We have two aims in this paper. The first is to provide the reader with a critical guide to recent work on relativity and persistence by Balashov, Gilmore and others. Much of this work investigates whether endurantism can be sustained in the context of relativity. Several arguments have been advanced that aim to show that it cannot. We find these unpersuasive, and will add our own criticisms to those we review. Our second aim, which complements the first, is to (...) demarcate the most defensible form of relativistic endurantism. A recurring theme of this paper is that even those philosophers who do worry about relativity have not taken it seriously enough. (shrink)
In a companion paper (Pooley & Brown 2001) it is argued that Julian Barbour's Machian approach to dynamics provides a genuinely relational interpretation of Newtonian dynamics and that it is more explanatory than the conventional, substantival interpretation. In this paper the extension of the approach to relativistic physics is considered. General relativity, it turns out, can be reinterpreted as a perfectly Machian theory. However, there are difficulties with viewing the Machian interpretation as more fundamental than the conventional, spacetime (...) interpretation. Moreover, this state of affairs provides little solace for the relationist for, even when interpreted along Machian lines, general relativity is a substantival theory although the basic entity is space, not spacetime. (shrink)
Substantivalists believe that spacetime and its parts are fundamental constituents of reality. Relationalists deny this, claiming that spacetime enjoys only a derivative existence. I begin by describing how the Galilean symmetries of Newtonian physics tell against both Newton's brand of substantivalism and the most obvious relationalist alternative. I then review the obvious substantivalist response to the problem, which is to ditch substantival space for substantival spacetime. The resulting position has many affinities with what are arguably the most natural interpretations (...) of special and general relativity. I move on to consider and reject two recent antisubstantivalist lines of thought. The interim conclusion is that the best argument for relationalism is an appeal to Ockham's razor. However, for this to be successful there must be genuine relationalist theories that share the theoretical virtues of their substantivalist rivals but without the additional ontological commitment. The bulk of the paper is therefore an investigation of various concrete relationalist proposals. I distinguish three options for the relationalist in the face of the success of Galilean invariant physics and trace how these generalise to relativistic physics. One of the options is particularly promising but, since its basic objects end up being spacetime points, this does not help the prospects of relationalism as traditionally conceived. I end with some reflections on the fate of substantivalism in the aftermath of the Hole Argument, concluding that we have as yet to be given good reasons to abandon the natural, substantivalist interpretation of current physics. (shrink)
Throughout the biological and biomedical sciences there is a growing need for, prescriptive ‘minimum information’ (MI) checklists specifying the key information to include when reporting experimental results are beginning to find favor with experimentalists, analysts, publishers and funders alike. Such checklists aim to ensure that methods, data, analyses and results are described to a level sufficient to support the unambiguous interpretation, sophisticated search, reanalysis and experimental corroboration and reuse of data sets, facilitating the extraction of maximum value from data (...) sets them. However, such ‘minimum information’ MI checklists are usually developed independently by groups working within representatives of particular biologically- or technologically-delineated domains. Consequently, an overview of the full range of checklists can be difficult to establish without intensive searching, and even tracking thetheir individual evolution of single checklists may be a non-trivial exercise. Checklists are also inevitably partially redundant when measured one against another, and where they overlap is far from straightforward. Furthermore, conflicts in scope and arbitrary decisions on wording and sub-structuring make integration difficult. This presents inhibit their use in combination. Overall, these issues present significant difficulties for the users of checklists, especially those in areas such as systems biology, who routinely combine information from multiple biological domains and technology platforms. To address all of the above, we present MIBBI (Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations); a web-based communal resource for such checklists, designed to act as a ‘one-stop shop’ for those exploring the range of extant checklist projects, and to foster collaborative, integrative development and ultimately promote gradual integration of checklists. (shrink)
Is the objective passage of time compatible with relativistic physics? There are two easy routes to an affirmative answer: (1) provide a deflationary analysis of passage compatible with the block universe, or (2) argue that a privileged global present is compatible with relativity. (1) does not take passage seriously. (2) does not take relativity seriously. This paper is concerned with the viability of views that seek to take both passage and relativity seriously. The investigation proceeds by (...) considering how traditional A-theoretic conceptions of passage might be generalized to relativistic space-times without incorporating a privileged global present. I argue that the most promising position marries the idea that open possibilities for the future are settled as time passes with a ‘non-standard’ interpretation of the relevant formal models. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the `Lorentzian Pedagogy' defended by J.S. Bell in his essay ``How to teach special relativity'', and to explore its consistency with Einstein's thinking from 1905 to 1952. Some remarks are also made in this context on Weyl's philosophy of relativity and his 1918 gauge theory. Finally, it is argued that the Lorentzian pedagogy---which stresses the important connection between kinematics and dynamics---clarifies the role of rods and clocks in general relativity.
Julian Barbour's approach to dynamics is reviewed. With a particular focus on questions of explanation and confirmation, the approach is contrasted with standard formulations of dynamics. This paper expands upon my commentary on Lawrence Sklar's paper at the Philosophy of Time Society meeting at the APA's Central Division meeting in Chicago, April 2004. Although a commentary, the current paper is comprehensible without reference to Sklar's paper.
This is a copy of my DPhil thesis, the abstract for which is as follows: The first third of this thesis argues for a B-theoretic conception of time according to which all times exist equally and the present is in no way privileged. I distinguish "ontological" A-theories from "non-ontological" ones, arguing that the latter are experientially unmotivated and barely coherent. With regard to the former, I focus mainly on presentism. After some remarks on how to formulate this (and eternalism) (...) non-trivially, I review the non-relativistic case against presentism. I then consider the impact of Special Relativity on the debate, and attempt to deepen this impact by supplying a modal variation on the standard arguments. The middle third of the thesis investigates persistence, contending that both endurance and perdurance are consonant with the eternalism already endorsed. After introducing these theories of persistence, and discussing in particular how best to formulate an eternalist endurance, I proceed to defend the coherence of this combination. The Problem of Change is addressed here. I then respond in some detail to recent allegations of relativistic threats to endurance. The final third of the thesis questions the validity of the endurantist-perdurantist dispute. I criticize two recently proposed translation schemes that aim to show this dispute to be non-substantive. However, the second scheme suggests a doctrine of "Ontological Equivalence" which I develop and consider. I then address the Rotating Discs Argument, using this to launch a discussion of identity, genidentity, and the relationship between them. (shrink)
Astronomical observations of redshifts and the cosmic background radiation show that there is a local frame of reference relative to which the solar system has a well-defined velocity. Also, in cosmology the cosmological principle implies the existence of cosmic time and unique local reference frames at all spacetime points. On the other hand, in a fundamental postulate, the theory of special relativity excludes the possibility of the velocity of the Earth from entering into theories of local physics.The theory put forward (...) in this paper resolves this conflict between local physics and cosmology. The theory retains the essential ingredient of the mathematical structure of special relativity, namely covariance under the Lorentz symmetry group, but changes radically the interpretation of the physical significance of the Lorentz transformation. The theory is based on the postulate that in free space the fundamental interactions in physics are propagated with constant velocity with respect to the local rest frame. In Minkowski spacetime the local rest frame of reference defines a unique time axis and consequently a unique three-dimensional spatial hyperplane. One particularly important result of this is that the theory includes the classical notion of simultaneity. From the fundamental postulate it follows that the equations of local physics, when expressed in terms of the rest frame coordinate system, must be covariant under the Lorentz symmetry group. By the identification of the local rest frame with the (unique) cosmological local reference frame the two theories become mutually consistent.The effects of the motion of the Earth on laboratory experiments are discussed. It is pointed out that existing experimental data do not discriminate between the present theory and that of special relativity: a proposal for an experimental test is made. (shrink)
Agamben maintains that Heidegger continues the work of the anthropological machine by defining Dasein as uniquely open to the closedness of the animal. Yet, Agamben’s own thinking does not so much open up the concept of animal as it attempts to save humanity from the anthropological machine that always produces the animal as the constitutive outside within the human itself. Agamben’s return to religious metaphors at best displaces the binary man-animal with the binary religion-science, and at worst returns us (...) to a discourse at least as violent as the one from which he is trying to escape. Merleau-Ponty’s reanimation of science provides an alternative. (shrink)
Background Regionalised models of health care delivery have important implications for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses yet the ethical issues surrounding disability and regionalisation have not yet been explored. Although there is ethics-related research into disability and chronic illness, studies of regionalisation experiences, and research directed at improving health systems for these patient populations, to our knowledge these streams of research have not been brought together. Using the Canadian province of Ontario as a case study, we address this (...) gap by examining the ethics of regionalisation and the implications for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The critical success factors we provide have broad applicability for guiding and/or evaluating new and existing regionalised health care strategies. Discussion Ontario is in the process of implementing fourteen Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). The implementation of the LHINs provides a rare opportunity to address systematically the unmet diverse care needs of people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The core of this paper provides a series of composite case vignettes illustrating integration opportunities relevant to these populations, namely: (i) rehabilitation and services for people with disabilities; (ii) chronic illness and cancer care; (iii) senior's health; (iv) community support services; (v) children's health; (vi) health promotion; and (vii) mental health and addiction services. For each vignette, we interpret the governing principles developed by the LHINs – equitable access based on patient need, preserving patient choice, responsiveness to local population health needs, shared accountability and patient-centred care – and describe how they apply. We then offer critical success factors to guide the LHINs in upholding these principles in response to the needs of people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Summary This paper aims to bridge an important gap in the literature by examining the ethics of a new regionalisation strategy with a focus on the implications for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses across multiple sites of care. While Ontario is used as a case study to contextualize our discussion, the issues we identify, the ethical principles we apply, and the critical success factors we provide have broader applicability for guiding and evaluating the development of – or revisions to – a regionalised health care strategy. (shrink)
Though emotional faces preferentially reach awareness, the present study utilised both objective and subjective indices of awareness to determine whether they enhance subjective awareness and “blindsight”. Under continuous flash suppression, participants localised a disgusted, fearful or neutral face (objective index), and rated their confidence (subjective index). Psychopathic traits were also measured to investigate their influence on emotion perception. As predicted, fear increased localisation accuracy, subjective awareness and “blindsight” of upright faces. Coldhearted traits were inversely related to subjective awareness, but not (...) “blindsight”, of upright fearful faces. In a follow-up experiment using inverted faces, increased localisation accuracy and awareness, but not “blindsight”, were observed for fear. Surprisingly, awareness of inverted fearful faces was positively correlated with coldheartedness. These results suggest that emotion enhances both pre-conscious processing and the qualitative experience of awareness, but that pre-conscious and conscious processing of emotional faces rely on at least partially dissociable cognitive mechanisms. (shrink)
Studies using Posner’s spatial cueing paradigm have demonstrated that participants can allocate their attention to specific target locations based on the predictiveness of preceding cues. Four experiments were conducted to investigate attentional orienting processes operating in a high probability condition as compared to a low probability condition using various types of centrally-presented cues. Spatially-informative cues resulted in cueing effects for both probability conditions, with significantly larger CEs in the high probability conditions than the low probability conditions. Participants in the (...) high probability conditions reported little or no awareness of cue–target probabilities after task completion. Our results provide support for an implicit learning account of the proportion valid effect under experimental conditions involving spatially-informative central cues and relatively short stimulus onset asynchronies. (shrink)
In an earlier work I developed an argument favoring one view of persistence (viz., perdurance) over its rivals, based on considerations of the relativity of three-dimensional spatial shapes of physical objects in Minkowski spacetime. The argument has since come under criticism (in the works of Theodore Sider, Kristie Miller, Ian Gibson, OliverPooley, and Thomas Sattig). Two related topics, explanatory virtues and explanatory relevance, are central to these critical discussions. In this paper I deal with these (...) topics directly and respond to my critics by offering a new perspective on the issue. (shrink)
Critically engaging the work of Immanuel Kant, Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, and Jacques Derrida together with her own observations on contemporary politics, environmental degradation, and the pursuit of a just and sustainable world, Kelly Oliver lays the groundwork for a politics and ethics that embraces otherness without exploiting difference. Rooted firmly in human beings' relationship to the planet and to each other, Oliver shows peace is possible only if we maintain our ties to earth and world. (...) class='Hi'>Oliver begins with Immanuel Kant and his vision of politics grounded on earth as a finite surface shared by humans. She then incorporates Hannah Arendt's belief in plural worlds constituted through human relationships; Martin Heidegger's warning that alienation from the Earth endangers not only politics but also the very essence of being human; and Jacques Derrida's meditations on the singular worlds individuals, human and otherwise, create and how they inform the reality we inhabit. Each of these theorists, Oliver argues, resists the easy idealism of world citizenship and globalism, yet they all think about the earth against the globe to advance a grounded ethics. They contribute to a philosophy that avoids globalization's totalizing and homogenizing impulses and instead help build a framework for living within and among the world's rich biodiversity. (shrink)
The implications for the substantivalist–relationalist controversy of Barbour and Bertotti's successful implementation of a Machian approach to dynamics are investigated. It is argued that in the context of Newtonian mechanics, the Machian framework provides a genuinely relational interpretation of dynamics and that it is more explanatory than the conventional, substantival interpretation. In a companion paper (Pooley [2002a]), the viability of the Machian framework as an interpretation of relativistic physics is explored. 1 Introduction 2 Newton versus Leibniz 3 Absolute space (...) versus an affine connection 4 Anti-relationalist arguments 5 Rehabilitating relationalism 6 Dynamics on the relative configuration space 7 Intrinsic particle dynamics 8 Conclusion. (shrink)
Family Values shows how the various contradictions at the heart of Western conceptions of maternity and paternity problematize our relationships with ourselves and with others. Using philosophical texts, psychoanalytic theory, studies in biology and popular culture, Kelly Oliver challenges our traditional concepts of maternity which are associated with nature, and our conceptions of paternity which are embedded in culture. Oliver's intervention calls into question the traditional image of the oppositional relationship between nature and culture, maternal (...) and paternal. Family Values also undercuts recent returns to the rhetoric of a "battle between the sexes" by analyzing the conceptual basis of these descriptions in biological research and the presuppositions of such suggestions in philosophy and psychoanalysis. By developing a reconception of maternity and paternity, Family Values offers hope for peace in the battle of the sexes. (shrink)
Results from two self-paced reading experiments in English are reported in which subject- and object-extracted relative clauses (SRCs and ORCs, respectively) were presented in contexts that support both types of relative clauses (RCs). Object-extracted versions were read more slowly than subject-extracted versions across both experiments. These results are not consistent with a decay-based working memory account of dependency formation where the amount of decay is a function of the number of new discourse referents that intervene between the dependents ( (...) class='Hi'>Gibson, 1998; Warren & Gibson, 2002). Rather, these results support interference-based accounts and decay-based accounts where the amount of decay depends on the number of words or on the type of noun phrases that intervene between the dependents. In Experiment 2, presentation in supportive contexts was directly contrasted with presentation in null contexts. Whereas in the null context the extraction effect was only observed during the RC region, in a supportive context the extraction effect was numerically larger and persisted into the following region, thus showing that extraction effects are enhanced in supportive contexts. A sentence completion study demonstrated that the rate of SRCs versus ORCs was similar across null and supportive contexts (with most completions being subject-extractions), ruling out the possibility that an enhanced extraction effect in supportive contexts is due to ORCs being less expected in such contexts. However, the content of the RCs differed between contexts in the completions, such that the RCs produced in supportive contexts were more constrained, reflecting the lexical and semantic content of the preceding context. This effect, which we discuss in terms of expectations/lexico-syntactic priming, suggests that the enhancement of the extraction effect in supportive contexts is due to the facilitation of the subject-extracted condition. (shrink)
Gibson, Robin The concept of dying by euthanasia and indeed physician-assisted suicide is a highly emotive one. Assisted dying arouses intense feelings both in favour and against. The prospect of enduring a long drawn out dying process generates both fear and apprehension in both terminally ill and chronically ill patients. Many of them wish to choose the time and manner of their death. On the other side, passionate, mainly religious groups have campaigned long and hard to deny suffering people (...) assistance to die. As the law currently stands in Australia, there is a complete ban on both euthanasia and assistance in suicide. Even following a request by a patient, a medical practitioner who directly takes the life of his or her patient, can be charged with murder or manslaughter. Despite the repeal of laws that forbade committing or attempting to commit suicide, laws still exist which proscribe the provision of assistance to another to commit or attempt to commit suicide. (shrink)
This enterprising book, written in the spirit of William James, urges our appreciation of the intensely personal character of spiritual transcendence. Phil Oliver's work has important implications for specialists concerned with the Jamesian concept of "pure experience," and it illuminates significant interdisciplinary ties among philosophy, literature, and other intellectual domains.
Metaphysics and Transcendence takes up this story for the future. Arthur Gibson presents a new metaphysics with a genealogy based on counter-intuition and locates counter-intuition and complexity at the foundations of truth. Having devised fresh concepts on the basis of the new frontiers of science and philosophy, the author presents original explanations of transcendence arguing that just as we need revolutionary and original ways of depicting the physical world, so it is with such topics as God, miracles, (...) the resurrection, the source and identity of consciousness and reason itself. (shrink)
In the post-Newtonian world motion is assumed to be a simple category which relates to the locomotion of bodies in space, and is usually associated only with physics. Philosophy, God and Motion shows that this is a relatively recent understanding of motion and that prior to the scientific revolution motion was a much broader and more mysterious category, applying to moral as well as physical movements. Simon Oliver presents fresh interpretations of key figures in the history of western (...) thought including Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Newton, examining the thinkers' handling of the concept of motion. Through close readings of seminal texts in ancient and medieval cosmology and early modern natural philosophy, the book moves from antique to modern times investigating how motion has been of great significance within theology, philosophy and science. Particularly important is the relation between motion and God, following Aristotle traditional doctrines of God have understood the divine as the 'unmoved mover' while post-Holocaust theologians have suggested that in order to be compassionate God must undergo the motion of suffering. Philosophy, God and Motion suggests that there may be an authentically theological, as well as a natural scientific understanding of motion. (shrink)
Ever since Eve tempted Adam with her apple, women have been regarded as a corrupting and destructive force. The very idea that women can be used as interrogation tools, as evidenced in the infamous Abu Ghraib torture photos, plays on age-old fears of women as sexually threatening weapons, and therefore the literal explosion of women onto the war scene should come as no surprise. From the female soldiers involved in Abu Ghraib to Palestinian women suicide bombers, women and their (...) bodies have become powerful weapons in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In _Women as Weapons of War_, Kelly Oliver reveals how the media and the administration frequently use metaphors of weaponry to describe women and female sexuality and forge a deliberate link between notions of vulnerability and images of violence. Focusing specifically on the U.S. campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, Oliver analyzes contemporary discourse surrounding women, sex, and gender and the use of women to justify America's decision to go to war. For example, the administration's call to liberate "women of cover," suggesting a woman's right to _bare_ arms is a sign of freedom and progress. Oliver also considers what forms of cultural meaning, or lack of meaning, could cause both the guiltlessness demonstrated by female soldiers at Abu Ghraib and the profound commitment to death made by suicide bombers. She examines the pleasure taken in violence and the passion for death exhibited by these women and what kind of contexts created them. In conclusion, Oliver diagnoses our cultural fascination with sex, violence, and death and its relationship with live news coverage and embedded reporting, which naturalizes horrific events and stymies critical reflection. This process, she argues, further compromises the borders between fantasy and reality, fueling a kind of paranoid patriotism that results in extreme forms of violence. (shrink)
It is argued that Minkowski space-time cannot serve as the deep structure within a ``constructive'' version of the special theory of relativity, contrary to widespread opinion in the philosophical community.
In his paper ``What is Structural Realism?'' James Ladyman drew a distinction between epistemological structural realism and metaphysical (or ontic) structural realism. He also drew a suggestive analogy between the perennial debate between substantivalist and relationalist interpretations of spacetime on the one hand, and the debate about whether quantum mechanics treats identical particles as individuals or as `non-individuals' on the other. In both cases, Ladyman's suggestion is that an ontic structural realist interpretation of the physics might be just what is (...) needed to overcome the stalemate. The main thesis of this paper is that, whatever the interpretative difficulties of generally covariant spacetime physics are, they do not support or suggest structural realism. In particular, I hope to show that there is in fact no analogy that supports a similar interpretation of the metaphysics of spacetime points and of quantum particles. (shrink)
Diffeomorphism invariance is sometimes taken to be a criterion of background independence. This claim is commonly accompanied by a second, that the genuine physical magnitudes (the ``observables'') of background-independent theories and those of background-dependent (non-diffeomorphism-invariant) theories are essentially different in nature. I argue against both claims. Background-dependent theories can be formulated in a diffeomorphism-invariant manner. This suggests that the nature of the physical magnitudes of relevantly analogous theories (one background free, the other background dependent) is essentially the same. The temptation (...) to think otherwise stems from a misunderstanding of the meaning of spacetime coordinates in background-dependent theories. (shrink)