Proponents of the view that social structures are ontologically distinct from the people in whose actions they are immanent have assumed that structures can stand in causal relations to individual practices. Were causality to be no more than Humean concomitance correlations between structure and practices would be unproblematic. But two prominent advocates of the ontological account of structures, Bhaskar and Giddens, have also espoused a powers theory of causality. According to that theory causation is brought about by the activity of (...) particulars, in the social psychological case, individuals of some sort. Consistence would demand that structure be those individuals. But neither Giddens nor Bhaskar wish to reify structure to the extent that would fit it for a role as a powerful particular. If only human beings can be powerful particulars in these contexts, the only way that structures can be real must be as properties of conversational interactions. Human action is social just in so far as people direct themselves to engage well in joint activities with others. (shrink)
This is the first major textbook to offer a truly comprehensive review of cognitive science in its fullest sense. Ranging across artificial intelligence models and cognitive psychology through to recent discursive and cultural theories Rom Harre offers a breathtakingly original yet accessible integration of the field. At its core this textbook addresses the question "is psychology a science?" with a clear account of scientific method and explanation and their bearing on psychological research. A pivotal figure in psychology and philosophy for (...) many decades Rom Harre has turned his unmatched breadth of reference and insight for students at all levels. Whether describing, language, categorization, memory, the brain or connectionism the book always links our intuitions about beliefs, desires and their social context to the latest accounts of their place in computational and biological models. Fluently written and well structured, this an ideal text for students. The book is divided into four basic modules, with three lectures in each; the reader is guided with helpful learning points, study and essay questions and key readings for each chapter. (shrink)
Harre shows how various views about the nature of science are related to the great historical schools of philosophy. He sets out his argument in terms of concrete episodes in the history of science. This new edition includes a chapter on science and society, which explores issues such as the morality of experimentation on live animals and the premise that knowledge is a basis for moral good. Harre also examines the theory that science is a form of art, and looks (...) at the way scientific knowledge affects out religious beliefs. (shrink)
Quantum field theory, one of the most rapidly developing areas of contemporary physics, is full of problems of great theoretical and philosophical interest. This collection of essays is the first systematic exploration of the nature and implications of quantum field theory. The contributors discuss quantum field theory from a wide variety of standpoints, exploring in detail its mathematical structure and metaphysical and methodological implications.
Language based criticisms of the intelligibility of the programme of neuropsychology have made use of the principle that words the meaning of which is established in the context of descriptions of aspects of whole persons cannot be used in that sense to ascribe properties to parts of human bodies. In particular neither human brains nor their parts think, are conscious, imagine, suffer and so on. Recently, Bennett and Hacker have presented the error as a mereological fallacy, because brains are parts (...) of persons. However, while brains are parts of human bodies it is not clear that they are parts of persons. I restyle the argument in terms of fields of family resemblances, in such a way that it makes sense to describe the hippocampus as an organ for remembering, but does not support the claim that neuroscience is core psychology. Such fields are networks of meanings linked by two principles. (1) Taxonomies of relevant body parts are determined by the psychological role they play in everyday human life. (2) Many body parts are also identified by the role they play as tools in human activities including psychological tasks. Arguments are developed to show that objections to the idea that brains and their constituent organs are tools are misplaced. Hybrid psychologies are possible. (shrink)
The philosophical problem of the utility andmeaning of essences for chemistry cannot beresolved by Wittgenstein's principle thatessence cannot explain use, because use isdisplayed in a field of family resemblances.The transition of chemical taxonomy fromvernacular and mystical based terms to theorybased terms stabilized as a unified descriptivetaxonomy, removes chemical discourse from itsconnection with the vernacular. The transitioncan be tracked using the Lockean concepts ofreal and nominal essences, and the changingpriorities between them. Analyzing propertiesdispositionally, initiating a search forgroundings strengthens the case for (...) a logicalasymmetry between descriptive and explanatorydiscourses. Taxonomy is now driven byexplanatory concepts, but not including thosefrom quantum chemistry. (shrink)
Critical Realism aims to be both philosophically sophisticated and morally forward looking. Unfortunately the accepted form that this point of view has taken is flawed in both these aims. However, close attention to realist formats in science and the constraints that are required to give a social psychological application of them makes possible a revision of the Critical Realist scheme strengthening its scientific claim and removing certain moral ambiguities in its applications. What follows is a schematic outline for an alternative (...) neo-Critical Realism. Attention to the plausibility of working models leads from a substantivalist conception of social reality to a Heraclitean social metaphysics. (shrink)
It behooves a science to pay careful attention to its ontological assumptions, especially in cases where they are likely to be complex. Psychology seems to require both material states of humans as organisms, and symbolic productions. But we must be careful not to think that the grammars of the latter are some sort of superscience. The duality shows up strongly in the difference between skilled perfomances and their material enabling conditions. I argue that the dual ontology appears in a science (...) of psychology as a hybrid grammar. If we try to colonize one or the other side of the hybrid by terms from the other, the transplanted terms make no sense in their new surroundings. We find ourselves with a double or hybrid grammar and three main patterns of action to explain, causal, habitual and monitored. By assimilating the latter two under the symbolic ontology apparent problems dissolve. This is illustrated with a sketch of the sources and character of the sense of personal uniqueness. (shrink)
In recent years there have been several attempts to construct inductive arguments for some version of scientific realism. Neither the characteristics of what would count as inductive evidence nor the conclusion to be inferred have been specified in ways that escape sceptical criticism. By introducing the pragmatic criterion of manipulative efficacy for a good theory and by sharpening the specification of the necessary inductive principle, the viability of a mutually supporting pair of argument forms are defended. It is shown that (...) by the use of these forms, taken together, a sequence of inductive arguments could be constructed, given suitable cases histories to serve as evidence. It also shown that the best inductive argument for the most daring realist claim is the weakest when compared with similarly structured arguments for less daring claims. (shrink)
Nagel has argued that the ‘mind-body’ problem, as traditionally conceived, is insoluble. His challenge to philosophers is to devise a metaphysical scheme that incorporates materialist concepts in describing first person experience and mentalistic concepts in describing third person experience, such that the internal relations between the concepts thereby constructed are necessary. Nagel's own suggestion, a scheme not unlike the ‘underlying process’ schemes of the physical sciences, seems to lead him towards a covert materialism. Progress can be made in meeting the (...) challenge by tackling the problem first by taking the units in each ‘sphere’ to be brains and persons. I show that a metaphysics based on the metaphor of person defined tasks and materially defined tools does satisfy both Nagel's challenge conditions. To devise a scheme for qualia and brain-states I turn back to Locke's presentation of the primary/secondary quality distinction. This depends on the concept of a causal power, grounded in material states of the world. While this scheme is inadequate, a variation, based on Gibson's concept of an affordance, and drawing on Bohr's resolution of the seeming incompatibility between wave and particle ontologies for physics, is promising. The world, whatever it is, affords material states to our perceptual apparatus, and mental states to our proprioceptual apparatus. The mental states/brain states duality is not a duality of types of states, which might stand in causal relations to one another, but is a duality of means of access to two classes of affordances of whatever the world is. There is no mind-body problem in the traditional sense, namely ‘How could a material state cause or be caused by a mental state?’. (shrink)
Abstract: The argument for interpreting Wittgenstein's project as primarily therapeutic can be extended from the domain of intellectual pathologies that form the core of the Philosophical Investigations to the topics in On Certainty , carrying further Hutchinson's recent argument for the priority of therapy in Wittgenstein's project. In this article I discuss whether the line Hutchinson takes is extendable to the work of the Third Wittgenstein. For example, how does Wittgenstein's discussion of Moore's "refutation of idealism" in On Certainty work (...) as therapy when we think of it in "practice" terms? What practice? I suggest a further, but more tentative, step applying the therapeutic idea to seemingly insurmountable practical problems, where method is also at issue. (shrink)
Behavior, language, development, identity, and science—all of these phenomena are commonly characterized as 'social' in nature. But what does it mean to be 'social'? Is there any intrinsic 'mark' of the social shared by these phenomena? In the first book to shed light on this foundational question, twelve distinguished philosophers and social scientists from several disciplines debate the mark of the social. Their varied answers will be of interest to sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers, psychologists, and anyone interested in the theoretical foundations (...) of the social sciences. (shrink)
The debate between emergentists and reductionists rests on the observation that in many situations, in which it seems desirable to work with a coherent and unified discourse, key predicates fall into different groups, such that pairs of members one taken from each group, cannot be co-predicated of some common subject. Must we settle for ‘island’ discourses in science and human affairs or is some route to a unified discourse still open? To make progress towards resolving the issue the conditions under (...) which such segregations of predicates seem inexorable must be brought out. The distinction between determinable and determinate properties throws light on some aspects of this problem. Bohr’s concept of complementarity, when combined with Gibson’s idea of an affordances as a special class of dispositional properties is helpful. Several seeming problems melt away, for example, how it is possible for a group of notes to become hearable as a melody. The mind-body problem and the viability of the project of reducing biology to chemistry and physics are two issues that are more difficult to deal with. Are mental phenomena, such as feelings and memories emergent from material systems or are they actually material properties themselves? Are the attributes of living beings emergent from certain accidental but long running collocations of chemical reactions, or are they nothing but chemical phenomena? If emergent, in what way are they distinctive from that from which they emerge? (shrink)
Recent studies of Wittgenstein's later writing have made clear that they stand as a defence of two main ideas: that scepticism about the possibility of interpersonal discussions about our subjective feelings is misplaced and, as a seemingly startling corollary; that a mind state account of most 'mental activities' is incoherent. This leads to a great emphasis on skills and practices which, a fortiori, are definable only relationally, by reference to targets. In this paper I try to show that the 'computer' (...) analogue for the mind f ails on both of Wittgenstein's dimensions. There are no physiognomic language games in the computer centre, while the 'target' aspect of skill and practice concepts ties them in to a wholly human world. (shrink)
Mereology is the logic of part—whole concepts as they are used in many different contexts. The old chemical metaphysics of atoms and molecules seems to fit classical mereology very well. However, when functional attributes are added to part specifications and quantum mechanical considerations are also added, the rules of classical mereology are breached in chemical discourses. A set theoretical alternative mereology is also found wanting. Molecular orbital theory requires a metaphysics of affordances that also stands outside classical mereology.
This article strongly argues the priority of symbolic, especially discursive, action over the material order in the genesis of social things. What turns a piece of stuff into a social object is its embedment in a narrative construction. The attribution of an active or a passive role to things in relation to persons is thus essentially story-relative: nothing happens or exists in the social world unless it is framed by human performative activity. Drawing on Gibson's notion of `affordance', Harré affirms (...) that material things may be disposed towards many different usages, and may acquire multiple identities according to different narrative constructions, even though the range of their possible `existences' is constrained by certain material features. Objects acquire their full significance only if one takes account of their double role in both the `practical' order, which includes social arrangements for maintaining life, and the `expressive' order, which creates hierarchies of honour and status, and which enjoys priority over the former. Reasoning from a microsociological constructionist perspective, Harré restates his view that there is nothing else to social life but symbolic exchanges and joint management of meaning, including the meaning of things; the illusion that some thing is real is merely an effect of certain interpretational grammars which remain stable across the generations or even the centuries. (shrink)
Scientific realism asserts that the methods of science, combined with the intellectual powers of human beings can give us reliable knowledge of states of the world beyond the limits of perception. Among the varieties of realism, policy realism is based on the principle that taking plausible theories to be putative descriptions of actual states of affairs is the best way to design experiments and to advance our knowledge. We carve out the umwelt from the welt by the use of our (...) instruments and apparatus. The key procedure in science has been and still is the invention and testing of models---plausibility and empirical adequacy are the marks of a theory based on a model capable of supporting policy realism. (shrink)
Extra-philosophical influences were very important in shaping Wittgenstein's philosophical ruminations. The Tractatus-Logico Philosophicus is misunderstood unless it is seen as deriving from the pre-Machian physics of the German tradition, adapted to the problems Russell confronted Wittgenstein with. In like manner, particularly in relation to the discussions of meanings and rules, the philosophy of the Philosophical Investigations is shaped by the role played by a powerful religious sensibility in Wittgenstein's extraordinary and tormented life.