This article suggests that American sociology has developed a de facto tradition in the sociology of the marked that devotes greater epistemological attention to "politically salient" and "ontologically uncommon" features of social life. Although the "unmarked" comprises the vast majority of social life, the "marked" commands a disproportionate share of attention from sociologists. Since the marked already draws more attention within the general culture, social scientists contribute to re-marking and the reproduction of common-sense images of social reality. This has important (...) analytic consequences. This article argues for developing a stronger tradition in a sociology of the unmarked that explicitly foregrounds "politically unnoticed" and taken-for-granted elements of social reality. Three strategies are proposed toward this end: (1) reversing conventional patterns of markedness to foreground what typically remains unnamed and implicit, (2) marking everything by filling in all the shades of social continua so that each shares the same degree of epistemological ornamentation, and (3) developing an analytically nomadic perspective that observes social phenomena from multiple vantage points. (shrink)
Recent work on emergence in physics has focused on the presence of singular limit relations between basal and upper-level theories as a criterion for emergence. However, over-emphasis on the role of singular limit relations has somewhat obscured what it means to say that a property or behaviour is emergent. This paper argues that singular limits are not central to emergence and develops an alternative account of emergence in terms of the failure of basal explainability. As a consequence, emergence and reduction, (...) long held to be two sides of the same coin in the emergentist tradition, are largely decoupled. (shrink)
A signal development in contemporary physics is the widespread use, in explanatory contexts, of highly idealized models. This paper argues that some highly idealized models in physics have genuine explanatory power, and it extends the explanatory role for such idealizations beyond the scope of previous philosophical work. It focuses on idealizations of nonlinear oscillator systems.
Many explanations in physics rely on idealized models of physical systems. These explanations fail to satisfy the conditions of standard normative accounts of explanation. Recently, some philosophers have claimed that idealizations can be used to underwrite explanation nonetheless, but only when they are what have variously been called representational, Galilean, controllable or harmless idealizations. This paper argues that such a half-measure is untenable and that idealizations not of this sort can have explanatory capacities.
This paper begins by tracing interest in emergence in physics to the work of condensed matter physicist Philip Anderson. It provides a selective introduction to contemporary philosophical approaches to emergence. It surveys two exciting areas of current work that give good reason to re-evaluate our views about emergence in physics. One area focuses on physical systems wherein fundamental theories appear to break down. The other area is the quantum-to-classical transition, where some have claimed that a complete explanation of the behaviors (...) and features of the objects of classical physics entirely in quantum terms is now within our grasp. We suggest that the most useful way to approach the emergent/non-emergent distinction is in epistemic terms, and more specifically that the failure of reductive explanation is constitutive of emergence in physics. (shrink)
A common methodological adage holds that diverse evidence better confirms a hypothesis than does the same amount of similar evidence. Proponents of Bayesian approaches to scientific reasoning such as Horwich, Howson and Urbach, and Earman claim to offer both a precise rendering of this maxim in probabilistic terms and an explanation of why the maxim should be part of the methodological canon of good science. This paper contends that these claims are mistaken and that, at best, Bayesian accounts of diverse (...) evidence are crucially incomplete. This failure should lend renewed force to a long-neglected global worry about Bayesian approaches. (shrink)
Recent work by Robert Batterman and Alexander Rueger has brought attention to cases in physics in which governing laws at the base level “break down” and singular limit relations obtain between base- and upper-level theories. As a result, they claim, these are cases with emergent upper-level properties. This paper contends that this inference—from singular limits to explanatory failure, novelty or irreducibility, and then to emergence—is mistaken. The van der Pol nonlinear oscillator is used to show that there can be a (...) full explanation of upper-level properties entirely in base-level terms even when singular limits are present. Whether upper-level properties are emergent depends not on the presence of a singular limit but rather on details of the ampliative approximation methods used. The paper suggests that focusing on explanatory deficiency at the base level is key to understanding emergence in physics. (shrink)
The continuous pursuit and support of medical research on both a societal and individual level is frequently presupposed as laudable, or even obligatory. However, some critics have challenged the assumption that medical research ought to be conducted. These critics reject claims that there is a moral obligation to pursue research, and that medical research may always be justifiable given adequate safeguards and regulations. We align ourselves with critics of the research imperative to the extent that we believe that medical research (...) may only be an imperfect obligation, grounded in the principle of beneficence. Our central purpose in this article, however, is not to advance an original argument concerning the .. (shrink)
Field theories have been central to physics over the last 150 years, and there are several theories in contemporary physics in which physical fields play key causal and explanatory roles. This paper proposes a novel field trope-bundle (FTB) ontology on which fields are composed of bundles of particularized property instances, called tropes and goes on to describe some virtues of this ontology. It begins with a critical examination of the dominant view about the ontology of fields, that fields are properties (...) of a substantial substratum. (shrink)
Are animals not ours to use? According to proponents of veganism such as Gary Francione, any and all use of animals by humans is exploitative and wrong. It is wrong because animals have intrinsic worth and humans' use of animals fails to respect that worth. Contra Francione, I argue that that there are conditions under which it may be morally appropriate to collect, consume, sell, or otherwise use animal products. Francione is mistaken in his belief that assigning intrinsic worth to (...) a being is impossible if said being is also conceived as a resource. Using and (non-instrumental) valuing are not mutually exclusive; if they were, many if not most human relationships would be deemed morally unacceptable. Through a series of thought experiments involving intra-human relationships, I suggest that moral condemnation of relationships within which a less dependent party regularly takes from a more dependent party is indefensible. In fact, relationships of use between asymmetrically dependent parties are essential to the functioning of cooperative society, and are therefore desirable. My aims with this article are to convince readers of the need to reject principled veganism, and to garner support for new philosophical accounts of morally appropriate human-nonhuman animal relationships. (shrink)
Nick Huggett and Robert Weingard (1994) have recently proposed a novel approach to interpreting field theories in physics, one which makes central use of the fact that a field generally has an infinite number of degrees of freedom in any finite region of space it occupies. Their characterization, they argue, (i) reproduces our intuitive categorizations of fields in the classical domain and thereby (ii) provides a basis for arguing that the quantum field is a field. Furthermore, (iii) it accomplishes these (...) tasks better than does a well-known rival approach due to Paul Teller (1990, 1995). This paper contends that all three of these claims are mistaken, and suggests that Huggett and Weingard have not shown how counting degrees of freedom provides any insight into the interpretation or the formal properties of field theories in physics. (shrink)
This discussion provides a brief commentary on each of the papers presented in the symposium on the conceptual foundations of field theories in physics. In Section 2 I suggest an alternative to Paul Teller's (1999) reading of the gauge argument that may help to solve, or dissolve, its puzzling aspects. In Section 3 I contend that Sunny Auyang's (1999) arguments against substantivalism and for "objectivism" in the context of gauge field theories face serious worries. Finally, in Section 4 I claim (...) that Gordon Fleming's (1999) proposal for hyperplane-dependent Newton-Wigner fields differs importantly from his previous arguments about hyperplane-dependent properties in quantum mechanics. (shrink)
Wayne Martin’s Theories of Judgment marks a significant advance in the philosophical analysis of judgment. He understands that the domain of judgment is so large that it allows only a selective treatment. We can expand Martin’s insight by acknowledging that this domain is, in fact, hypercomplex and therefore unsurveyable in Wittgenstein’s sense. Martin’s treatment of judgments can, however, be extended in a number of directions. Of particular importance is it to understand the linguistic aspect of theoretical judgments, the challenges (...) to the synthetic conception of judgment constituted not only by existential, but also by impersonal and negative judgments, and the exploration of the links between the notions of judgment and truth. (shrink)
Andrew Wayne discusses some recent attempts to account, within a Bayesian framework, for the "common methodological adage" that "diverse evidence better confirms a hypothesis than does the same amount of similar evidence". One of the approaches considered by Wayne is that suggested by Howson and Urbach and dubbed the "correlation approach" by Wayne. This approach is, indeed, incomplete, in that it neglects the role of the hypothesis under consideration in determining what diversity in a body of evidence (...) is relevant diversity. In this paper, it is shown how this gap can be filled, resulting in a more satisfactory account of the evidential role of diversity of evidence. In addition, it is argued that Wayne's criticism of the correlation approach does not indicate a serious flaw in the approach. (shrink)
As anyone familiar with my own work would readily infer, I have virtually boundless admiration for Wayne Proudfoot’s Religious Experience. In fact, to be honest I think Religious Experience belongs together with Jeff Stout’s The Flight from Authority and David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion as the books that have most profoundly shaped my teaching and scholarship. More than the other two works, however, Religious Experience has informed my most basic attitudes about the point and proper pursuit of the (...) shared enterprise we call the study of religion. I know I’m not completely idiosyncratic in my estimation of... (shrink)
It speaks to the illogic of our public life that the slogan “All Lives Matter” has come to stand directly against “Black Lives Matter” within contemporary discourse on race. Carol Wayne White’s Black Lives and Sacred Humanity, among its other achievements, confirms the absurdity of such an opposition. White shows how historic efforts to defend and define the humanity of African Americans offer a vision in which all human lives do not simply matter but are in fact sacred within (...) nature. White’s effort to marshal elements within the black tradition to develop her notion of sacred humanity succeeds; in fact, the entailments of her arguments go further still. In addition to undermining the binary of black lives/all... (shrink)
When Religious Experience went into production with the University of California Press, I was still in residence as a graduate student at Columbia, where I was working with Wayne Proudfoot on issues in the philosophy of religion and philosophical theology. Although this is now more than thirty years ago, I distinctively remember having a conversation with him about whether Religious Experience should have a subtitle and, if so, what. Proudfoot’s disposition as a writer is hardly baroque, and so he (...) decided, heedless of his student’s youthful love of circumlocution, to do without the ornament of an explanatory or at least cautionary subtitle. Naked Religious Experience it would be.The Press, no doubt... (shrink)
There is a lively debate about the descriptive concept of happiness. What do we mean when we say (using the word to express this descriptive concept) that a person is “happy”? One prominent answer is subjective local desire satisfactionism. On this view, to be happy at a time is to believe, with respect to the things that you want to be true at that time, that they are true. Wayne Davis developed and defended an interesting and sophisticated version of (...) this view in a series of papers. I present, explain, and attempt to refute his version of the theory. I then sketch what I take to be a better theory of happiness -- a form of intrinsic attitudinal hedonism. (shrink)
Wayne (1995) critiques the Bayesian explication of the conﬁrmational signiﬁcance of evidential diversity (CSED) oﬀered by Horwich (1982). Presently, I argue that Wayne’s reconstruction of Horwich’s account of CSED is uncharitable. As a result, Wayne’s criticisms ultimately present no real problem for Horwich. I try to provide a more faithful and charitable rendition of Horwich’s account of CSED. Unfortunately, even when Horwich’s approach is charitably reconstructed, it is still not completely satisfying.
In this essay, I argue that it is sometimes inappropriate to appeal to moral criteria in artistic judgments, even when the moral content of an artwork contributes to its artistic value. I suggest that this is the case with artworks that (1) are “interrogative” in form, posing a question or problem that remains unresolved in the work, and (2) have moral dilemmas as a principal theme. Using Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as an example of morally interrogative artwork, (...) I critique Wayne Booth’s moral defense of the novel. I argue that because Booth incorrectly attributes a moral stance to the book, he overlooks its value as a provocation to critical reflection about morality. (shrink)
The constructivist position, that mystical experiences are determined by the experiencer's cultural context, is now more prevalent among scholars of religion than the perennialist position, which maintains that mystical experiences have a common core that is cross-culturally universal. In large part, this is due to the efforts of Wayne Proudfoot in his widely accepted book, Religious Experience.In this article, I identify some significant unresolved issues in Proudfoot's defence of constructivism. My aim is not to defend perennialism, but to specify (...) some objections to the constructivist thesis that constructivists need to address more adequately. (shrink)
Wayne Martin 's Theories of Judgment marks a significant advance in the philosophical analysis of judgment. He understands that the domain of judgment is so large that it allows only a selective treatment. We can expand Martin 's insight by acknowledging that this domain is, in fact, hypercomplex and therefore unsurveyable in Wittgenstein's sense. Martin 's treatment of judgments can, however, be extended in a number of directions. Of particular importance is it to understand the linguistic aspect of theoretical (...) judgments, the challenges to the synthetic conception of judgment constituted not only by existential, but also by impersonal and negative judgments, and the exploration of the links between the notions of judgment and truth. (shrink)
In his article “Freedom of Interpretation: Bakhtin and the Challenge of Feminist Criticism” , Wayne Booth develops an argument for “ethical” literary criticism, criticism that is concerned with the ideologies inherent in works of literature and the effects these ideologies may have on the reader. Or, as he phrases it himself: “What we are talking about [is] human ideals, how they are created in art and thus implanted in readers and left uncriticized” . Booth’s starting point, his “inspiration” for (...) this argument, is Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of “dialogism” and, in particular, Bakhtin’s use of this notion in his interpretation of François Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel narratives.1 For those not familiar with Booth’s essay , I will briefly summarize his argument in support of ethical criticism.Booth begins with much praise for Bakhtin because Bakhtin seems to have discovered in Rabelais a linguistic technic that frees the reader from the ideologies inherent in language . As Booth paraphrases Bakhtin, any writer who employs the languages of different ideologies within one text freed the reader from the “prison-house of language” to the extent that he allows the reader to view each ideology from the outside, from these other languages, so that this reader can judge each ideology in terms other than those which the ideology builds into its own language. 1. See Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. Helene Iswolsky . Richard M. Berrong is visiting assistant professor of French at the University of Nebraska. He is the author of Every Man for Himself: Social Order and Its Dissolution in Rabelais and Rabelair and Bakhtin Revisited: The Presence and Exclusion of Popular Culture in “Gargantua and Pantagruel”. (shrink)
According to Jules Coleman, Rational Choice Theory holds that human action is both intentional and rational. “The rationality of intentional action is evaluated along the two dimensions corresponding to the two elements of the belief-desire model.” On the belief-dimension, RC Theory assumes that people are “able to draw appropriate inferences from the information they possess.”.
Jonathan Kvanvig's book, The Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding (Kvanvig, 2003), is a wonderful example of doing epistemology in a style that Kvanvig himself has termed "value−driven epistemology." On this approach, one takes questions about epistemic value to be central to theoretical concerns, including the concern to provide an adequate account of knowledge. This approach yields the demand that theories of knowledge must provide, not just an adequate account of the nature of knowledge, but also an account (...) of the value of knowledge. Given the near−universal assumption that knowledge has a special kind of value, this demand seems reasonable, though surprisingly hard to satisfy. Another consequence of this approach to doing epistemology is that certain assumptions about epistemic value, like what sorts of things have it and what sorts of things don't, and where such value comes from, become much more salient to the epistemic enterprise. In his book, Kvanvig challenges the assumption that knowledge has some unique store of epistemic value. And he investigates the matter by asking questions about what the bearers of epistemic value are and where they get it. He concludes, of course, that knowledge as we have come to conceive it in 21st century epistemology has no such special value. (shrink)
Martin offers an intriguing account of nineteenth century challenges to the traditional theory of judgment as a synthesis of subject and predicate (the synthesis theory)--criticisms motivated largely by the problem posed by existential judgments, which need not have two terms at all. Such judgments led to a theory of "thetic" judgments, whose essential feature is to "posit" something, rather than to combine terms (as in synthetic judgment). I argue, however, that Kant's official definition of judgment already implicitly recognizes the importance (...) of positing, and that its (otherwise confusing) abstract generality actually affords Kant's own logic an adequate way to accommodate existential judgments within the traditional synthesis theory. Preservation of a synthetic account of judgment is also found to be independently important for Kant's larger aims in the theory of cognition. (shrink)
Myrvold (2003) has proposed an attractive Bayesian account of why theories that unify phenomena tend to derive greater epistemic support from those phenomena than do theories that fail to unify them. It is argued, however, that "unification" in Myrvold's sense is both too easy and too difficult for theories to achieve. Myrvold's account fails to capture what it is that makes unification sometimes count in a theory's favor.