Evolutionary adaptation. An essay on the concept of adaptation, seen from an evolutionary point of view. The conclusion is that adaptation in this sense is the historical narrative of evolution. The mechanism of the process is selection, the scientific argumentation of the explanation is based on a phylogenetic analysis.
It has been a common assumption that words are substances that instantiate or have properties. In this paper, I question the assumption that our ontology of words requires posting substances by outlining a bundle theory of words, wherein words are bundles of various sorts of properties (such as semantic, phonetic, orthographic, and grammatical properties). I argue that this view can better account for certain phenomena than substance theories, is ontologically more parsimonious, and coheres with claims in linguistics.
What are words? What makes two token words tokens of the same word-type? Are words abstract entities, or are they (merely) collections of tokens? The ontology of words tries to provide answers to these, and related questions. This article provides an overview of some of the most prominent views proposed in the literature, with a particular focus on the debate between type-realist, nominalist, and eliminativist ontologies of words.
It has been widely argued that words are analogous to species such that words, like species, are natural kinds. In this paper, I consider the metaphysics of word-kinds. After arguing against an essentialist approach, I argue that word-kinds are homeostatic property clusters, in line with the dominant approach to other biological and psychological kinds.
The role of probability is one of the most contested issues in the interpretation of contemporary physics. In this paper, I’ll be reevaluating some widely held assumptions about where and how probabilities arise. Larry Sklar voices the conventional wisdom about probability in classical physics in a piece in the Stanford Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy, when he writes that “Statistical mechanics was the first foundational physical theory in which probabilistic concepts and probabilistic explanation played a fundamental role.” And the conventional wisdom (...) about quantum probabilities is that they are basic, not reducible to the types of probabilities we see in statistical mechanics. In the first section of this paper, I’ll argue that in fact classical physics was steeped in probability long before statistical mechanics came on the scene, specifically, that an objective measure over phase space is an indispensable component of any informative physical theory. In the next section, I’ll argue that this objective measure is the fundamental form of physical probability and that quantum probabilities can be defined in terms of it. In the last, I’ll raise some questions about the metaphysical status of the fundamental measure. (shrink)
ABSTRACT The idea that two words can be instances of the same word is a central intuition in our conception of language. This fact underlies many of the claims that we make about how we communicate, and how we understand each other. Given this, irrespective of what we think words are, it is common to think that any putative ontology of words, must be able to explain this feature of language. That is, we need to provide criteria of identity for (...) word-types which allow us to individuate words such that it can be the case that two particular word-instances are instances of the same word-type. One solution, recently further developed by Irmak, holds that words are individuated by their history. In this paper, I argue that this view either fails to account for our intuitions about word identity, or is too vague to be a plausible answer to the problem of word individuation. (shrink)
Like any other group of philosophers, scholastic thinkers from the Middle Ages disagreed about even the most fundamental of concepts. With their characteristic style of rigorous semantic and logical analysis, they produced a wide variety of diverse theories about a huge number of topics. The Routledge Companion to Medieval Philosophy offers readers an outstanding survey of many of these diverse theories, on a wide array of subjects. Its 35 chapters, all written exclusively for this Companion by leading international scholars, are (...) organized into seven parts: I Language and Logic II Metaphysics III Cosmology and Physics IV Psychology V Cognition VI Ethics and Moral Philosophy VII Political Philosophy In addition to shedding new light on the most well-known philosophical debates and problems of the medieval era, the Companion brings to the fore topics that may not traditionally be associated with scholastic philosophy, but were in fact a veritable part of the tradition. These include chapters covering scholastic theories about propositions, atomism, consciousness, and democracy and representation. The Routledge Companion to Medieval Philosophy is a helpful, comprehensive introduction to the field for undergraduate students and other newcomers as well as a unique and valuable resource for researchers in all areas of philosophy. (shrink)
In a paper recently published in this Review, I tried to show that part of the formal beauty of the Hercules Furens is due to a subtle treatment of the familiar doctrine that the tyrant's wealth and power are of trifling value compared with Sophrosune, the gain that is really gain. Perhaps some further notes on the dramatic use made by Euripides of these familiar ideas may be of interest. One object with which I started was to observe the use (...) of the word τúραννος in Greek drama. Though the poets frequently enough use it merely as a convenient equivalent for βασιλεúσetc., popular feeling made it easy to suggest the meaning ‘tyrant,’ ‘bad King,’ or ‘Usurper’; and the poets use the ambiguity with great subtlety and in a manner which enables them to obtain fine effects of irony and scorn. What is more important is the fact that the notion of a tyrant with which we are acquainted in later Greek literature was already common-place in the fifth century, and that many dramatic effects depend on the recognition by the audience of the commonplace as such. Indeed, it is often the adaptation by the poet of the familiar ideas that lends formal beauty to compositions which, if we think simply of the plot, appear at first sight jerky or ‘epeisodic.’. (shrink)
This paper addresses several questions related to the nature, production, and use of animal-human (a-h) chimeras. At the heart of the issue is whether certain types of a-h chimeras should be brought into existence, and, if they are, how we should treat such creatures. In our current research environment, we recognize a dichotomy between research involving nonhuman animal subjects and research involving human subjects, and the classification of a research protocol into one of these categories will trigger different ethical standards (...) as to the moral permissibility of the research in question. Are a-h chimeras entitled to the more restrictive and protective ethical standards applied to human research subjects? We elucidate an Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical framework in which to argue how such chimeras ought to be defined ontologically. We then examine when the creation of, and experimentation upon, certain types of a-h chimeras may be morally permissible. (shrink)
The natural name theory, recently discussed by Johnson (2018), is proposed as an explanation of pure quotation where the quoted term(s) refers to a linguistic object such as in the sentence ‘In the above, ‘bank’ is ambiguous’. After outlining the theory, I raise a problem for the natural name theory. I argue that positing a resemblance relation between the name and the linguistic object it names does not allow us to rule out cases where the natural name fails to resemble (...) the linguistic object it names. I argue that to avoid this problem, we can combine the natural name theory with a type-realist metaphysics of language, and hold that the name is natural because the name is an instance of the kind that it names. I conclude by reflecting on the importance of the metaphysics of language for questions in the philosophy of language. (shrink)
In Animal Rites, Cary Wolfe examines contemporary notions of humanism and ethics by reconstructing a little known but crucial underground tradition of theorizing the animal from Wittgenstein, Cavell, and Lyotard to Lévinas, Derrida, ...
Minimally, metaphysical realists hold that there exist some mind-independent entities. Metaphysical realists also hold that we can speak meaningfully or truthfully about mind-independent entities. Those who reject metaphysical realism deny one or more of these commitments. This Element aims to introduce the reader to the core commitments of metaphysical realism and to illustrate how these commitments have changed over time by surveying some of the main families of views that realism has been contrasted with: such as scepticism, idealism, and anti-realism.
What precisely, W. J. T. Mitchell asks, are pictures (and theories of pictures) doing now, in the late twentieth century, when the power of the visual is said to be greater than ever before, and the "pictorial turn" supplants the "linguistic turn" in the study of culture? This book by one of America's leading theorists of visual representation offers a rich account of the interplay between the visible and the readable across culture, from literature to visual art to the mass (...) media. (shrink)
Primitives are both important and unavoidable, and which set of primitives we endorse will greatly shape our theories and how those theories provide solutions to the problems that we take to be important. After introducing the notion of a primitive posit, I discuss the different kinds of primitives that we might posit. Following Cowling (2013), I distinguish between ontological and ideological primitives, and, following Benovsky (2013) between functional and content views of primitives. I then propose that these two distinctions cut (...) across each other leading to four types of primitive posits. I then argue that theoretical virtues should be taken to be meta-theoretical ideological primitives. I close with some reflections on the global nature of comparing sets of primitives. (shrink)
An ancient doctor who advocated the therapeutic benefits of wine and passive exercise was bound to be successful. However, Asclepiades of Bithynia did far more than reform much of traditional Hippocratic therapeutic practice; he devised an extraordinary physical theory which he used to explain all biological phenomena in uniformly simple terms. His work laid the theoretical basis for the anti-theoretical medical sect called Methodism. For his trouble he was despised by his intellectual progeny and, more importantly perhaps, by Galen. None (...) of his work survives intact, but copious ancient testimonia relating to him allow us to reconstruct many details of the theory. His ideas offer us a fascinating glimpse of how Hellenistic philosophy and medicine interacted, and provide an introduction to one of the most intriguing doctrinal disputes in Greek science. (shrink)
The intuitive difference between a system that choreographs the motion of its parts in the service of goals of its own formulation and a system composed of a collection of parts doing their own thing without coordination has been shaken by now familiar examples of self-organization. There is a broad and growing presumption in parts of philosophy and across the sciences that the appearance of centralized information-processing and control in the service of system-wide goals is mere appearance, i.e., an explanatory (...) heuristic we have evolved to predict behavior, but one that will eventually get swept away in the advancing tide of self-organization. I argue that there is a distinction of central importance here, and that no adequate science of complex systems can dispense with it. (shrink)
Let be a class of models with a notion of ‘strong’ submodel and of canonically prime model over an increasing chain. We show under appropriate set-theoretic hypotheses that if K is not smooth , then K has many models in certain cardinalities. On the other hand, if K is smooth, we show that in reasonable cardinalities K has a unique homogeneous-universal model. In this situation we introduce the notion of type and prove the equivalence of saturated with homogeneous-universal.
This paper addresses the ontological status of the ontological categories as defended within E.J. Lowe’s four-category ontology (kinds, objects, properties/relations, and modes). I consider the arguments in Griffith (2015. “Do Ontological Categories Exist?” Metaphysica 16 (1):25–35) against Lowe’s claim that ontological categories do not exist, and argue that Griffith’s objections to Lowe do not work once we fully take advantage of ontological resources available within Lowe’s four-category ontology. I then argue that the claim that ontological categories do not exist has (...) no undesirable consequences for Lowe’s brand of realism. (shrink)
The objectively best language is intended to refer to some metaphysically privileged language that ‘carves reality at its joints’ perfectly. That is, it is the kind of language that various ‘metaphysical deflationists’ have argued is impossible. One common line of argument amongst deflationists is that we have no means to compare languages that all express true facts about the world in such a way to decide which is ‘better’. For example, the language is physics is not objectively better than the (...) language of economics, as each language has the semantic purpose of expressing some domain of truths about the world inexpressible in the other language, and therefore neither could be ‘objectively best’. In this paper, I argue that metaphysical deflationists have failed to recognise a distinction between fine- and coarse-grained semantic purposes of languages, and that a recognition of that distinction provides us grounds to compare languages to see which is objectively best. I argue that once we recognise the distinction between fine- and coarse-grained semantic purposes, then we can see that it is relative to the coarse-grained purpose that we must compare putative objectively best ontological languages. (shrink)