This monograph treats the important topic of the epistemology of diagrams in Euclidean geometry. Norman argues that diagrams play a genuine justificatory role in traditional Euclidean arguments, and he aims to account for these roles from a modified Kantian perspective. Norman considers himself a semi-Kantian in the following broad sense: he believes that Kant was right that ostensive constructions are necessary in order to follow traditional Euclidean proofs, but he wants to avoid appealing to Kantian a priori intuition as the (...) epistemological background for these constructions.Norman's main argument is limited to the thesis that certain Euclidean arguments—in particular, that of Proposition 1.32, the internal-angle-sum theorem—require inferences from diagrams. Interestingly, Norman is not committed to the view that these arguments are proofs. This becomes clear only quite late in the book, when he distinguishes argument from proofs, remarking that the argument he has been focusing on is not rigorous, and so is not a proof. Norman does not, however, explicitly classify all Euclidean arguments as non-proofs. His view is that diagrammatic reasoning can in principle feature in rigorous proofs, but he is not committed to the thesis that any particular argument, Euclidean or otherwise, provides an example of this. Rather than proofs in particular, Norman is more interested in the general issue of justification in mathematics.The argument has three components. First, Norman argues against competing accounts of Euclidean arguments such as empiricism, and ‘Leibnizianism’—the view that diagrams play only a heuristic role. Second, he provides a more direct, or positive, argument that the way we actually follow the standard argument for 1.32 does appeal to the diagram. This is an appeal to the phenomenology of following the argument. Third, he articulates and defends his semi-Kantian position against some objections.The book has a very careful and …. (shrink)
The incredible achievements of modern scientific theories lead most of us to embrace scientific realism: the view that our best theories offer us at least roughly accurate descriptions of otherwise inaccessible parts of the world like genes, atoms, and the big bang. In Exceeding Our Grasp, Stanford argues that careful attention to the history of scientific investigation invites a challenge to this view that is not well represented in contemporary debates about the nature of the scientific enterprise. The historical (...) record of scientific inquiry, Stanford suggests, is characterized by what he calls the problem of unconceived alternatives. Past scientists have routinely failed even to conceive of alternatives to their own theories and lines of theoretical investigation, alternatives that were both well-confirmed by the evidence available at the time and sufficiently serious as to be ultimately accepted by later scientific communities. Stanford supports this claim with a detailed investigation of the mid-to-late 19th century theories of inheritance and generation proposed in turn by Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, and August Weismann. He goes on to argue that this historical pattern strongly suggests that there are equally well-confirmed and scientifically serious alternatives to our own best theories that remain currently unconceived. Moreover, this challenge is more serious than those rooted in either the so-called pessimistic induction or the underdetermination of theories by evidence, in part because existing realist responses to these latter challenges offer no relief from the problem of unconceived alternatives itself. Stanford concludes by investigating what positive account of the spectacularly successful edifice of modern theoretical science remains open to us if we accept that our best scientific theories are powerful conceptual tools for accomplishing our practical goals, but abandon the view that the descriptions of the world around us that they offer are therefore even probably or approximately true. (shrink)
In the concluding chapter of Exceeding our Grasp Kyle Stanford outlines a positive response to the central issue raised brilliantly by his book, the problem of unconceived alternatives. This response, called "epistemic instrumentalism", relies on a distinction between instrumental and literal belief. We examine this distinction and with it the viability of Stanford's instrumentalism, which may well be another case of exceeding our grasp.
At the heart of the underdetermination of scientific theory by evidence is the simple idea that the evidence available to us at a given time may fail to determine what beliefs we should hold in response to it. In a textbook example, if I all I know is that you spent $10 on apples and oranges and that apples cost $1 while oranges cost $2, then I know that you did not buy six oranges, but I do not know whether (...) you bought one orange and eight apples, two oranges and six apples, and so on. A simple scientific example can be found in the rationale behind the sensible methodological adage that “correlation does not imply causation”. If watching lots of cartoons causes children to be more violent in their playground behavior then we should (barring complications) expect to find a correlation between levels of cartoon viewing and violent playground behavior. But that is also what we would expect to find if children who are prone to violence tend to enjoy and seek out cartoons more than other children, or if propensities to violence and increased cartoon viewing are both caused by some third factor (like general parental neglect or excessive consumption of jellybeans). So a high correlation between cartoon viewing and violent playground behavior is evidence that (by itself) simply underdetermines what we should believe about the causal relationship between these two activities. As we will see, however, the challenge of distinguishing correlation from causation is far from the only important circumstance in which underdetermination is thought to arise in scientific inquiry. (shrink)
P. Kyle Stanford - The Manifest Connection: Causation, Meaning, and David Hume - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40:3 Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.3 339-360 The Manifest Connection: Causation, Meaning, and David Hume P. Kyle Stanford 1. Introduction exciting recent hume scholarship has challenged the traditional view that Hume's theory of meaning leads him to deny the very intelligibility or coherence of supposing that there are objective causal powers or intrinsic necessary connections between causally related (...) entities. Influential recent interpretations have variously held that Hume himself accepted the existence of such powers and connections, that he was genuinely agnostic about them, or that he denied their existence while nonetheless holding it to be a perfectly coherent possibility, indeed one that we routinely think actual. In this paper I will argue against all three of these lines of interpretation and in favor of what I consider a neglected alternative: that Hume rejects the existence of objective necessary connections or causal powers as literally incoherent or meaningless, but on subtle and sophisticated semantic grounds, rather than simplistic ones. I find support for this semantic reading and against the alternatives not only in passages whose significance to the debate is widely appreciated, but also in Hume's discussions "Of Liberty and Necessity" and "Of the Immateriality of the Soul." The.. (shrink)
This document collects discussion and commentary on issues raised in the workshop by its participants. Contributors are: Greg Frost-Arnold, David Harker, P. D. Magnus, John Manchak, John D. Norton, J. Brian Pitts, Kyle Stanford, Dana Tulodziecki.
The authors discuss sonic decay as a compositional, performative and installation practice. Building off of the recording of a six hour performance, Andrew Stanford and Ezra Teboul assembled a short eight minute audio response which comes in two separate files. In addition to online links to the pieces, this paper provides a description of the compositional process along with an analysis of the response’s content and format. It then relates those to the greater concepts of sonic materialism, sound objects, (...) and the parallax view, and places the piece in the context of relevant and contemporary sound-based art works. Sonic Decay was installed and performed at the 2014 International Žižek Studies Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. (shrink)
Realists have responded to challenges from the historical record of successful but ultimately rejected theories with what I call the selective confirmation strategy: arguing that only idle parts of past theories have been rejected, while truly success‐generating features have been confirmed by further inquiry. I argue first, that this strategy is unconvincing without some prospectively applicable criterion of idleness for theoretical posits, and second, that existing efforts to provide one either convict all theoretical posits of idleness (Kitcher) or stand refuted (...) by detailed consideration of the very examples (optical/electromagnetic ether, caloric fluid) to which they appeal (Psillos). I also argue that available avenues for improving on these proposals are unpromising. (shrink)
I develop an account of predictive similarity that allows even Antirealists who accept a correspondence conception of truth to answer the Realist demand (recently given sophisticated reformulations by Musgrave and Leplin) to explain the success of particular scientific theories by appeal to some intrinsic feature of those theories (notwithstanding the failure of past efforts by van Fraassen, Fine, and Laudan). I conclude by arguing that we have no reason to find truth a better (i.e., more plausible) explanation of a theory's (...) success than predictive similarity, even of its success in making novel predictions. (shrink)
I argue for accepting a pluralist approach to species, while rejecting the realism about species espoused by P. Kitcher and a number of other philosophers of biology. I develop an alternative view of species concepts as divisions of organisms into groups for study which are relative to the systematic explanatory interests of biologists at a particular time. I also show how this conception resolves a number of difficult puzzles which plague the application of particular species concepts.
J. L. Mackie's famous claim that Locke ‘anticipates’ Kripke's Causal Theory of Reference rests, I suggest, upon a pair of important misunderstandings. Contra Mackie, as well as the more recent accounts of Paul Guyer and Michael Ayers, Lockean Real Essences consist of those features of an entity from which all of its experienceable properties can be logically deduced; thus a substantival Real Essence consists of features of a Real Constitution plus logically necessary objective connections between them and features of some (...) particular Nominal Essence. Furthermore, what Locke actually anticipates is the most significant contemporary challenge to the CTR: the qua‐problem. (shrink)
James Bogen - The Possibility of Language: Internal Tensions in Wittgenstein's Tractatus - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45:1 Journal of the History of Philosophy 45.1 167-169 Muse Search Journals This Journal Contents Reviewed by James Bogen University of Pittsburgh María Cerezo. The Possibility of Language: Internal Tensions in Wittgenstein's Tractatus. CSLI Lecture Notes, 147. Stanford: CSLI, 2005. Pp. xiv + 321. Paper, $30.00. The Possibility of Language is a difficult, painstakingly detailed interpretation and evaluation of (...) central doctrines of the Tractatus. It is not easy reading, but most readers who soldier through it will find their prospects of coming to grips with the Tractatus significantly improved. Cerezo constrains her reading as tightly as she can by what she finds good textual and historical reasons to believe the early Wittgenstein was thinking about. She acknowledges and elaborates on what she takes to be serious internal tensions rather than forcing the Tractatus to make sense where she cannot find any. To avoid anachronism, she scrupulously refrains from trying to resolve difficulties by bringing the Tractatus into line with contemporary views. In keeping with her focus on Wittgenstein's text, she does not attempt to survey the extensive literature on the Tractatus. Instead, she limits herself to brief comments on.. (shrink)
Elsewhere I have argued that the most significant threat to scientific realism arises from what I call the problem of unconceived alternatives: the repeated failure of past scientists and scientific communities to even conceive of alternatives to extant scientific theories, even when such alternatives were both (1) well-confirmed by the evidence available at the time and (2) sufficiently scientifically serious as to be actually embraced in the course of further investigation. In this paper I explore Francis Galton’s development and defense (...) of his “stirp” theory of inheritance and conclude that this particular historical example offers impressive support for the challenge posed by the problem of unconceived alternatives while simultaneously showing how we can make that challenge deeper and sharper. (shrink)
Genic selectionism holds that all selection can be understood as operating on particular genes. Critics (and conventional biological wisdom) insist that this misrepresents the actual causal structure of selective phenomena at higher levels of biological organization, but cannot convincingly defend this intuition. I argue that the real failing of genic selectionism is pragmatic – it prevents us from adopting the most efficient corpus of causal laws for predicting and intervening in the course of affairs – and I offer a Pragmatic (...) account of causation itself which ultimately bears out the claim that genic selectionism misrepresents the causal structure of selective contexts. (shrink)
James Bogen - The Possibility of Language: Internal Tensions in Wittgenstein's Tractatus - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45:1 Journal of the History of Philosophy 45.1 167-169 Muse Search Journals This Journal Contents Reviewed by James Bogen University of Pittsburgh María Cerezo. The Possibility of Language: Internal Tensions in Wittgenstein's Tractatus. CSLI Lecture Notes, 147. Stanford: CSLI, 2005. Pp. xiv + 321. Paper, $30.00. The Possibility of Language is a difficult, painstakingly detailed interpretation and evaluation of (...) central doctrines of the Tractatus. It is not easy reading, but most readers who soldier through it will find their prospects of coming to grips with the Tractatus significantly improved. Cerezo constrains her reading as tightly as she can by what she finds good textual and historical reasons to believe the early Wittgenstein was thinking about. She acknowledges and elaborates on what she takes to be serious internal tensions rather than forcing the Tractatus to make sense where she cannot find any. To avoid anachronism, she scrupulously refrains from trying to resolve difficulties by bringing the Tractatus into line with contemporary views. In keeping with her focus on Wittgenstein's text, she does not attempt to survey the extensive literature on the Tractatus. Instead, she limits herself to brief comments on... (shrink)
These lecture notes were composed while teaching a class at Stanford and studying the work of Brian Chellas (Modal Logic: An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), Robert Goldblatt (Logics of Time and Computation, Stanford: CSLI, 1987), George Hughes and Max Cresswell (An Introduction to Modal Logic, London: Methuen, 1968; A Companion to Modal Logic, London: Methuen, 1984), and E. J. Lemmon (An Introduction to Modal Logic, Oxford: Blackwell, 1977). The Chellas text inﬂuenced me the most, though (...) the order of presentation is inspired more by Goldblatt.2 My goal was to write a text for dedicated undergraduates with no previous experience in modal logic. The text had to meet the following desiderata: (1) the level of diﬃculty should depend on how much the student tries to prove on his or her own—it should be an easy text for those who look up all the proofs in the appendix, yet more diﬃcult for those who try to prove everything themselves; (2) philosophers (i.e., colleagues) with a basic training in logic should be able to work through the text on their own; (3) graduate students should ﬁnd it useful in preparing for a graduate course in modal logic; (4) the text should prepare people for reading advanced texts in modal logic, such as Goldblatt, Chellas, Hughes and Cresswell, and van Benthem, and in particular, it should help the student to see what motivated the choices in these texts; (5) it should link the two conceptions of logic, namely, the conception of a logic as an axiom system (in which the set of theorems is constructed from the bottom up through proof sequences) and the conception of a logic as a set containing initial ‘axioms’ and closed under ‘rules of inference’ (in which the set of theorems is constructed from the top down, by carving out the logic from the set of all formulas as the smallest set closed under the rules); ﬁnally, (6) the pace for the presentation of the completeness theorems should be moderate—the text should be intermediate between Goldblatt and Chellas in this regard (in Goldblatt, the completeness proofs come too quickly for the undergraduate, whereas in Chellas, too many unrelated.... (shrink)
VP ellipsis generally requires a syntactically matching antecedent. However, many documented examples exist where the antecedent is not appropriate. Kehler, 533–575. 2002, Coherence, Reference and the Theory of Grammer, CSLI Publications. Stanford.) proposed an elegant theory which predicts a syntactic antecedent for an elided VP is required only for a certain discourse coherence relation, not for cause-effect relations. Most of the data Kehler used to motivate his theory come from corpus studies and thus do not consist of true (...) minimal pairs. We report five experiments testing predictions of the coherence theory, using standard minimal pair materials. The results raise questions about the empirical basis for coherence theory because a syntactically-matching antecedent is preferred for all coherence relations, not just resemblance relations. Further, strict identity readings, which should not be available when a syntactic antecedent is required, are influenced by parallelism per se, holding the discourse coherence relation constant. This draws into question the causal role of coherence relations in processing VP ellipsis. (shrink)