This book argues that science and metaphysics are closely and inseparably interwoven in the work of Descartes, such that the metaphysics cannot be understood without the science and vice versa. In order to make his case, Thomas Vinci offers a careful philosophical reconstruction of central parts of Descartes' metaphysics and of his theory of perception, each considered in relation to Descartes' epistemology. Many authors of late have written on the relation between Descartes' metaphysics and his physics, especially insofar as the (...) former was intended to justify the latter. Vinci's work does not focus on this relation. It takes as a broad interpretive principle that Descartes wanted to justify a certain picture of matter with his metaphysics, but it focuses its own efforts on the way in which metaphysics and science meet in Descartes' theory of sense-perception. Vinci aims to show that Descartes gave an important positive role to sense-perception in his epistemology, and also that he used his reflections on sense-perception to frame his criticism of previous theories of the sensory qualities of objects. (shrink)
Thomas C. Vinci argues that Kant's Deductions demonstrate Kant's idealist doctrines and have the structure of an inference to the best explanation for correlated domains. With the Deduction of the Categories the correlated domains are intellectual conditions and non-geometrical laws of the empirical world. With the Deduction of the Concepts of Space, the correlated domains are the geometry of pure objects of intuition and the geometry of empirical objects.
In this paper I explore a version of standard (expected utility) decision theory in which the probability parameter is interpreted as an objective chance believed by agents to obtain and values of this parameter are fixed by indicative conditionals linking possible actions with possible outcomes. After reviewing some recent developments centering on the common-cause counterexamples to the standard approach, I introduce and briefly discuss the key notions in my own approach. (This approach has essentially the same results as the causal (...) approach in common-cause cases.) I then discuss the Rule of Dominance and find, in the context of the present proposal, that it cannot serve as an independent source of action justification. Turning next to Newcomb''s Problem, I argue that the much discussed issue of back-tracking counterfactuals is something of a red herring for decision theory. Once the twin distractions of back-tracking counterfactuals and Dominance Reasoning are set aside the 1-box solution emerges as a natural consequence of the present proposal. It is of interest that this proposal agrees with the causal approach in the standard common-cause examples and the expected-utility approach in the Newcomb case: one can be smart and rich and keep on smoking. (shrink)
Descartes is not simply our iconic modern philosopher, mathematician or scientist. He stands as the cultural symbol for modernity itself. This title offers insights into the relationship between Descartes and the Modern, and the very meaning and status of Modernity itself.
This position is not confined to the philosophical pragmatists of yore. More recent methodologists of science have reacted to Rudolf Carnap’s thesis that science can dispense with accepting hypotheses as true by maintaining that scientists do accept hypotheses, albeit on practical rather than theoretical grounds. On the position adopted by this school of thought, "accepting a hypothesis as true" is to be reinterpreted to amount to "acting or being disposed to act in the manner which would be best relative to (...) a given objective." Accordingly, such theorists propose in effect to reconstrue acceptability-as-true in terms of successful action. (shrink)