The Bird Song Diamond project is a series of multifaceted and multidisciplinary installations with the aim of bringing contemporary research on bird communication to a large public audience. Using art and technology to create immersive experiences, BSD allows large audiences to embody bird communication rather than passively observe. In particular, BSD Mimic, a system for mimicking bird song, asks participants to grapple with both audition and vocalization of birdsong. The use of interactive installations for public outreach (...) provides unique experiences to a diverse audience, while providing direct feedback for artists and researchers interested in the success of such outreach. By following an iterative design process, both artists and researchers have been able to evaluate the effectiveness of each installation for promoting audience engagement with the subject matter. The execution and evaluation of each iteration of BSD is described throughout the paper. In addition, the process of interdisciplinary collaboration in our project has led to a more defined role of the artist as a facilitator of specialists. BSD Mimic has also led to further questions about the nature of audience collaboration for an engaged experience. (shrink)
The development of action representation during adolescence was investigated using a visually guided pointing motor task to test motor imagery. Forty adolescents and 33 adults were instructed to both execute and imagine hand movements from a starting point to a target of varying size. Reaction time was measured for both Execution and Imagery conditions. There is typically a close association between time taken to execute and image actions in adults because action execution and action simulation rely on overlapping neural circuitry. (...) Further, representations of actions are governed by the same speed-accuracy trade-off as real actions, as expressed by Fitts’ Law. In the current study, performance on the VGPT in both adolescents and adults conformed to Fitts’ Law in E and I conditions. However, the strength of association between E and I significantly increased with age, reflecting a refinement in action representation between adolescence and adulthood. (shrink)
In this paper I outline my conception of the epistemology of science, by reference to my published papers, showing how the ideas presented there fit together. In particular I discuss the aim of science, scientific progress, the nature of scientific evidence, the failings of empiricism, inference to the best (or only) explanation, and Kuhnian psychology of discovery. Throughout, I emphasize the significance of the concept of scientific knowledge.
The whole of our human experience is determined by certain material conditions which cannot themselves be a part of that experience. In particular there exist objects, inaccessible to our senses, which nevertheless interact with ourselves to produce that experience. But the selves which are so affected by these objects outside our experience, and the internal mechanisms which somehow construct that experience, are also just such material conditions of, and not parts of, that experience. We might describe this appeal to material (...) conditions of experience in Kant's technical terms as the ‘intelligible’ or even ‘transcendental’ background to our empirical experience. In its attempt to provide some explanation, in terms of things in themselves, of empirical objects it forms a central part of what Adickes called Kant's ‘double affection’ theory. (shrink)
[Michael Friedman] This paper considers the extent to which Kant's vision of a distinctively 'transcendental' task for philosophy is essentially tied to his views on the foundations of the mathematical and physical sciences. Contemporary philosophers with broadly Kantian sympathies have attempted to reinterpret his project so as to isolate a more general philosophical core not so closely tied to the details of now outmoded mathematical-physical theories (Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics). I consider two such attempts, those of Strawson and McDowell, (...) and argue that they fundamentally distort the original Kantian impulse. I then consider Buchdahl's attempt to preserve the link between Kantian philosophy and the sciences while simultaneously generalizing Kant's doctrines in light of later scientific developments. I argue that Buchdahl's view, while not adequate as in interpretation of Kant in his own eighteenth century context, is nonetheless suggestive of an historicized and relativized revision of Kantianism that can do justice to both Kant's original philosophical impulse and the radical changes in the sciences that have occurred since Kant's day. /// [Graham Bird] Michael Friedman criticises some recent accounts of Kant which 'detach' his transcendental principles from the sciences, and do so in order to evade naturalism. I argue that Friedman's rejection of that 'detachment' is ambiguous. In its strong form, which I claim Kant rejects, the principles of Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics are represented as transcendental principles. In its weak form, which I believe Kant accepts, it treats those latter principles as higher order conditions of the possibility of both science and ordinary experience. I argue also that the appeal to naturalism is unhelpful because that doctrine is seriously unclear, and because the accounts Friedman criticises are open to objections independent of any appeal to naturalism. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: List of contributors; Acknowledgments; Introduction: the humanist tradition in Russian philosophy G. M. Hamburg and Randall A. Poole; Part I. The Nineteenth Century: 1. Slavophiles, Westernizers, and the birth of Russian philosophical humanism Sergey Horujy; 2. Alexander Herzen Derek Offord; 3. Materialism and the radical intelligentsia: the 1860s Victoria S. Frede; 4. Russian ethical humanism: from populism to neo-idealism Thomas Nemeth; Part II. Russian Metaphysical Idealism in Defense of Human Dignity: 5. Boris Chicherin and human (...) dignity in history G. M. Hamburg; 6. Vladimir Solov'iev's philosophical anthropology: autonomy, dignity, perfectibility Randall A. Poole; 7. Russian panpsychism: Kozlov, Lopatin, Losskii James P. Scanlan; Part III. Humanity and Divinity in Russian Religious Philosophy after Solov'iev: 8. A Russian cosmodicy: Sergei Bulgakov's religious philosophy Paul Valliere; 9. Pavel Florenskii's trinitarian humanism Steven Cassedy; 10. Semën Frank's expressivist humanism Philip J. Swoboda; Part IV. Freedom and Human Perfectibility in the Silver Age: 11. Religious humanism in the Russian silver age Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal; 12. Russian liberalism and the philosophy of law Frances Nethercott; 13. Imagination and ideology in the new religious consciousness Robert Bird; 14. Eschatology and hope in silver age thought Judith Deutsch Kornblatt; Part V. Russian Philosophy in Revolution and Exile: 15. Russian Marxism Andrzej Walicki; 16. Adventures in dialectic and intuition: Shpet, Il'in, Losev Philip T. Grier; 17. Nikolai Berdiaev and the philosophical tasks of the emigration Stuart Finkel; 18. Eurasianism: affirming the person in an 'Era of Faith' Martin Beisswenger; Afterword: on persons as open-ended ends-in-themselves (the view from two novelists and two critics) Caryl Emerson; Bibliography. (shrink)
McDowell's Mind and World is a commentary on a traditional, dualist, epistemology which puzzles over, and offers accounts of, a fundamental division between mental, subjective items, and nonmental, objective items in experience. The principal responses to that tradition which McDowell considers are those of Davidson's coherentism, Evans's form of realism, and Kant; but it is Kant's famous B75 text which occupies centre stage: ‘Gedanken ohne Inhalt sind leer; Anschauungen ohne Begriffe sind blind’.
This is a rewarding book. In terms of area, it has one foot firmly planted in metaphysics and the other just as firmly set in the philosophy of science. Nature's Metaphysics is distinctive for its thorough and detailed defense of fundamental, natural properties as essentially dispositional and for its description of how these dispositional properties are thus suited to sustain the laws of nature as (metaphysically) necessary truths.
Thomas Kuhn transformed the philosophy of science. His seminal 1962 work "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" introduced the term 'paradigm shift' into the vernacular and remains a fundamental text in the study of the history and philosophy of science. This introduction to Kuhn's ideas covers the breadth of his philosophical work, situating "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" within Kuhn's wider thought and drawing attention to the development of his ideas over time. Kuhn's work is assessed within the context of other (...) philosophies of science notably logical empiricism and recent developments in naturalized epistemology. The author argues that Kuhn's thinking betrays a residual commitment to many theses characteristic of the empiricists he set out to challenge. Kuhn's influence on the history and philosophy of science is assessed and where the field may be heading in the wake of Kuhn's ideas is explored. (shrink)
This paper maps the landscape for a range of views concerning the metaphysics of natural kinds. I consider a range of increasingly ontologically committed views concerning natural kinds and the possible arguments for them. I then ask how these relate to natural kind essentialism, arguing that essentialism requires commitment to kinds as entities. I conclude by examining the homeostatic property cluster view of kinds in the light of the general understanding of kinds developed.
Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922–1996) is one of the most influential philosophers of science of the twentieth century, perhaps the most influential. His 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited academic books of all time. Kuhn’s contribution to the philosophy of science marked not only a break with several key positivist doctrines, but also inaugurated a new style of philosophy of science that brought it closer to the history of science. His account of the development (...) of science held that science enjoys periods of stable growth punctuated by revisionary revolutions. To this thesis, Kuhn added the controversial ‘incommensurability thesis’, that theories from differing periods suffer from certain deep kinds of failure of comparability. (shrink)
In ‘Finkish Dispositions’1 David Lewis proposes an analysis of dispositions which improves on the simple conditional analysis. In this paper I show that Lewis’ analysis still fails. I also argue that repairs are of no avail, and suggest why this is so.
When is a belief or judgment justified? One might be forgiven for thinking the search for single answer to this question to be hopeless. The concept of justification is required to fulfil several tasks: to evaluate beliefs epistemically, to fill in the gap between truth and knowledge, to describe the virtuous organization of one’s beliefs, to describe the relationship between evidence and theory (and thus relate to confirmation and probabilification). While some of these may be held to overlap, the prospects (...) for fulfilling all may well seem poor. Furthermore the internalist requires that justification be an introspectible property of beliefs and a fundamental epistemic concept, while the externalist is often happy to ignore the concept altogether or at best regard it as an embarrassing add-on to their epistemology. In the light of this one might reasonably give up on justification altogether or adopt pluralist approach, denying that justification is any single property of beliefs of judgments. (shrink)
Many authors have argued in favour of an ontology of properties as powers, and it has been widely argued that this ontology allows us to address certain philosophical problems in novel and illuminating ways, for example, causation, representation, intentionality, free will and liberty. I argue that the ontology of powers, even if successful as an account of fundamental natural properties, does not provide the insight claimed as regards the aforementioned non-fundamental phenomena. I illustrate this argument by criticizing the powers theory (...) of causation presented by Mumford and Anjum and showing that related criticisms can be directed at other abuses of powers. (shrink)
The basic principles of dispositional essentialism do not require that the fundamental spatiotemporal relations are dispositional in nature. Nevertheless, Bird (who defends dispositional monism) argues that they possess dispositional essences in virtue of the fact that the obtaining of these relations can be characterised by the satisfaction of a certain counterfactual. In this paper I argue that his suggestion fails, and so, despite his attempt, the case of the spatiotemporal relations remains the ‘big bad bug’ for the thesis of (...) dispositional monism. (shrink)
This paper sketches a dispositionalist conception of laws and shows how the dispositionalist should respond to certain objections. The view that properties are essentially dispositional is able to provide an account of laws that avoids the problems that face the two views of laws (the regularity and the contingent nomic necessitation views) that regard properties as categorical and laws as contingent. I discuss and reject the objections that (i) this view makes laws necessary whereas they are contingent; (ii) this view (...) cannot account for certain kinds of laws of nature and their properties. (shrink)
Those who favour an ontology based on dispositions are thereby able to provide a dispositional essentialist account of the laws of nature. In part 1 of this paper I sketch the dispositional essentialist conception of properties and the concomitant account of laws. In part 2, I characterise various claims about the modal character of properties that fall under the heading ‘quidditism’ and which are consequences of the categoricalist view of properties, which is the alternative to the dispositional essentialist view. I (...) argue that quidditism should be rejected. In part 3, I address a criticism of a strong dispositional essentialist view, viz. that ‘structural’ (i.e. geometrical, numerical, spatial and temporal) properties must be regarded as categorical. (shrink)
Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited books of the twentieth century. Its iconic and controversial nature has obscured its message. What did Kuhn really intend with Structure and what is its real significance? -/- 1 Introduction -/- 2 The Central Ideas of Structure -/- 3 The Philosophical Targets of Structure -/- 4 Interpreting and Misinterpreting Structure -/- 4.1 Naturalism -/- 4.2 World-change -/- 4.3 Incommensurability -/- 4.4 Progress and the nature of revolutionary change -/- 4.5 (...) Relativism, rationality, and realism -/- 4.6 History and sociology of science -/- 4.7 Wittgenstein -/- 5 After Structure. (shrink)
Many psychological studies of categorization and reasoning use undergraduates to make claims about human conceptualization. Generalizability of findings to other populations is often assumed but rarely tested. Even when comparative studies are conducted, it may be challenging to interpret differences. As a partial remedy, in the present studies we adopt a 'triangulation strategy' to evaluate the ways expertise and culturally different belief systems can lead to different ways of conceptualizing the biological world. We use three groups (US bird experts, (...) US undergraduates, and ordinary Itza' Maya) and two sets of birds (North American and Central American). Categorization tasks show considerable similarity among the three groups' taxonomic sorts, but also systematic differences. Notably, US expert categorization is more similar to Itza' than to US novice categorization. The differences are magnified on inductive reasoning tasks where only undergraduates show patterns of judgment that are largely consistent with current models of category-based taxonomic inference. The Maya commonly employ causal and ecological reasoning rather than taxonomic reasoning. Experts use a mixture of strategies (including causal and ecological reasoning), only some of which current models explain. US and Itza' informants differed markedly when reasoning about passerines (songbirds), reflecting the somewhat different role that songbirds play in the two cultures. The results call into question the importance of similarity-based notions of typicality and central tendency in natural categorization and reasoning. These findings also show that relative expertise leads to a convergence of thought that transcends cultural boundaries and shared experiences. (shrink)
Dispositional monism is the view that natural properties and relations are ‘pure powers’. It is objected that dispositional monism involves some kind of vicious or otherwise unpalatable regress or circularity. I examine ways of making this objection precise. The most pressing interpretation is that is fails to make the identities of powers determinate. I demonstrate that this objection is in error. It does however puts certain constraints on what the structure of fundamental properties is like. I show what a satisfactory (...) structure would be. (shrink)
Many introductions to this field start with the problem of justifying scientific knowledge but Alexander Bird begins by examining the subject matter, or metaphysics, of science. Using topical scientific debates he vividly elucidates what it is for the world to be governed by laws of nature. This idea provides the basis for explanations and causes and leads to a discussion of natural kinds and theoretical entities. With this foundation in place he goes on to consider the epistemological issues of (...) how science arrives at knowledge, favouring a treatment of scientific reasoning based on inference to the best explanation. Drawing on contemporary work in epistemology, Bird argues that scepticism about induction should not be a problem for science and examines the consequences of this position for controversies surrounding the ideas of scientific progress and scientific revolution. Bird's insightful treatment makes Philosophy of Science an ideal text for undergraduate courses. The guides to further reading provided in each chapter help the reader pursue interesting topics and facilitate the use of the book in conjunction with primary sources. (shrink)
According to recently influential conceptions of public reasoning, citizens have the right to demand of each other ‘public justifications’ for controversial political action. On this view, only arguments that all reasonable citizens can affirm from within their diverse ethical standpoints can count as legitimate justifications for political action. Both proponents and critics often assume that the case for this expectation derives from the special justificatory burden created by the systematically coercive character of political action. This paper challenges that assumption. While (...) conceding that citizens who propose to deploy the coercive apparatus of the state to enforce controversial legislation owe their fellows a justification that overcomes the strong presumption against coercing agents, it denies that this consideration can explain why public justifications are also required. Having argued that the public justification requirement is not among the justification conditions for public coercion, the paper then proposes an alternative rationale for the expectation that political action be publicly justified. On this alternative, the case for the public justification requirement depends on democratic citizens’ standing as legislative co-authors, and not on considerations having to do with their liability as private individuals to coercion at the hands of the state. (shrink)
In this paper I will first consider Bird's cases against the conditional analysis of dispositions and defend them from Gundersen's objection. This does not mean that I believe that Bird's cases are successful. To the contrary, I take it that we can save the conditional analysis from Bird's cases by taking Lewis's two-step approach to dispositions. However, I will go on to argue that if Bird's cases are supplemented with the assumption that dispositions are intrinsic matter, (...) they are able to do what they are intended to do. (shrink)
Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions is notable for the readiness with which it drew on the results of cognitive psychology. These naturalistic elements were not well received and Kuhn did not subsequently develop them in his pub- lished work. Nonetheless, in a philosophical climate more receptive to naturalism, we are able to give a more positive evaluation of Kuhn’s proposals. Recently, philosophers such as Nersessian, Nickles, Andersen, Barker, and Chen have used the results of work on case-based reasoning, analogical thinking, (...) dynamic frames, and the like to illuminate and develop various aspects of Kuhn’s thought in Structure. In particular this work aims to give depth to the Kuhnian concepts of a paradigm and incommensurability. I review this work and identify two broad strands of research. One emphasizes work on concepts; the other focusses on cognitive habits. After contrasting these, I argue that the conceptual strand fails to be a complete account of scientific revolutions. We need a broad approach that draws on a variety of resources in psychology and cognitive science. (shrink)
Philosophers and social scientists have focussed a great deal of attention on our human capacity to trust, but relatively little on the capacity to hope. This is a significant oversight, as hope and trust are importantly interconnected. This paper argues that, even though trust can and does feed our hopes, it is our empowering capacity to hope that significantly underwrites—and makes rational—our capacity to trust.
I articulate a functional characterisation of the concept of evidence, according to which evidence is that which allows us to make inferences that extend our knowledge. This entails Williamson's equation of knowledge with evidence.
In this paper I aim to show that a certain law of nature, namely that common salt (sodium chloride) dissolves in water, is metaphysically necessary. The importance of this result is that it conﬂicts with a widely shared intuition that the laws of nature (most if not all) are contingent. There have been debates over whether some laws, such as Newton’s second law, might be deﬁnitional of their key terms and hence necessary. But the law that salt dissolves in water (...) is not that kind of law. The law statement ‘salt dissolves in water’ is clearly synthetic. It appears a classic case of a contingent law. We like to believe that there are possible worlds in which the laws of nature are different and in which salt does not dissolve in water. (shrink)
Why, despite his enormous influence in the latter part of the twentieth century, has Kuhn left no distinctively Kuhnian legacy? I argue that this is because the development of Kuhn’s own thought was in a direction opposite to that of the mainstream of the philosophy of science. In the 1970s and 1980s the philosophy of science took on board the lessons of externalism as regards reference and knowledge, and became more sympathetic to a naturalistic approach to philosophical problems. Kuhn, on (...) the other hand, started out with a strong naturalistic streak, employing non-philosophical disciplines, primarily psychology, in order to build his accounts of scientific change and the nature of observation and scientific thought. But by the 1970s Kuhn’s work had taken on a much more purely philosophical, a priori, tone. His explanation of incommensurability moved from a psychological explanation to one embedded in the philosophy of language. Increasingly he gave his outlook a Kantian gloss. I suggest, nonetheless, that Kuhn’s most valuable contribution is to be found in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and not in his later work, and that the naturalistic direction of the former has important links with connectionist research in cognitive science that deserve further study.Author Keywords: Kuhn; Scientific revolutions; Empiricism; Naturalism; Incommensurability; Reference. (shrink)
In Bird 2001 I argued that a law that might seem to many to be contingent is in fact necessary. In short the argument is this. Given the existence of salt and water, Coulomb’s law of electrostatic attraction is sufficient to make the former dissolve in the latter. So any possible world in which salt failed to dissolve in water would be one in which Coulomb’s law is false. However, it is also the case that the existence of salt (...) depends on Coulomb’s law. If Coulomb’s law is false then salt cannot exist. So there is no possible world in which salt exists and in which it does not dissolve in water. (shrink)
Dispositions are related to conditionals. Typically a fragile glass will break if struck with force. But possession of the disposition does not entail the corresponding simple (subjunctive or counterfactual) conditional. The phenomena of finks and antidotes show that an object may possess the disposition without the conditional being true. Finks and antidotes may be thought of as exceptions to the straightforward relation between disposition and conditional. The existence of these phenomena are easy to demonstrate at the macro-level. But do they (...) exist at the fundamental level also? While fundamental finkish dispositions may be excluded fairly straightforwardly, the existence of fundamental antidotes is more open. Nonetheless I conclude that the phenomenon is likely to be less widespread than at the macro level and that fundamental antidotes may be eliminable. According to the dispositional essentialist, the laws of nature can be explained by taking natural properties to be essentially dispositional. This account can be extended to show that the existence of finks and antidotes explains ceteris paribus laws. Consequently the existence or otherwise of fundamental finks and antidotes sheds some light on the question of whether fundamental laws may also be ceteris paribus laws. (shrink)
Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby have argued that pornography might create a climate whereby a woman’s ability to refuse sex is literally silenced or removed. Their central argument is that a failure of ‘uptake’ of the woman’s intention means that the illocutionary speech act of refusal has not taken place. In this paper, I challenge the claims from the Austinian philosophy of language which feature in this argument. I argue that uptake is not in general required for illocution, nor is (...) it required for refusal in particular. I conclude with remarks on the relationship between illocutionary and perlocutionary speech-acts. (shrink)