Summary Contrary to previous views of an acute shortage of chemists at the beginning of the twentieth century, this study found that the number of chemists identifiable by name in the Manchester area was substantial, even in 1902. Moreover, the majority were qualified to some extent. The total number of chemists and their degree of formal qualification increased rapidly during the period 1902-36. Employment data demonstrate that they worked not only in the chemical industry, but in a wide range of (...) manufacturing industry and commerce. Only a relatively small proportion was employed in education. Research chemists were active in the area in the late nineteenth century: by 1936, 28% of Manchester chemists recorded their job title as research chemist or research manager. If Manchester were typical of Britain as a whole the number of chemists employed in 1902 would greatly exceed previous estimates. More speculatively, the number of chemists in Britain in 1902 may even have been comparable to that in Germany. (shrink)
Let me begin with a true story. Years ago, early in my career as a professor of philosophy, I had a fascinating series of conversations with a student whom I will call Peter. He was a bright and incisive senior, with a double major in philosophy and psychology. Raised in a religious family, the son of a Christian minister, he was himself unable to believe. His doubts were too strong. But the odd fact was that he genuinely wanted to believe. (...) His religious scepticism deeply troubled him; part of him envied the faith of his parents. How do you go about making yourself believe?, he asked me. How do you go about having the kinds of religious experiences that lead people to faith? These were long and intense conversations, and I was unable to move Peter away from his doubts. So far as I know he is still a sceptic. (shrink)
This article is a rebuttal to Robert G. Cavin and Carlos A. Colombetti’s article, “Assessing the Resurrection Hypothesis: Problems with Craig’s Inference to the Best Explanation,” which argues that the Standard Model of current particle physics entails that non-physical things (like a supernatural God or a supernaturally resurrected body) can have no causal contact with the physical universe. As such, they argue that William Lane Craig’s resurrection hypothesis is not only incompatible with the notion of Jesus physically appearing to the (...) disciples, but the resurrection hypothesis is significantly limited in both its explanatory scope and explanatory power. This article seeks to demonstrate why their use of the Standard Model does not logically entail a rejection of the physical resurrection of Jesus when considering the scope and limitations of science itself. (shrink)
In this paper I shall discuss a certain theodicy, or line of argument in response to the problem of evil, viz, the so-called ‘free will defence’. What I propose to do is defend this theodicy against an objection that has been made to it in recent years.
Theists typically believe the following two propositions: God is omniscient, and Human beings are free. Are they consistent? In order to decide, we must first ask what they mean. Roughly, let us say that a being is omniscient if for any proposition he knows whether it is true or false. Since I have no wish to deny that there are true and false propositions about future states of affairs , omniscience includes foreknowledge, which we can say is knowledge of the (...) truth value of propositions about future states of affairs. For example, I believe the proposition ‘Davis will wear shoes tomorrow’ is true today, and if it is true today, i.e. if I will wear shoes tomorrow, an omniscient being knows today that it is true – and, if this being is eternally omniscient, he knew it millions of years ago. (shrink)
From the school yard to the workplace, there’s no charge more damning than “you’re being unfair!” Born out of democracy and raised in open markets, fairness has become our de facto modern creed. The very symbol of American ethics—Lady Justice—wears a blindfold as she weighs the law on her impartial scale. In our zealous pursuit of fairness, we have banished our urges to like one person more than another, one thing over another, hiding them away as dirty secrets of our (...) humanity. In Against Fairness, polymath philosopher Stephen T. Asma drags them triumphantly back into the light. Through playful, witty, but always serious arguments and examples, he vindicates our unspoken and undeniable instinct to favor, making the case that we would all be better off if we showed our unfair tendencies a little more kindness—indeed, if we favored favoritism. Conscious of the egalitarian feathers his argument is sure to ruffle, Asma makes his point by synthesizing a startling array of scientific findings, historical philosophies, cultural practices, analytic arguments, and a variety of personal and literary narratives to give a remarkably nuanced and thorough understanding of how fairness and favoritism fit within our moral architecture. Examining everything from the survival-enhancing biochemistry that makes our mothers love us to the motivating properties of our “affective community,” he not only shows how we favor but the reasons we should. Drawing on thinkers from Confucius to Tocqueville to Nietzsche, he reveals how we have confused fairness with more noble traits, like compassion and open-mindedness. He dismantles a number of seemingly egalitarian pursuits, from classwide Valentine’s Day cards to civil rights, to reveal the envy that lies at their hearts, going on to prove that we can still be kind to strangers, have no prejudice, and fight for equal opportunity at the same time we reserve the best of what we can offer for those dearest to us. Fed up with the blue-ribbons-for-all absurdity of "fairness" today, and wary of the psychological paralysis it creates, Asma resets our moral compass with favoritism as its lodestar, providing a strikingly new and remarkably positive way to think through all our actions, big and small. (shrink)
How we feel is as vital to our survival as how we think. This claim, based on the premise that emotions are largely adaptive, serves as the organizing theme of Why We Need Religion. This book is a novel pathway in a well-trodden field of religious studies and philosophy of religion. Stephen Asma argues that, like art, religion has direct access to our emotional lives in ways that science does not. Yes, science can give us emotional feelings of wonder (...) and the sublime--we can feel the sacred depths of nature--but there are many forms of human suffering and vulnerability that are beyond the reach of help from science. Different emotional stresses require different kinds of rescue. Unlike secular authors who praise religion's ethical and civilizing function, Asma argues that its core value lies in its emotionally therapeutic power. No theorist of religion has failed to notice the importance of emotions in spiritual and ritual life, but truly systematic research has only recently delivered concrete data on the neurology, psychology, and anthropology of the emotional systems. This very recent "affective turn" has begun to map out a powerful territory of embodied cognition. Why We Need Religion incorporates new data from these affective sciences into the philosophy of religion. It goes on to describe the way in which religion manages those systems--rage, play, lust, care, grief, and so on. Finally, it argues that religion is still the best cultural apparatus for doing this adaptive work. In short, the book is a Darwinian defense of religious emotions and the cultural systems that manage them. (shrink)
Recently a new question has emerged in the philosophy of religion: not whether God exists, but whether God’s existence is or would be preferable. The existing literature on the subject is sparse. The present essay, in dialogue form, is an attempt to marshal and evaluate arguments on both sides.
The concepts of form and function have traditionally been defined in terms of biology and then extended to other disciplines. Stephen T. Asma examines the various interpretations of form and function in science and philosophy, reflecting on the philosophical presuppositions underlying the work of Geoffroy, Cuvier, Darwin, and others. -/- In the continental tradition of Canguilhem and Foucault, Asma's treatment of the historical form/function dispute analyzes the complex interactions among ideologies, metaphysical commitments, and research programs. Following Form and Function (...) is a significant contribution to the history of science, history of philosophy, and disputes within contemporary biology. (shrink)
The attitudes that characterize the contemporary “neuro-turn” were strikingly commonplace as part of the self-fashioning of social identity in the biographies and personal papers of past neurologists and neuroscientists. Indeed, one fundamental connection between nineteenth- and twentieth-century neurology and contemporary neuroscience appears to be the value that workers in both domains attach to the idea of integration, a vision of neural science and medicine that connected reductionist science to broader inquiries about the mind, brain, and human nature and in so (...) doing supposedly resolved once and for all questions germane to the human sciences, humanities, and arts. How those attitudes were produced and reproduced first in neurology and then in neuroscience; in what way they were constructed and disciplined, thereby eventuating in the contested sciences and medicines of the mind, brain, and nervous system; and even how they garnered ever-wider contemporary purchase in cultures and societies are thus fascinating problems for historians of science and medicine. Such problems shed light on ethics, practices, controversies, and the uneasy social relations within those scientific and medical domains. But more to the point of this essay: they also account for the apparent epistemological weight now accorded “the neuro” in our contemporary moment. They thus illuminate in a rather different way why historians have suddenly discovered the value of “the neuro.”. (shrink)
We respond to Stephen T. Davis’ criticism of our earlier essay, “Assessing the Resurrection Hypothesis.” We argue that the Standard Model of physics is relevant and decisive in establishing the implausibility and low explanatory power of the Resurrection hypothesis. We also argue that the laws of physics have entailments regarding God and the supernatural and, against Alvin Plantinga, that these same laws lack the proviso “no agent supernaturally interferes.” Finally, we offer Bayesian arguments for the Legend hypothesis and against (...) the Resurrection hypothesis. (shrink)
Christian Philosophical Theology constitutes a Christian philosopher's look at various crucial topics in Christian theology, including belief in God, the nature of God, the Trinity, christology, the resurrection of Jesus, the general resurrection, redemption, and theological method. The book is tightly argued, and amounts to a coherent explanation of and case for the Christian world view. Although written from a broadly Reformed Protestant perspective, and although the author does not avoid controversial topics, his aim is to present a `merely Christian' (...) world view (to adapt slightly C. S. Lewis's famous term). That is, he attempts to write as much as possible from the perspective of the broad centre of Christian understanding. (shrink)
How do we prove the existence of God? This book tackles head-on this fundamental question. It examines a cross-section of theistic proofs, explaining in clear terms what they are and what they try to accomplish.
Let’s call “Cartesian omnipotence” the view that an omnipotent being can bring about any state of affairs at all, even logically impossible ones. The present paper explores what can be said in support of CO. It turns out that several powerful and interesting arguments can be given in its defense, although in the end, along with the vast majority of philosophers of religion, I reject it.
Christian Philosophical Theology constitutes a Christian philosopher's look at various crucial topics in Christian theology, including belief in God, the nature of God, the Trinity, christology, the resurrection of Jesus, the general resurrection, redemption, and theological method. The book is tightly argued, and amounts to a coherent explanation of and case for the Christian world view. While the work is written from a broadly Reformed Protestant perspective and the author does not avoid controversial topics, the aim is to present a (...) 'merely Christian' world view. That is, Stephen T. Davis attempts to write as much as possible from the perspective of the broad centre of Christian understanding. (shrink)
This article considers the concepts of revelation and inspiration. The two notions are distinct but closely connected in Christian theology; they come together preeminently in discussions of the Bible. The purpose of revelation is to bring it about that humans come into a personal relationship with God, one that involves freely chosen love as well as worship and obedience. Inspiration is that influence of the Holy Spirit on the writing of the Bible which ensures that the words of its various (...) texts are appropriate both for the role which they play in Scripture and for the overall salvific purpose of Scripture itself. In other words, working in conjunction with the human author, God ensures that the words written are revelatory and fit God's purposes. Because of inspiration, God speaks to us in the Bible. Scripture is not just a record of revelation; it in itself is revelatory. (shrink)
It is commonly held that early career experiences influence ethical behavior. One way early career experiences might operate is to influence the decisions people make when presented with problems that raise ethical concerns. To test this proposition, 102 first-year doctoral students were asked to complete a series of measures examining ethical decision making along with a series of measures examining environmental experiences and climate perceptions. Factoring of the environmental measure yielded five dimensions: professional leadership, poor coping, lack of rewards, limited (...) competitive pressure, and poor career direction. Factoring of the climate inventory yielded four dimensions: equity, interpersonal conflict, occupational engagement, and work commitment. When these dimensions were used to predict performance on the ethical decision-making task, it was found that the environmental dimensions were better predictors than the climate dimensions. The implications of these findings for research on ethical conduct are discussed. (shrink)
Evolutionary biologists seek to understand human behavior by postulating that many of our current social behaviors and emotions represent heritable adaptations that were selectively advantageous during our ancestral human environment. Studies of animal species that live in societies structured similarly to those of our ancestors may thus provide insights into the genetically influenced behavioral predispositions that may be present in ourselves. The evolutionary approach argues that family groupings have a biological basis. They form under particular ecological and demographic conditions when (...) the reproduction of individuals is enhanced by prolonging the association between parents and young. Because families are comprised of close genetic relatives, a high degree of cooperation is expected between their members. Conflict is also expected, however, because the reproductive interests of parents, offspring, and other family members are rarely identical. Such conflicts are intensified in reconstituted families because replacement mates are unrelated to offspring of the previous pairing, and extant offspring are less related to future young of the new pairing. I develop a set of predictions specifying when, where, and between whom, conflict is expected in reconstituted family environments. After briefly documenting the robustness of this approach in explaining the behavior of non-human species, I examine its value for interpreting patterns of behavior in human stepfamilies. I suggest that much of the increased conflict seen in modern human families is due to the recent surge in numbers of stepfamily households. Increased understanding of our behavioral predispositions can help us to design better conflict resolution strategies for human families in crisis. I offer a five point program for incorporating such knowledge into family counselling. The evolutionary perspective does not challenge or contradict the intellectual frameworks of sociology or psychology. Rather it seeks explanations for human behavior at a different level of analysis. In doing so it provides additional information of a new dimension which should lead to a better understanding of the types and frequencies of human family dysfunction. (shrink)
Philosophers and scientists have historically conceptualized race according to two main metaphors; internal differentiation (theological, philosophical and genetic), and external differentiation (environmental). This paper examines these metaphors and theories in Descartes, Kant, Hegel, and also Darwin and the subsequent racial theories of recent history. The paper argues that the externalist metaphor has a more liberal and potentially egalitarian tradition.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, emphasizes diagnosis and statistically significant commonalities in mental disorders. As stated in the Introduction, “[i]t must be admitted that no definition adequately specifies precise boundaries for the concept of ‘mental disorder’ ” (DSM-IV, 1994, xxi). Further, “[t]he clinician using DSM-IV should ... consider that individuals sharing a diagnosis are likely to be heterogeneous, even in regard to the defining features of the diagnosis, and that boundary cases will be difficult to (...) diagnose in any but a probabilistic fashion” (DSM-IV, 1994, xxii). This article proposes that it may be helpful for clinicians to study narratives of illness which emphasize this heterogeneity over statistically significant symptoms.This paper examines the recorded experiences of unusually articulate sufferers of the disorder classified as Major Depression. Although sharing a diagnosis, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Styron demonstrated different understandings of their illness and its symptoms and experienced different resolutions, which may have had something to do with the differing meanings they made of it.I have proposed a word, autopathography, to describe a type of literature in which the author's illness is the primary lens through which the narrative is filtered. This word is an augmentation of an existing word, pathography, which The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, defines as “a) [t]he, or a, description of a disease,” and “b) [t]he, or a, study of the life and character of an individual or community as influenced by a disease.” The second definition is the one that I find relevant and which I feel may be helpful to clinicians in broadening their understanding of the patient's experience. (shrink)
Traditionally, Darwin has been grouped with the functionalists because natural selection (an adaptational mechanism) plays the prominent role in shaping organic form. In this paper, I sketch the dichotomy of functionalism versus structuralism and then argue that Darwin cannot be characterized adequately with this dichotomy. I argue that Darwin can incorporate both causal stories because he makes two important modifications to the traditional metaphysical presuppositions. I then offer some brief reflections on the import of Darwin's causal pluralism for the Philosophy (...) of Science. (shrink)