In this paper we discuss the scientific value of the human genome project. To what extent is the data obtained by sequencing the entire human genome useful in the gene dicovery process? Responding to Alex Rosenberg' skepticism about the value of such data, we maintain that brute sequence data is much more useful than he suggests.
If martin and rosenberg were right, It ought to have been possible for higher animals to evolve neural mechanisms that evoke complex avoidance-Of-Tissue-Damage behavior "without" their experiencing pain. The alleged identity of mental event types like pain with unspecified brain state types thus can have no evolutionary explanation. It will not do to say that these brain state types may be discovered some day to have a distinguishing property x, Since x would still be a physical property and one could (...) always ask why pain-Experience necessarily accompanies x-Propertied brain states, This being causally gratuitous to the behavior they would evoke without it "if" physicalism is true. (shrink)
Noah Rosenberg et al.'s 2002 article “Genetic Structure of Human Populations” reported that multivariate genomic analysis of a large cell line panel yielded reproducible groupings (clusters) suggestive of individuals' geographical origins. The paper has been repeatedly cited as evidence that traditional notions of race have a biological basis, a claim its authors do not make. Critics of this misinterpretation have often suggested that it follows from interpreters' personal biases skewing the reception of an objective piece of scientific writing. I contend, (...) however, that the article itself to some degree facilitates this misrepresentation. I analyze in detail several verbal and visual features of the original article that may predispose aspects of its racial interpretation; and, tracing the arguments of one philosopher and one popular science writer, I show how these features are absorbed, transformed into arguments for a biological basis of race, and re-attributed to the original. The essay demonstrates how even slight ambiguities can enable the misappropriation of scientific writing, unintentionally undermining the authors' stated circumspection on the relationship between cluster and race. (shrink)
In ‘A modal theory of function’, I gave an argument against all existing theories of function and outlined a new theory. Karen Neander and Alex Rosenberg argue against both my negative and my positive claim. My aim here is not merely to defend my account from their objections, but to (a) very briefly point out that the new account of etiological function they propose in response to my criticism cannot avoid the circularity worry either and, more importantly, to (b) highlight, (...) and attempt to make precise, an important feature of my modal theory that may have been understated in the original paper – that function attributions depend on the explanatory project at hand. (shrink)
Rosenberg has recently argued that explanations supplied by (what he calls) functional biology are mere promissory notes for macromolecular adaptive explanations. Rosenberg's arguments currently constitute one of the most substantial challenges to the autonomy, irreducibility, and indispensability of the explanations supplied by functional biology. My responses to Rosenberg's arguments will generate a novel account of the autonomy of functional biology. This account will turn on the relations between counterfactuals, scientific explanations, and natural laws. Crucially, in their treatment of the laws' (...) relation to counterfactuals, Rosenberg's arguments beg the question against the autonomy of functional biology. This relation is considerably more subtle than is suggested by familiar slogans such as Laws support counterfactuals; accidents don't. (shrink)
This paper is an explication and critique of a new theory of causation found in part II of Gregg Rosenberg's _A Place for Consciousness._ According to Rosenberg's Theory of Causal significance, causation constrains indeterminate possibilities, and according to his Carrier Theory, physical properties are dispositions which have phenomenal properties as their causal bases. This author finds Rosenberg's metaphysics excessively speculative, with disappointing implications for the place of consciousness in the natural world.
Sober  argues that some causal statements are a priori true and that a priori causal truths are central to explanations in the theory of natural selection. Lange and Rosenberg  criticize Sober's argument. They concede that there are a priori causal truths, but maintain that those truths are only ‘minimally causal’. They also argue that explanations that are built around a priori causal truths are not causal explanations, properly speaking. Here we criticize both of Lange and Rosenberg's claims.
Rosenberg’s general argumentative strategy in favour of panpsychism is an extension of a traditional pattern. Although his argument is complex and intricate, I think a model that is historically significant and fundamentally similar to the position Rosenberg advances might help us understand the case for panpsychism. Thus I want to begin by considering a Leibnizian argument for panpsychism.
Alexander Rosenberg begins his recent article on the concept of fitness with the remark that "debates about the cognitive status of the Darwinian theory of natural selection should have ended long ago." I agree that this obsession needs to be overcome. But Rosenberg repeats some of the old mis- takes and invents epicycles on others. In this comment I will not be able to circumscribe fully the range of topics that an adequate treatment of this cluster of problems demands. A (...) few critical re marks will indicate what I find wanting in Rosenberg's treatment. (shrink)
Alexander Rosenberg (1983) has argued, contrary to his previous work in the philosophy of economics, that economics is not science, and it is merely mathematics. The following paper argues that Rosenberg fails to demonstrate either of these two claims. The questions of the predictive weakness of modern economics and the cognitive standing of abstract economic theory are discussed in detail.
Philosophy of Science is a mid-level text for students with some grounding in philosophy. It introduces the questions that drive enquiry in the philosophy of science, and aims to educate readers in the main positions, problems and arguments in the field today. Alex Rosenberg is certainly well qualified to write such an introduction. His works cover a large area of the philosophy of natural and social sciences. In addition, the author of the argument that the ‘queen of the social sciences’, (...) economics, is not a science at all, can be counted on to show how the philosophy of science can be relevant to the understanding of the status of scientific knowledge and can provide a critical assessment of practitioners’ view of their field. (shrink)
Rosenberg argues that economists have embraced the methodology of scientific research programs, and the writings of Imre Lakatos, at the same time that philosophers have been abandoning that approach. According to Rosenberg, the methodology of scientific research programs appears to allow some work in economics, which is neither tested nor testable, to be “scientific” nonetheless. That is, MSRP justifies some current practices which look hard to justify on strict falsificationist, or dogmatic positivist, grounds.
Anderson and Rosenberg’s guidance theory of representation offers an analysis of mental content that strongly emphasises the influence that intentional states have upon the production and modulation of bodily behavior. On this view, a mental state gains both its status as a representation, and its content, in virtue of occupying a particular role in the guidance of action. I present three related challenges for the guidance theory, before defending an alternative model that is grounded not in action-guidance, but in action-selection. (...) Firstly, I argue that the guidance theory fails to explain an important category of perceptual misrepresentation. Secondly, I propose that the content ascriptions predicted by the theory are not sufficiently determinate. Thirdly, I propose that the contents implicated by the guidance view do not match those that are naturally ascribed in the explanation of intentionally-directed behavior. The modified account that I develop responds to these concerns, and suggests that representational states depict affordance properties: the opportunities and obstacles that the subject’s environment offers for the pursuit of goals and plans. (shrink)
In his critical notice, Rosenberg (1991) raises three objections to my evolutionary account of science: whether it is more than a week metaphor, the compatibility of my past objections to reduction and my current advocacy of viewing selection in terms of replication and interaction, and finally, the feasibility of identifying appropriate replicators and interactors in biological evolution, let alone conceptual evolution. I discuss each of these objections in turn.
In the article the author is following the development of Alfred Rosenberg’s social and political theory. Special attention is given to the anti-Christian attitude of the so-called "chief ideologist of Third Reich". Although one among the creators of the apocalyptic anti-Semitist ideology he opposed Nazi "Eastern politics" during the World War II. Instead of atrocities against the eastern peoples he was prepared to give them certain autonomy and to treat them as some kind of racially inferior allies. For him, only (...) Jews deserved extermination and it was this ultimate goal he expected to shape not only German foreign policy but also war itself. (shrink)
Weintraub is not really interested in whether economics is “science” or not. “Economists are not so unsophisticated as to think that calling economics a ‘science’ says anything about what economists do or should do”. But can it really be a matter of indifference to him whether the subject has the character of chemistry as opposed to literary criticism?
Social and behavioral scientists — that is, students of human nature — nowadays hardly ever use the term ‘human nature’. This reticence reflects both a becoming modesty about the aims of their disciplines and a healthy skepticism about whether there is any one thing really worthy of the label ‘human nature’. For some feature of humankind to be identified as accounting for our ‘nature’, it would have to reflect some property both distinctive of our species and systematically influential enough to (...) explain some very important aspect of our behavior. Compare: molecular structure gives the essence or the nature of water just because it explains most of its salient properties. Few students of the human sciences currently hold that there is just one or a small number of such features that can explain our actions and/or our institutions. And even among those who do, there is reluctance to label their theories as claims about ‘human nature’. Among anthropologists and sociologists, the label seems too universal and indiscriminant to be useful. The idea that there is a single underlying character that might explain similarities threatens the differences among people and cultures that these social scientists seek to uncover. Even economists, who have explicitly attempted to parlay rational choice theory into an account of all human behavior, do not claim that the maximization of transitive preferences is ‘human nature’. I think part of the reason that social scientists are reluctant to use ‘human nature’ is that the term has traditionally labeled a theory with normative implications as well as descriptive ones. (shrink)
In the Museum of Science and Technology in San Jose, California, there is a display dedicated to advances in biotechnology. Most prominent in the display is a double helix of telephone books stacked in two staggered spirals from the floor to the ceiling twenty-five feet above. The books are said to represent the current state of our knowledge of the eukaryotic genome: the primary sequences of DNA polynucleotides for the gene products which have been discovered so far in the twenty (...) years since cloning and sequencing the genome became possible. (shrink)
Is a government required or permitted to redistribute the gains and losses that differences in biological endowments generate? In particular, does the fact that individuals possess different biological endowments lead to unfair advantages within a market economy? These are questions on which some people are apt to have strong intuitions and ready arguments. Egalitarians may say yes and argue that as unearned, undeserved advantages and disadvantages, biological endowments are never fair, and that the market simply exacerbates these inequities. Libertarians may (...) say no, holding that the possession of such endowments deprives no one of an entitlement and that any system but a market would deprive agents of the rights to their endowments. Biological endowments may well lead to advantages or disadvantages on their view, but not to unfair ones. I do not have strong intuitions about answers to these questions, in part because I believe that they are questions of great difficulty. To begin, alternative answers rest on substantial assumptions in moral philosophy that seem insufficiently grounded. Moreover, the questions involve several problematical assumptions about the nature of biological endowments. Finally, I find the questions to be academic, in the pejorative sense of this term. For aside from a number of highly debilitating endowments, the overall moral significance of differences between people seems so small, so I interdependent and so hard to measure, that these differences really will 1 not enter into practical redistributive calculations, even if it is theoretically i permissible that they do so. Before turning to a detailed discussion of biological endowments and their moral significance, I sketch my doubts about the fundamental moral theories that dictate either the impermissibility or the obligation to compensate for different biological endowments. (shrink)
Charles Rosenberg’s latest book is a collection of ten essays spanning twelve years’ work on the history of American medicine, and seeks to provide both the historian and the practicing physician with an understanding of the framework that lies beneath our modern medical system. He states his cause explicitly in the opening chapter: “Insofar as I have a personal agenda, it is a desire to underline the need...for physicians to think and act on an understanding of [their] unique social and (...) moral identity. It means thinking critically about...the world that informs and constrains clinical choices” (p. 11). (shrink)
This book is the apologia of a frustrated reductionist. The frustration derives from Rosenberg's clear perception that the project of physicalist reduction, the reduction of all the sciences of complex objects to physics, is impossible, at least, as he often says, for beings hampered by our limited cognitive and computational abilities. The reductionism that survives this realisation is purely metaphysical. It is the firm commitment to the view that ultimately whatever happens happens because of the universally lawlike behavior of the (...) physical particles of which everything is composed. What holds these theses together is supervenience. The physical correlate of a higher level property or kind is typically massively disjunctive. Thus although the intrinsic properties of a complex thing are fully determined by the properties of the physical particles of which they are composed, the physical property necessary and sufficient to determine such a higher level property is too complex and disjunctive for our feeble minds to grasp. The underlying physical heterogeneity of the properties or kinds we distinguish at higher structural levels is such as to make it vanishingly unlikely that these will enter into the kinds of universal laws characteristic of physics or chemistry. (shrink)
Rosenberg was a chronicler and a good one, yet much of his inner dialogue was not with the present so much as the omnipresent artistic past. The central question, posed early in his life, concerned a man's individuality. Dostoyevsky had called it his "dearest" possession. At no time, even in his Marxist youth, did Rosenberg relinquish his vision of the individual as the central, most important player in any drama. Rosenberg was positively possessed with Dostoyevsky's doubts. One can hear the (...) rant of the man from the underground repeatedly in Rosenberg's written works—the stubborn hero who maintains the right even to be absurd and to "desire for himself what is positively harmful and stupid" if he claims it as a right. The right of the individual to live up to man's nature which, as Dostoyevsky said, "acts as one whole, with everything in it, conscious or unconscious" was Rosenberg's most consistent ideal. The individual he most admired, both in himself and in others, was the artist. But only in spite of everything. No one was more alert to the tartufferie that bedevils the world of the artist. Rosenberg craved sincerity with the same kind of passion for it he had found in Dostoyevsky. Art and artifact would not be a substitute for ethics and hard thought. Rosenberg's deepest conviction is revealed in his 1960 essay, "Literary Form and Social Hallucination," which begins with Dostoyevsky complaining about literature that does not lead to truth. Dore Ashton, professor of art history at The Cooper Union, is the author of numerous works, includingArt Before Columbus, Poets and the Past, A Reading Of Modern Art, and, most recently, A Fable of Modern Art. Her previous contribution to Critical Inquiry, "No More than an Accident?" appeared in the Winter 1976 issue. (shrink)
In “Two Ways of Thinking About Fitness and Natural Selection” (Matthen and Ariew ; henceforth “Two Ways”), we asked how one should think of the relationship between the various factors invoked to explain evolutionary change – selection, drift, genetic constraints, and so on. We suggested that these factors are not related to one another as “forces” are in classical mechanics. We think it incoherent, for instance, to think of natural selection and drift as separate and opposed “forces” in evolutionary change (...) – that it makes sense to say, for instance, that selection contributed 80% to the actual evolutionary history of the human eye, and drift only 20%. We proposed instead a statistical view of the Theory of Evolution, a view in which fitness is not a cause of evolution, but rather a measure of growth. We also argued for a “hierarchical realization model” for thinking about the relationship between evolutionary factors such as those mentioned above, and suggested that in a “fully specified model”, as we call it below, there is no distinction between natural selection and evolution. (shrink)
This paper argues in defense of theanti-reductionist consensus in the philosophy ofbiology. More specifically, it takes issues with AlexRosenberg's recent challenge of this position. Weargue that the results of modern developmentalgenetics rather than eliminating the need forfunctional kinds in explanations of developmentactually reinforce their importance.