The range and types of performance metrics has recently proliferated in academic settings, with bibliometric indicators being particularly visible examples. One field that has traditionally been hospitable towards such indicators is biomedicine. Here the relative merits of bibliometrics are widely discussed, with debates often portraying them as heroes or villains. Despite a plethora of controversies, one of the most widely used indicators in this field is said to be the Journal Impact Factor. In this article we argue that much of (...) the current debates around researchers’ uses of the JIF in biomedicine can be classed as ‘folk theories’: explanatory accounts told among a community that seldom get systematically checked. Such accounts rarely disclose how knowledge production itself becomes more-or-less consolidated around the JIF. Using ethnographic materials from different research sites in Dutch University Medical Centers, this article sheds new empirical and theoretical light on how performance metrics variously shape biomedical research on the ‘shop floor.’ Our detailed analysis underscores a need for further research into the constitutive effects of evaluative metrics. (shrink)
How are “interesting” research problems identified and made durable by academic researchers, particularly in situations defined by multiple evaluation principles? Building on two case studies of research groups working on rare diseases in academic biomedicine, we explore how group leaders arrange their groups to encompass research problems that latch onto distinct evaluation principles by dividing and combining work into “basic-oriented” and “clinical-oriented” spheres of inquiry. Following recent developments in the sociology of valuation comparing academics to capitalist entrepreneurs in pursuit of (...) varying kinds of worth, we argue that the metaphor of the portfolio is helpful in analyzing how group leaders manage these different research lines as “alternative investment options” from which they were variously hoping to capitalize. We argue portfolio development is a useful concept for exploring how group leaders fashion “entrepreneurial” practices to manage and exploit tensions between multiple matrices of valuation and conclude with suggestions for how this vocabulary can further extend analysis of epistemic capitalism within science and technology studies. (shrink)
This paper discusses two passages from Alexander of Aphrodisias’s commentary on Aristotle’s Topics that are transmitted in Ps-Jābir’s Kitāb al-Nukhab. It argues that the Arabic translation of Alexander’s commentary may have been made from a fuller version than what came down to us in Greek. Especially since the author of the Jābir-corpus form a tradition different from the school of Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq and authors associated to the ‘Baghdad school’, whose earliest figure is Abū Bishr Mattā b. Yūnus, (...) the Arabic fragments of Alexander’s commentary preserved in the Kitāb al-Nukhab promise to shed more light on the early reception of the Topics and the different contexts in which Aristotelian dialectic was studied in the Islamic world. (shrink)
This new edition of Alexander Miller’s highly readable introduction to contemporary metaethics provides a critical overview of the main arguments and themes in twentieth- and twenty-first-century contemporary metaethics. Miller traces the development of contemporary debates in metaethics from their beginnings in the work of G. E. Moore up to the most recent arguments between naturalism and non-naturalism, cognitivism and non-cognitivism. From Moore’s attack on ethical naturalism, A. J. Ayer’s emotivism and Simon Blackburn’s quasi-realism to anti-realist and best opinion accounts (...) of moral truth and the non-reductionist naturalism of the ‘Cornell realists’, this book addresses all the key theories and ideas in this field. As well as revisiting the whole terrain with revised and updated guides to further reading, Miller also introduces major new sections on the revolutionary fictionalism of Richard Joyce and the hermeneutic fictionalism of Mark Kalderon. The new edition will continue to be essential reading for students, teachers and professional philosophers with an interest in contemporary metaethics. (shrink)
Some of the greatest writers on moral philosophy have claimed that their theories about morality do not run counter to the moral views of ordinary men, but on the contrary are an elucidation of such views, or provide them with a sound philosophical underpinning. Aristotle, for example, made it quite clear that he could not take seriously a moral view that was at odds with the heritage of moral wisdom deeply imbedded in his society. His doctrine of the mean was (...) based on a philosophical consideration of such wisdom. And Immanuel Kant thought that his moral philosophy articulated the moral views of ordinary men. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy uses experimental research methods from psychology and cognitive science in order to investigate both philosophical and metaphilosophical questions. It explores philosophical questions about the nature of the psychological world - the very structure or meaning of our concepts of things, and about the nature of the non-psychological world - the things themselves. It also explores metaphilosophical questions about the nature of philosophical inquiry and its proper methodology. This book provides a detailed and provocative introduction to this innovative field, (...) focusing on the relationship between experimental philosophy and the aims and methods of more traditional analytic philosophy. Special attention is paid to carefully examining experimental philosophy's quite different philosophical programs, their individual strengths and weaknesses, and the different kinds of contributions that they can make to our philosophical understanding. Clear and accessible throughout, it situates experimental philosophy within both a contemporary and historical context, explains its aims and methods, examines and critically evaluates its most significant claims and arguments, and engages with its critics. (shrink)
Assuming S5, the main controversial premise in modal ontological arguments is the possibility premise, such as that possibly a maximally great being exists. I shall offer a new way of arguing that the possibility premise is probably true.
Social and behavioral scientists — that is, students of human nature — nowadays hardly ever use the term ‘human nature’. This reticence reflects both a becoming modesty about the aims of their disciplines and a healthy skepticism about whether there is any one thing really worthy of the label ‘human nature’. For some feature of humankind to be identified as accounting for our ‘nature’, it would have to reflect some property both distinctive of our species and systematically influential enough to (...) explain some very important aspect of our behavior. Compare: molecular structure gives the essence or the nature of water just because it explains most of its salient properties. Few students of the human sciences currently hold that there is just one or a small number of such features that can explain our actions and/or our institutions. And even among those who do, there is reluctance to label their theories as claims about ‘human nature’. Among anthropologists and sociologists, the label seems too universal and indiscriminant to be useful. The idea that there is a single underlying character that might explain similarities threatens the differences among people and cultures that these social scientists seek to uncover. Even economists, who have explicitly attempted to parlay rational choice theory into an account of all human behavior, do not claim that the maximization of transitive preferences is ‘human nature’. I think part of the reason that social scientists are reluctant to use ‘human nature’ is that the term has traditionally labeled a theory with normative implications as well as descriptive ones. (shrink)
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.
Feminist Geneaologies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures provides a feminist anaylsis of the questions of sexual and gender politics, economic and cultural marginality, and anti-racist and anti-colonial practices both in the "West" and in the "Third World." This collection, edited by Jacqui Alexander and Chandra Talpade Mohanty, charts the underlying theoretical perspectives and organization practices of the different varieties of feminism that take on questions of colonialism, imperialism, and the repressive rule of colonial, post-colonial and advanced capitalist nation-states. It provides (...) a comparative, relational, historically grounded conception of feminist praxis that differs markedly from the liberal pluralist, multicultural understanding that sheapes some of the dominant version of Euro-American feminism. As a whole, the collection poses a unique challenge to the naturalization of gender based in the experiences, histories and practices of Euro-American women. (shrink)
Some, notably Peter van Inwagen, in order to avoid problems with free will and omniscience, replace the condition that an omniscient being knows all true propositions with a version of the apparently weaker condition that an omniscient being knows all knowable true propositions. I shall show that the apparently weaker condition, when conjoined with uncontroversial claims and the logical closure of an omniscient being's knowledge, still yields the claim that an omniscient being knows all true propositions.
The free-will defence holds that the value of significant free will is so great that God is justified in creating significantly free creatures even if there is a risk or certainty that these creatures will sin. A difficulty for the FWD, developed carefully by Quentin Smith, is that God is unable to do evil, and yet surely lacks no genuinely valuable kind of freedom. Smith argues that the kind of freedom that God has can be had by creatures, without a (...) risk of creatures doing evil. I shall show that Smith's argument fails – the case of God is disanalogous to the case of creatures precisely because creatures are creatures. (shrink)
This volume contains the Arabic translations of a lost treatise by Alexander of Aphrodisias (c. AD 200) "On the Principles of the Universe" with English translation, introduction and commentary. It also includes an Arabic and Syriac glossary. The introduction and commentary deal in detail with the manuscripts, the translators and the exegetical tendencies of the text, as well as with its reception in Arabic philosophy. The main theme of the work is the motion of the heavenly bodies and their (...) influence on the physical world. (shrink)
We explore the prospects of a monist account of explanation for both non-causal explanations in science and pure mathematics. Our starting point is the counterfactual theory of explanation for explanations in science, as advocated in the recent literature on explanation. We argue that, despite the obvious differences between mathematical and scientific explanation, the CTE can be extended to cover both non-causal explanations in science and mathematical explanations. In particular, a successful application of the CTE to mathematical explanations requires us to (...) rely on counterpossibles. We conclude that the CTE is a promising candidate for a monist account of explanation in both science and mathematics. (shrink)
Is a government required or permitted to redistribute the gains and losses that differences in biological endowments generate? In particular, does the fact that individuals possess different biological endowments lead to unfair advantages within a market economy? These are questions on which some people are apt to have strong intuitions and ready arguments. Egalitarians may say yes and argue that as unearned, undeserved advantages and disadvantages, biological endowments are never fair, and that the market simply exacerbates these inequities. Libertarians may (...) say no, holding that the possession of such endowments deprives no one of an entitlement and that any system but a market would deprive agents of the rights to their endowments. Biological endowments may well lead to advantages or disadvantages on their view, but not to unfair ones. I do not have strong intuitions about answers to these questions, in part because I believe that they are questions of great difficulty. To begin, alternative answers rest on substantial assumptions in moral philosophy that seem insufficiently grounded. Moreover, the questions involve several problematical assumptions about the nature of biological endowments. Finally, I find the questions to be academic, in the pejorative sense of this term. For aside from a number of highly debilitating endowments, the overall moral significance of differences between people seems so small, so I interdependent and so hard to measure, that these differences really will 1 not enter into practical redistributive calculations, even if it is theoretically i permissible that they do so. Before turning to a detailed discussion of biological endowments and their moral significance, I sketch my doubts about the fundamental moral theories that dictate either the impermissibility or the obligation to compensate for different biological endowments. (shrink)
In the Museum of Science and Technology in San Jose, California, there is a display dedicated to advances in biotechnology. Most prominent in the display is a double helix of telephone books stacked in two staggered spirals from the floor to the ceiling twenty-five feet above. The books are said to represent the current state of our knowledge of the eukaryotic genome: the primary sequences of DNA polynucleotides for the gene products which have been discovered so far in the twenty (...) years since cloning and sequencing the genome became possible. (shrink)
This book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control---relegating millions to a permanent second-class status---even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.
Die Untersuchung analysiert deswegen nach einem einleitenden Vorschlag zur Bestimmung des Verhältnisses von Logik und Metaphysik im Anschluss an Leibniz Baumgartens Erkenntnistheorie in ihrer charakteristischen Komplementarität von Ästhetik und Logik, die das gesamte Feld aller möglichen Gewissheit, d. h. des Bewusstseins der Wahrheit der verschiedensten Erkenntnisse, abdecken. Darüber hinaus erörtert sie auch deren mögliche Gegenstände, nämlich die Beschaffenheit der Dinge, wie sie das Wissen Gottes als eine ideale Metaphysik enthielte. Auf der Grundlage einer Ontologie teilweise unbestimmer aktualer Existenz kommt Baumgarten (...) zu einer kosmologischen Theorie monadischer Bewegtheit aller körperlichen Dinge. Sie führt zu einer Psychologie des Erkennens und Handelns, aus der ein indeterministischer Begriff menschlicher Willensfreiheit folgt, die auch von Gottes Allwissen nicht beschränkt wird. (shrink)
“Ex nihilo nihil fit,” goes the classic adage: nothing comes from nothing. Parmenides used the Principle of Sufficient Reason to argue that there was no such thing as change: If there was change, why did it happen when it happened rather than earlier or later? “Nothing happens in vain, but everything for a reason and under necessitation,” claimed Leucippus. Saint Thomas insisted in the.
A recombinationist like the earlier Armstrong (1989) claims that logically possible worlds are recombinations of items found in the actual world, with some items reduplicated if need be and others deleted. An immediate consequence of this is that if an..
It is widely accepted that divine creation of human beings is compatible with evolutionary theory, except perhaps in regard of the human soul, and that neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory provides an explanation of speciation and of complex features of organisms that undercuts Paley-style teleological arguments, whether or not the evolutionary mechanisms are truly random or deterministic. I will argue that a plausible understanding of the doctrine of creation of human beings is either logically or rationally incompatible with full evolutionary theory, even (...) if one does not take souls into account. Consequently, a theist needs to move to a weaker version either of the creation doctrine or of evolutionary theory, or both. (shrink)
Always connect—that is the imperative of today’s media. But what about those moments when media cease to function properly, when messages go beyond the sender and receiver to become excluded from the world of communication itself—those messages that state: “There will be no more messages”? In this book, Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker, and McKenzie Wark turn our usual understanding of media and mediation on its head by arguing that these moments reveal the ways the impossibility of communication is (...) integral to communication itself—instances they call excommunication. In three linked essays, _Excommunication_ pursues this elusive topic by looking at mediation in the face of banishment, exclusion, and heresy, and by contemplating the possibilities of communication with the great beyond. First, Galloway proposes an original theory of mediation based on classical literature and philosophy, using Hermes, Iris, and the Furies to map out three of the most prevalent modes of mediation today—mediation as exchange, as illumination, and as network. Then, Thacker goes boldly beyond Galloway’s classification scheme by examining the concept of excommunication through the secret link between the modern horror genre and medieval mysticism. Charting a trajectory of examples from H. P. Lovecraft to Meister Eckhart, Thacker explores those instances when one communicates or connects with the inaccessible, dubbing such modes of mediation “haunted” or “weird” to underscore their inaccessibility. Finally, Wark evokes the poetics of the infuriated swarm as a queer politics of heresy that deviates from both media theory and the traditional left. He posits a critical theory that celebrates heresy and that is distinct from those that now venerate Saint Paul. Reexamining commonplace definitions of media, mediation, and communication, _Excommunication_ offers a glimpse into the realm of the nonhuman to find a theory of mediation adequate to our present condition. (shrink)
Weintraub is not really interested in whether economics is “science” or not. “Economists are not so unsophisticated as to think that calling economics a ‘science’ says anything about what economists do or should do”. But can it really be a matter of indifference to him whether the subject has the character of chemistry as opposed to literary criticism?