Michael Ryan (d. 1840) remains one of the most mysterious figures in the history of medical ethics, despite the fact that he was the only British physician during the middle years of the 19th century to write about ethics in a systematic way. Michael Ryan’s Writings on Medical Ethics offers both an annotated reprint of his key ethical writings, and an extensive introductory essay that fills in many previously unknown details of Ryan’s life, analyzes the significance of (...) his ethical works, and places him within the historical trajectory of the field of medical ethics. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill is—surprisingly—a difficult writer. He writes clearly, non-technically, and in a very plain prose which Bertrand Russell once described as a model for philosophers. It is never hard to see what the general drift of the argument is, and never hard to see which side he is on. He is, none the less, a difficult writer because his clarity hides complicated arguments and assumptions which often take a good deal of unpicking. And when we have done that unpicking, (...) the task of analysing the merits and deficiencies of the arguments is still only half completed. This is true of all his work and particularly true of Liberty. It is an essay whose clarity and energy have made it the most popular of all Mill's work. Yet it conceals philosophical, sociological and historical assumptions of a very debatable kind. In his introduction, Mill says the object of this essay is to defend one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. (shrink)
This paper is a small contribution to two large subjects. The first large subject is that of exploitation—what it is for somebody to be exploited, in what ways people can be and are exploited, whether exploitation necessarily involves coercion, what Marx's understanding of exploitation was and whether it was adequate: all these are issues on which I merely touch, at best. My particular concern here is to answer the two questions, whether Marx thought capitalist exploitation unjust and how the answer (...) to that question illuminates Marx's conception of morality in general. The second large subject is that of the nature of morality—whether there are specifically moral values and specifically moral forms of evaluation and criticism, how these relate to our explanatory interests in the same phenomena, what it would be like to abandon the ‘moral point of view’, whether the growth of a scientific understanding of society and ourselves inevitably undermines our confidence in the existence of moral ‘truths’. These again are issues on which I only touch if I mention them at all, but the questions I try to answer are, what does Marx propose to put in the place of moral judgment, and what kind of assessment of the horrors of capitalism does he provide if not a moral assessment? (shrink)
There are at least three tolerably distinct views about the connections between liberty and property; two of these I shall discuss fairly briefly in order to get on to Mill's central claims about the relationship between property rights and freedom, but in conclusion I shall return to them to show how they bear on what Mill has to say.
The arrival of James Van Cleve’s Problems from Reid is somewhat akin to the experience of waiting ages for a bus only for several to arrive at the same time. It is a gargantuan book, weighing in at over 550 pages covering sixteen chapters and a remarkable twenty-six appendices.There have been several important single-author books on Reid in the last decade or so, from the likes of Gideon Yaffe and Ryan Nichols, and some impressive anthologies, such as those edited (...) by Patrick Rysiew, and by Todd Buras and Rebecca Copenhaver (Thomas Reid on... (shrink)
De Poolse componist Górecki schreef Beatus Vir in opdracht van kardinaal Wojtyła – de latere paus Johannes Paulus II – en verergerde daarmee het conflict dat hij als rector van een belangrijke muziekacademie had met de communistische machthebbers. Uit het stuk, dat de weerslag vormt van dat conflict, spreken een zeldzame kracht, schoonheid en emotie.
Our world is a world of change. Children are born and grow into adults. Material possessions rust and decay with age and ultimately perish. Yet scepticism about change is as old as philosophy itself. Heraclitus, for example, argued that nothing could survive the replacement of parts, so that it is impossible to step into the same river twice. Zeno argued that motion is paradoxical, so that nothing can alter its location. Parmenides and his followers went even further, arguing that the (...) very concept of qualitative change is inconsistent. Change in any respect is impossible, they argued, as change requires difference and nothing differs from itself. Few today would accept the Eleatic conclusion that change is impossible. But the topic of change continues to be a source of much debate, as it brings together various issues that are central to metaphysics, language, and logic – including identity, persistence, time, tense, and temporal logic. Author Recommends Wasserman, Ryan. 'The Problem of Change.' Philosophy Compass 1 (2006): 1–10. This article presents the problem of change and provides a brief survey of potential solutions. Haslanger, Sally. 'Persistence Through Time.' The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics . Eds. M. Loux and D. Zimmerman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. This article presents the problem of change and provides a detailed survey of potential solutions. Heller, Mark. 'Things Change.' Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (1992): 695–704. This article presents, explains, and defends the temporal parts solution to the problem of change. Hinchliff, Mark. 'The Puzzle of Change.' Philosophical Perspectives 10 (1996): 119–36. This article presents, explains, and defends the presentist solution to the problem of change. Wasserman, Ryan. 'The Argument from Temporary Intrinsics.' Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2003): 413–19. This article presents, explains, and defends the relationist solution to the problem of change. Sider, Theodore. Four-Dimensionalism . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. This book provides an introduction to various issues related to the problem of change, including the nature of time, tense, and persistence. Chapter 5 presents, explains, and defends the stage-view solution to the problem of change. Online Materials Change. URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/change/ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on change, by Chris Mortensen. Time. URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time/ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on time, by Ned Markosian. Temporal Parts. URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/temporal-parts/ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on temporal parts, by Katherine Hawley. Material Constitution. URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/material-constitution/ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on material constitution, by Ryan Wasserman. Persistence Bibliography. URL: http://tedsider.org/teaching/pp_bibliography.pdf A bibliography on change and related issues, by Theodore Sider. Sample Syllabus Books on Syllabus Rea, Michael. Material Constitution: A Reader . Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997. Sider, Theodore. Four-Dimensionalism . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. 2008. Metaphysics: The Big Questions . 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. Week 1: Time and Tense Four-Dimensionalism , chapters 1 and 2. Markosian, Ned. 'A Defence of Presentism.' Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Volume 1. Ed. D. Zimmerman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004: 47–82. In van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. Metaphysics: The Big Questions. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008: 116-123. In van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. Metaphysics: The Big Questions. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008: 124-129. Week 2: Time and Persistence Four-Dimensionalism , chapter 3. McGrath, Matthew. 'Temporal Parts.' Philosophy Compass 2 (2007): 730–48. In van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. Metaphysics: The Big Questions. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008: 265-267. Hawthorne, J, Scala, M., and Wasserman, R. 'Recombination, Humean Supervenience, and Causal Constraints: An Argument for Temporal Parts?' Oxford Studies in Metaphysics , Volume 1. Ed. D. Zimmerman, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004: 301-318. Week 3: Change and Presentism In van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. Metaphysics: The Big Questions. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008: 141-149. In van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. Metaphysics: The Big Questions. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008: 267-269. In van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. Metaphysics: The Big Questions. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008: 269-281. Week 4: Change and Temporal Parts Four-Dimensionalism , pp. 92–8. Heller, Mark. 'Things Change.' Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (1992): 695–704. Lombard, Lawrence. 'The Doctrine of Temporal Parts and the "No Change" Objection.' Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (1994): 365–72. Week 5: Change, Relationism, and Adverbialism Hawley, Katherine. 'Why Temporary Properties are not Relations between Physical Objects and Times.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 98 (1998): 211–16. Wasserman, Ryan. 'The Argument from Temporary Intrinsics.' Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2003): 413–19. Lewis, David. 'Tensing the Copula.' Mind 111 (2002): 1–13. Caplan, Ben. 'Why so Tense about the Copula?' Mind 114 (2007): 703–8. Week 6: Change and Tropes Ehring, Douglas. 'Lewis, Temporary Intrinsics and Momentary Tropes.' Analysis 57 (1997): 254–8. MacBride, Fraser. 'Four New Ways to Change Your Shape.' Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (2001): 81–9. Simons, Peter. 'On Being Spread Out in Time: Temporal Parts and the Problem of Change.' Existence and Explanation . Eds. W. Spohn, B.C. van Fraassen, and B. Skyrms. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1991: 131-147. Weeks 7 and 8: Special Topic – Material Change Four-Dimensionalism , chapter 5. Selections from Material Constitution: A Reader. Week 9: Special Topic – Change of Position In van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. Metaphysics: The Big Questions. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008: 186-195. In van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. Metaphysics: The Big Questions. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008: 195-215. Week 10: Special topic – Changing the Past In van Inwagen, P. and Zimmerman, D. Metaphysics: The Big Questions. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008: 224-235. van Iwagen, Peter. 'Changing the Past.' Oxford Studies in Metaphysics , Volume 5 . Ed. D. Zimmerman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009: 1-22. Hudson, H. and Wasserman, R. 'Van Inwagen on Time Travel and Changing the Past.' Oxford Studies in Metaphysics , Volume 5. Ed. D. Zimmerman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009: 41-49. (shrink)
The observable/unobservable distinction, realistically construed, is a feature which lies at the very heart of van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism. The aim of this paper is to approach it by taking a close look at van Fraassen’s concept of observation. We will argue that if van Fraassen’s most recent writings about “literate experience”, especially his remarks on the status of observation reports and his general a-metaphysical stance, are taken into account, his realistic interpretation of the observable/unobservable distinction paves the road for (...) inconsistency. In particular, we will show that a dilemma emerges to the effect that van Fraassen is forced to accept skeptical consequences blatantly at odds with constructive empiricism and its restatement of the aim of science. We will finally suggest that the only way out for van Fraassen involves giving up his realistic construal of observability and thus taking sides with constructivism. (shrink)
In this paper, the author defends Peter van Inwagen’s modal skepticism. Van Inwagen accepts that we have much basic, everyday modal knowledge, but denies that we have the capacity to justify philosophically interesting modal claims that are far removed from this basic knowledge. The author also defends the argument by means of which van Inwagen supports his modal skepticism, offering a rebuttal to an objection along the lines of that proposed by Geirrson. Van Inwagen argues that Stephen Yablo’s recent and (...) influential account of the relationship between conceivability and possibility supports his skeptical claims. The author’s defence involves a creative interpretation and development of Yablo’s account, which results in a recursive account of modal epistemology, what the author calls the “safe explanation” theory of modal epistemology. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Peter van Inwagen’s claim (in “Free Will Remains a Mystery”), that agent-causal views of free will could do nothing to solve the problem of free will (specifically, the problem of chanciness). After explaining van Inwagen’s argument, I argue that he does not consider all possible manifestations of the agent-causal position. More importantly, I claim that, in any case, van Inwagen appears to have mischaracterized the problem in some crucial ways. Once we are clear on (...) the true nature of the problem of chanciness, agent-causal views do much to eradicate it. (shrink)
This paper is about teaching philosophy to high school students through Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate. LD, also known as “values debate,” includes topics from ethics and political philosophy. Thousands of high school students across the U.S. debate these topics in class, after school, and at weekend tournaments. We argue that LD is a particularly effective tool for teaching philosophy, but also that LD today falls short of its potential. We argue that the problems with LD are not inevitable, and we offer (...) strategic recommendations for improving LD as a tool for teaching philosophy. Ultimately, our aim is to create a dialogue between LD and academic philosophy, with the hope that such dialogue will improve LD’s capacity to teach students how to do philosophy. (shrink)
We show that van Lambalgen's Theorem fails with respect to recursive randomness and Schnorr randomness for some real in every high degree and provide a full characterization of the Turing degrees for which van Lambalgen's Theorem can fail with respect to Kurtz randomness. However, we also show that there is a recursively random real that is not Martin-Löf random for which van Lambalgen's Theorem holds with respect to recursive randomness.
Peter van Inwagen ’s argument for incompatibilism uses a sentential operator, “N”, which can be read as “No one has any choice about the fact that....” I show that, given van Inwagen ’s understanding of the notion of having a choice, the argument is invalid. However, a different interpretation of “N” can be given, such that the argument is clearly valid, the premises remain highly plausible, and the conclusion implies that free will is incompatible with determinism.
Some artworks are called sublime because of their capacity to move human imagination in a different way than the experience of beauty. The following discussion explores how Van Gogh’s The Starry Night along with some of his other late landscape paintings accomplish this peculiar movement of imagination thus qualifying as sublime artworks. These artworks constitute examples of the higher aesthetic principles and must be judged according to the cosmological-aesthetic criteria for they manage to generate a transition between ethos and phusis (...) and present them in unity. Here, referring to Heraclitean, Kantian, Nietzschean and Heideggerian metaphysics and aesthetics, I propose that the principles of motion and transition be the new cosmologic-aesthetic categories for the judgment of sublime artworks as well as for the understanding of the world (Weltanschauung) they represent. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen’s recent book Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective modifies and refines the “constructive empiricism” of The Scientific Image in a number of ways. This paper investigates the changes concerning one of the most controversial aspects of the overall position, that is, van Fraassen’s agnosticism concerning the veridicality of microscopic observation. The paper tries to make plausible that the new formulation of this agnosticism is an advance over the older rendering. The central part of this investigation is an attempt (...) to answer Marc Alspector-Kelly’s 2004-criticism of an early version of van Fraassen’s new position. Alspector-Kelly’s contribution it is to date the most extensive attack on van Fraassen’s twenty-first-century work on the topic of microscopic observation. One of the central ideas emerging from the present discussion is a link between the debate over the veridicality of microscopic observation and the issue of the theory-ladenness of experience. (shrink)
I consider the broad perspectives in biology known as ‘functionalism’ and ‘structuralism’, as well as a modern version of functionalism, ‘adaptationism’. I do not take a position on which of these perspectives is preferable; my concern is with the prior question, how should they be understood? Adapting van Fraassen’s argument for treating materialism as a stance, rather than a factual belief with propositional content, in the first part of the paper I offer an argument for construing functionalism and structuralism as (...) stances also. The argument draws especially on Gould’s insights concerning functionalism and structuralism, in particular their apparent historical continuity from the pre-Darwinian period through to today. In the second part of the paper I consider Godfrey-Smith’s distinction between empirical and explanatory adaptationism, and suggest that while the former is an empirical scientific hypothesis, the latter is closely related to the functionalist stance. (shrink)
In his recent book on the problem of evil, Peter van Inwagen argues that both the global and local arguments from evil are failures. In this paper, we engagevan Inwagen’s book at two main points. First, we consider his understanding of what it takes for a philosophical argument to succeed. We argue that while his criterion for success is interesting and helpful, there is good reason to think it is too stringent. Second, we consider his responses to the global and (...) local arguments from evil. We argue that although van Inwagen may have adequately responded to each of these arguments, his discussion points us toa third argument from evil to which he has yet to provide a response. (shrink)
Three-dimensional material models of molecules were used throughout the 19th century, either functioning as a mere representation or opening new epistemic horizons. In this paper, two case studies are examined: the 1875 models of van ‘t Hoff and the 1890 models of Sachse. What is unique in these two case studies is that both models were not only folded, but were also conceptualized mathematically. When viewed in light of the chemical research of that period not only were both of these (...) aspects, considered in their singularity, exceptional, but also taken together may be thought of as a subversion of the way molecules were chemically investigated in the 19th century. Concentrating on this unique shared characteristic in the models of van ‘t Hoff and the models of Sachse, this paper deals with the shifts and displacements between their operational methods and existence: between their technical and epistemological aspects and the fact that they were folded, which was forgotten or simply ignored in the subsequent development of chemistry. (shrink)
Van Heijenoort’s main contribution to history and philosophy of modern logic was his distinction between two basic views of logic, first, the absolutist, or universalist, view of the founding fathers, Frege, Peano, and Russell, which dominated the first, classical period of history of modern logic, and, second, the relativist, or model-theoretic, view, inherited from Boole, Schröder, and Löwenheim, which has dominated the second, contemporary period of that history. In my paper, I present the man Jean van Heijenoort (Sect. 1); then (...) I describe his way of arguing for the second view (Sect. 2); and finally I come down in favor of the first view (Sect. 3). There, I specify the version of universalism for which I am prepared to argue (Sect. 3, introduction). Choosing ZFC to play the part of universal, logical (in a nowadays forgotten sense) system, I show, through an example, how the usual model theory can be naturally given its proper place, from the universalist point of view, in the logical framework of ZFC; I outline another, not rival but complementary, semantics for admissible extensions of ZFC in the very same logical framework; I propose a way to get universalism out of the predicaments in which universalists themselves believed it to be (Sect. 3.1). Thus, if universalists of the classical period did not, in fact, construct these semantics, it was not that their universalism forbade them, in principle, to do so. The historical defeat of universalism was not technical in character. Neither was it philosophical. Indeed, it was hardly more than the victory of technicism over the very possibility of a philosophical dispute (Sect. 3.2). (shrink)
In a recent work published in this journal, “Van Fraassen e a inferência da melhor explicação” (2016), Minikoski and Rodrigues da Silva identify four critical lines proposed by Bas van Fraassen against the form of abductive reasoning known as ‘inference to the best explanation’ (IBE). The first one, put forward by the Dutch philosopher in his seminal book The Scientific Image (1980), concerns the distinction between observable and unobservable entities. Minikoski and Rodrigues da Silva consider that the distinction is of (...) no relevance to the scientific practice. For this reason, they address van Fraassen’s allegations against IBE qua justification of the existence of unobservable entities in a couple of pages and prefer focusing on the other lines they identified. The aim of this work is to pour over the analysis that the two authors perform about van Fraassen’s mentioned argument and some realists’ replies, particularly in the section that Minikoski and Rodrigues da Silva devote to this topic. This will allow us to clarify van Fraassen’s vision on scientific practice and on the ‘immersion in the theoretical world-picture’. The importance and the relevance of the distinction between observables and unobservables will also be reaffirmed. (shrink)
I discuss van inwagen's "first formal argument" for the incompatibility of causal determinism and freedom to do otherwise. I distinguish different interpretations of the important notion, "s can render p false." I argue that on none of these interpretations is the argument clearly sound. I point to gaps in the argument, Although I do not claim that it is unsound.
Van Inwagen has an ingenious argument for the non-existence of human artefacts . But the argument cannot be accepted, since human artefacts are everywhere. However, it cannot be ignored. The proper response to it is to treat it as a refutation of its least plausible premise, i.e., to ‘tollens’ it. I first set out van Inwagen’s argument. I then identify its least plausible premise and explain the consequence of denying it, that is, the acceptance of a plenitudinous, pluralist ontology. I (...) argue that denying it is not so difficult, since its denial is an easy consequence of ordinary beliefs. I finish by explaining why van Inwagen has not persuaded me that it may be that artefacts do not exist and conclude that nothing stands in the way of tollensing van Inwagen and accepting the consequence of doing so. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen has long claimed that he doesn’t understand substitutional quantification and that the notion is, in fact, meaningless. Van Inwagen identifies the source of his bewilderment as an inability to understand the proposition expressed by a simple sentence like “,” where “$\Sigma$” is the existential quantifier understood substitutionally. I should think that the proposition expressed by this sentence is the same as that expressed by “.” So what’s the problem? The problem, I suggest, is that van Inwagen takes (...) traditional existential quantification to be ontologically committing and substitutional quantification to be ontologically noncommitting, which requires that the two quantifiers have different meanings—but no different meaning for the substitutional quantifier is forthcoming. What van Inwagen fails to appreciate is that substitutional quantification is directed at a criterion of ontological commitment, namely, W. V. O. Quine’s, which is quite different from van Inwagen’s criterion. Substitutional quantification successfully avoids the commitments Quine’s criterion would engender but has the same commitments as existential quantification given van Inwagen’s criterion. The question, then, is whether the existential quantifier is ontologically committing, as van Inwagen believes. The answer to that question will depend on whether the ordinary language “there is/are,” which is codified by the existential quantifier, is ontologically committing. There are good reasons to doubt that it is. (shrink)
A careful analysis of Salmon’s Theoretical Realism and van Fraassen’s Constructive Empiricism shows that both share a common origin: the requirement of literal construal of theories inherited by the Standard View. However, despite this common starting point, Salmon and van Fraassen strongly disagree on the existence of unobservable entities. I argue that their different ontological commitment towards the existence of unobservables traces back to their different views on the interpretation of probability via different conceptions of induction. In fact, inferences to (...) statements claiming the existence of unobservable entities are inferences to probabilistic statements, whence the crucial importance of the interpretation of probability. (shrink)
In regards to the problem of evil, van Inwagen thinks there are two arguments from evil which require different defenses. These are the global argument from evil—that there exists evil in general, and the local argument from evil—that there exists some particular atrocious evil X. However, van Inwagen fails to consider whether the problem of God’s hiddenness also has a “local” version: whether there is in fact a “local” argument from God’s hiddenness which would be undefeated by his general defense (...) of God’s hiddenness. This paper will argue that van Inwagen’s present account contains no implicit response to the “local” argument from God’s hiddenness, and, worse, the “local” argument brings to the fore crucial inconsistencies in van Inwagen’s account. These inconsistencies concern van Inwagen’s criterion for philosophical success—his methodological use of an “ideal audience” in an ideal debate—and a crucial premise in his argument: namely, that people who do not believe in God are culpably deceiving themselves regarding the manifest presence of God. These considerations will be a platform for my arguing that the failures of van Inwagen’s account amount to his ignoring the extra-rational, concrete aspect of grasping “spiritual propositions”—propositions which, in order to be affirmed, require the full self-understanding which precipitates out of the mind, body, and will of a particular existing individual. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n1p49 The aim of this article is to offer a rejoinder to an argument against scientific realism put forward by van Fraassen, based on theoretical considerations regarding microphysics. At a certain stage of his general attack to scientific realism, van Fraassen argues, in contrast to what realists typically hold, that empirical regularities should sometimes be regarded as “brute facts”, which do not ask for explanation in terms of deeper, unobservable mechanisms. The argument from microphysics formulated by van Fraassen is based (...) on the claim that in microphysics the demand for explanation leads to a demand for the so-called hidden-variable theories, which “runs contrary to at least one major school of thought in twentieth-century physics”. It is shown here that this argument does not represent an insurmountable obstacle to scientific realism, not even when a series of important theoretical and experimental results against hidden-variable theories — and not merely a conflict with a certain school of thought—is taken into account. (shrink)
I use van Heijenoort’s published writings and manuscript materials to provide a comprehensive overview of his conception of modern logic as a first-order functional calculus and of the historical developments which led to this conception of mathematical logic, its defining characteristics, and in particular to provide an integral account, from his most important publications as well as his unpublished notes and scattered shorter historico-philosophical articles, of how and why the mathematical logic, whose he traced to Frege and the culmination of (...) its formative period in the incompleteness results of Gödel, became modern logic, as distinct from the traditional logic of Aristotle, and why and how the logistic tradition that led from Frege through Russell, rather than the algebraic tradition that led from De Morgan and Boole through Peirce and Schröder, came, in his view, to define modern logic. (shrink)
Teun van Dijk, despite he initiated his academic path on linguistics, and more specifically, in the area of grammars; he has developed over his academic whereabouts the idea that we cannot elucidate the mysteries of discourse by its purely structural analysis. More so, in time he has explored the fi..
Bas van Fraassen’s empiricist reading of Perrin’s achievement invites the question: whose doubts about atoms did Perrin put to rest? This comment recontextualizes the argument and applies the notion of empirical grounding to some contemporary work in behavioral biology.
The aim of this article is to discuss and develop the diagnose of the Hardy-Weinberg law made by van Fraassen (1987, p. 110), according to which: 1) that law cannot be considered a law used as an axiom for the classical population genetics as a whole, since it is an equilibrium-law that holds only under certain special conditions; 2) it just determines a subclass of models; 3) its generalization shades off into logical vacuity; and 4) more complex variants of the (...) law can be deduced for more realistic assumptions. The discussion and development of such a diagnose will be carried out with the notions of another semantic conceptions of theories, related to that of van Fraassen, namely, the structuralist view of theories, and a rational reconstruction of classical population genetics made within the framework of such a metatheory, also presented in this paper. (shrink)
In his last book (2008), Bas van Fraassen, the originator of constructive empiricism, put forward a table containing a categorization of images. His aim, however, was to discuss the reality of what they represent and not addressing the issue of images per se. One of the consequences is that it remained an open question what ‘public hallucinations’ - reflections in the water, rainbows and the like - are. In this paper it will be defended that only images in the relevant (...) (representational) sense should be considered as such. For this and other reasons, van Fraassen’s diagram should be amended. Moreover, as Physics teaches us, the class of the so-called ‘images’ that are actually objects is wider than van Fraassen reckons. The set of the observable objects do not contain only concrete things, but goes beyond what ‘common sense realism’ suggests. In addition to rocks, oceans and bicycles, we can also see rainbows, reflections in the water and the like. (shrink)
Van Fraassen has presented in Scientific Representation an attractive notion of measurement as an important part of the empiricist structuralism that he endorses. However, he has been criticized on the grounds that both his notion of measurement and his empiricist structuralism force him to do the very thing he objects to in other philosophical projects—to endorse a controversial metaphysics. This paper proposes a defense of van Fraassen by arguing that his project is indeed a ‘metaphysical’ project, but one which is (...) very similar to Strawson’s ‘descriptive metaphysics’; if this is the case, van Fraassen’s project may be taken, following recent suggestions made by Ney and Paul, as a form of metaphysics that can potentially make a crucial contribution to scientific inquiry. (shrink)
In this article, we discuss the development of the concept of a ‘law’ (of nature) in the work of the Dutch natural philosopher and experimenter Petrus van Musschenbroek (1692–1761). Since Van Musschenbroek is commonly described as one of the first ‘Newtonians’ on the Continent in the secondary literature, we focus more specifically on its relation to Newton’s views on this issue. Although he was certainly indebted to Newton for his thinking on laws (of nature), Van Musschenbroek’s views can be seen (...) to diverge from Newton’s on crucial points. We show, moreover, how his thinking on laws of nature was shaped by both international and local factors. We start with a brief discussion of Newton’s concept of ‘laws of nature’ in order to set the stage for Van Musschenbroek’s. We then document the development of Van Musschenbroek’s views on laws of nature in chronological order. We demonstrate how his thinking on laws of nature was tied to institutional, theological and scientific factors. We conclude by pointing to the broader significance of this case study for our understanding of the development of the concept ‘law of nature’ during the eighteenth century. (shrink)