This book is about some topical philosophical and methodological prob lems that arise in the study of behavior and mind, as well as in the treatment of behavioral and mental disorders. It deals with such questions as 'What is behavior a manifestation of?', 'What is mind, and how is it related to matter?', 'Which are the positive legacies, if any, of the major psychological schools?', 'How can behavior and mind best be studied?', and 'Which are the most effective ways of (...) modifying behavioral and mental processes?' These questions and their kin cannot be avoided in the long run because they fuel the daily search for better hypotheses, experimental designs, techniques, and treatments. They also occur in the critical examination of data and theories, as well as methods for the treatment of behavioral and mental disorders. All students of human or animal, normal or abnormal behavior and mind, whether their main concern is basic or applied, theoretical or em pirical, admit more or less tacitly to a large number of general philosophi cal and methodological principles. (shrink)
Over the past three decades, the philosophy of biology has emerged from the shadow of the philosophy of physics to become a respectable and thriving philosophical subdiscipline. The authors take a fresh look at the life sciences and the philosophy of biology from a strictly realist and emergentist-naturalist perspective. They outline a unified and science-oriented philosophical framework that enables the clarification of many foundational and philosophical issues in biology. This book will be of interest both to life scientists and philosophers.
Chasing Reality deals with the controversies over the reality of the external world. Distinguished philosopher Mario Bunge offers an extended defence of realism, a critique of various forms of contemporary anti-realism, and a sketch of his own version of realism, namely hylorealism. Bunge examines the main varieties of antirealism - Berkeley's, Hume's, and Kant's; positivism, phenomenology, and constructivism - and argues that all of these in fact hinder scientific research. Bunge's realist contention is that genuine explanations in the sciences appeal (...) to causal laws and mechanisms that are not directly observable, rather than simply to empirical generalisations. Genuine science, in his view, is objective even when it deals with subjective phenomena such as feelings of fear. This work defends a realist view of universals, kinds, possibilities, and dispositions, while rejecting contemporary accounts of these that are couched in terms of modal logic and 'possible worlds.'. (shrink)
pt. I. Matter: 1. Philosophy as worldview ; 2. Classical matter: bodies and fields ; 3. Quantum matter: weird but real ; 4. General concept of matter: to be is to become ; 5. Emergence and levels ; 6. Naturalism ; 7. Materialism -- pt. II. Mind: 8. The mind-body problem ; 9. Minding matter: the plastic brain ; 10. Mind and society ; 11. Cognition, consciousness, and free will ; 12. Brain and computer: the hardware/software dualism ; 13. Knowledge: (...) genuine and bogus -- pt. III. Appendices: 14. Appendix A: Objects ; 15. Appendix B. Truths. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to elucidate the notions of explanation and mechanism, in particular of the social kind. A mechanism is defined as what makes a concrete system tick, and it is argued that to propose an explanation proper is to exhibit a lawful mechanism. The so-called covering law model is shown to exhibit only the logical aspect of explanation: it just subsumes particulars under universals. A full or mechanismic explanation involves mechanismic law statements, not purely descriptive ones (...) such as functional relations and rate equations. Many examples from the natural, biosocial, and social sciences are examined. In particular, macro-micro-micro-macro social relations are shown to explain other wise puzzling macro-macro links. The last part of the article relates the author's progress, over half a century, toward understanding mechanism and explanation. (shrink)
This article addresses the following problems: What is a mechanism, how can it be discovered, and what is the role of the knowledge of mechanisms in scientific explanation and technological control? The proposed answers are these. A mechanism is one of the processes in a concrete system that makes it what it is for example, metabolism in cells, interneuronal connections in brains, work in factories and offices, research in laboratories, and litigation in courts of law. Because mechanisms are largely (...) or totally imperceptible, they must be conjectured. Once hypothesized they help explain, because a deep scientific explanation is an answer to a question of the form, "How does it work, that is, what makes it tickwhat are its mechanisms?" Thus, by contrast with the subsumption of particulars under a generalization, an explanation proper consists in unveiling some lawful mechanism, as when political stability is explained by either coercion, public opinion manipulation, or democratic participation. Finding mechanisms satisfies not only the yearning for understanding, but also the need for control. Key Words: explanation function mechanism process system systemism. (shrink)
Summary Opinion is divided as to whether chemistry is reducible to physics. The problem can be given a satisfactory solution provided three conditions are met: that a science not be identified with its theories; that several notions of theory dependence be distinguished; and that quantum chemistry, rather than classical chemistry, be compared with physics. This paper proposes to perform all three tasks. It does so by analyzing the methodological concepts concerned as well as by examining the way a chemical rate (...) constant is derivable with the help of the quantum atomic theory. The conclusion is that chemistry, and in particular quantum chemistry, is not a part of physics although it is certainly based on the latter. (shrink)
This collection of essays deals with three clusters of problems in the philo sophy of science: scientific method, conceptual models, and ontological underpinnings. The disjointedness of topics is more apparent than real, since the whole book is concerned with the scientific knowledge of fact. Now, the aim of factual knowledge is the conceptual grasping of being, and this understanding is provided by theories of whatever there may be. If the theories are testable and specific, such as a theory of a (...) particular chemical reaction, then they are often called 'theoretical models' and clas sed as scientific. If the theories are extremely general, like a theory of syn thesis and dissociation without any reference to a particular kind of stuff, then they may be called 'metaphysical' - as well as 'scientific' if they are consonant with science. Between these two extremes there is a whole gamut of kinds of factual theories. Thus the entire spectrum should be dominated by the scientific method, quite irrespective of the subject matter. This is the leitmotiv of the present book. The introductory chapter, on method in the philosophy of science, tackles the question 'Why don't scientists listen to their philosophers?'. (shrink)
Most social scientists and philosophers claim that sociology and philosophy are disjointed fields of inquiry. Some have wondered how to trace the precise boundary between them. Mario Bunge argues the two fields are so entangled with one another that no demarcation is possible or, indeed, desirable. In fact, sociological research has demonstrably philosophical presuppositions. In turn, some findings of sociology are bound to correct or enrich the philosophical theories that deal with the world, our knowledge of it, or the ways (...) of acting upon it. While Bunge's thesis would hardly have shocked Mill, Marx, Durkheim, or Weber, it is alien to the current sociological mainstream and dominant philosophical schools. Bunge demonstrates that philosophical problematics arise in social science research. A fertile philosophy of social science unearths critical presuppositions, analyzes key concepts, refines effective research strategies, crafts coherent and realistic syntheses, and identifies important new problems. Bunge examines Marx's and Durkheim's thesis that social facts are as objective as physical facts; the so-called Thomas theorem that refutes the behaviorist thesis that social agents react to social stimuli rather than to the way we perceive them; and Merton's thesis on the ethos of basic science which shows that science and morality are intertwined. He then considers selected philosophical problems raised by contemporary social studies. In a concluding chapter, Bunge argues forcefully against tolerance of shabby work in academic social science and philosophy alike. (shrink)
The recent detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO team has rightly been hailed as “the crowning achievemen of classical physics”. This detection, which came at the end of a decade-long quest, involved 950 investigators, and cost around one billion US dollars, was the scientific star of the year 2015. What, if any, is the philosophical impact of this scientific breakthrough, which Albert Einstein had anticipated one century earlier? To answer this question we start by examining the central equations of (...) Einstein’s theory of gravitation, also known as general relativity. Subsequently we analyze the special case of a hollow sphere, in an attempt to answer the question of the reality and even materiality of space or, rather, spacetime. As well, the view that gravitation is a manifestation of the curvature of spacetime is discussed, and the reality of gravitational waves is regarded as the coup de grâce to that view. (shrink)
This volume has 41 chapters written to honor the 100th birthday of Mario Bunge. It celebrates the work of this influential Argentine/Canadian physicist and philosopher. Contributions show the value of Bunge’s science-informed philosophy and his systematic approach to philosophical problems. The chapters explore the exceptionally wide spectrum of Bunge’s contributions to: metaphysics, methodology and philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of physics, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of social science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of technology, moral philosophy, social and political (...) philosophy, medical philosophy, and education. The contributors include scholars from 16 countries. Bunge combines ontological realism with epistemological fallibilism. He believes that science provides the best and most warranted knowledge of the natural and social world, and that such knowledge is the only sound basis for moral decision making and social and political reform. Bunge argues for the unity of knowledge. In his eyes, science and philosophy constitute a fruitful and necessary partnership. Readers will discover the wisdom of this approach and will gain insight into the utility of cross-disciplinary scholarship. This anthology will appeal to researchers, students, and teachers in philosophy of science, social science, and liberal education programmes. 1. Introduction Section I. An Academic Vocation Section II. Philosophy Section III. Physics and Philosophy of Physics Section IV. Cognitive Science and Philosophy of Mind Section V. Sociology and Social Theory Section VI. Ethics and Political Philosophy Section VII. Biology and Philosophy of Biology Section VIII. Mathematics Section IX. Education Section X. Varia Section XI. Bibliography. (shrink)
In this paper we examine the following problems: How many concepts of function are there in biology, social science, and technology? Are they logically related and if so, how? Which of these function concepts effect a functional explanation as opposed to a mere functional account? What are the consequences of a pluralist view of functions for functionalism? We submit that there are five concepts of function in biology, which are logically related in a particular way, and six function concepts in (...) social science and technology. Only two of them may help effect a genuine functional explanation. Finally, our synthetic approach allows us to distinguish four different varieties of functionalism in biology, psychology, social science, and technology: formalist, black boxist, adaptationist, and teleological. And only one of them is explanatory in the strong sense defended here. (shrink)
The word 'materialism' is ambiguous: it designates a moral doc trine as well as a philosophy and, indeed, an entire world view. Moral materialism is identical with hedonism, or the doctrine that humans should pursue only their own pleasure. Philosophical ma terialismis the view that the real worId is composed exclusively of material things. The two doctrines are logically independent: hedonism is consistent with immaterialism, and materialism is compatible with high minded morals. We shall be concerned ex c1usively with philosophical (...) materialism. And we shall not confuse it with realism, or the epistemological doctrine that knowIedge, or at any rate scientific knowledge, attempts to represent reality. Philosophical materialism is not a recent fad and it is not a solid block: it is as old as philosophy and it has gone through six quite different stages. The first was ancient materialism, centered around Greek and Indian atomism. The second was the revival of the first during the 17th century. The third was 18th century ma terialism, partly derived from one side of Descartes' ambiguous legacy. The fourth was the mid-19th century "scientific" material ism, which flourished mainly in Germany and England, and was tied to the upsurge of chemistry and biology. The fifth was dialec tical and historical materialism, which accompanied the consolida tion of the socialist ideology. And the sixth or current stage, evolved mainly by Australian and American philosophers, is aca demic and nonpartisan but otherwise very heterogeneous. Ancient materialism was thoroughly mechanistic. (shrink)
Two concepts of truth as correspondence of ideas with facts are analyzed. One of them is the thought-external fact relation, and the other is the fact-proposition one. The two maps are then composed, and the resulting map is assumed to formalize the concept of truth as adequacy or correspondence of ideas to facts. Besides, some desiderata for a correspondence theory of partial truth are proposed. Finally, the truth criteria employed in science and technology are recalled.
Philosophy is indeed currently at a low ebb, admits Bunge (logic and metaphysics, McGill U.), but cites earlier crises from which it has recovered and suggests how the situation can be improved now. His topics include humanism in the information revolution, diagnosing pseudo-science, and values and morals in a materialist and realist perspective. c. Book News Inc.
One of the most difficult and interesting problems of rational decision is the choice among possible diverging paths in theory construction and among competing scientific theories—i.e., systems of accurate testable hypotheses. This task involves many beliefs—some warranted and others not as warranted—and marks decisive crossroads. Suffice to recall the current conflict between the general theory of relativity and alternative theories of gravitation that account for the same empirical evidence, the rivalry among different interpretations of quantum mechanics, and the variety of (...) cosmological theories. They all account for the same observed facts although they may predict different kinds of as yet unknown facts; they are consequently, up to now, empirically equivalent theories even though they are conceptually different and may even involve different philosophical views—i.e., they are conceptually inequivalent. (shrink)
In the scientific communities most criticisms are constructive, while they are destructive in the humanistic circles. Indeed, scientists circulate their drafts among colleagues and students, hoping to elicit their comments and suggestions before submitting their work to publication. In contrast, philosophers and political thinkers attack their rivals, without sparing arguments ad hominem or even insults. The reason for this difference is that scientists are after the truth, whereas most humanists fight for more or less noble causes, from swelling their own (...) curricula to joining crusades for or against rationality, realism, justice, or what have you. (shrink)
Individualism comes in at least ten modes: ontological, logical, semantic, epistemological, methodological, axiological, praxiological, ethical, historical, and political. These modes are bound together. For example, ontological individualism motivates the thesis that relations are n-tuples of individuals, as well as radical reductionism and libertarianism. The flaws and merits of all ten sides of the individualist decagon are noted. So are those of its holist counterpart. It is argued that systemism has all the virtues and none of the defects of individualism and (...) holism. One such virtue is the ability to recognize that individualism is a system rather than an unstructured bag of opinions--which raises the question whether thorough and consistent individualism is at all possible. Key Words: holism individualism system systemism. (shrink)