On April 1, 2016, at the Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association, a book symposium, organized by Alyssa Ney, was held in honor of David Albert’s After Physics. All participants agreed that it was a valuable and enlightening session. We have decided that it would be useful, for those who weren’t present, to make our remarks publicly available. Please bear in mind that what follows are remarks prepared for the session, and that on some (...) points participants may have changed their minds in light of the ensuing discussion. (shrink)
Introduction: "Know yourself" -- The revelation of God's wisdom -- Credo ut intellegam -- Intellego ut credam -- The relationship between faith and reason -- The interventions of the Magisterium in philosophical matters -- The interaction between philosophy and theology -- Current requirements and tasks -- Conclusion.
Existentialism is a philosophy that flourishes in extreme situations. Identified with the period of the French Resistance when Frenchmen were held as political prisoners by the Germans, existentialism, with its call for an uncompromised allegiance to a leftist system of values, served to boost the sagging morale of French political prisoners who had witnessed during the Occupation the subversion of their nation's democratic principles by German totalitarianism.
Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend initially both accepted Popper's philosophy of science, but then reacted against it, and developed it in different directions. Lakatos sought to reconcile Kuhn and Popper by characterizing science as a process of competing research programmes, competing fragments of Kuhn's normal science. Feyerabend emphasized the need to develop rival theories to facilitate severe empirical testing of accepted theories, but then, as a result of a disastrous mistake, came to hold that theories that are incompatible with (...) one another cannot be compared empirically. He ended up rejecting method in science. All four philosophers, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos and Feyerabend missed the decisive defect in Popper's philosophy of science: persistent acceptance of unified theories only when endlessly many empirically more successful disunified rivals are available means that physics makes a big, highly problematic metaphysical assumption about the nature of the universe: it is such that some kind of underlying unity exists in nature. We need to adopt a new conception of science. In order to subject this implicit metaphysical conjecture to sustained critical assessment in an attempt to improve it, we need to see science as making a hierarchy of metaphysical assumptions about the knowability and comprehensibility of the universe, these assumptions becoming less substantial and more likely to be true as we ascend the hierarchy. Elements of Popper, Kuhn and Lakatos are to be found in this picture, but it also differs radically from all three. It more closely resembles Einstein's mature views about the nature of science. (shrink)