Reliabilism holds that knowledge is true belief reliably caused. Reliabilists should say something about individuating processes; critics deny that the right degree of generality can be specified without arbitrariness. It is argued that this criticism applies as well to processes mentioned in scientific explanations. The gratuitous puzzles created thereby show that the “generality problem” is illusory.
A collection of essays on the foundations of biology and its connection to other sciences. Its lengthy and profound foreword by Stuart Kauffman, a major figure in the quantitative analysis of biological regulation at the system level, summarizes the intended main point: “we live not only in a world of webs of cause and effect, but webs of opportunities that enable, but do not cause, often in unforeseeable ways, the possibilities of becoming of the bio- sphere, let alone human life. (...) But most importantly, I seek in this new worldview a re-enchantment of humanity”.. To some extent, it’s meant as a reaction to what some perceive as a demoralizing aspects of the mechanistic paradigm that is driven by recent advances in the molecular bio-sciences: “I believe we are partially lost in modernity, seeking half-articulated, a pathway forward. Re-enchantment may be an essential part of this transformation.”. I do not agree that the current situation is as bleak as many critics of the scientific mainstream suggest, but this book should appeal to anyone interested in the larger questions of biology no matter where they stand on this issue. All in all, it is an extremely enjoyable and valuable tour of important concepts and controversies. (shrink)
Harold Saxton Burr was a biologist working throughout the 1930s–1950s on an important set of problems related to biological organization and the origin of complex living forms. He was a profound thinker, suggesting a complementary focus on field concepts in addition to the emphasis on particle models and integrating concepts from physics and philosophy in his work. He developed innovations in electrophysiological technique and used them to perform a wide experimental survey of bioelectricity in normal and pathological growth. Here, I (...) briefly review his classic paper with philosopher F. S. C. Northrop, “The Electro-Dynamic Theory of Life,” in the context of advances in this field over the last few decades. Based on recent progress, it is now clear that Burr was a prescient and visionary thinker. His main hypothesis, that bioelectric gradients serve as prepatterns guiding morphogenesis, has been confirmed using modern molecular physiology, as have his ideas about the place of cancer and the nervous system in the question of biological organization. With limited technology but deep insight, he derived insights that anticipated many modern discoveries. Even more importantly, Burr’s view of bioelectricity as a convenient entry point for rigorous investigation of the broader question of self-organizing properties of life highlights a frontier of inquiry that awaits today’s researchers. Burr and Northrop’s “The Electro-Dynamic Theory of Life,” originally published in the Quarterly Review of Biology :322–333, 1935), is available as supplementary material in the online version of this essay. (shrink)
Examples cited by Feldman, Lehrer and others of true beliefs that are justified, but not by false lemmas, turn out under scrutiny to involve false lemmas after all. In each case there is an EG inference whose conclusion is unwarranted unless its base instance is false. A shift to non-deductive justification does not avert the difficulty. The relation of this result to non-inferential Gettier cases is suggested.
This paper defends the view that homosexuality is abnormal and hence undesirable—not because it is immoral or sinful, or because it weakens society or hampers evolutionary development, but for a purely mechanical reason. It is a misuse of bodily parts. Clear empirical sense attaches to the idea of the use of such bodily parts as genitals, the idea that they are for something, and consequently to the idea of their misuse. I argue on grounds involving natural selection that misuse of (...) bodily parts can with high probability be connected to unhappiness. I regard these matters as prolegomena to such policy issues as the rights of homosexuals, the rights of those desiring not to associate with homosexuals, and legislation concerning homosexuality, issues which I shall not discuss systematically here. However, I do in the last section draw a seemingly evident corollary from my view that homosexuality is abnormal and likely to lead to unhappiness. (shrink)
Feminism was born in controversy and it continues to flourish in controversy. The distinguished contributors to this volume provide an array of perspectives on issues including: universal values, justice and care, a feminist philosophy of science, and the relationship of biology to social theory.
This article considers some recent objections to reliabilism, particularly those of Susan Haack in Evidence and Inquiry. Haack complains that reliabilism solves the "ratification" problem trivially, making it analytic that evidence relates to truth; this paper defends an analytic solution to this problem. It argues as well that reliabilism is not tacitly committed to "evidentialism." Familiar counterexamples to and repairs of reliabilism are reviewed, with an eye to finding their rationale. Finally, it suggests that the underlying dispute between reliabilism and (...) its critics is the existence of a priori relations between evidence and hypotheses. (shrink)
I argue against the currently popular view that a radical change in theory affects the meaning of theoretical terms, and hence render pre- and post-shift theories incomparable. I first show how to pose the meaning-change issue without appeal to meanings reified. I contend that arguments against theory-neutral observation languages are faulty, but that even if they were sound, there are semantic devices that allow a theory to refer to the factual basis of a competitor. This suggests a picture of science (...) as the accumulation of truths, with each successive stage being more stable. (shrink)
One version of virtue epistemology defines knowledge as belief whose truth arises from, or is explained by, the motives that produced it. This version is also intended to solve the Gettier problem, by shielding properly caused beliefs from double accidents. Unfortunately, there is no notion of "explains" or "arises from" which explains in the intended sense the truth of true beliefs.
In this paper I respond to Mathias Risse's objections to my critique of his views on racial profiling in Philosophy and Public Affairs. I draw on the work of Richard Sampson and others on racial disadvantage in the USA to show that racial profiling likely aggravates racial injustices that are already there. However, I maintain, clarify and defend my original claim against Risse that racial profiling itself is likely to cause racial injustice, even if we abstract from unfair background conditions. (...) I then respond to Levin's claims that there is no serious racial injustice in the contemporary USA and differentiate between Risse's attempt - albeit unsuccessful - to provide an egalitarian justification for racial profiling from the frankly inegalitarian assumptions that underpin the claims of Michael Levin. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that the faculty of introspection, and the subjective states revealed in introspection, present difficulties to materialism. This paper argues that introspection can be construed physicalistically, and that the states introspected need not be imbued with phenomenally self-revealing qualities. The central argument is that introspected states are identified in terms of (but the terms denoting them not defined in terms of) the external circumstances in which they occur. It is also argued that this broadly behaviorist perspective can be (...) reconciled with the occurrence of ineffable experiences, and that it presents difficulties for the construal of pleasure offered by classical utilitarianism. (shrink)
It is argued against critics that the concept of race is well-formed. The issue is formulated in terms of the classic sense/reference distinction and shown that "race" has a sense specified in terms of geographic ancestry, and thereby a reference. Excessive constraints on "race," for instance that races must by definition have signature genes, are rejected. Empirical validation is considered, although the emphasis here is to place empirical validation in a philosophical context, not answer the empirical questions themselves. At several (...) junctures the familiar divisions of the races are compared to the stellar luminosity types of astronomy, which are still serviceable although representing an earlier state of astrophysical knowledge. (shrink)
Putnam argues that, by ‘reinterpretation’, the Axiom of Constructibility can be saved from empirical refutation. This paper contends that this argument fails, a failure which leaves Putnam's sweeping appeal to the Lowenheim –Skolem Theorem inadequately motivated.
It is argued that the intuition driving Kripke’s famous version of Wittgenstein’s meaning skepticism is precisely the one that prompted Hume to despair of his bundle theory of the self: there are no necessary connections between distinct mental states. This interpretation is shown to throw light on Wittgenstein’s notorious idea that all proofs “create concepts.” Wittgenstein has invented a new form of skepticism. Personally I am inclined to regard it as the most radical and original skeptical problem that philosophy has (...) seen to date[.] – Saul Kripke. (shrink)
I argue that 'c' occurs extensionally in 'c caused e' and 'D' occurs extensionally in 'c caused e because c is D'. I claim that this has been insufficiently appreciated because the two contexts are often run together and because it has not been clear that the description D of c is among the referents of an explanatory argument. I argue as well that Hume's analysis of causation is consistent with taking causation to be a relation between single events, and (...) that even if events are eliminated as virtual entities, extensionality holds for all terms in the resulting context. (shrink)
The question is not whether the word "ought" means what hare says; the question is whether the concept of objectivity can be applied to practical judgments. Universalizability is the key, According to the kantian, And that's why the universalizability of moral judgments is conceptually important. As a preliminary to arguing this, I show that some common counterexamples to hare's thesis misfire--And I end by suggesting that it is no a priori truth that every speaker and every culture have morality.