PeterVickers examines 'inconsistent theories' in the history of science--theories which, though contradictory, are held to be extremely useful. He argues that these 'theories' are actually significantly different entities, and warns that the traditional goal of philosophy to make substantial, general claims about how science works is misguided.
In epistemology and in philosophy of language there is fierce debate about the role of context in knowledge, understanding, and meaning. Many contemporary epistemologists take seriously the thesis that epistemic vocabulary is context-sensitive. This thesis is of course a semantic claim, so it has brought epistemologists into contact with work on context in semantics by philosophers of language. This volume brings together the debates, in a set of twelve specially written essays representing the latest work by leading figures in the (...) two fields. All future work on contextualism will start here. Contributors: Kent Bach, Herman Cappelen, Andy Egan, Michael Glanzberg, John Hawthorne, Ernest Lepore, Peter Ludlow, Peter Pagin, Georg Peter, Paul M. Pietroski, Gerhard Preyer, Jonathan Schaffer, Jason Stanley, Brian Weatherson, Timothy Williamson. (shrink)
This paper follows up a debate as to whether classical electrodynamics is inconsistent. Mathias Frisch makes the claim in Inconsistency, Asymmetry and Non-Locality (), but this has been quickly countered by F. A. Muller () and Gordon Belot (). Here I argue that both Muller and Belot fail to connect with the background assumptions that support Frisch's claim. Responding to Belot I explicate Frisch's position in more detail, before providing my own criticisms. Correcting Frisch's position, I find that I can (...) present the theory in a way both authors can agree upon. Differences then manifest themselves purely within the reasoning methods employed. Introduction Features of the Theory Frisch's Inconsistency Claim Defending Frisch 4.1 Muller 4.2 Belot Difficulties for Frisch and a Compromise Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Two successes of old quantum theory are particularly notable: Bohr’s prediction of the spectral lines of ionised helium, and Sommerfeld’s prediction of the fine-structure of the hydrogen spectral lines. Many scientific realists would like to be able to explain these successes in terms of the truth or approximate truth of the assumptions which fuelled the relevant derivations. In this paper I argue that this will be difficult for the ionised helium success, and is almost certainly impossible for the fine-structure success. (...) Thus I submit that the case against the realist’s thesis that success is indicative of truth is marginally strengthened. (shrink)
The philosopher of science faces overwhelming disagreement in the literature on the definition, nature, structure, ontology, and content of scientific theories. These disagreements are at least partly responsible for disagreements in many of the debates in the discipline which put weight on the concept scientific theory. I argue that available theories of theories and conceptual analyses of theory are ineffectual options for addressing this difficulty: they do not move debates forward in a significant way. Directing my attention to debates about (...) the properties of particular, named theories, I introduce ‘theory eliminativism’ as a certain type of debate-reformulation. As a methodological tool it has the potential to be a highly effective way to make progress in the face of the noted problem: post-reformulation disagreements about theory cannot compromise the debate, and the questions that really matter can still be asked and answered. In addition the reformulation process demands that philosophers engage with science and the history of science in a more serious way than is usual in order to answer important questions about the justification for targeting a particular set of propositions (say) in a given context. All things considered, we should expect the benefits of a theory-eliminating debate-reformulation to heavily outweigh the costs for a highly significant number of debates of the relevant type. (shrink)
Kirchhoff’s diffraction theory is introduced as a new case study in the realism debate. The theory is extremely successful despite being both inconsistent and not even approximately true. Some habitual realist proclamations simply cannot be maintained in the face of Kirchhoff’s theory, as the realist is forced to acknowledge that theoretical success can in some circumstances be explained in terms other than truth. The idiosyncrasy (or otherwise) of Kirchhoff’s case is considered.
Discussing the relations between logic and probability, this book compares classical 17th- and 18th-century theories of probability with contemporary theories, explores recent logical theories of probability, and offers a new account of probability as a part of logic.
How does deductive logic constrain probability? This question is difficult for subjectivistic approaches, according to which probability is just strength of (prudent) partial belief, for this presumes logical omniscience. This paper proposes that the way in which probability lies always between possibility and necessity can be made precise by exploiting a minor theorem of de Finetti: In any finite set of propositions the expected number of truths is the sum of the probabilities over the set. This is generalized to apply (...) to denumerable languages. It entails that the sum of probabilities can neither exceed nor be exceeded by the cardinalities of all consistent and closed (within the set) subsets. In general any numerical function on sentences is said to be logically coherent if it satisfies this condition. Logical coherence allows the relativization of necessity: A function p on a language is coherent with respect to the concept T of necessity iff there is no set of sentences on which the sum of p exceeds or is exceeded by the cardinality of every T-consistent and T-closed (within the set) subset of the set. Coherence is easily applied as well to sets on which the sum of p does not converge. Probability should also be relativized by necessity: A T-probability assigns one to every T-necessary sentence and is additive over disjunctions of pairwise T-incompatible sentences. Logical T-coherence is then equivalent to T-probability: All and only T-coherent functions are T-probabilities. (shrink)
The semantic approach to scientific representation is now long established as a favourite amongst philosophers of science. One of the foremost strains of this approach-the model-theoretic approach (MTA)-is to represent scientific theories as families of models, all of which satisfy or 'make true' a given set of constraints. However some autho.rs (Brown 2002, Frisch 2005) have criticised the approach on the grounds that certain scientific theories are logically inconsistent, and there can be no models of an inconsistent set of constraints. (...) Thus it would seem that the MTA fails to represent inconsistent scientific theories at all, and this raises concerns about the way it represents in general. In a series of papers (1990, 1993, 1995) and a recent book (2003) da Costa and French have developed a variant of the MTA approach which they call 'partial structures', and which they claim can accommodate inconsistent theories. I assess this claim, looking to two theories which have been called 'inconsistent': Bohr's theory of the atom and classical electrodynamics. (shrink)
The ubiquitous assertion that the early calculus of Newton and Leibniz was an inconsistent theory is examined. Two different objects of a possible inconsistency claim are distinguished: (i) the calculus as an algorithm; (ii) proposed explanations of the moves made within the algorithm. In the first case the calculus can be interpreted as a theory in something like the logician’s sense, whereas in the second case it acts more like a scientific theory. I find no inconsistency in the first case, (...) and an inconsistency in the second case which can only be imputed to a small minority of the relevant community. (shrink)
behaviour from the rival manufacturer. We consider the case where franchise fees can be used to extract retailers' surplus. We show that vertical separation is in the collective, as well as individual, interest of manufacturers, and hence facilitates some collusion in the simple setting..
Ramsey's “Facts and Propositions” is terse, allusive, and dense. The paper is far from easy to understand. The present essay is an effort, largely following Brian Loar's account,1 to say what Ramsey's goal is, to spell out what he took to be the means to accomplish it, and to show how those means, at least in the terms of F&P, cannot accomplish that end. I also contrast Loar's own account of judgment, explicitly modeled on Ramsey's view, with the latter. The (...) exercise is not at all academic. Loar makes clear the striking depth and originality of Ramsey's insights. (shrink)
The interpretation of the calculus of probability as a logic of partial belief has at least two advantages: it makes the assignment of probabilities plausible in cases where classical frequentist interpretations must find such assignments meaningless, and it gives a clear meaning to partial belief and to consistency of partial belief.
This paper explores the accounts of conceptual thought of PeterJohn Olivi (1248–1298) and Peter Auriol (1280–1322). While both thinkers are known for their criticism of representationalist theories of perception, it is argued that they part ways when it comes to analyzing conceptual cognition. To account for the human capacity for conceptual thought, Olivi is happy to make a number of concessions to indirect realist theories of representation. Insofar as he criticizes a specific branch of indirect realism (...) about conceptual thought, he does so for theological rather than strictly epistemological reasons. This goes to qualify recent philosophical interpretations of Olivi’s ‘Tractatus de verbo.’ By contrast, Auriol’s account of conceptual thought is thoroughly direct realist. According to Auriol, the natures of external things themselves appear to us directly in conceptual cognition, without the mediation of inner images or other representational devices. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to present a reconstruction of Olivi's account of signification of common names and to highlight certain intrusion of pragmatics into this account. The paper deals with the question of how certain facts, other than original imposition, may be relevant to determine the semantical content of an utterance, and not with the question of how we perform actions by means of utterances. The intrusion of pragmatics into Olivi's semantics we intend to point out may seem (...) minimal today, but was of a certain importance at his time. Even if the conventional codes still play a role in his explanation of how words acquire a semantical content, both the intention of the speaker and the communication context in which this intention is being effectuated are essential features of the actual signification of names. (shrink)
This article discusses the notion of inner experience and self-knowledge in PeterJohn Olivi. According to Olivi, each act of cognition is accompanied by some sort of self-awareness or self-experience. Therefore, the problem of an infinite regress of acts of self-awareness arises. Olivi tries to solve this problem by drawing on a theory of reflection which bears a striking resemblance to modern self-representational or dispositional accounts of (self-)consciousness. Thus, in order to be said to be »known« or »certain« (...) it is not necessary for each single act of intellect to be followed by a higher-order act ; Olivi argues that in many cases a simple first-order cognitive act suffices. (shrink)
On August 19, 1297, a young man of royal heritage died in the household of the Count of Provence and King of Naples at Brignoles, a short distance from Marseille. The young man was Louis of Anjou, a Franciscan friar and Bishop of Toulouse, who had renounced his inheritance and claim to the Kingdom of Naples to pursue a religious vocation. Only twenty-three years old when he died, Louis nevertheless had long been inspired by Franciscan spirituality, and less than eight (...) months before had realized his dream of professing vows within the Order of Friars Minor at the same time that he submitted to consecration as Bishop of Toulouse. In March of the following year, Peter of John Olivi, a native son of .. (shrink)
As Christians, all twelfth-century Latin thinkers identified true happiness with the happiness God promises in the afterlife. This happiness was believed to be entirely spiritual, consisting in the endless vision of God. Nevertheless, along with this beatitudo in patria we also find in some twelfth-century authors the idea of a beatitudo in via as the philosophical life. This life can be characterized either as completely contemplative and solitary, or as one that remains partially attached to material circumstances and action in (...) society. Within this broad framework, this paper emphasizes three points:a. the ascetic and almost purely contemplative character of the ideal of the philosophical life as we find it in twelfth-century authors like Peter Abelard and John of Salisbury;b. the role played by philosophers in some twelfth-century triads of human types;c. the fact that, in spite of the monastic touch which often color them, many theses held by twelfth-century defenders of the philosophical... (shrink)
Peter of John Olivi’s Tractatus de contractibus is nowadays regarded as an important document in the history of economic thought.1 Modern scholars have proposed various interpretations of its exact contribution. Many aspects of Olivi’s argumentation have been traced to earlier discussions concerning the Roman and Canon laws, as well as to theological and philosophical literature on economic questions, but his overall approach has also been credited for transforming the medieval framework in a profound way.2 His definition of capital, (...) recognition of “probable profit”, qualified acceptance of receiving interest for loans, and his keen eye for understanding actual economic practices have been discussed in... (shrink)
Peter Singer's recent appointment to Princeton University created considerable controversy, most of it focused on his proposal for active euthanasia of disabled infants. Singer articulates utilitarian ideas that often appear in public discussions of euthanasia. Drawing on Pope John Paul II's work on ethics and suffering, I argue that Singer's utilitarian theory of value is impoverished. After introducing the Pope's ethic based on the imago dei, I discuss love as self-gift. I show how this concept supports a theory (...) of value in which spiritual goods are preeminent over material goods. I then describe how suffering reveals spiritual goods, discussing how participation in Christ's suffering can alter our perception of value. I also consider how communal responses to suffering provide opportunities for self-giving. Third, I consider Singer's proposal for killing infants with hemophilia, arguing that it arbitrarily ignores spiritual goods. I then discuss proposals to kill anencephalic infants, discussing how parental response to their suffering can demonstrate an extraordinary love in seemingly hopeless circumstances. I conclude by calling for a more sustained social response to euthanasia initiatives. (shrink)
Book Review. Eric Severson reviews Peter Gratton and John Panteleimon Manoussakis, eds. Traversing the Imaginary: Richard Kearney and the Postmodern Challenge . Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2007.
Forty years ago, speaking of Peter of John Olivi’s commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of John, Raoul Manselli affirmed that these texts prove that Olivi had “a vast knowledge of the exegetes who preceded him, a vivid perception of the role of the Bible within the contemporary life of the Church, and, last but not least, a vivid understanding of the complex significance and value of being Franciscan.”1 Undoubtedly, this judgment can also be (...) extended to the Lectura super Lucam, which Fortunato Iozzelli edited in 2010, thereby becoming the first of Olivi’s Gospel commentaries to be available in a modern edition.2 Iozzelli’s critical edition offers scholars a precious opportunity to better understand... (shrink)
The city of Montpellier on the river Lez was the commercial and intellectual center of the Languedoc in 1289 when Peter of John Olivi made his way back to his home territory of southern France.2 The city was only a few centuries old, with no ties back to Greece or even Rome. The original settlement at Maguelone received an episcopal see as early as the sixth century, but the destruction of the town in the eighth century moved the (...) community upriver to the area that became Montpellier.3 The city had emerged as a new trading port in the eleventh and twelfth centuries under the leadership of the lords of Montpellier, an unbroken line of eight men named Guillaume who reigned from 986 to 1204. The surviving heiress of... (shrink)
In their commentaries on Peter of Spain’s texts, two professors at the University of Cracow, John of Glogovia and Michael of Biestrzykowa, provided interpretations of consequences and conditional propositions which either rejected the paradoxes of strict implication or placed on them such restrictions as to challenge traditional views about the relation between antecedent and consequent. Nicholas Copernicus may have been inflenced by those discussions.
Abstract This paper studies Olivi's account of perceptual representation. It addresses two main questions: (1) how do perceptual representations originate? and (2) how do they represent their objects? Regarding (1), it is well known that Olivi emphasizes the activity of the soul in the production of perceptual representations. Yet it is sometimes argued that he overstresses the activity of the soul in a way that yields a philosophically problematic result. I argue that Olivi was well aware of the problem that (...) could be raised for his theory and that he sought to cope with it. Regarding (2), Pasnau argues that for Olivi, causal relationships with external objects determine the content of perceptual representations. I argue that, rather, perceptual representations are about their objects because they are their similitudes. This makes him an internalist about representational content. (shrink)