This paper probes the foundations and limits of visual representation in the sciences through a close reading of the diagrams that accompanied definitions of the geometric point in the first century of printed editions of Euclid’s Elements. I begin with the modal form for such diagrams of Euclid’s “small and unsensible shape,” showing how it incorporates a broad spectrum of conventions and practices related to the point’s philosophical and practical roles in the surrounding Euclidean geometry. I then explore the form’s (...) several variations in order to consider the role of “mere representation” in geometric exegesis, and conclude by characterizing the curious relationship between things and their images and that relationship’s implications for understanding scientific knowledge and practice. (shrink)
Astronomer Charles Piazzi Smyth’s 1864–65 expedition to measure the Great Pyramid of Giza was planned around a system of linear measures designed to guarantee the validity of his measurements and settle ongoing uncertainties as to the Pyramid’s true size. When the intended system failed to come together, Piazzi Smyth was forced to improvise a replacement that presented a fundamental challenge to the metrological enterprise upon which his system had been based. The astronomer’s new system centered around a small lump of (...) basalt, now held at Cambridge’s Whipple Museum of the History of Science, which nucleated a wide array of material and scientific considerations. Through a bipartite analysis of the physical and narrative dimensions of Piazzi Smyth’s basalt Standard, I develop the implications of its use and construction for understanding the material constitution of scientific instruments. In particular, I illustrate how instruments are locally constituted through co-accountable systems and how their material features become integrally implicated in both their uses and meanings. (shrink)
In Michael Williams' “What's So Special About Human knowledge?” he argues that the kind of knowledge characteristic of adult humans is distinctive in that it involves epistemic responsibility. In particular, when an adult human has knowledge, they have a certain kind of epistemic authority, and that to attribute knowledge to them is to grant them a certain kind of authority over the subject matter. I argue that, while it is true that when we attribute knowledge to adult humans, we (...) typically also attribute to them the relevant kind of epistemic authority, this need not be because adult humans have a distinctive kind of knowledge. Rather, it may be because adult humans are distinctive kinds of beings - beings that can have epistemic authority over the subject matter about which they know. The only thing that need be special about human knowledge is that it's had by human knowers. (shrink)
In this paper, we offer a brief, critical survey of contemporary work on truth. We begin by reflecting on the distinction between substantivist and deflationary truth theories. We then turn to three new kinds of truth theory—Kevin Scharp's replacement theory, John MacFarlane's relativism, and the alethic pluralism pioneered by Michael Lynch and Crispin Wright. We argue that despite their considerable differences, these theories exhibit a common "pluralizing tendency" with respect to truth. In the final section, we look at the (...) underinvestigated interface between metaphysical and formal truth theories, pointing to several promising questions that arise here. (shrink)
This paper will attempt to provide an overview of Bentham's fundamental thinking with regard to the relief of indigence. The manuscripts on which it draws form the texts of unpublished works, namely a set of ‘Three Essays on the Poor Laws’, which were completed by Bentham, and ‘Pauper Systems Compared’, which remains in a comparatively unfinished state. In the ‘Essays’, Bentham considers first the question of whether the relief of indigence should be a public responsibility, and, having concluded that it (...) should, moves on to consider what conditions should be attached to that relief. In ‘Systems Compared’, Bentham analyzes different systems of provision in terms of their compatibility with these conditions. (shrink)
This volume collects two lectures by Jeremy Waldron that were originally given as Berkeley Tanner Lectures along with responses to the lectures from Wai Chee Dimock, Don Herzog, and Michael Rosen; a reply to the responses by Waldron; and an introduction by Meir Dan-Cohen.
In 1995 Walker & Company published a small book authored by the professional writer Dava Sobel entitled Longitude: The Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time. Not only did the book sell exceptionally well; it also spawned a three‐hour film, Longitude, starring Jeremy Irons and Michael Gambon, and a new, lavishly illustrated work, The Illustrated Longitude, by Sobel and Harvard's William J. H. Andrewes. It is difficult to think of another book (...) in the history of science that has attained comparable success. Yet it seems that history of science journals have taken scant notice of the book; my efforts to locate reviews of Sobel's volume in history of science journals have turned up only a single review, that being in Italian. This is all the more distressing because the book and film present a very controversial view of Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne. This is not the place to examine Sobel's recipe for success, but it seems relevant background in reviewing a book also written by a professional journalist, also published by Walker, and fairly comparable in format to Sobel's.The history of science is rich in fascinating stories that could delight a variety of readers. The story of the search for longitude in the eighteenth century is certainly one of these; the dramatic quest to discover Neptune in the mid nineteenth century is another. Put overly briefly, the latter is the story of the frustrated efforts of a young, personally diffident but intellectually bold Cambridge graduate, John Couch Adams, to convince either the director of the Cambridge Observatory or England's Astronomer Royal to look for a planet that Adams's calculations had told him must be located at a specific position. It is also the story of the brilliant and arrogant Urbain J. J. Leverrier, who had independently completed comparable calculations and who beat Adams to the discovery by persuading not one of his French colleagues but an astronomer at the Berlin Observatory to launch a search, which within a few hours had located Neptune. It is also the story of the immense controversy that followed and that has in the last few years been given a new twist with the recovery of key documents carried off to Chile from the Royal Greenwich Observatory.Tom Standage, science correspondent for the Economist and author of The Victorian Internet, has taken up the challenge of retelling the Neptune story, which had previously been treated in dozens of articles and in book‐length studies by John Pringle Nichol, Albert Glodin, Morton Grosser, and Patrick Moore. Moreover, Standage presents the Neptune narrative as the centerpiece in a story that stretches from William Herschel's discovery of Uranus to the discovery of Pluto in 1930 and even to the spectroscopic detection in the last few years of dozens of extra–solar system planets. Standage's clear and engaging prose is based on extensive reading in English and French sources, some manuscript work, and interviews with a number of the discoverers of extra–solar system planets. Although the book is bereft of footnotes, an annotated bibliography at its end partially fulfills their function. Numerous illustrations appear, but these tend to be rather dark and small.Although the book is generally reliable, some significant errors appear. For example, whereas Standage reports that William Herschel did not see Uranus alter in size, Herschel observed its diameter nearly double in the two months after his first observation of it. It is John, not William, Herschel who is buried in Westminster Abbey. Benjamin Peirce's last name is misspelled , as is Christiaan Huygens's first name , and it is incorrect to say that Huygens “considered it was unlikely that there was life elsewhere in the solar system” . Also, because Lowell Observatory director Vesto Slipher played such a major role in the discovery of the planet Pluto by creating and directing the research program that enabled a recent high school graduate, Clyde Tombaugh, to be the first to recognize the planet on a photographic plate, it seems inappropriate that Standage makes no mention of Slipher in recounting the discovery of Pluto.Overall this is a highly engaging story, well told and based on good sources. One would hope that it may follow Longitude into film, at least a documentary, and that other authors and publishers will recognize the market for such exciting stories from the history of science. (shrink)
Since its founding in the nineteenth century, social anthropology has been seen as the study of exotic peoples in faraway places. But today more and more anthropologists are dedicating themselves not just to observing but to understanding and helping solve social problems wherever they occur--in international aid organizations, British TV studios, American hospitals, or racist enclaves in Eastern Europe, for example. In Exotic No More , an initiative of the Royal Anthropological Institute, some of today's most respected anthropologists demonstrate, in (...) clear, unpretentious prose, the tremendous contributions that anthropology can make to contemporary society. They cover issues ranging from fundamentalism to forced migration, child labor to crack dealing, human rights to hunger, ethnicity to environmentalism, intellectual property rights to international capitalisms. But Exotic No More is more than a litany of gloom and doom the essays also explore topics usually associated with leisure or "high" culture, including the media, visual arts, tourism, and music. Each author uses specific examples from their fieldwork to illustrate their discussions, and 62 photographs enliven the text. Throughout the book, the contributors highlight anthropology's commitment to taking people seriously on their own terms, paying close attention to what they are saying and doing, and trying to understand how they see the world and why. Sometimes this bottom-up perspective makes the strange familiar, but it can also make the familiar strange, exposing the cultural basis of seemingly "natural" behaviors and challenging us to rethink some of our most cherished ideas--about gender, "free" markets, "race," and "refugees," among many others. Contributors: William O. Beeman Philippe Bourgois John Chernoff E. Valentine Daniel Alex de Waal Judith Ennew James Fairhead Sarah Franklin Michael Gilsenan Faye Ginsburg Alma Gottlieb Christopher Hann Faye V. Harrison Richard Jenkins Melissa Leach Margaret Lock Jeremy MacClancy Jonathan Mazower Ellen Messer A. David Napier Nancy Scheper-Hughes Jane Schneider Parker Shipton Christopher B. Steiner. (shrink)
Toleration has a rich tradition in Western political philosophy. It is, after all, one of the defining topics of political philosophy—historically pivotal in the development of modern liberalism, prominent in the writings of such canonical figures as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, and central to our understanding of the idea of a society in which individuals have the right to live their own lives by their own values, left alone by the state so long as they respect the similar (...) interests of others. -/- Toleration and Its Limits, the latest addition to the NOMOS series, explores the philosophical nuances of the concept of toleration and its scope in contemporary liberal democratic societies. Editors Melissa S. Williams and Jeremy Waldron carefully compiled essays that address the tradition's key historical figures; its role in the development and evolution of Western political theory; its relation to morality, liberalism, and identity; and its limits and dangers. -/- Contributors: Lawrence A. Alexander, Kathryn Abrams, Wendy Brown, Ingrid Creppell, Noah Feldman, Rainer Forst, David Heyd, Glyn Morgan, Glen Newey, Michael A. Rosenthal, Andrew Sabl, Steven D. Smith, and Alex Tuckness. (shrink)
This paper deals with Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought styles and Michael Polanyi’s theory of tacit knowledge. Though both concepts have been very influential for science studies in general, and both have been subject to numerous interpretations, their accounts have, somewhat surprisingly, hardly been comparatively analyzed. Both Fleck and Polanyi relied on the physiology and psychology of the senses in order to show that scientific knowledge follows less the path of logical principles than the path of accepting or rejecting (...) specific conventions, where these may be psychologically or sociologically grounded. It is my aim to show that similarities and differences between Fleck and Polanyi are to be seen in the specific historical and political context in which they worked. Both authors, I shall argue, emphasized the relevance of perception in close connection to their respective understanding of science, freedom, and democracy. (shrink)
Suppose a fire broke out in a fertility clinic. One had time to save either a young girl, or a tray of ten human embryos. Would it be wrong to save the girl? According to Michael Sandel, the moral intuition is to save the girl; what is more, one ought to do so, and this demonstrates that human embryos do not possess full personhood, and hence deserve only limited respect and may be killed for medical research. We will argue, (...) however, that no relevant ethical implications can be drawn from the thought experiment. It demonstrates neither that one always ought to let the embryos die, nor does it allow for any general conclusion concerning the moral status of human embryos. (shrink)
Evidence-based medicine has always required integration of patient values with ‘best’ clinical evidence. It is widely recognized that scientific practices and discoveries, including those of EBM, are value-laden. But to date, the science of EBM has focused primarily on methods for reducing bias in the evidence, while the role of values in the different aspects of the EBM process has been almost completely ignored.
Many psychological studies of categorization and reasoning use undergraduates to make claims about human conceptualization. Generalizability of findings to other populations is often assumed but rarely tested. Even when comparative studies are conducted, it may be challenging to interpret differences. As a partial remedy, in the present studies we adopt a 'triangulation strategy' to evaluate the ways expertise and culturally different belief systems can lead to different ways of conceptualizing the biological world. We use three groups (US bird experts, US (...) undergraduates, and ordinary Itza' Maya) and two sets of birds (North American and Central American). Categorization tasks show considerable similarity among the three groups' taxonomic sorts, but also systematic differences. Notably, US expert categorization is more similar to Itza' than to US novice categorization. The differences are magnified on inductive reasoning tasks where only undergraduates show patterns of judgment that are largely consistent with current models of category-based taxonomic inference. The Maya commonly employ causal and ecological reasoning rather than taxonomic reasoning. Experts use a mixture of strategies (including causal and ecological reasoning), only some of which current models explain. US and Itza' informants differed markedly when reasoning about passerines (songbirds), reflecting the somewhat different role that songbirds play in the two cultures. The results call into question the importance of similarity-based notions of typicality and central tendency in natural categorization and reasoning. These findings also show that relative expertise leads to a convergence of thought that transcends cultural boundaries and shared experiences. (shrink)
The eminent historian and philosopher of biology, Michael Ruse, has written several books that explore the relationship of evolutionary theory to its larger scientific and cultural setting. Among the questions he has investigated are: Is evolution progressive? What is its epistemological status? Most recently, in "Darwin and Design: Does Evolution have a Purpose?," Ruse has provided a history of the concept of teleology in biological thinking, especially in evolutionary theorizing. In his book, he moves quickly from Plato and Aristotle (...) to Kant and such British thinkers as Paley and Whewell. His main focus, though, is on Darwin's theory and its subsequent fate. Ruse rests his history on some shaky historical and philosophic assumptions, particularly the unexamined notion that evolutionary theory is an abstract entity that is unproblematically realized in different historical periods. He also assumes that Darwin conceived nature as if it were a Manchester spinning loom -- a clanking, dispassionate machine. A more subtle analysis, which Ruse eschews, might discover that Darwin's conception of nature owed a strong debt to German Romanticism and that he contrived to infuse nature with moral and aesthetic values, not to suck them from nature. Ruse proves he is a thinker to contend with, and this essay is quite contentious. (shrink)
In the mid-nineteenth century George Boole formulated his ‘conditions of possible experience’. These are equations and ineqaulities that the relative frequencies of events must satisfy. Some of Boole's conditions have been rediscovered in more recent years by physicists, including Bell inequalities, Clauser Horne inequalities, and many others. In this paper, the nature of Boole's conditions and their relation to propositional logic is explained, and the puzzle associated with their violation by quantum frequencies is investigated in relation to a variety of (...) approaches to the interpretation of quantum mechanics. * While preparing this paper for publication I have learnt of the untimely death of Professor J. S. Bell, and I wish to dedicate the paper to his memory. This research was undertaken while I spent a sabbatical leave at Wolfson College, and the History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Cambridge. I would like to thank Michael Redhead and Jeremy Butterfield for their hospitality and for helpful discussions. A first draft of this paper has been distributed among the participants of the conference 'Einstein in Context' which was held in Israel, in April 1990.1 have benefited from the comments of many colleagues. I would like to thank in particular Arthur Fine who enlightened me on the prism models, David Albert. Maya Bar-Hillel. Yemima Ben-Menachem, Mara Beller. Simon Saunders, and Mark Steiner. This research is partially supported by the Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science at the Hebrew University. (shrink)
In Consciousness and persons, Michael Tye (Tye, M. (2003). Consciousness and persons. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.) develops and defends a novel approach to the unity of consciousness. Rather than thinking of the unity of consciousness as involving phenomenal relations between distinct experiences, as standard accounts do, Tye argues that we should regard the unity of consciousness as involving relations between the contents of consciousness. Having developed an account of what it is for consciousness to be unified, Tye goes on (...) to apply his account of the unity of consciousness to the split-brain syndrome. I provide a critical evaluation of Tye's account of the unity of consciousness and the split-brain syndrome. (shrink)
give a proof of the existence of nonlocal influences acting on correlated spin-1/2 particles in the singlet state which does not require any particular interpretation of quantum mechanics (QM). (Except Stapp holds that the proof fails under a many-worlds interpretation of QM—a claim we analyse in 1.2.) Recently, in responding to Redhead's (, pp. 90-6) criticism that the Stapp 1 proof fails under an indeterministic interpretation of QM, Stapp  (henceforth Stapp 2), has revised the logical structure of his proof (...) including its crucial locality assumption. Our main aim is to show that this revision is a step in the wrong direction because it faces two difficulties which undermine the resulting proof's significance (3.1) and validity (3. 2). We also clarify and extend the Stapp 1 proof (1. 1) with the aid of Lewis' analysis of counterfactuals (1. 2) and causal dependence (2. 2 and 2. 3). In so doing, we are able to identify two new defects in the Stapp 1 proof (1. 3 and 2. 1) in addition to corroborating Redhead's criticism (2. 2). Also, the additional assumptions which save the Stapp 1 proof's validity are detailed (2. 3) and some new difficulties for the determinist are pointed out by exploiting a slightly extended version of the proof (2. 4). In providing this full analysis of the Stapp 1 proof, we also construct the necessary framework within which to provide a critique of Stapp 2's proof (3). *Portions of this paper were presented by R. K. Clifton to the 1988 British Society for the Philosophy of Science Conference at the University of Southampton. R. K. Clifton wishes to thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, and the Governing Body of Peterhouse at Cambridge University for support during this work. (shrink)
This is a review of Michael Devitt's collection of previously published articles entitled Putting Metaphysics First: Essays on Metaphysics and Epistemology. The review also suggests a new way of formulation the realism/anti-realism contrast on the basis of Devitt's work. This contrast is understood in terms explanatory priority: should we in a given domain begin our theorizing from metaphysics (realism) or semantics (anti-realism)?
Although it goes against a widespread significant misunderstanding of his view, Michael Smith is one of the very few moral philosophers who explicitly wants to allow for the commonsense claim that, while morally required action is always favored by some reason, selfish and immoral action can also be rationally permissible. One point of this paper is to make it clear that this is indeed Smith’s view. It is a further point to show that his way of accommodating this claim (...) is inconsistent with his well-known “practicality requirement” on moral judgments: the thesis that any rational person will always have at least some motivation to do what she judges to be right. The general conclusion is that no view that, like Smith’s, associates the normative strength of a reason with the motivational strength of an ideal desire will allow for the wide range of rational permissibility that Smith wants to capture. (shrink)
Michael Dummett's approach to the metaphysical issue of realism through the philosophy of language, his challenge to realism, and his philosophy of language itself are central topics in contemporary analytic philosophy and have influenced the work of other major figures such as Quine, Putnam, and Davidson. This book offers an accessible and systematic presentation of the main elements of Dummett's philosophy. This book's overarching theme is Dummett's discussion of realism: his characterization of realism, his attack on realism, and his (...) invention and exploration of the anti-realist position. This book begins by examining Dummett's views on language. Only against that setting can one fully appreciate his conception of the realism issue. With this in place, Weiss returns to Dummett's views on the nature of meaning and understanding to unfold his challenge to realism. Weiss devotes the remainder of the book to examining the anti-realist position. He discusses anti-realist theories of meaning and then investigates anti-realism's revisionary consequences. Finally, he engages with Dummett's discussion of two difficult challenges for the anti-realist: the past and mathematics. (shrink)
We further develop a recent new proof (by Greenberger, Horne, and Zeilinger—GHZ) that local deterministic hidden-variable theories are inconsistent with certain strict correlations predicted by quantum mechanics. First, we generalize GHZ's proof so that it applies to factorable stochastic theories, theories in which apparatus hidden variables are causally relevant to measurement results, and theories in which the hidden variables evolve indeterministically prior to the particle-apparatus interactions. Then we adopt a more general measure-theoretic approach which requires that GHZ's argument be modified (...) in order to produce a valid proof. Finally, we motivate our more general proof's assumptions in a somewhat different way from previous authors in order to strengthen the implications of our proof as much as possible. After developing GHZ's proof along these lines, we then consider the analogue, for our proof, of Bohr's reply to the EPR argument, and conclude (pace GHZ) that in at least one respect (viz. that of most concern to Bohr) the proof is no more powerful than Bell's. Nevertheless, we point out some new advantages of our proof over Bell's, and over other algebraic proofs of nonlocality. And we conclude by giving a modified version of our proof that, like Bell's, does not rely on experimentally unrealizable strict correlations, but still leads to a testable “quasi-algebraic” locality inequality.“... to admit things not visible to the gross creatures that we are is, in my opinion, to show a decent humility, and not just a lamentable addiction to metaphysics.”J. S. Bell. (shrink)
This article challenges the tendency exhibited in arguments by Michael Ignatieff, Jeremy Waldron, and others to treat the Law of Armed Conflict as the only valid moral frame of reference for guiding armed rebels with just cause. To succeed, normative language and principles must reflect not only the wrongs of ‘terrorism’ and war crimes, but also the rights of legitimate rebels. However, these do not always correspond to the legal privileges of combatants. Rebels are often unlikely to gain (...) belligerent recognition and might sometimes have strong moral reasons to exceed the rights of regular combatants. Where this gives rise to tensions between morality and the LOAC, a decision is needed to determine which to follow. Setting aside the idea of suppressing just war theory altogether in favour of a more purely regulatory approach to war and reforming law in the direct light of moral theory, I question the attempt by Waldron to argue that moral weight of the legal conventions at the heart of the LOAC trump any moral reasons there might be for breaching them. Even if non-combatant immunity is, as Waldron suggests, a deadly serious convention, I argue that war is justified only if pursued for the sake of deadly serious causes which may even be serious enough to oblige agents to break the law. A political theory of the ethics of war is needed to mediate between the moral and legal in such cases where they cannot be reconciled directly. (shrink)
On the 27th of October, 1949, the Department of Philosophy at the University of Manchester organized a symposium "Mind and Machine", as Michael Polanyi noted in his Personal Knowledge (1974, p. 261). This event is known, especially among scholars of Alan Turing, but it is scarcely documented. Wolfe Mays (2000) reported about the debate, which he personally had attended, and paraphrased a mimeographed document that is preserved at the Manchester University archive. He forwarded a copy to Andrew Hodges and (...) B. Jack Copeland, who in then published it on their respective websites. The basis of this interpretation here is the copy preserved in the Regenstein Library of the University of Chicago, Special Collections, Polanyi Collection (abbreviated RPC, box 22, folder 19). The same collection holds the mimeographed statement that Polanyi prepared for this symposium: "Can the mind be represented by a machine?" This text has not been studied by Polanyi scholars. (shrink)