Here we discuss the challenge posed by self-organization to the Darwinian conception of evolution. As we point out, natural selection can only be the major creative agency in evolution if all or most of the adaptive complexity manifest in living organisms is built up over many generations by the cumulative selection of naturally occurring small, random mutations or variants, i.e., additive, incremental steps over an extended period of time. Biological self-organization—witnessed classically in the folding of a protein, or in the (...) formation of the cell membrane—is a fundamentally different means of generating complexity. We agree that self-organizing systems may be fine-tuned by selection and that self-organization may be therefore considered a complementary mechanism to natural selection as a causal agency in the evolution of life. But we argue that if self-organization proves to be a common mechanism for the generation of adaptive order from the molecular to the organismic level, then this will greatly undermine the Darwinian claim that natural selection is the major creative agency in evolution. We also point out that although complex self-organizing systems are easy to create in the electronic realm of cellular automata, to date translating in silico simulations into real material structures that self-organize into complex forms from local interactions between their constituents has not proved easy. This suggests that self-organizing systems analogous to those utilized by biological systems are at least rare and may indeed represent, as pre-Darwinists believed, a unique ascending hierarchy of natural forms. Such a unique adaptive hierarchy would pose another major challenge to the current Darwinian view of evolution, as it would mean the basic forms of life are necessary features of the order of nature and that the major pathways of evolution are determined by physical law, or more specifically by the self-organizing properties of biomatter, rather than natural selection. (shrink)
In the paper I offer a brief sketch of one of the sources of utilitarianism. Our biological ancestry is a matter of fact that is not altered by the way we describe ourselves. With philosophical theories it is otherwise. Utilitarianism can be described in ways that make it look as if it is as old as moral philosophy – as J. S. Mill thought it was. For my historical purposes, it is more useful to have an account that brings out (...) what is specific about Benthamism and its descendants. Let us try to make do with the following. First, utilitarianism asserts that the fundamental requirement of morality is that we are to maximize good, for everyone and not just for the agent. This basic principle presupposes that it makes sense to think of aggregating goods to make a total, and of comparing amounts of good thus aggregated. Second, the good to be brought about is located in feelings of pleasure, and the evil to be avoided in feelings of pain. These feelings have inherent value or disvalue regardless of how they are caused to exist and regardless of their own consequences. Third, all moral principles can be derived from the requirement that good be maximized. The principles involved in evaluating agents as well as in giving moral direction to action are nothing but applications of the basic principle. (shrink)
The ‘modern’ natural law philosophers of the seventeenth century believed that conflict was an unavoidable concomitant of human intercourse, rooted in our nature. They understood the normative laws of nature as serving the purpose of setting the limits within which conflict is compatible with lasting social cooperation, thus showing, in effect, how warfare can be turned into competition. The natural lawyers were interested primarily in legal and political problems, not in ethics. But in order to provide reasoned approaches to immediate (...) practical issues, they had to move to a level of abstract theorizing at which philosophical claims about morality were unavoidable. Natural law theory with its understanding of the central underlying problem of human sociability dominated seventeenth-century practical philosophy, and the solutions its various proponents offered generated many of the central concerns of what we know as moral philosophy. (shrink)
What is the function of moral principles within the body of moral knowledge? And what must be the nature of moral principles in order for them to carry out this function? A specific set of answers to these questions is widely accepted among moral philosophers – so widely accepted as almost to constitute a sort of orthodoxy. The answers embody a view of the place of principles within the body of morality which crosses the lines between cognitivism and non-cognitivism. Though (...) I have put the question in cognitivist terms and shall discuss it in those terms, I think a similar question and a more or less parallel discussion could be given in non-cognitivist terms. Perhaps the time-honoured debate between the two positions can be suspended, at least temporarily, while we examine, not the nature of morality, but its structure. (shrink)
J. B. Schneewind's "The Invention of Autonomy" has been hailed as a major interpretation of modern moral thought. Schneewind's narrative, however, elides several serious interpretive issues, particularly in the transition from late medieval to early modern thought. This results in potentially distorted accounts of Thomas Aquinas, Hugo Grotius, and G. W. Leibniz. Since these thinkers play a crucial role in Schneewind's argument, uncertainty over their work calls into question at least some of Schneewind's larger agenda for the history of ethics.
Reasoning under uncertainty, that is, making judgements with only partial knowledge, is a major theme in artificial intelligence. Professor Paris provides here an introduction to the mathematical foundations of the subject. It is suited for readers with some knowledge of undergraduate mathematics but is otherwise self-contained, collecting together the key results on the subject, and formalising within a unified framework the main contemporary approaches and assumptions. The author has concentrated on giving clear mathematical formulations, analyses, justifications and consequences of the (...) main theories about uncertain reasoning, so the book can serve as a textbook for beginners or as a starting point for further basic research into the subject. It will be welcomed by graduate students and research workers in logic, philosophy, and computer science as a textbook for beginners, a starting point for further basic research into the subject, and not least, an account of how mathematics and artificial intelligence can complement and enrich each other. (shrink)
This article shows a clear sense in which general relativity allows for a type of ‘machine’ that can bring about a spacetime structure suitable for the implementation of ‘supertasks’. 1Introduction2Preliminaries3Malament–Hogarth Spacetimes4Machines5Malament–Hogarth Machines6Conclusion.
Starting from the early decades of the twentieth century, evolutionary biology began to acquire mathematical overtones. This took place via the development of a set of models in which the Darwinian picture of evolution was shown to be consistent with the laws of heredity discovered by Mendel. The models, which came to be elaborated over the years, define a field of study known as population genetics. Population genetics is generally looked upon as an essential component of modern evolutionary theory. This (...) article deals with a famous dispute between J. B. S. Haldane, one of the founders of population genetics, and Ernst Mayr, a major contributor to the way we understand evolution. The philosophical undercurrents of the dispute remain relevant today. Mayr and Haldane agreed that genetics provided a broad explanatory framework for explaining how evolution took place but differed over the relevance of the mathematical models that sought to underpin that framework. The dispute began with a fundamental issue raised by Mayr in 1959: in terms of understanding evolution, did population genetics contribute anything beyond the obvious? Haldane's response came just before his death in 1964. It contained a spirited defense, not just of population genetics, but also of the motivations that lie behind mathematical modelling in biology. While the difference of opinion persisted and was not glossed over, the two continued to maintain cordial personal relations. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Chrysippus is a reconstruction of the philosophy of an eminent Stoic philosopher, based upon the fragmentary remains of his voluminous writings. Chrysippus of Cilicia, who lived in a period that covers roughly the last three-quarters of the third century B.C., studied philosophy in Athens and upon Cleanthes’ death became the third head of the Stoa, one of the four great schools of philosophy of the Hellenistic period. Chrysippus wrote a number of treatises in each of the major (...) departments of philosophy, logic, physics, and ethics. Much of his fame derived from his acuteness as a logician, but his importance for Stoic philosophy generally was acknowledged in antiquity in the saying, “Had there been no Chrysippus, there would be no Stoa.” Previous accounts of Chrysippus’ philosophy, including Émile Bréhier’s study, the only work in this century which had sought to deal with Chrysippus’ philosophy alone, blurred the distinctive contributions of Chrysippus to Stoic philosophy and failed to bring to light the peculiar features in his thought. The vagueness in these accounts resulted in large measure from the assumption that if an ancient author ascribed a doctrine to “the Stoics” or “Stoicism”, one could infer that the doctrine belonged to Chrysippus. Professor Gould works from the more circumspect methodological principle that unless an ancient author explicitly ascribes a doctrine to Chrysippus, his testimony cannot be used in reconstructing Chrysippus’ philosophy. Working with those of the fragments in Hans von Arnim’s collection, Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, which are explicitly Chrysippean in the sense suggested, Mr. Gould has worked out an account of Chrysippus’ views in the fields of logic, natural philosophy, and ethics. In order that Chrysippus’ thought might be viewed in context Mr. Gould provides a background picture by describing the third century milieu in which the Stoic philosopher worked. This follows an account of Chrysippus’ life and reputation in antiquity and a description of modern assessments of Chrysippus’ position in the Stoa. In his account of Chrysippus’ philosophy Mr. Gould frequently introduces comparisons and contrasts with Plato and Aristotle to help emphasize the continuity between Hellenic and early Hellenistic philosophy. Finally, in a concluding chapter, the author shows that the dominant themes in Chrysippus’ philosophy, while not exhibiting a thoroughly well-knit system, nevertheless are woven together into a remarkably comprehensive whole, which must have been extraordinarily impressive in antiquity. (shrink)
Pure Inductive Logic is the study of rational probability treated as a branch of mathematical logic. This monograph, the first devoted to this approach, brings together the key results from the past seventy years, plus the main contributions of the authors and their collaborators over the last decade, to present a comprehensive account of the discipline within a single unified context.
This paper seeks to reinterpret the life and work of J. B. S. Haldane by focusing on an illuminating but largely ignored essay he published in 1927, "The Last Judgment" -- the sequel to his better known work, "Daedalus" (1924). This astonishing essay expresses a vision of the human future over the next 40,000,000 years, one that revises and updates Wellsian futurism with the long range implications of the "new biology" for human destiny. That vision served as a kind of (...) lifelong credo, one that infused and informed his diverse scientific work, political activities, and popular writing, and that gave unity and coherence to his remarkable career. (shrink)
Philosophy and the scientific revolution / Daniel Garber -- Old history and introductory teaching in early modern philosophy : a response to Daniel Garber / Lisa Downing -- Meaning and metaphysics / Susan Neiman -- Evil and wonder in early modern philosophy : a response to Susan Neiman / Mark Larrimore -- The forgetting of gender / Nancy Tuana -- The forgetting of gender and the new histories of philosophy : a response to Nancy Tuana / Eileen O’Neill -- The (...) idea of early modern philosophy / Knud Haakonssen -- Response to Knud Haakonssen / Jeffrey Edwards -- Arguments over obligation : teaching time and place in moral philosophy / Ian Hunter -- Response to Ian Hunter / T.J. Hochstrasser -- Teaching the history of moral philosophy / J.B. Schneewind -- Historicism, moral judgment, and the good life : a response to J.B. Schneewind / Jennifer A. Herdt -- Integrating history of philosophy with history of science after Kant / Michael Friedman -- Response to Michael Friedman / Juliet Floyd -- Thought versus history : reflections on a French problem / Denis Kambouchner -- Response to Denis Kambouchner / Bé́atrice Longuenesse -- Teaching the history of philosophy in 19th-century Germany / Ulrich Johannes Schneider -- Response to Ulrich Johannes Schneider / Karl Ameriks -- Comment : philosophy in practice / Lorraine Daston -- A note from inside the teapot / Anthony Grafton -- Philosophy, history of philosophy, and L’histoire de l’esprit humain : a historiographical question and problem for philosophers / Jonathan Israel -- History and/or philosophy / Donald R. Kelly -- Historians look at the new histories of philosophy : roundtable discussion. (shrink)