Matthew D. Eddy and David Knight’s new edition of William Paley’s Natural Theology deserves to become the standard scholarly edition of what is a historically, theologically, and philosophically important work, despite a certain neglect of philosophical issues on the part of the editors.
In this paper we discuss studies that show that most people do not find determinism to be incompatible with free will and moral responsibility if determinism is described in a way that does not suggest mechanistic reductionism. However, if determinism is described in a way that suggests reductionism, that leads people to interpret it as threatening to free will and responsibility. We discuss the implications of these results for the philosophical debates about free will, moral responsibility, and determinism.
Mineralogy, chemistry, botany, medicine, geology, agriculture, meteorology, classification,…: The life and times of John Walker, Professor of Natural History at Edinburgh University Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9471-7 Authors David Oldroyd, School of History and Philosophy, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2052 Australia Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
While much has been written on the cultural and intellectual antecedents that gave rise to Carolus Linnaeus?s herbarium and his Systema Naturae, the tools that he used to transform his raw observations into nomenclatural terms and categories have been neglected. Focusing on the Philosophia Botanica, the popular classification handbook that he published in 1751, it can be shown that Linnaeus cleverly ordered and reordered the work by employing commonplacing techniques that had been part of print culture since the Renaissance. Indeed, (...) the functional adaptability of commonplace heads allowed him to split and combine the book?s chapters and tables and played a notable conceptual role in the way in which he spatialized words and, to a certain extent, specimens. (shrink)
In 1792 Dugald Stewart published Elements of the philosophy of the human mind. In its section on abstraction he declared himself to be a nominalist. Although a few scholars have made brief reference to this position, no sustained attention has been given to the central role that it played within Stewart’s early philosophy of mind. It is therefore the purpose of this essay to unpack Stewart’s nominalism and the intellectual context that fostered it. In the first three sections I aver (...) that his nominalism emanated from his belief that objects of the mind—qualities, ideas and words—were signs that bore no necessary relation to the external objects that they were meant to represent. More specifically, it was these signs that were arranged into systems of thought by the ‘operations of the mind’. The next three sections suggest that his treatment of words as signs most probably originated in his views on language and medicine and that his nominalistic philosophy of mind could also be extended to systems that sought to classify the natural world. I conclude by suggesting several avenues of enquiry that could be pursued by future scholars interested in excavating Stewart’s thought. (shrink)
In the nineteenth century, natural theology was ‘natural’ because the evidence was taken from direct observation of the natural world, or from observations made in the increasingly specialised settings of science. It was ‘theological’ because such evidence was interpreted in light of the attributes of God laid out in the Bible and in Christian doctrine. However, the extent to which the evidence of revelation was augmented or superseded by the facts provided by reason varied between authors. This chapter discusses how (...) different authors structured their design arguments, and shows that design arguments were increasingly recalibrated to incorporate new scientific evidence. But the basic premise of a theistically designed world also remained widely accepted by scientists and the reading public alike at the dawn of the twentieth century. (shrink)
This essay addresses mineral water as a medical, experimental and economic material. It focuses on the career of the Reverend Dr William Laing , a physician and cleric who wrote two pamphlets about the water of provincial spa located in Peterhead, a town on the north-east coast of Scotland. I begin by outlining his education and I then reconstruct the medical theory that guided his efforts to identify tonics in the well’s water. Next, I explain why Laing and several other (...) local inhabitants thought themselves to be authorities on the palliative power of the water and I close by showing how such effects were commodified by local entrepreneurs. Although I concentrate primarily upon Peterhead Spa, this study touches upon several issues relevant to the types of medical theory and chemical experimentation that were being used in provincial Scotland during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. (shrink)
In the 18th century, the concept of ‘affinity’, ‘principle’ and ‘element’ dominated chemical discourse, both inside and outside the laboratory. Although much work has been done on these terms and the methodological commitments which guided their usage, most studies over the past two centuries have concentrated on their application as relevant to Lavoisier's oxygen theory and the new nomenclature. Kim's affinity challenges this historiographical trajectory by looking at several French chemists in the light of their private thoughts, public disputations and (...) communal networks. In doing so, she tells a complex story which points to the methodological and practical importance of industrial and medical chemistry. The following review highlights the advantages and snares of such an approach and makes a few historiographical points along the way. (shrink)
In The illusion of conscious will , Daniel Wegner offers an exciting, informative, and potentially threatening treatise on the psychology of action. I offer several interpretations of the thesis that conscious will is an illusion. The one Wegner seems to suggest is "modular epiphenomenalism": conscious experience of will is produced by a brain system distinct from the system that produces action; it interprets our behavior but does not, as it seems to us, cause it. I argue that the evidence Wegner (...) presents to support this theory, though fascinating, is inconclusive and, in any case, he has not shown that conscious will does not play a crucial causal role in planning, forming intentions, etc. This theory's potential blow to our self-conception turns out to be a glancing one. (shrink)
Let ℋ be a finite-dimensional complex Hilbert space and D the set of density matrices on ℋ, i.e., the positive operators with trace 1. Our goal in this note is to identify a probability measure u on D that can be regarded as the uniform distribution over D. We propose a measure on D, argue that it can be so regarded, discuss its properties, and compute the joint distribution of the eigenvalues of a random density matrix distributed according to this (...) measure. (shrink)
Multiple Authors - please see paper attached. -/- AI systems have seen dramatic advancement in recent years, bringing many applications that pervade our everyday life. However, we are still mostly seeing instances of narrow AI: many of these recent developments are typically focused on a very limited set of competencies and goals, e.g., image interpretation, natural language processing, classification, prediction, and many others. We argue that a better study of the mechanisms that allow humans to have these capabilities can help (...) us understand how to imbue AI systems with these competencies. We focus especially on D. Kahneman’s theory of thinking fast and slow , and we propose a multi-agent AI architecture (called SOFAI, for SlOw and Fast AI) where incoming problems are solved by either system 1 (or "fast") agents (also called "solvers"), that react by exploiting only past experience, or by system 2 (or "slow") agents, that are deliberately activated when there is the need to reason and search for optimal solutions beyond what is expected from the system 1 agent. (shrink)
La philosophie expérimentale est un mouvement récent qui tente de faire progresser certains débats philosophiques grâce à l'utilisation de méthodes expérimentales. À la différence de la philosophie conventionnelle qui privilégie l'analyse conceptuelle ou la spéculation, la philosophie expérimentale préconise le recours aux études empiriques pour mieux comprendre les concepts philosophiques. Apparue il y a une dizaine d'années dans les pays anglo-saxons, cette approche constitue actuellement l'une des branches les plus dynamiques de la philosophie contemporaine. -/- L'objectif de cet ouvrage est (...) d'offrir un contact direct avec les travaux les plus connus et les plus discutés des philosophes expérimentaux. Il regroupe ainsi dix textes représentatifs de ce domaine jeune, mais déjà florissant, et couvre une large partie du champ philosophique contemporain (philosophie du langage, théorie de la connaissance, conscience, théorie de l'action, éthique et philosophie des sciences). (shrink)
As philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism continue to gain traction, we are likely to see a fundamental shift in the way people think about free will and moral responsibility. Such shifts raise important practical and existential concerns: What if we came to disbelieve in free will? What would this mean for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and the law? What would it do to our standing as human beings? Would it cause nihilism and despair as some (...) maintain or would it rather have a humanizing effect on our practices and policies, freeing us from the negative effects of belief in free will? In this chapter we consider the practical implications of free will skepticism and argue that life without free will and basic desert moral responsibility would not be as destructive as many people believe. We argue that prospects of finding meaning in life or of sustaining good interpersonal relationships, for example, would not be threatened. On treatment of criminals, we argue that although retributivism and severe punishment, such as the death penalty, would be ruled out, preventive detention and rehabilitation programs would still be justified. While we will touch on all these issues below, our focus will be primarily on this last issue. -/- We begin in section I by considering two different routes to free will skepticism. The first denies the causal efficacy of the types of willing required for free will and receives its contemporary impetus from pioneering work in neuroscience by Benjamin Libet, Daniel Wegner, and John-Dylan Haynes. The second, which is more common in the philosophical literature, does not deny the causal efficacy of the will but instead claims that whether this causal efficacy is deterministic or indeterministic, it does not achieve the level of control to count as free will by the standards of the historical debate. We argue that while there are compelling objections to the first route—e.g., Al Mele (2009), Eddy Nahmias (2002, 2011), and Neil Levy (2005)—the second route to free will skepticism remains intact. In section II we argue that free will skepticism allows for a workable morality, and, rather than negatively impacting our personal relationships and meaning in life, may well improve our well-being and our relationships to others since it would tend to eradicate an often destructive form of moral anger. In section III we argue that free will skepticism allows for adequate ways of responding to criminal behavior—in particular, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and alternation of relevant social conditions—and that these methods are both morally justified and sufficient for good social policy. We present and defend our own preferred model for dealing with dangerous criminals, an incapacitation account built on the right to self-protection analogous to the justification for quarantine (see Pereboom 2001, 2013, 2014a; Caruso 2016a), and we respond to recent objections to it by Michael Corrado and John Lemos. (shrink)
Is it possible for the Modern State to function without violence? How is violence ingrained in national identities, and how do the borders that supposedly “protect” nations actually foster unconscious biases, the anger and hatred of “others,” and the racism and ethnocentrism of shootings, mass murders, and other atrocities? Eddy M. Souffrant and the contributing authors of A Future without Borders? provide insights into how to answer these and other questions.
“The Subliminal K i d moved in and took over bars cafes and jukeboxes of the world cities and installed radio transmitters and microphones in each bar so that the music and talk of any bar could be heard in all his bars and he had tape recorders in each bar that played and recorded at arbitrary intervals and his agents moved back and forth with portable tape recorders and brought back street sound and talk and music and poured it (...) into his recorder array so he set waves and eddies and tornadoes of sound down all your streets and by the river of all language‐Word dust drifted streets of broken music car horn and air hammers—The Word broken pounded twisted exploded in smoke—.Nothing is true—Everything is permitted—1—William Burroughs, Nova Express. (shrink)
How should pragmatists respond to and contribute to the resolution of one of America’s greatest and most enduring problems? Given that the most important thinkers of the pragmatist movement—Charles S. Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and George Herbert Mead—said little about the problem of race, how does their distinctly American way of thinking confront the hardship and brutality that characterizes the experience of many African Americans in this country? In 12 thoughtful and provocative essays, contemporary American pragmatists connect ideas with (...) action and theory with practice to come to terms with this seemingly intractable problem. Exploring themes such as racism and social change, the value of the concept of race, the role of education in ameliorating racism, and the place of democracy in dealing with the tragedy of race, the voices gathered in this volume consider how pragmatism can focus new attention on the problem of race. Contributors are Michael Eldridge, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Judith M. Green, D. Micah Hester, Donald F. Koch, Bill E. Lawson, David E. McClean, Gregory F. Pappas, Scott L. Pratt, Alfred E. Prettyman, John R. Shook, Paul C. Taylor, and Cornel West. (shrink)
This study focuses upon the heart of John Hick's pluralistic philosophy of religion – his neo-Kantian response to the problem of conflicting inter-religious conceptions of the divine. Hick attempts to root his proposal in two streams of tradition: the inter-religious awareness of the distinction between the divine in itself vs. the divine as humanly experienced, and a Kantian epistemology. In fact, these attempts are problematic in that his hypothesis introduces a radical subjectivizing element at both junctures. In the end, I (...) contend that Hick's neo-Kantian proposal undermines his decades-long effort to defend some form of religious realism. (shrink)
In this paper, I introduce an intrinsic account of the quantum state. This account contains three desirable features that the standard platonistic account lacks: (1) it does not refer to any abstract mathematical objects such as complex numbers, (2) it is independent of the usual arbitrary conventions in the wave function representation, and (3) it explains why the quantum state has its amplitude and phase degrees of freedom. -/- Consequently, this account extends Hartry Field’s program outlined in Science Without Numbers (...) (1980), responds to David Malament’s long-standing impossibility conjecture (1982), and establishes an important first step towards a genuinely intrinsic and nominalistic account of quantum mechanics. I will also compare the present account to Mark Balaguer’s (1996) nominalization of quantum mechanics and discuss how it might bear on the debate about “wave function realism.” In closing, I will suggest some possible ways to extend this account to accommodate spinorial degrees of freedom and a variable number of particles (e.g. for particle creation and annihilation). -/- Along the way, I axiomatize the quantum phase structure as what I shall call a “periodic difference structure” and prove a representation theorem as well as a uniqueness theorem. These formal results could prove fruitful for further investigation into the metaphysics of phase and theoretical structure. -/- (For a more recent version of this paper, please see "The Intrinsic Structure of Quantum Mechanics" available on PhilPapers.). (shrink)
Although expected utility theory has proven a fruitful and elegant theory in the finite realm, attempts to generalize it to infinite values have resulted in many paradoxes. In this paper, we argue that the use of John Conway's surreal numbers shall provide a firm mathematical foundation for transfinite decision theory. To that end, we prove a surreal representation theorem and show that our surreal decision theory respects dominance reasoning even in the case of infinite values. We then bring our theory (...) to bear on one of the more venerable decision problems in the literature: Pascal's Wager. Analyzing the wager showcases our theory's virtues and advantages. To that end, we analyze two objections against the wager: Mixed Strategies and Many Gods. After formulating the two objections in the framework of surreal utilities and probabilities, our theory correctly predicts that (1) the pure Pascalian strategy beats all mixed strategies, and (2) what one should do in a Pascalian decision problem depends on what one's credence function is like. Our analysis therefore suggests that although Pascal's Wager is mathematically coherent, it does not deliver what it purports to, a rationally compelling argument that people should lead a religious life regardless of how confident they are in theism and its alternatives. (shrink)
A century after the discovery of quantum mechanics, the meaning of quantum mechanics still remains elusive. This is largely due to the puzzling nature of the wave function, the central object in quantum mechanics. If we are realists about quantum mechanics, how should we understand the wave function? What does it represent? What is its physical meaning? Answering these questions would improve our understanding of what it means to be a realist about quantum mechanics. In this survey article, I review (...) and compare several realist interpretations of the wave function. They fall into three categories: ontological interpretations, nomological interpretations, and the sui generis interpretation. For simplicity, I will focus on non-relativistic quantum mechanics. (shrink)