One of the aims of the encyclical "Laudato Si’" is to help us “marvel at the manifold connections existing among creatures”, to show how we are also involved, and to motivate us thereby to care for our common home. Are there new dimensions of beauty available to us today because of recent advances in biology? In this paper I seek to answer this question by first recalling the basic criteria for beauty, as expressed by Aristotle and Aquinas, and then evaluating (...) their applicability as regards three ways in which some prominent twentieth century philosophers of biology have sought to overcome the limitations of reductionism. The overall argument refers especially to the works of Jakob von Uexküll and Georges Canguilhem. The results indicate that harmony, proportion, and integrity in the natural order should be more evident than ever before, especially as regards the way the organism and its environment codetermine each other. This insight allows a deeper appreciation of the message of "Laudato Si’". (shrink)
Many people assume that serious reflection on animal ethics arose because of recent technological progress, the sharp rise in human population, and consequent pressure on global ecology. They consequently believe that this sub-discipline is relatively new and that traditional religions have little or nothing to offer. In spite of this however, we are currently seeing a heightened awareness of religion’s important role in all areas of individual and communal life, for better or for worse. As regards our relations with nature (...) in general and with animals in particular, and as regards the foundational idea of creaturehood, religious traditions have played, and are still playing, a central role in molding the subliminal conscience of billions of people, guiding their moral dispositions that often remain unarticulated. This paper therefore explores our relation to animals by referring not only to the binary conceptual structure animality-humanity, as philosophers often do, but by referring also to the triple conceptual structure animality-humanity-divinity. After critically evaluating some of the relevant attitudes that derive from the major world religions, the paper tries to determine the extent to which the doctrine of these religions converge on some useful central principles regarding animal ethics and animal production. The result of this research supplies added support to the claim that the study of religious outlooks in this area serves to rediscover neglected perspectives and thereby to enlarge the horizon of current philosophical work. (shrink)
This paper seeks to clarity the extent to which we can legitimately apply evolutionary explanation to the realm of moral and social behavior. It evaluates two perspectives, one dealing with purely philosophical arguments, and the other with arguments from within the Catholic tradition. The challenges faced by evolutionary ethics discernible from the secular perspective turn out to be practically the same as those discernible from the religious perspective. Whether we discuss the issues in terms of intentional states or in terms (...) of freedom of human beings created in the image of God, the result seems to be the same: evolutionary explanation turns out to be useful to some extent but not across the board. It leaves out the distinctively moral aspect of individual and social behavior. (shrink)
Susan Haack has recently attempted to discredit religion by showing that science is an extended and enhanced version of common sense while religion is not. I argue that Haack’s account is misguided not because science is not an extended version of common sense, as she says. It is misguided because she assumes a very restricted, and thus inadequate, account of common sense. After reviewing several more realistic models of common sense, I conclude that common sense is rich enough to allow (...) various kinds of extensions. Just as science can be correctly seen as an enhanced version of common sense, so also religion. (shrink)
Working from within the Lakatosian framework of scientific change, this paper seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the Jesuits’ role in the scientific revolution during the years of Galileo’s trials and the subsequent century. Their received research program was Aristotelian cosmology. Their efforts to construct protective belts to shield the core principles were fueled not only by the basic instinct to conserve but also by the impact of official prohibitions from the side of Church authorities. The paper illustrates how (...) these Church restrictions were not as paralyzing for Jesuit intellectuals as has often been thought. They left considerable space for maneuvering. The paper shows how, within this space, Jesuits were engaged mainly in the indispensable task of exhausting all the potential of Aristotelian cosmology. They did this primarily by trying to build intellectual bridges to ensure coherence between three realms of the cosmological imagination of the time: the received Aristotelian view, the new empirical data, and the realm of everyday experience. (shrink)
Many assume that science and religion represent two worldviews in mutual conflict. These last decades however, the improved study of the social, psychological and historical dimensions of both science and religion has revealed that the two worldviews may not be as mutually antagonistic as previously assumed. It is important therefore to review carefully the very idea of a clash of worldviews. This paper seeks to make a contribution in this area by exploring the deeper, hidden attitudes and dispositions that are (...) involved in typical clashes between science and religion. The focus is primarily on two specific areas referred to by the expressions interdisciplinary mimesis and the art of living. The results of this research offer added support to the claim that the two worldviews are indeed in mutual tension as regards some aspects, but, as regards other aspects, they are in harmony and mutually supportive. (shrink)
For decades, much literature on causality has focused on causal processes and causal reasoning in the natural sciences. According to a relatively new trend however, such research on causality remains insufficient because of its refusal to accept a certain degree of pluralism within the concept, a pluralism that is evident in how we use ideas of cause and effect in everyday life. I will build on work in this latter trend, following philosophers like G. E. M. Anscombe and N. Cartwright. (...) I explore the limits of the concept of causality by determining the extent to which our ideas can remain consistent as we stretch this concept along two dimensions, one concerning the maximizing of the effect and the other the maximizing of explanatory depth. Dealing with the cause of the universe, such an investigation touches upon some issues in current empirical cosmology and revisits some classic arguments regarding philosophy of religion and the Platonic notion of participation. The results indicate that the use of current conceptual, logical and analytic tools can deliver new insights that are useful especially for those interested in how causality in the natural sciences links with causality in everyday life. (shrink)
It is often assumed that the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773 meant an abrupt dissipation of Jesuit intellectual culture and science. Recent interest in this period, however, indicates that Jesuit theologians, philosophers, and scientists constituted a heterogenous group and that the suppression affected them in various ways. This paper builds on this research and deals with the following question. What can a micro-historical approach, focusing on individuals rather than on general cultural trends, reveal about the effects of the suppression? (...) The paper focuses on five Jesuit scientists who lived through the suppression and who represent different lines, or forms, of philosophical and empirical inquiry. After this first section, the argument shifts to more general considerations, referring to some counterfactual situations, in view of evaluating the cultural and scientific cost of the suppression. (shrink)
Theology, philosophy, and science have been in mutual conversation for centuries, but the major debates have nearly always dealt with explanations rather than ways of living. Over and above explanatory or theoretical issues, there are other boundary issues that can be called practical. These are often neglected because they do not deal with what scientists or theologians say. They deal rather with what scientists and theologians do. As recent work in the history of the natural sciences shows, it is a (...) mistake to see scientific theories as timeless entities totally detached from the philosophical, theological, and cultural environments in which they are born. A cultural paradigm affects, and is in turn affected by, the discovery and formulation of any given major theory. Moreover, cultural paradigms affect individuals not only in their thinking but also in their living. This paper explores the neglected dimension of how the conversation between theology, philosophy, and the natural sciences impacts on existential concerns. I will do this by first determining two key areas of this practical dimension, and then, in section two, by considering and eventually blocking some objections. I will conclude by drawing some concrete proposals on how to take this discussion further. (shrink)
To describe computers and sophisticated robots, many people today have no problem using personal attributes. Alan Turing published his famous intelligence test in 1950. From that time onwards, computers have gained increasingly higher status in this regard. Computers and robots nowadays are not only intelligent. They perceive, they remember, they understand, they decide, they play and so on. Recently, another such step has occurred but, this time, many researchers are seriously concerned. In February 2017, the European Parliament passed a Resolution (...) to attribute legal personhood to intelligent robots. If this is accepted as law, it will have very serious consequences for our self-understanding and for the way we live together as a community. The EU Resolution has stimulated various studies, arising mainly from the area of legal studies. It is urgent that the response include also a philosophical evaluation regarding the fundamental concepts at play. This paper seeks to make a contribution precisely in this area. It explores the attribution of legal personhood to machines by focusing on what is happening at the level of meaning. It explores crucial concepts like responsibility, autonomy, person and quasi-person by drawing inspiration from the seminal works of Aristotle and L. Wittgenstein and from the ensuing debates between current philosophers like P. Hacker and D. Dennett. The results of this paper indicate what dangers could lie ahead and what could be the right way to avoid them. (shrink)
Max Jammer has recently proposed a model of God’s eternity based on the special theory of relativity, offering it as an example of how theologians should take into account what physicists say about the world. I start evaluating this proposal by a quick look at the classic Boethius-Aquinas model of divine eternity. The major objec-tion I advance against Jammer refers to Einstein’s subtle kind of realism. I offer var-ious reasons to show that Einstein’s realism was minimal. Moreover, even this min-imal (...) realism has been undermined by recent experimental work. If Jammer is sug-gesting that theologians should take Einstein’s physics seriously because it de-scribes the world, his argument is unconvincing because it doesn’t address the cru-cial question of Einstein’s realism, which makes all the difference. (shrink)
During the twentieth century, the mechanistic worldview came under attack mainly because of the rise of quantum mechanics but some of its basic characteristics survived and are still evident within current science in some form or other. Many scholars have produced interesting studies of such significant mechanistic trends within current physics and biology but very few have bothered to explore the effects of this worldview on current chemistry. This paper makes a contribution to fill this gap. It presents first a (...) brief historical overview of the mechanistic worldview and then examines the present situation within chemistry by referring to current studies in the philosophy of chemistry and determining which trends are still mechanistic in spirit and which are not. (shrink)
The clash between Galileo and the Catholic Inquisition has been discussed, studied, and written about for many decades. The scientific, theological, political, and social implications have all been carefully analysed and appreciated in all their interpretative fruitfulness. The relatively recent trend in this kind of scholarship however seems to have underestimated the fact that Galileo in this debate, as in his earlier debates, showed a particular style marked by overconfidence. If we keep in mind the Lakatosian account of scientific development, (...) it is of course perfectly understandable that scientists at times stick to their convictions by producing auxiliary hypotheses as buffers against contrary evidence. And elements of this are detectable in the arguments of both Galileo and his opponents. But one still needs to ask: To what extent did Galileo depend on auxiliary hypotheses? How insecure did they render his position? And how ad hoc were they? These are important questions because Galileo’s particular way of dealing with auxiliary hypotheses can throw light on the broader question of when and how auxiliary hypotheses are needed within scientific practice in general. It can even indicate some way of conceiving degrees of ad hocness. In this paper, I explore this issue by comparing two important debates in which Galileo was involved: one about the nature of water and buoyancy, the other about cosmology. I revisit not only the scientific content of these debates but also the cultural context in which they took place, especially their dependence on patronage and their theological repercussions. The results indicate that scholarship on Galileo can still be useful in clarifying currently relevant aspects of scientific practice, and is thus still far from its expiry date. (shrink)
This paper explores some ways how perceptual-cognitive accounts of anorexia can benefit from philosophy. The first section focuses on the three dimensions of anorexia most open to a contribution from philosophy: the dimensions of language, perception and cognition. In the second section, I offer a brief overview of what philosophy has to say regarding these dimensions, especially as they relate to two crucial issues: introspection and meaning. I draw from current philosophy of language, especially from the arguments against using internal (...) perception as a model for the way we express our own bodily states. I draw also from current philosophy of interpretation, especially from debates concerning the criteria for handling dialogical misunderstanding. I use these insights to expose some dangers in assuming and working with oversimplified accounts of introspection and meaning. I then suggest refined and updated accounts and examine their applicability and usefulness in the diagnosis and treatment of anorexia. (shrink)
Are science and religion completely independent of each other? Can scientists work exclusively in the scientific domain without being influenced in any way by their own religious or other commitments? These questions have been treated in a number of ways in the course of history. In recent decades, advances in physics and biology have raised new possibilities for a deeper understanding of the issue and for a clearer picture of the right kind of interaction between science, religion, and moral values.
I examine three major antireligious arguments that are often proposed in various forms by cognitive and evolutionary scientists, and indicate possible responses to them. A fundamental problem with the entire debate arises because the term "religion" is too vague. So I reformulate the debate in terms of a less vague central concept: faith. Referring mainly to Aquinas on faith, I proceed by evaluating how the previously mentioned cognitive and evolutionary arguments fare when dealing with faith. The results show that some (...) aspects of the concept of faith are in principle beyond the range of evolutionary explanation and some other aspects are not. Nevertheless, an evolutionary account merges smoothly with faith’s theological dimensions. (shrink)
When evolutionary explanation is transferred from its normal habitat of biology to the realm of human social, cultural, and moral concerns, a problem is often neglected. After examining arguments for and against Social Darwinism, this paper identifies this problem and proceeds by exploring the possibility of a middle-ground position according to which Social Darwinism would be enough for explaining some aspects of moral and social behaviour but not enough for explaining all aspects. The investigation indicates that this middle-ground position is (...) not viable because intentional content burdens evolutionary ethics with fundamental problems, problems that need to be resolved before any further progress is attainable. (shrink)
In recent years, disagreement as a philosophical topic has started to attract considerable attention, giving rise to rich debates not only on the logical nature of disagreement but also on specifically political and religious forms of it. Moreover, in some recent documents of the Catholic Church, we see corresponding attempts at understanding religious pluralism, dialogue among religions, and doctrinal tensions that sometimes arise within various parts of the Church itself. In such debates, many assume that the realm of the humanities (...) is clearly distinct from that of the natural sciences and, as a consequence, the dynamics of disagreement within the two realms is distinct as well. This paper challenges this assumption. Sociological studies of science are undermining the idea of a strict dichotomy between the dynamics of disagreement within the sciences and that within other areas of inquiry. Engaging in comparative methodology, this paper critically evaluates the dynamics of ecclesial disagreement and the associated idea of doctrinal authority by comparing them with what happens in the sciences. (shrink)
"This book addresses issues which are central in the philosophy of science, exploring a large and relevant literature. It should be of broad interest in the philosophy of science community." Professor Peter Lipton, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, UK. How can the complexities of understanding science be dealt with as a whole? Is philosophical realism still a defensible philosophical position? Exploring such fundamental questions, this book claims that science ought to be understood in terms of (...) universal practices and that such an understanding supports an attractive version of scientific realism. Holism is attracting renewed scholarly attention but is still loosely used in a range of different contexts, from semantics to medicine. This book presents a detailed philosophical analysis of holism, concentrating on two complementary aspects of holism - cognitive and social - to investigate its relevance to science studies. Bridging the gap between analytical, historical and sociological accounts of science, Caruana draws together results from recent research by Davidson, Dummett, Quine, Wright and others, on Wittgenstein's later philosophy. Demonstrating that holism, both cognitive and social, is not only essential for a full understanding of science but also compatible with a particular version of scientific realism, this book presents important new perspectives for the philosophers of science and scholars of the history of science in particular. Louis Caruana is Assistant Lecturer in Philosophy of Science and Nature at the Gregorian University, Rome, Italy. (shrink)
This paper critically examines three positions in the area of the evolutionary psychology of religion: the one according to which religion is completely beyond the reach of any evolutionary explanation, the one according to which religion is adaptive in the evolutionary sense, and the one according to which religion is mal-adaptive, in the sense that it confers no survival advantages but rather disadvantages. The result of the critical evaluation of these positions indicates that the embodied rationality of Homo sapiens renders (...) evolutionary explanations applicable and important but only to some extent. Genuine religious belief involves a dimension that is material, and therefore evolutionarily explainable, and a dimension that is not, namely the believer’s act of deliberately accepting or not accepting what he or she is naturally inclined to believe. (shrink)
Scientific knowledge of how genes work is giving human beings unprecedented power to shape future human lives, for better or for worse. People involved in government, business and science are facing new questions related to the application of genetic technologies to human beings. Our technical knowledge is growing fast, but does our moral wisdom grow at the same rate?
For many years, the involvement of Jesuits in the development of science has stimulated curiosity and wonder. Is it true that the Society of Jesus was a serious impediment to the natural development of the scientific revolution during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?
Many assume that any complex thing or situation is reducible to its elemental building blocks and the relations between them. Needham’s book goes against this trend by seeking to rehabilitate macroscopic considerations and insisting that resorting to smaller and smaller subunits does not always help.
This paper argues that philosophers can live a deep spiritual life of a certain kind, spirituality being understood here in line with the Christian tradition. The first step in the argument distinguishes between two kinds of philosophy: the representational kind and the sapiential kind. Representation is often associated with scientifically inclined philosophers while wisdom is associated with philosophers whose inclination is to show others how to live a good life. The paper then proceeds by showing that this distinction reflects a (...) similar one in the realm of Christian spirituality. One can distinguish between a Thomistic view and an Ignatian view, the former characterized by a certain caution as regards interacting with the world, while the latter characterized by a certain heuristic courage as regards such interaction. This latter mode of spirituality is called experiential because of its appreciation of experience as a source of insight. The upshot is that the intellectual life in general, and certainly philosophy in particular, can leave its beneficial imprint on the person as a whole, including body and soul, thought and feeling, contemplation and action. (shrink)
Was Galileo’s clash with the Church about science or about legal procedures that he had apparently neglected? Was he ultimately condemned for heresy or for violating a legal precept by publishing the "Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems"?
These last decades have seen many publications dealing with science and religion. The overall debate seems to have settled on the idea that dialogue between these disciplines is of utmost importance. Bolger’s book, therefore, comes as a surprise because he seems to take issue with this consensus. Is it the case that a subtle form of scientism is infecting large areas of theological discourse, with the result that the dialogue between these two disciplines is often seriously misguided?
St. George Mivart (1827-1900) was a prolific writer on biological evolution and on its relevance to the Christian faith. His initial support for the evolutionary ideas put forward by Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley would eventually turn into heavy criticism of these same ideas, evident in his 1871 book "On the Genesis of Species". This short paper critically evaluates the origins and development of his thinking that led to this book. It examines his paper "Difficulties of the Theory of Natural (...) Selection", published in 1869, and argues that, even though some of his technical observations about the theory are outdated, some of his philosophical arguments are still relevant today. (shrink)
Can we sustain the idea, once expressed by Henri Poincaré, that science and values only touch but do not interpenetrate? Isn’t such an idea nothing more than an idealization? Is there no link between science and genuine human flourishing?
These last decades, the many contributions to the literary output on science and religion have dealt with topics that are on the cutting edge of scientific discovery, topics mainly in the area of theoretical physics, cognitive science, and evolutionary biology. Philosophers of religion, responding to this trend, have therefore struggled with intricate arguments, and have often made use of the highly technical language of these sciences. The overall result was that truly original philosophical contributions, ones that present new perspectives regarding (...) this area, have been very rare. Of these few new research programs, one seems to be particularly promising, especially because of the way it has been throwing new light on how science relates to other disciplines. The originality of this research-area lies in the fact that it refers not to particular scientific discoveries, considered individually, but to the general dynamics of the practical side of science. The crucial concept is expertise, which involves the appeal to authority for the justification of arguments. Many people like to think that scientific knowledge is far from all this, that it is purely objective and that it floats way above the murky waters of subjectivism. Those who are directly involved in scientific practice however know that science is not so clean. Appeal to authority remains very much part of the natural sciences, whether we like it or not. Some philosophers have recently ventured into these somewhat dark caverns of scientific thought and practice, and the result of their work has become very significant. In this paper, I will first offer a brief overview of this philosophical work, and then explore how the new insights regarding scientific expertise and scientific appeal to authority can throw light not only on how science works but also on the issue of authoritative knowhow within the Church. To avoid getting lost within the dim world of abstract principles, I will focus on one particular concrete case, the one of Vatican astronomers. This is a particularly interesting case because this group’s complex role lies precisely at the intersection between theological and scientific expertise. (shrink)
Many agree that philosophers of knowledge and of moral behavior should take into thoughtful consideration the findings of contemporary evolutionary biology but how to do this is not always clear. Ruse makes useful suggestions on how such scientific results should be incorporated.
This paper explores how realism is crucial in understanding rule-following. The strategy involves starting from what has been achieved by Wittgenstein and others as regards semantic normativity and then applying it to other areas, including moral deliberation. The result shows that realism in rule-following involves not only the weak claim that rules are independent of the individual rule-follower, as conventions are. It involves also the stronger claim that conventional rules are constrained by non-conventional constraints. These constraints depend neither on the (...) individual nor on the group. They arise from the nature of things. Human rule-followers are constrained first by being material beings, secondly by being living organisms, and thirdly by being rational. (shrink)
Conference paper presented at the 10th International Congress of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science, Florence, Italy (19-25 August 1995). Extrapolation here refers to the act of inferring more widely from a limited range of known facts. This notion of extrapolation, especially when applied to past events, has recently been used to formulate a pragmatic definition of truth. This paper shows that this definition has serious problems. The pragmatic definition of truth has been formulated in discussions on internal realism. In (...) this paper, the basic internal realist starting point, as expounded in the works of H. Putnam and N. Jardine, will be taken to be the claim that the distinction between judgements that are true from judgements that are false is explainable from within our judgement-forming faculty — no recourse to the external world is necessary. The paper first shows how the pragmatic definition of truth involves a counterfactual statement. It then describes how the counterfactual definition is apparently justified by an inductive argument. In the final step, this justification is shown to be unsuccessful. (shrink)
Both science and theology involve philosophy. They both involve reasoned argument, evaluation of possible explanations, clarification of concepts, ways of interpreting experience, understanding the present significance of what has gone before us, and other such eminently philosophical tasks. They both involve philosophy, especially when they enter into dialogue with each other. In fact, they involve philosophical thinking even when they may not be aware of it. In this paper I will explore a specific area of philosophy that is particularly important (...) as a bridge between theology and science. I am referring to the area of meaning. Questions regarding meaning are fundamental because whatever is said about the nature of life, by scientists, by theologians, or by anyone else, must be expressed in meaningful words. Meaning is like the ground we walk on. It constitutes what we need to proceed with our activity. Without solid ground under our feet, we cannot go anywhere. (shrink)
The human intellect has a tendency towards unity and harmony. Some intellectual disciplines are close to each other. Others are far apart. Where should one place theology and science within this spectrum of disciplines?
After elucidating the nature of ordinary linguistic behaviour and its ontological implications, the paper critically examines some trends in the philosophy of mind that use the expression folk-psychology. The main argument shows that, when eliminativists hold that everyday discourse dealing with describing and predicting each other’s behaviour is an empirical theory, they are forcing their object of study into an exclusively mechanistic mould, and thus seriously distorting it. The meaning of everyday utter¬ances is not to be sought towards the physical (...) centre of the human individual, the brain, but towards the centre of human practice. Seeking the source of our meaning within the mechanism of the brain is to work in the wrong direction. (shrink)
Was the Society of Jesus the main obstacle for the acceptance of the new physics in modern Europe? Was their educational system, all over Europe, completely under the strict control of regulations imposed by the Jesuit hierarchy in Rome? How did the various Jesuit colleges confront, reject, or absorb the crucial novelties of the mathematical and experimental method? Marcus Hellyer addresses such crucial questions in this book.
Habits form a crucial part of the everyday conceptual scheme used to explain normal human activity. However, they have been neglected in debates concerning folk-psychology which have concentrated on propositional attitudes such as beliefs. But propositional attitudes are just one of the many mental states. In this paper, I seek to expand the debate by considering mental states other than propositional attitudes. I conclude that the case for the autonomy and plausibility of the folk-psychological explanation is strengthened when one considers (...) an example from the non-propositional-attitude mental states: habits. My main target is the radical eliminativist program. As regards habits, eliminativists could argue in two distinct but related ways. They can either abandon the concept "habit" altogether or retain the folk-psychological term "habit" by reducing it to the causal chain of the observed behavior pattern, as is sometimes done in social theory. I contend that both of these strategies are defective. The correct way to talk about habits is in terms of manifestations and activating conditions, not in terms of causal chains. Hence, if eliminativists take up either of the two arguments given above, they will not succeed. Correspondingly, by the added generality gained through the consideration of habits, the case for folk-psychology is strengthened. (shrink)
The role of empirical evidence in scientific and in religious discourse has been revisited in a recent paper by John Worrall, who argues for the overlap between these two types of discourse and for the superiority of the former. His main thesis is that the epistemic attitude of natural science is superior because it is essentially related to evidence and falsifiability, whereby the search for counter-evidence is taken as the primary driving force for research. The epistemic attitude of religion, on (...) the contrary, is essentially related to faith, whereby the effects of counter-evidence are always minimized or neutralized. In this paper, I question Worrall’s analysis of the role of evidence in the two kinds of discourse. I argue that the debate has systematically neglected the question of holism of meaning. When such holism is taken into consideration, the very idea of a purely given experience becomes questionable. I argue that this neglected area is as pivotal in our understanding of religious discourse as it has been acknowledged to be in philosophy of science. I then propose a refined account of religious language, illustrating thereby that between the role of evidence in science and its roles in religion there is a lot in common. (shrink)
John von Neumann's proof that quantum mechanics is logically incompatible with hidden varibales has been the object of extensive study both by physicists and by historians. The latter have concentrated mainly on the way the proof was interpreted, accepted and rejected between 1932, when it was published, and 1966, when J.S. Bell published the first explicit identification of the mistake it involved. What is proposed in this paper is an investigation into the origins of the proof rather than the aftermath. (...) In the first section, a brief overview of the his personal life and his proof is given to set the scene. There follows a discussion on the merits of using here the historical method employed elsewhere by Andrew Warwick. It will be argued that a study of the origins of von Neumann's proof shows how there is an interaction between the following factors: the broad issues within a specific culture, the learning process of the theoretical physicist concerned, and the conceptual techniques available. In our case, the ‘conceptual technology’ employed by von Neumann is identified as the method of axiomatisation. (shrink)
An introduction to the special issue of the Journal “Forum Philosophicum” that contains nine studies dealing with a cluster of metaphysical questions of cross-cultural importance: H. Watzka, “A new realistic spirit: the analytical and the existential approaches to ontology”; P. Gilbert, “Voilà pourquoi je ne suis pas ‘ontologue’; P. Favraux, “La pertinence de l’ontologie pour la théologie”; E. Charmetant, "Naturalisme contemporain et ontologie humaine : vers un essentialisme différent"; J. Bremer, "Aristotle on touch”; T. Walsh, "Bonum est causa mali: a (...) problem and an opportunity for metaphysics in the thought of Thomas Aquinas and Hegel”; A. J. Carroll, “Disenchantment, rationality and the modernity of Max Weber”; G. Karuvelil, “Religious experience: reframing the question”; L. Caruana “Universal claims”. (shrink)
Science has uncovered many mistakes that had been hidden for centuries among implicit everyday assumptions. When we make explicit what lies implicit within language, there is no guarantee that we will arrive at truth about the world. Many therefore assume that only science delivers truth. Recent debates on this issue often refer to Wilfred Sellars’s arguments against the pre-conceptual given but conclude that his additional insistence on the exclusivity of the scientific image of the world is unfounded. In this paper (...) I resort to Robert Brandom’s development of these arguments to show that saying a word, understanding a concept and engaging in some practices go together. Both laws of nature and social norms regulate these practices and determine the identity conditions of objects. I argue therefore that the conceptual scheme indeed reflects the nature of things because it results from our successful engagement with the world during the long sweep of evolutionary time. (shrink)
Rom Harré has recently proposed that there is a difference between the driving force behind the early and the later Wittgenstein. According to Harré, in the early work, the major inspiration came from science, while, in the later, it came from religion. I show that only Harré’s first proposal is fully justified. In section one of my paper, I examine the picture theory, the theory of truth-functions, the meaning of propositions, and Tractatus §6.3. In section two, about the Philosophical Investigations, (...) I show that Harré is misleading. In a first step, I argue that science plays the same role in this later work as in the Tractatus, namely the role of source of inspiration. In a second step, I show that science plays also the role of a contrast against which the rich world of meaning can be discerned. I examine this contrastive role not only as regards religion, but also as regards psychology, and as regards the repercussions of Wittgenstein’s later work on science-studies. My final proposal is that the distinction between science as source of inspiration and science as a contrast goes beyond Wittgenstein: it characterises much twentieth century philosophical work in this area. (shrink)
History indicates that science is primarily not a theoretical but a practical enterprise. It represents the symbiosis of two human activities, namely, on the one hand, natural philosophy, which seeks to make sense of the world, and, on the other hand, instrumental thinking, which seeks to control the world.
The interaction between science and theology is often seen as an interaction concerning their claims. This article examines how this interaction may also concern their questions. The focus will be on environmental issues because the relevance of these issues has increased tremendously during these last decades. Recent studies have focused on the way a question can become real for any community of inquirers, both in science and in theology. Reality here refers to the way a question emerges as one that (...) can, and should, be dealt with. The paper explores how this idea is applicable to questions concerning the environment, how they have become real, and how this fact will impact our moral deliberation about what we ought to do, personally and globally. (shrink)
This paper examines Hilary Putnam’s arguments against what he calls metaphysical realism and in favour of internal realism. A key notion is the one of conceptual scheme, whose role is to explain how we inevitably find ourselves adopting one viewpoint among possible others. To ensure the possibility of agreement between all inquirers for some basic issues, is Putnam committed to having just one conceptual scheme for all human inquirers? The paper argues that the answer is no, on condition that all (...) inquirers are assumed to have a kind of cognitive faculty that is common to all. (shrink)
This coherent collection of original papers marks the 150 year anniversary since the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (1859). Although the area of evolution-related publications is vast, the area of interaction between Darwinian ideas and specifically Catholic doctrine has received limited attention. This interaction is quite distinct from the one between Darwinism and the Christian tradition in general. Interest in Darwin from the Catholic viewpoint has recently been rekindled. Endorsement: “As this volume shows, any notion of intractable conflict (...) between faith and reason is an extremist fantasy. The true depth of religious thought on Darwin's great idea not only shows respect for science, but a deep appreciation for the esthetic beauty of evolutionary thought. These challenging and enlightening essays demonstrate not only the power of scientific reasoning, but a continuing Catholic commitment to the ultimate unity of knowledge.” — Kenneth R. Miller, Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA. (shrink)
Many philosophers adopt methods that emulate those of the natural sciences. For them, this position, which they call naturalism, defines the indispensable set of starting points for fruitful debate in various areas. In spite of this consensus, however, little is ever said about the way naturalism depends on the primary idea of nature. If we understand this dependency of naturalism on underlying accounts of nature, we would be in a better position to recognize and evaluate different kinds of naturalism. In (...) this research monograph, I undertake a sustained study of the concept of nature to answer this need. I examine in detail how conceptual, historical, and scientific constraints affect, and are in turn affected by, the concept of nature in various domains of philosophy, and I relate the conceptual framework of scientific inquiry back to the lived experience that is proper to everyday self-understanding. The method I use is conceptual analysis. I begin with an evaluation and justification of this method, and then present the fundamental idea that forms the backbone of the entire book, namely the idea of complexification of concepts in the course of history. I present the four main views on nature that have dominated Western thought: the dynamic view, related primarily to Aristotle’s approach, the mechanistic view, the Romantic view, and the evolutionary view. From here, I engage in a detailed inquiry into the fundamental ideas of explanation and causation, defending a pluralist account for both. I then examine carefully the intricate relation between things and the meaning of the words we use to describe them. I show how we can acknowledge the emergence of complex properties from simpler ones within an overall evolutionary view of nature. I also explore how concepts concerning the nature of things are related to values. The final chapter deals with an objection that arises from those who claim that the empirical method is the only one available for our knowledge of nature. I show that the value of conceptual analysis, as used in this book, remains unharmed by this objection. We need to accept that, in the course of history, the concept of nature has become complexified, multilayered, and increasingly loaded with internal tension because of its many relations to different areas of our conceptual scheme. (shrink)
Charting new territory in the interface between science and ethics, this monograph is a study of how the scientific mentality can affect the building of character, or the attainment of virtue by the individual. Drawing on inspiration from virtue-ethics and virtue-epistemology, Caruana argues that science is not just a system of knowledge but also an important factor determining a way of life. This book goes beyond the normal strategy evident in the science-ethics realm of examining specific ethical dilemmas posed by (...) scientific innovations. Here Caruana deals with more fundamental issues, uncovering morally significant tendencies within the very core of the scientific mentality and explaining how science, its method, history, and explanatory power can shape a conception of the good life. This book has been translated into Italian: Scienza e Virtù: uno studio sull’impatto della mentalità scientifica sul carattere morale, trad. L. Di Gioia, Roma: G&B Press, 2021. (shrink)