Since 1986 Darwin College, Cambridge has organised a series of annual public lectures built around a single theme approached in a multi-disciplinary way. These essays were developed from the 2008 lectures, which explored the idea of serendipity – the relationship between good fortune and the preparation of the mind to spot and exploit it. Serendipity is an appealing concept, and one which has been surprisingly influential in a great number of areas of human discovery. The essays collected in this volume (...) provide insightful and entertaining accounts of the relationship between serendipity and knowledge, in the human and natural sciences. Written by some of the most eminent thinkers of this generation, Serendipity explores a variety of subjects, including disease, politics, scientific invention and the art of writing. This collection will fascinate and inspire a wide range of readers, highlighting the multifaceted nature of the popular, but elusive, concept of serendipity. -/- Contents: Introduction. Fortune and the prepared mind Iain Morley and Mark de Rond; 1. The stratigraphy of serendipity Susan E. Alcock; 2. Understanding humans - serendipity and anthropology Richard Leakey; 3. HIV and the naked ape Robin Weiss; 4. Cosmological serendipity Simon Singh; 5. Serendipity in astronomy Andrew C. Fabian; 6. Serendipity in physics Richard Friend; 7. Liberalism and uncertainty Oliver Letwin; 8. The unanticipated pleasures of the writing life Simon Winchester. (shrink)
The essays from prominent public intellectuals collected in this volume reflect an array of perspectives on the spectrum of conflict, competition, and cooperation, as well as a wealth of expertise on how games manifest in the world, how they operate, and how social animals behave inside them. They include previously unpublished material by former Cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi, the philosopher A. C. Grayling, legal scholar Nicola Padfield, cycling coach David Brailsford, former military intelligence officer Frank Ledwidge, neuro-psychologist Barbara J. Sahakian, (...) zoological ecologist Nicholas B. Davies, and the final work of the late Nobel laureate Thomas C. Schelling. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the history, nature, and dynamics of games. (shrink)
België kende in 1991 een bewogen politiek jaar. De houding van de regering in het Golfconflict veroorzaakte spanningen in de regering-Martens VIII, die nog werden aangescherpt door de rel rond de aanwezigheid in het land van Walid Khaled, de woordvoerder van de terreurgroep van Aboe Nidal, waarover het doek pas eind juni viel. Tijdens de zomer stelde de regering, naar jaarlijkse gewoonte, de begroting voor het volgende jaar op. Tevens werden afspraken gemaakt over de verdere hervorming van de staat. (...) Tot een parlementaire behandeling van de begroting en de staatshervorming is het evenwel niet gekomen. Een dispuut over de uitvoer van wapens naar het Golf gebied leidde in september tot een politieke crisis. De Volksunie verliet de regering, die kort daarop aan communautaire tegenstellingen ten onder ging. Bij de vervroegde verkiezingen van 24 november leden de aftredende regeringspartijen verlies. Pogingen om een nieuwe regering op de been te brengen, zaten eind december nog muurvast. (shrink)
In this paper we intend to discuss the importance of providing a physical representation of quantum superpositions which goes beyond the mere reference to mathematical structures and measurement outcomes. This proposal goes in the opposite direction to the project present in orthodox contemporary philosophy of physics which attempts to “bridge the gap” between the quantum formalism and common sense “classical reality”—precluding, right from the start, the possibility of interpreting quantum superpositions through non-classical notions. We will argue that in order to (...) restate the problem of interpretation of quantum mechanics in truly ontological terms we require a radical revision of the problems and definitions addressed within the orthodox literature. On the one hand, we will discuss the need of providing a formal redefinition of superpositions which captures explicitly their contextual character. On the other hand, we will attempt to replace the focus on the measurement problem, which concentrates on the justification of measurement outcomes from “weird” superposed states, and introduce the superposition problem which focuses instead on the conceptual representation of superpositions themselves. In this respect, after presenting three necessary conditions for objective physical representation, we will provide arguments which show why the classical representation of physics faces severe difficulties to solve the superposition problem. Finally, we will also argue that, if we are willing to abandon the presupposition according to which ‘Actuality = Reality’, then there is plenty of room to construct a conceptual representation for quantum superpositions. (shrink)
In this paper we attempt to analyze the concept of quantum probability within quantum computation and quantum computational logic. While the subjectivist interpretation of quantum probability explains it as a reliable predictive tool for an agent in order to compute measurement outcomes, the objectivist interpretation understands quantum probability as providing reliable information of a real state of affairs. After discussing these different viewpoints we propose a particular objectivist interpretation grounded on the idea that the Born rule provides information about an (...) intensive realm of reality. We then turn our attention to the way in which the subjectivist interpretation of probability is presently applied within both quantum computation and quantum computational logic. Taking as a standpoint our proposed intensive account of quantum probability we discuss the possibilities and advantages it might open for the modeling and development of both quantum computation and quantum computational logic. (shrink)
In this paper, we propose a Simondonian interpretation of quantum mechanics taking as a standpoint his “preindividual hypothesis” in order to consider the problem of contextuality. We will examine whether the epistemological obstacle produced by the notion of entity can be bypassed by specifying, according to Simondon and the Kochen-Specker Theorem, the mode of existence of quantum potentialities.
Quantum Logic in Historical and Philosophical Perspective Quantum Logic was developed as an attempt to construct a propositional structure that would allow for describing the events of interest in Quantum Mechanics. QL replaced the Boolean structure, which, although suitable for the discourse of classical physics, was inadequate for representing the atomic realm. The … Continue reading Quantum Logic →.
Explores the place of intellectual virtues and vices in a social world. Chapters are divided into four sections: Foundational Issues; Individual Virtues; Collective Virtues; and Methods and Measurements.
In this paper we enrich the orthomodular structure by adding a modal operator, following a physical motivation. A logical system is developed, obtaining algebraic completeness and completeness with respect to a Kripkestyle semantic founded on Baer*-semigroups as in .
In this work we attempt to analyze the intra-theoretic characterization provided by Hilary Putnam and Werner Heisenberg between quantum mechanics and other theories. The first defended the idea that physical theories include macro principles that under specific definite historical conditions can be revised on the light of rival principles. Putnam will concentrate in the impact that quantum mechanics has produced in the classical image of knowledge. Heisenberg, on the other hand, develops his analysis from the notion of closed theories, assuming (...) the independence and incommensurability of physical theories. These divergences between the two authors will allow us to analyze how the disagreement in the consideration of the status of physical theories, goes deeper into more profound aspects related to the nature of knowledge and the relation between theory and world. (shrink)
Papers produced for a conference of economists, economic methodologists and historians of economics, convened to reflect on the question of whether MSRP - the methodology of scientific research programmes - has proved useful in the light of 20 years' experience.
In the framework of the topos approach to quantum mechanics we give a representation of physical properties in terms of modal operators on Heyting algebras. It allows us to introduce a classical type study of the mentioned properties.
Physical superpositions exist both in classical and in quantum physics. However, what is exactly meant by ‘superposition’ in each case is extremely different. In this paper we discuss some of the multiple interpretations which exist in the literature regarding superpositions in quantum mechanics. We argue that all these interpretations have something in common: they all attempt to avoid ‘contradiction’. We argue in this paper, in favor of the importance of developing a new interpretation of superpositions which takes into account contradiction, (...) as a key element of the formal structure of the theory, “right from the start”. In order to show the feasibility of our interpretational project we present an outline of a paraconsistent approach to quantum superpositions which attempts to account for the contradictory properties present in general within quantum superpositions. This approach must not be understood as a closed formal and conceptual scheme but rather as a first step towards a different type of understanding regarding quantum superpositions. (shrink)
We discuss the hypothesis that the debate about the interpretation of the orthodox formalism of quantum mechanics might have been misguided right from the start by a biased metaphysical interpretation of the formalism and its inner mathematical relations. In particular, we focus on the orthodox interpretation of the congruence relation, '=', which relates equivalent classes of different mathematical representations of a vector in Hilbert space, in terms of metaphysical identity. We will argue that this seemingly "common sense" interpretation, at the (...) semantic level, has severe difficulties when considering the syntactic level of the theory. (shrink)
This paper presents two studies on the development and validation of a ten-item scale of epistemic vice and the relationship between epistemic vice and misinformation and fake news. Epistemic vices have been defined as character traits that interfere with acquiring, maintaining, and transmitting knowledge. Examples of epistemic vice are gullibility and indifference to knowledge. It has been hypothesized that epistemically vicious people are especially susceptible to misinformation and conspiracy theories. We conducted one exploratory and one confirmatory observational survey study on (...) Amazon Mechanical Turk among people living in the United States. We show that two psychological traits underlie the range of epistemic vices that we investigated: indifference to truth and rigidity. Indifference manifests itself in a lack of motivation to find the truth. Rigidity manifests itself in being insensitive to evidence. We develop a scale to measure epistemic vice with the subscales indifference and rigidity. The Epistemic Vice Scale is internally consistent; has good convergent, divergent, and discriminant validity; and is strongly associated with the endorsement of misinformation and conspiracy theories. Epistemic vice explains additional variance in the endorsement of misinformation and conspiracy theories over and above demographic and related psychological concepts and shows medium to large effect sizes across outcome measures. We demonstrate that epistemic vice differs from existing psychological constructs, and show that the scale can explain individual differences in dealing with misinformation and conspiracy theories. We conclude that epistemic vice might contribute to “postfactive” ways of thinking. (shrink)
On the one hand, non-reflexive logics are logics in which the principle of identity does not hold in general. On the other hand, quantum mechanics has difficulties regarding the interpretation of ‘particles’ and their identity, also known in the literature as ‘the problem of indistinguishable particles’. In this article, we will argue that non-reflexive logics can be a useful tool to account for such quantum indistinguishability. In particular, we will provide a particular non-reflexive logic that can help us to analyze (...) and discuss this problem. From a more general physical perspective, we will also analyze the limits imposed by the orthodox quantum formalism to consider the existence of indistinguishable particles in the first place, and argue that non-reflexive logics can also help us to think beyond the limits of classical identity. (shrink)
Starting with the claim that Quantum Mechanics is in need of a new interpretation that would allow us to understand the phenomena of this realm, I wish to analyse in this paper de Ronde's theory of power and potentia from a phenomenological perspective. De Ronde's claim is that the reason for the lack of success in the foundations of QM is due to the reluctance of both physicists and philosophers to explore the possibility of finding a new ontology, new concepts (...) for the physical theory. De Ronde proposes such new ontology and the question I wish to address here, is whether his ontology is conceptually plausible. I will, for this purpose, recur to Edmund Husserl's phenomenology. After presenting some of the basic concepts and methodological tools of this theory, I shall apply them to de Ronde's ontology to determine the viability of his theory. (shrink)
Why are mistaken beliefs about Covid-19 so prevalent? Political identity, education and other demographic variables explain only a part of individual differences in the susceptibility to Covid-19 misinformation. This paper focuses on another explanation: epistemic vice. Epistemic vices are character traits that interfere with acquiring, maintaining, and transmitting knowledge. If the basic assumption of vice epistemology is right, then people with epistemic vices such as indifference to the truth or rigidity in their belief structures will tend to be more susceptible (...) to believing Covid-19 misinformation. We carried out an observational study (US sample, n = 998) in which we measured the level of epistemic vice of participants using a novel Epistemic Vice Scale. We also asked participants questions eliciting the extent to which they subscribe to myths and misinformation about Covid-19. We find overwhelming evidence to the effect that epistemic vice is associated with susceptibility to Covid-19 misinformation. In fact, the association turns out to be stronger than with political identity, educational attainment, scores on the Cognitive Reflection Test, personality, dogmatism, and need for closure. We conclude that this offers evidence in favor of the empirical presuppositions of vice epistemology. (shrink)
The foundations of quantum mechanics are attracting new and significant interest in the scientific community due to the recent striking experimental and technical progress in the fields of quantum computation, quantum teleportation and quantum information processing. However, at a more fundamental level the understanding and manipulation of these novel phenomena require not only new laboratory techniques but also new understanding, development and interpretation of the formalism of quantum mechanics itself, a mathematical structure whose connection to what happens in physical reality (...) continues to present puzzles and engender debate.The present issue of Foundations of Physics considers, from physical, philosophical and logical perspectives, a range of problems: these range from the meaning of quantum identity and individuality, through probability and complementarity, to decoherence and gauge theories.The idea of preparing this special issue was conceived in connection with the Workshop .. (shrink)
In  the authors of this paper argued in favor of the possibility to consider a Paraconsistent Approach to Quantum Superpositions. We claimed that, even though most interpretations of quantum mechanics attempt to escape contradictions, there are many hints -coming from present technical and experimental developments in QM- that indicate it could be worth while to engage in a research of this kind. Recently, Arenhart and Krause have raised several arguments against the PAQS [1, 2, 3]. In [11, 12] it (...) was argued that their reasoning presupposes a metaphysical stance according to which the physical representation of reality must be exclusively considered in terms of the equation: Actuality = Reality. However, from a different metaphysical standpoint their problems disappear. It was also argued that, if we accept the idea that quantum superpositions exist in a potential realm, it makes perfect sense to develop QM in terms of a paraconsistent approach and claim that quantum superpositions are contradictory, contextual existents. Following these ideas, and taking as a standpoint an interpretation in terms of the physical notions of power and potentia put forward in [10, 12, 15], we present a paraconsistent formalization of quantum superpositions that attempts to capture the main features of QM. (shrink)
A prolonged confrontation between Yahoo! Inc. and French activists who demand the removal of Nazi items from auction sites as well as restricted access to neo-Nazis sites is described and analyzed. We present the case up to the decision of Yahoo! Inc. to remove the items from yahoo.com following a French court's verdict against the firm. Using a business ethics approach, we distinguish legal, technical, philosophical and managerial issues involved in the case and their management by Yahoo! We conclude on (...) the difficulty of governing relations with society from corporate and legal affairs departments at the headquarters level, and on the clash of two visions over the regulation of social freedom. (shrink)
In this essay, I want to begin a dialogue with the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler’s book Technics and Time. Stiegler is internationally known as the inheritor of another French philosopher whose work is currently being rediscovered worldwide: Gilbert Simondon. In Stiegler’s work, this Simondonian heritage plays itself out in the domain of continental philosophy. The thesis maintained here will be the following: there is another relation to Simondon that is possible, one that also takes up the major problems we’ve inherited (...) from the continental philosophical tradition. The double fundamental philosophical problem raised in Stiegler’s debate with Simondon is the following: A) On the one hand .. (shrink)
We apply a cognitive modeling approach to the problem of measuring expertise on rank ordering problems. In these problems, people must order a set of items in terms of a given criterion (e.g., ordering American holidays through the calendar year). Using a cognitive model of behavior on this problem that allows for individual differences in knowledge, we are able to infer people's expertise directly from the rankings they provide. We show that our model-based measure of expertise outperforms self-report measures, taken (...) both before and after completing the ordering of items, in terms of correlation with the actual accuracy of the answers. These results apply to six general knowledge tasks, like ordering American holidays, and two prediction tasks, involving sporting and television competitions. Based on these results, we discuss the potential and limitations of using cognitive models in assessing expertise. (shrink)
This article deals with the problems of abortion as a political issue, in the form represented in the two reports of the Belgian «National Commission for Ethical Problems». Both the «translation» of the political problem into a question to be handled by an «apolitical» commission on the level of scientific expertness, and the delivery of two mutually dissenting reports, are studied as a typical stage of the development of the political decision-making process in this matter and compared with similar evolutions (...) in the neighbour countries. From a view point of political theory the main problem is the following : how a parliamentary democracy solves such a deap-seated confiict concerning the «basic values» of ethical order of society? Elements of an answer can be gathered from a comparative analysis of the different positions and arguments in the two reports of the Ethical Commission. (shrink)