An important contribution to the foundations of probability theory, statistics and statistical physics has been made by E. T. Jaynes. The recent publication of his collected works provides an appropriate opportunity to attempt an assessment of this contribution. * Review of E. T. JAYNES (1983): Papers on Probability, Statistics and Statistical Physics. Edited by R. D. Rosenkrantz. D. Reidel Publishing Company. US $49.50. Pp. xxiv + 434. We are grateful to Harvey Brown, Kenneth Denbigh, Udi Makov and Oliver Penrose for (...) their valuable criticisms of this paper. (shrink)
An important contribution to the foundations of probability theory, statistics and statistical physics has been made by E. T. Jaynes. The recent publication of his collected works provides an appropriate opportunity to attempt an assessment of this contribution.
Between 1787, and the end of his life in 1832, Bentham turned his attention to the development and application of economic ideas and principles within the general structure of his legislative project. For seventeen years this interest was manifested through a number of books and pamphlets, most of which remained in manuscript form, that develop a distinctive approach to economic questions. Although Bentham was influenced by Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, he (...) neither adopted a Smithian vocabulary for addressing questions of economic principle and policy, nor did he accept many of the distinctive features of Smith's economic theory. One consequence of this was that Bentham played almost no part in the development of the emerging science of political economy in the early nineteenth century. The standard histories of economics all emphasize how little he contributed to the mainstream of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century debate by concentrating attention on his utilitarianism and the psychology of hedonism on which it is premised. Others have argued that the calculating nature of his theory of practical reason reduced the whole legislative project to a crude attempt to apply economics to all aspects of social and political life. Put at its simplest this argument amounts to the erroneous claim that Bentham's science of legislation is reducible to the science of political economy. A different but equally dangerous error would be to argue that because Bentham's conception of the science of legislation comprehends all the basic forms of social relationships, there can be no science of political economy as there is no autonomous sphere of activity governed by the principles of economics. This approach is no doubt attractive from an historical point of view given that the major premise of this argument is true, and that many of Bentham's ‘economic’ arguments are couched in terms of his theory of legislation. Yet it fails to account for the undoubted importance of political economy within Bentham's writings, not just on finance, economic policy, colonies and preventive police, but also in other aspects of his utilitarian public policy such as prison reform, pauper management, and even constitutional reform. All of these works reflect a conception of political economy in its broadest terms. However, this conception of political economy differs in many respects from that of Bentham's contemporaries, and for this reason Bentham's distinctive approach to problems of economics and political economy has largely been misunderstood. (shrink)
In his paper ‘Has the Ontological Argument Been Refuted?’, 97–110) William F. Vallicella argues that my attempt to show that the Ontological Argument begs the question is unsuccessful. 1 I believe he is wrong about this, but before endeavouring to vindicate my position I must first make clear what precisely is the point at issue between us. The Ontological Argument is not a single argument, but a family of arguments. Newly devised formulations of the argument are frequently put forward by (...) philosophers in an effort to avoid difficulties that have been pointed out in previous versions. As a consequence there is no possibility of a conclusive proof that every form of the argument embodies the same fallacy. Nevertheless, one can, I believe, prove that all the standard versions of the argument embody a certain fallacy and that, given the nature of the argument, it is therefore unlikely that the argument can be formulated in such a way as to avoid this difficulty. What I tried to show in my paper is that the six best-known versions of the argument all beg the question and that they do so at the same point in the argument, namely when it is asserted that it is possible that an absolutely perfect being exists. It is difficult to see how an ontological argument could be formulated without including this claim as one of its premises, since the distinguishing badge of the argument is the inference from the possibility of an absolutely perfect being to its actuality. It must be unlikely then, if my criticism of these six versions is correct, that there is any way of formulating the argument that avoids this fallacy. (shrink)
Theism, according to David O'Connor, has in recent centuries been on trial for its life, the charge being that the existence of so much evil in the world is incompatible with belief in a benevolent creator. But this trial, he claims is incapable of producing a reasoned verdict.
What lies at the heart of physical inquiry? What are the foundational ideas and working assumptions that inform the enterprise of natural science? What principles guide research? How do scientists decide whether they are building theories in the right direction? Is there a right direction? Do physical theories actually approximate an objective reality, or are they simply useful summaries, mnemonics for experimental results? This book is Nobel Prize winner Jim Peebles's contribution to such big, classic debates in the philosophy of (...) science, drawing on a lifetime of experience as a leading physicist and taking the development of physical cosmology as a "worked example." He begins with a consideration of the history of thought about the nature of the physical sciences since Einstein, culminating in a succinct statement of what he sees as the fundamental working assumptions of physics. Then, through a careful examination of the development of the general theory of relativity, Einstein's cosmological principle, the big bang theory, and our current model of the universe, he makes the argument that physical theories ultimately are useful approximations to an objective reality whose nature science is discovering. An essential reflection on and interrogation of the nature and practice of science by a giant in the field, The Whole Truth will be illuminating reading for cosmologists, physicists, and historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science alike. (shrink)
This book aims to contribute significantly to the understanding of issues of value which repeatedly emerge in interdisciplinary discussions on space and society. Although a recurring feature of discussions about space in the humanities, the treatment of value questions has tended to be patchy, of uneven quality and even, on occasion, idiosyncratic rather than drawing upon a close familiarity with state-of-the-art ethical theory. One of the volume's aims is to promote a more robust and theoretically informed approach to the ethical (...) dimension of discussions on space and society. While the contributions are written in a manner which is accessible across disciplines, the book still withstands scrutiny by those whose work is primarily on ethics. At the same time it allows academics across a range of disciplines an insight into current approaches toward how the work of ethics gets done. The issues of value raised could be used to inform debates about regulation, space law and protocols for microbial discovery as well as longer-range policy debates about funding. (shrink)
This is the collection of essays presented to Bochenski on his 60th birthday, and it contains, as a mirror of Bochenski's own work, a broad spectrum of studies ranging from formal logic and history of logic, to the philosophy of logic and language, and to the methodology of explanation in Greek philosophy. Of the seventeen articles, these are some of the more important to the reviewer: "Betrachtungen zum Sequenzen Kalkül" by Paul Bernays, which is an extensive study of Gentzen-type formulations (...) of logic; "Remarks on Formal Deduction," H. B. Curry, a further discussion of sequenzen-logics; "Marginalia on Gentzen's Sequenzen Kalkül" by Hughes Leblanc; "Method and Logic in Presocratic Explanation," Jerry Stannard; "On the Logic of Preference and Choice," H. S. Houthakker, a suggestive presentation of decision and utility theory in logical form; "Leibniz's Law in Belief Contexts," Chisholm; "On Ontology and the Province of Logic," R. M. Martin; and "N. A. Vasilev and the Development of Many-valued Logics," G. L. Kline, an important addition to the history of logic. Other contributors are: Storrs McCall, Albert Menne, E. W. Beth, Benson Mates, Ivo Thomas, J. F. Staal, F. R. Barbò, A.-T. Tymieniecka, and N. M. Luyten. There is a bibliography of Bochenski's writings through 1962.—P. J. M. (shrink)
This new edition offers expanded selections from the works of Kongzi, Mengzi, Zhuangzi, and Xunzi ; two new works, the dialogues _Robber Zhi_ and _White Horse_; a concise general introduction; brief introductions to, and selective bibliographies for, each work; and four appendices that shed light on important figures, periods, texts, and terms in Chinese thought.
Subtitled "Studies in Ethical Analysis," this collection of eleven essays, most of which have previously appeared in journals, deals with a number of problems central to modern ethical theory: the emotive interpretation of ethical language, persuasive definitions and their role in ethical reasoning, the cognitive versus emotive conceptions of ethics: many of these problems were first raised and examined by Stevenson in his earlier book Ethics and Language. Other essays are of a less retrospective nature: studies on Moore and Dewey, (...) naturalism and relativism in ethics, and a general discussion of the relations of linguistic analysis to philosophy as a whole. Stevenson is mainly concerned with analytical, as opposed to descriptive, ethics; and he completely avoids the topics of normative ethics except for a brief survey. The approach to ethics is therefore restricted, but there is enough here to interest the philosopher whose main area lies outside of ethics; although it presupposes no acquaintance with the author's previous work, some of the questions on emotivism and persuasive language are more motivated when seen in the context of that work.—P. J. M. (shrink)
Religion and the external world -- Projection, religion, and the external world -- The senses, reason and the imagination -- Realism, meaning and justification : the external world and religious belief -- Modality, projection and realism -- 'Our profound ignorance' : causal realism, and the failure to detect necessity -- Spreading the mind : projection, necessity and realism -- Into the labyrinth : persons, modality, and Hume's undoing -- Value, projection, and realism -- Gilding : projection, value and secondary qualities (...) -- The gold : good, evil, belief and desire -- The golden : relational values, realism and a moral sense. (shrink)
This volume is published concurrently with the one reviewed below and together they unite a number of Quine's previously scattered papers into two compact volumes; this volume deals with his more philosophical work while the other is concerned with more purely technical logical studies. The twenty-one essays cover the period 1934-1964 and none have appeared between hard covers before. Several of the articles—"The ways of paradox," "Foundations of mathematics," "On the application of modern logic," and "Necessary truth"—are essentially popular expositions. (...) The others are generally more restricted in both scope and appeal, and deal with the ontology of the sentential calculus, truth by convention, implicit definition, modal logic, and ontological reduction in the sciences. Several articles concern the philosophy of science directly: "On simple theories of a complex world," "Posits and reality," and "The scope and language of science." This fine collection will be of significant help in presenting the work of a distinguished philosopher to a wider audience, as well as providing the professional with a source of discussion.—P. J. M. (shrink)
This book is a translation of some of the more important parts of the Grundgesetze of Frege: the introduction, the first part of the first volume which gives an exposition of the construction, rules, axioms of Frege's formal system, and two appendices, one of which is from the second volume and gives Frege's analysis of the paradox found by Russell in his system. The editor has provided a long introduction "for those not familiar with Frege," although it will benefit those (...) who have something more than acquaintance with his name as well. Frege's original two-dimensional symbolism has been preserved, but the editor has provided enough discussion in his introduction so as to make the going easier. Next to a complete translation of the Grundgesetze, this work is the most useful introduction to the magnum opus of the nineteenth century's greatest logician.—P. J. M. (shrink)