one that succeeds well enough.
"This is a remarkable book: wide-ranging, resonant, and well-written; it is also reflective and personable, warm and engaging." —Philosophy and Literature "With this book Caputo takes his place firmly as the foremost American, continental post-modernist... " —International Philosophical Quarterly "One cannot but be impressed by the scope of Radical Hermeneutics." —Man and World "Caputo’s study is stunning in its scope and scholarship." —Robert E. Lauder, St. John’s University, The Thomist For John D. Caputo, hermeneutics means radical thinking without (...) transcendental justification: attending to the ruptures and irregularities in existence before the metaphysics of presence has a chance to smooth them over. Radical Hermeneutics forges a closer collaboration between hermeneutics and deconstruction than has previously been attempted. (shrink)
Applying an ever more radical hermeneutics, John D. Caputo breaks down the name of God in this irrepressible book. Instead of looking at God as merely a name, Caputo views it as an event, or what the name conjures or promises in the future. For Caputo, the event exposes God as weak, unstable, and barely functional. While this view of God flies in the face of most religions and philosophies, it also puts up a serious challenge to fundamental tenets (...) of theology and ontology. Along the way, Caputo’s readings of the New Testament, especially of Paul’s view of the Kingdom of God, help to support the "weak force" theory. This penetrating work cuts to the core of issues and questions—What is the nature of God? What is the nature of being? What is the relationship between God and being? What is the meaning of forgiveness, faith, piety, or transcendence?—that define the terrain of contemporary philosophy of religion. (shrink)
There can be no mistaking the importance of Caputo's work." —Edith Wyschogrod "No one interested in Derrida, in Caputo, or in the larger question of postmodernism and religion can afford to ignore this pathbreaking study.
The Insistence of God presents the provocative idea that God does not exist, God insists, while God’s existence is a human responsibility, which may or may not happen. For John D. Caputo, God’s existence is haunted by "perhaps," which does not signify indecisiveness but an openness to risk, to the unforeseeable. Perhaps constitutes a theology of what is to come and what we cannot see coming. Responding to current critics of continental philosophy, Caputo explores the materiality of perhaps and (...) the promise of the world. He shows how perhaps can become a new theology of the gaps God opens. (shrink)
"Against Ethics is beautifully written, clever, learned, thought-provoking, and even inspiring." —Theological Studies "Writing in the form of his ideas, Caputo offers the reader a truly exquisite reading experience.... his iconic style mirrors a truly refreshing honesty that draws the reader in to play." —Quarterly Journal of Speech "Against Ethics is, in my judgment, one of the most important works on philosophical ethics that has been written in recent years.... Caputo speaks with a passion and a concern that are rare (...) in academic philosophy. His profound sense of humor deepens the passion of the viewpoints he develops." —Mark C. Taylor "Obligation happens!" declares Caputo in this brilliant and witty postmodern critique of ethics, framed as a contemporary restaging of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophical discussion of religion neglects dualistic religions: although Manichaeism from time to time is accorded mention, Zoroastrianism, a more plausible form of religious dualism, is almost entirely ignored. We seek to change this state of affairs. To this end we present the basic tenets of Zoroastrian dualism, argue that objections to the Zoroastrian conception of God are less strong than typically imagined, argue that objections to the Zoroastrian conception of the devil are less strong than typically imagined, and offer (...) some brief concluding thoughts. (shrink)
Pushing past the constraints of postmodernism which cast "reason" and"religion" in opposition, God, the Gift, and Postmodernism, seizes the opportunity to question the authority of "the modern" and open the limits of possible experience, including the call to religious experience, as a new millennium approaches. Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, engages with Jean-Luc Marion and other religious philosophers to entertain questions about intention, givenness, and possibility which reveal the extent to which deconstruction is structured like religion. New interpretations of (...) Kant, Heidegger, Husserl, and Derrida emerge from essays and discussions with distinguished philosophers and theologians from the United States and Europe. The result is that God, the Gift, and Postmodernism elaborates a radical phenomenology that stretches the limits of its possibility and explores areas where philosophy and religion have become increasingly and surprisingly convergent. Contributors include: John D. Caputo, John Dominic Crossan, Jacques Derrida, Robert Dodaro, Richard Kearney, Jean-Luc Marion, Frangoise Meltzer, Michael J. Scanlon, Mark C. Taylor, David Tracy, Merold Westphal and Edith Wyschogrod. (shrink)
In 15 insightful essays, Jacques Derrida and an international group of scholars of religion explore postmodern thinking about God and consider the nature of forgiveness in relation to the paradoxes of the gift. Among the themes addressed by contributors are the possibilities of imagining God as unthinkable, imagining God as non-patriarchal, imagining a return to Augustine, and imagining an age in which praise is far more important than narrative. Questioning God moves readers beyond the parameters of metaphysical reason and modernist (...) rationality as it attempts to think the questions of God and forgiveness in a postmodernist context. Contributors include John D. Caputo, Jacques Derrida, Mark Dooley, Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Robert Gibbs, Jean Greisch, Kevin Hart, Richard Kearney, Cleo McNelly Kearns, John Milbank, Regina M. Schwartz, Michael J. Scanlon, and Graham Ward. Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion—Merold Westphal, general editor. (shrink)
Ever since Copernicus, scientists have continually adjusted their view of human nature, moving it further and further from its ancient position at the center of Creation. But in recent years, a startling new concept has evolved that places it more firmly than ever in a special position. Known as the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, this collection of ideas holds that the existence of intelligent observers determines the fundamental structure of the Universe. In its most radical version, the Anthropic Principle asserts that (...) "intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the Universe, and once it comes into existence, it will never die out." This wide-ranging and detailed book explores the many ramifications of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, covering the whole spectrum of human inquiry from Aristotle to Z bosons. Bringing a unique combination of skills and knowledge to the subject, John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler--two of the world's leading cosmologists--cover the definition and nature of life, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the interpretation of the quantum theory in relation to the existence of observers. The book will be of vital interest to philosophers, theologians, mathematicians, scientists, and historians, as well as to anyone concerned with the connection between the vastness of the universe of stars and galaxies and the existence of life within it on a small planet out in the suburbs of the Milky Way. (shrink)
1. Introduction. David Malament has described a natural and satisfying resolution of the traditional problems of Newtonian cosmology—natural in the sense that it effects the escape by altering Newtonian gravitation theory in a way that leaves its observational predictions completely unaffected. I am in full agreement with his approach. There is one part of his account, however, over which Malament has been excessively modest. The resolution requires a modification to Newtonian gravitation theory. Malament presents the modification as so straightforward as (...) to be automatic. This trivializes the crucial postulate, which I shall call the “relativity of acceleration.” It is a significant physical statement in its own right and requires careful justification. Moreover the postulate proved easy to overlook for decades of discussion of the paradox. It really only becomes natural from the perspective of the newer geometric methods Malament exploits. There the postulate has become a commonplace. My purpose here is to develop the following: While Newtonian cosmology can be repaired satisfactorily, in its traditional form it remains deeply troubled. These troubles can be expressed most vividly as the paradoxical contradictions indicated below. They persist in both the integral and differential formulations of Newtonian gravitation theory. Malament's careful geometric treatment is necessarily dense. By taking some liberties with precision, his core result can be expressed in a far simpler form. Attempts to avoid the resolution Malament describes do lead to disaster. Therefore this episode can be inverted and used as the strongest extant argument for the relativity of acceleration in Newtonian gravitation theory. (shrink)
In his epistles, St. Paul sounded a universalism that has recently been taken up by secular philosophers who do not share his belief in Christ, but who regard his project as centrally important for contemporary political life. The Pauline project—as they see it—is the universality of truth, the conviction that what is true is true for everyone, and that the truth should be known by everyone. In this volume, eminent New Testament scholars, historians, and philosophers debate whether Paul's promise can (...) be fulfilled. Is the proper work of reading Paul to reconstruct what he said to his audiences? Is it crucial to retrieve the sense of history from the text? What are the philosophical undercurrents of Paul's message? This scholarly dialogue ushers in a new generation of Pauline studies. (shrink)
The Routledge Companion to Bioethics is a comprehensive reference guide to a wide range of contemporary concerns in bioethics. The volume orients the reader in a changing landscape shaped by globalization, health disparities, and rapidly advancing technologies. Bioethics has begun a turn toward a systematic concern with social justice, population health, and public policy. While also covering more traditional topics, this volume fully captures this recent shift and foreshadows the resulting developments in bioethics. It highlights emerging issues such as climate (...) change, transgender, and medical tourism, and re-examines enduring topics, such as autonomy, end-of-life care, and resource allocation. (shrink)
The issue of the institution is not addressed systematically anywhere in the literature on Foucault, although it is everywhere to be found in Foucault's writings._ Foucault and the Critique of Institutions_ not only interprets the work of Foucault but also applies it to the question of the institution. Foucault is a master at analyzing the web of social relations that effectively shape the modern individual. While these social relations are smaller and finer than institutions, institutions are, by Foucault's account, saturated (...) with such relations. This study is the first sustained account to follow up the implications of Foucault's provocative theses about power for the analysis of institutions. _Foucault and the Critique of Institutions _offers a set of preliminary essays that raise basic questions about the theoretical character of Foucault's thought and then several groups of other essays that go on to take up the practical issues raised by his work. Joseph Margolis and Jitendra Mohanty address one of the most complex problems posed by Foucault's texts: his status as a philosopher. Mark Poster explores the problem of the "self" in Foucault, while Judith Butler focuses her searching investigation of the self on its gendered nature. Joseph Rouse examines the functioning of the natural sciences within the institutional setting of the university and the academic profession, while Chuck Dyke and Mary Schmelzer present vigorous critiques of the normalizing power of the university. Robert Moore and Mark Yount offer original studies of the implications of Foucault's work for the workplace, labor law, and affirmative action. Finally, John Caputo studies Foucault's famous history of madness and raises the question of the possibility of exercising a "healing" and not merely a "normalizing" power in the mental hospital and the church. (shrink)
At the heart of the current surge of interest in religion among contemporary Continental philosophers stands Augustine’s Confessions. With Derrida’s Circumfession constantly in the background, this volume takes up the provocative readings of Augustine by Heidegger, Lyotard, Arendt, and Ricoeur. Derrida himself presides over and comments on essays by major Continental philosophers and internationally recognized Augustine scholars. While studies on and about Augustine as a philosopher abound, none approach his work from such a uniquely postmodern point of view, showing both (...) the continuing relevance of Augustine and the religious resonances within postmodernism. Posed at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and religious studies, this book will be of interest to scholars and students of Augustine as well as those interested in the invigorating discussion between philosophy, religion, and postmodernism. Contributors include Geoffrey Bennington, Philippe Capelle, John D. Caputo, Elizabeth A. Clark, Hent de Vries, Jacques Derrida, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Richard Kearney, Catherine Malabou, James O’Donnell, Michael J. Scanlon, and Mark Vessey. Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion—Merold Westphal, general editor. (shrink)
While there is general agreement on the need to teach ethics in the MBA classroom, there are great difficulties in completely integrating such material within the confines of an actual MBA program. This paper attempts to address these difficulties by focusing on the teaching of such issues in one particular class — MBA macroeconomics.Ethical dilemmas often arise due to failures of the market place or due to inappropriate assumptions regarding the market model. Thus, specific suggestions are offered in regard to (...) the integration of ethical issues into the traditional macroeconomic curriculum. Suggestions are even offered as how to scale back the basic macro material so that the additional material may be accommodated. (shrink)
It is proposed that we use the term “approximation” for inexact description of a target system and “idealization” for another system whose properties also provide an inexact description of the target system. Since systems generated by a limiting process can often have quite unexpected, even inconsistent properties, familiar limit systems used in statistical physics can fail to provide idealizations, but are merely approximations. A dominance argument suggests that the limiting idealizations of statistical physics should be demoted to approximations.
Contrary to formal theories of induction, I argue that there are no universal inductive inference schemas. The inductive inferences of science are grounded in matters of fact that hold only in particular domains, so that all inductive inference is local. Some are so localized as to defy familiar characterization. Since inductive inference schemas are underwritten by facts, we can assess and control the inductive risk taken in an induction by investigating the warrant for its underwriting facts. In learning more facts, (...) we extend our inductive reach by supplying more localized inductive inference schemes. Since a material theory no longer separates the factual and schematic parts of an induction, it proves not to be vulnerable to Hume's problem of the justification of induction. (shrink)
In these original essays and interviews, leading hermeneutical philosophers and postmodern theorists John D. Caputo and Gianni Vattimo engage with each other's past and present work on the subject and reflect on our transition from ...
John D. Caputo explores the very roots of religious thinking in this thought-provoking book. Compelling questions come up along the way: 'What do I love when I love my God?' and 'What can Star Wars tell us about the contemporary use of religion?' Why is religion for many a source of moral guidance in a postmodern, nihilistic age? Is it possible to have 'religion without religion'? Drawing on contemporary images of religion, such as Robert Duvall's film _The Apostle_, Caputo (...) also provides some fascinating and imaginative insights into religious fundamentalism. (shrink)
Newton’s equations of motion tell us that a mass at rest at the apex of a dome with the shape specified here can spontaneously move. It has been suggested that this indeterminism should be discounted since it draws on an incomplete rendering of Newtonian physics, or it is “unphysical,” or it employs illicit idealizations. I analyze and reject each of these reasons. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (...) 15260; e‐mail: [email protected] (shrink)
I deny that the world is fundamentally causal, deriving the skepticism on non-Humean grounds from our enduring failures to find a contingent, universal principle of causality that holds true of our science. I explain the prevalence and fertility of causal notions in science by arguing that a causal character for many sciences can be recovered, when they are restricted to appropriately hospitable domains. There they conform to a loose collection of causal notions that form a folk science of causation. This (...) recovery of causation exploits the same generative power of reduction relations that allows us to recover gravity as a force from Einstein's general relativity and heat as a conserved fluid, the caloric, from modern thermal physics, when each theory is restricted to appropriate domains. Causes are real in science to the same degree as caloric and gravitational forces. (shrink)
In a formal theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by universal schemas. In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by facts. With this change in the conception of the nature of induction, I argue that the celebrated “problem of induction” can no longer be set up and is thereby dissolved. Attempts to recreate the problem in the material theory of induction fail. They require relations of inductive support to conform to an unsustainable, hierarchical empiricism.
The epistemic state of complete ignorance is not a probability distribution. In it, we assign the same, unique, ignorance degree of belief to any contingent outcome and each of its contingent, disjunctive parts. That this is the appropriate way to represent complete ignorance is established by two instruments, each individually strong enough to identify this state. They are the principle of indifference (PI) and the notion that ignorance is invariant under certain redescriptions of the outcome space, here developed into the (...) ‘principle of invariance of ignorance' (PII). Both instruments are so innocuous as almost to be platitudes. Yet the literature in probabilistic epistemology has misdiagnosed them as paradoxical or defective since they generate inconsistencies when conjoined with the assumption that an epistemic state must be a probability distribution. To underscore the need to drop this assumption, I express PII in its most defensible form as relating symmetric descriptions and show that paradoxes still arise if we assume the ignorance state to be a probability distribution. *Received February 2007; revised July 2007. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; e-mail: [email protected] (shrink)
I give an informal outline of the hole argument which shows that spacetime substantivalism leads to an undesirable indeterminism in a broad class of spacetime theories. This form of the argument depends on the selection of differentiable manifolds within a spacetime theory as representing spacetime. I consider the conditions under which the argument can be extended to address versions of spacetime substantivalism which select these differentiable manifolds plus some further structure to represent spacetime. Finally, I respond to the criticisms of (...) Tim Maudlin and Jeremy Butterfield. (shrink)
iinstein oered the priniple of generl ovrine s the fundmentl physil priniple of his generl theory of reltivityD nd s responsile for extending the priniple of reltivity to elerted motionF his view ws disputed lmost immeditely with the ounterElim tht the priniple ws no reltivity priniple nd ws physilly vuousF he disgreeE ment persists todyF his rtile reviews the development of iinstein9s thought on generl ovrineD its reltion to the foundtions of generl reltivity nd the evolution of the ontinuing dete (...) over his viewpointF.. (shrink)
In books such as The World Within the World and The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, astronomer John Barrow has emerged as a leading writer on our efforts to understand the universe. Timothy Ferris, writing in The Times Literary Supplement of London, described him as "a temperate and accomplished humanist, scientist, and philosopher of science--a man out to make a contribution, not a show." Now Barrow offers the general reader another fascinating look at modern physics, as he explores the quest for (...) a single, unifying theory that will unlock nature's secrets. Theories of Everything is more than a history of science, more than a popular report on recent research and discoveries. Barrow provides a reflective, intelligent commentary on what a true Theory of Everything would be--its ingredients, its limitations, and what it could tell us about the universe. Never before, he writes, have physicists been so confident and so eager in the hunt for this "cosmic Rosetta Stone," as he calls it: "a single all-embracing picture of all the laws of nature from which the inevitability of all things seen must follow with unimpeachable logic." He lays out eight essential ingredients for a Theory of Everything and then explores each in turn, tracing how our knowledge has developed and how scientific discovery relates to our changing philosophy and religious thought in each area. Some of these ingredients are obvious--the laws of nature must be explained, for example, as well as its organizing principles--but others may be surprising, such as broken symmetries and selection biases. A Theory of Everything must account for the fact that the universe is "messy and complicated," he tells us, and for the limitations imposed by the questions we ask and the information we can obtain. The key lies in the remarkable capacity of mathematics to express the fundamental workings of the physical world--a language that the human mind is uniquely equipped to understand and manipulate. Barrow examines what mathematics actually is and describes how it makes the universe intelligible and provides a path to the underlying coherence in nature--which has led, in fact, to arguments that the universe itself is a vast computer. Yet even the most complete theory, even the most comprehensive mathematical explanation, cannot account for the uncomputable varieties of human experience and thought. "No non-poetic account of reality," he writes, "can be complete." In a field where the authorities converse in equations and mathematical notations, John Barrow speaks with the voice of thoughtful and knowledgeable humanist. Written with eloquence and expertise, Theories of Everything establishes a new perspective on humanity's efforts to explain the universe. (shrink)
Preface: This volume originated in a conference on "The Place of Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy" which was organized by us and held at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, April 18-20, 1986. The idea behind this conference was to encourage philosophers and scientists to talk to each other about the role of thought experiments in their various disciplines. These papers were either written for the conference, or were written after it by commentators and (...) other participants.... We hope that this volume will be of use to other philosophers and scientists who are interested in thought experiments, as well as inspire more work in this area.... (shrink)
Constructivists, such as Harvey Brown, urge that the geometries of Newtonian and special relativistic spacetimes result from the properties of matter. Whatever this may mean, it commits constructivists to the claim that these spacetime geometries can be inferred from the properties of matter without recourse to spatiotemporal presumptions or with few of them. I argue that the construction project only succeeds if constructivists antecedently presume the essential commitments of a realist conception of spacetime. These commitments can be avoided only by (...) adopting an extreme form of operationalism. (shrink)
Thought experiments in science are merely picturesque argumentation. I support this view in various ways, including the claim that it follows from the fact that thought experiments can err but can still be used reliably. The view is defended against alternatives proposed by my cosymposiasts.
Thought experiments are ordinary argumentation disguised in a vivid pictorial or narrative form. This account of their nature will allow me to show that empiricism has nothing to fear from thought experiments. They perform no epistemic magic. In so far as they tell us about the world, thought experiments draw upon what we already know of it, either explicitly or tacitly; they then transform that knowledge by disguised argumentation. They can do nothing more epistemically than can argumentation. I defend my (...) account of thought experiments in Section 3 by urging that the epistemic reach of thought experiments turns out to coincide with that of argumentation and that this coincidence is best explained by the simple view that thought experiments just are arguments. Thought experiments can err—-a fact to be displayed by the thought experiment - anti thought experiment pairs of Section 2. Nonetheless thought experiments can be used reliably and, I urge in Section 4., this is only possible if they are governed by some very generalized logic. I will suggest on evolutionary considerations that their logics are most likely the familiar logics of induction and deduction, recovering the view that thought experiment is argumentation. Finally in Section 5 I defend this argument based epistemology of thought experiments against competing accounts. I suggest that these other accounts can offer a viable epistemology only insofar as they already incorporate the notion that thought experimentation is governed by a logic, possibly of very generalized form. (shrink)
According to the underdetermination thesis, all evidence necessarily underdetermines any scientific theory. Thus it is often argued that our agreement on the content of mature scientific theories must be due to social and other factors. Drawing on a long standing tradition of criticism, I shall argue that the underdetermination thesis is little more than speculation based on an impoverished account of induction. A more careful look at accounts of induction does not support an assured underdetermination or the holism usually associated (...) with it. I also urge that the display of observationally equivalent theories is a self-defeating strategy for supporting the underdetermination thesis. The very fact that observational equivalence can be demonstrated by arguments brief enough to be included in a journal article means that we cannot preclude the possibility that the theories are merely variant formulations of the same theory. (shrink)
This article begins with some preliminary remarks about the general features and basic varieties of reflective equilibrium in moral reflection. It then considers a couple of preliminary doubts about this method. One of these doubts claims that the most plausible interpretation of RE is so comprehensive that it risks paralyzing our thinking, while the other claims that this same version of RE is insufficiently determinate in practical contexts and will thus fail to be sufficiently action-guiding. The article then explicates the (...) sense in which RE qualifies as a coherence theory of justification, and considers several objections to RE that flow from its reliance on the putative connection between coherence and moral justification. (shrink)