A coherent treatment of the flow of ideas throughout Darwin's works, this volume presents a unified theoretical system that explains Darwin's investigations, evaluating the literature from a historical, scientific, and philosophical perspective.
Thought experiments are a means of imaginative reasoning that lie at the heart of philosophy, from the pre-Socratics to the modern era, and they also play central roles in a range of fields, from physics to politics. The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments is an invaluable guide and reference source to this multifaceted subject. Comprising over 30 chapters by a team of international contributors, the Companion covers the following important areas: -/- · the history of thought experiments, from antiquity to (...) the trolley problem and quantum non-locality; -/- · thought experiments in the humanities, arts, and sciences, including ethics, physics, theology, biology, mathematics, economics, and politics; -/- · theories about the nature of thought experiments; -/- · new discussions concerning the impact of experimental philosophy, cross-cultural comparison studies, metaphilosophy, computer simulations, idealization, dialectics, cognitive science, the artistic nature of thought experiments, and metaphysical issues. -/- This broad ranging Companion goes backwards through history and sideways across disciplines. It also engages with philosophical perspectives from empiricism, rationalism, naturalism, skepticism, pluralism, contextualism, and neo-Kantianism to phenomenology. This volume will be valuable for anyone studying the methods of philosophy or any discipline that employs thought experiments, as well as anyone interested in the power and limits of the mind. (shrink)
Michael T. Michael evaluates Freud s theory of dreams in light of major criticisms and scientific research. Approaching the issue from the vantage of the history and philosophy of science, he argues that the theory is a live hypothesis fully deserving of continued scientific exploration.".
Traditionally, species have been treated as classes. In fact they may be considered individuals. The logical term “individual” has been confused with a biological synonym for “organism.” If species are individuals, then: 1) their names are proper, 2) there cannot be instances of them, 3) they do not have defining properties, 4) their constituent organisms are parts, not members. “ Species " may be defined as the most extensive units in the natural economy such that reproductive competition occurs among their (...) parts. Species are to evolutionary theory as firms are to economic theory: this analogy resolves many issues, such as the problems of “reality” and the ontological status of nomenclatorial types. (shrink)
Michael T. Ferejohn presents a new analysis of Aristotle's theory of explanation and scientific knowledge, in the context of its Socratic roots. Ferejohn shows how Aristotle resolves the tension between his commitment to the formal-case model of explanation and his recognition of the role of efficient causes in explaining natural phenomena.
Joshua Greene has argued that the empirical findings of cognitive science have implications for ethics. In particular, he has argued (1) that people’s deontological judgments in response to trolley problems are strongly influenced by at least one morally irrelevant factor, personal force, and are therefore at least somewhat unreliable, and (2) that we ought to trust our consequentialist judgments more than our deontological judgments when making decisions about unfamiliar moral problems. While many cognitive scientists have rejected Greene’s dual-process theory of (...) moral judgment on empirical grounds, philosophers have mostly taken issue with his normative assertions. For the most part, these two discussions have occurred separately. The current analysis aims to remedy this situation by philosophically analyzing the implications of moral dilemma research using the CNI model of moral decision-making – a formalized, mathematical model that decomposes three distinct aspects of moral-dilemma judgments. In particular, we show how research guided by the CNI model reveals significant conceptual, empirical, and theoretical problems with Greene’s dual-process theory, thereby questioning the foundations of his normative conclusions. (shrink)
We might think that thought experiments are at their most powerful or most interesting when they produce new knowledge. This would be a mistake; thought experiments that seek understanding are just as powerful and interesting, and perhaps even more so. A growing number of epistemologists are emphasizing the importance of understanding for epistemology, arguing that it should supplant knowledge as the central notion. In this chapter, I bring the literature on understanding in epistemology to bear on explicating the different ways (...) that thought experiments increase three important kinds of understanding: explanatory, objectual and practical. (shrink)
Sometimes we learn through the use of imagination. The epistemology of imagination asks how this is possible. One barrier to progress on this question has been a lack of agreement on how to characterize imagination; for example, is imagination a mental state, ability, character trait, or cognitive process? This paper argues that we should characterize imagination as a cognitive ability, exercises of which are cognitive processes. Following dual process theories of cognition developed in cognitive science, the set of imaginative processes (...) is then divided into two kinds: one that is unconscious, uncontrolled, and effortless, and another that is conscious, controlled, and effortful. This paper outlines the different epistemological strengths and weaknesses of the two kinds of imaginative process, and argues that a dual process model of imagination helpfully resolves or clarifies issues in the epistemology of imagination and the closely related epistemology of thought experiments. (shrink)
What role does the imagination play in scientific progress? After examining several studies in cognitive science, I argue that one thing the imagination does is help to increase scientific understanding, which is itself indispensable for scientific progress. Then, I sketch a transcendental justification of the role of imagination in this process.
"Adaptation" has several meanings which have often been confused, including relations, processes, states, and intrinsic properties. It is used in comparative and historical contexts. "Adaptation" and "environment" may designate probabilistic concepts. Recognition of these points refutes arguments for the notions that: 1) all organisms are perfectly adapted; 2) organisms cannot be ill-adapted and survive or well-adapted and die; 3) adaptation is necessarily relative to the environment; 4) change in environment is necessary for evolution; 5) preadaptation implies teleology. Such notions are (...) associated with metaphysical ideas, and may affect the thinking of biologists. (shrink)
John D. Norton is responsible for a number of influential views in contemporary philosophy of science. This paper will discuss two of them. The material theory of induction claims that inductive arguments are ultimately justified by their material features, not their formal features. Thus, while a deductive argument can be valid irrespective of the content of the propositions that make up the argument, an inductive argument about, say, apples, will be justified (or not) depending on facts about apples. The argument (...) view of thought experiments claims that thought experiments are arguments, and that they function epistemically however arguments do. These two views have generated a great deal of discussion, although there hasn’t been much written about their combination. I argue that despite some interesting harmonies, there is a serious tension between them. I consider several options for easing this tension, before suggesting a set of changes to the argument view that I take to be consistent with Norton’s fundamental philosophical commitments, and which retain what seems intuitively correct about the argument view. These changes require that we move away from a unitary epistemology of thought experiments and towards a more pluralist position. (shrink)
In his article “Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality,” Joshua Greene argues that the empirical findings of cognitive neuroscience have implications for ethics. Specifically, he contends that we ought to trust our manual, conscious reasoning system more than our automatic, emotional system when confronting unfamiliar problems; and because cognitive neuroscience has shown that consequentialist judgments are generated by the manual system and deontological judgments are generated by the automatic system, we ought to trust the former more than the latter when facing unfamiliar moral (...) problems. In the present article, I analyze one of the premises of Greene’s argument. In particular, I ask what exactly an unfamiliar problem is and whether moral problems can be classified as unfamiliar. After exploring several different possible interpretations of familiarity and unfamiliarity, I conclude that the concepts are too problematic to be philosophically compelling, and thus should be abandoned. (shrink)
I claim that one way thought experiments contribute to scientific progress is by increasing scientific understanding. Understanding does not have a currently accepted characterization in the philosophical literature, but I argue that we already have ways to test for it. For instance, current pedagogical practice often requires that students demonstrate being in either or both of the following two states: 1) Having grasped the meaning of some relevant theory, concept, law or model, 2) Being able to apply that theory, concept, (...) law or model fruitfully to new instances. Three thought experiments are presented which have been important historically in helping us pass these tests, and two others that cause us to fail. Then I use this operationalization of understanding to clarify the relationships between scientific thought experiments, the understanding they produce, and the progress they enable. I conclude that while no specific instance of understanding (thus conceived) is necessary for scientific progress, understanding in general is. (shrink)
In this article, we analyse the evidential value of the corpus of experimental philosophy. While experimental philosophers claim that their studies provide insight into philosophical problems, some philosophers and psychologists have expressed concerns that the findings from these studies lack evidential value. Barriers to evidential value include selection bias and p-hacking. To find out whether the significant findings in x-phi papers result from selection bias or p-hacking, we applied a p-curve analysis to a corpus of 365 x-phi chapters and articles. (...) Our results suggest that this corpus has evidential value, although there are hints of p-hacking in a few parts of the x-phi corpus. (shrink)
Computational systems biologists create and manipulate computational models of biological systems, but they do not always have straightforward epistemic access to the content and behavioural profile of such models because of their length, coding idiosyncrasies, and formal complexity. This creates difficulties both for modellers in their research groups and for their bioscience collaborators who rely on these models. In this paper we introduce a new kind of visualization that was developed to address just this sort of epistemic opacity. The visualization (...) is unusual in that it depicts the dynamics and structure of a computer model instead of that model’s target system, and because it is generated algorithmically. Using considerations from epistemology and aesthetics, we explore how this new kind of visualization increases scientific understanding of the content and function of computer models in systems biology to reduce epistemic opacity. (shrink)
Imagination is necessary for scientific practice, yet there are no in vivo sociological studies on the ways that imagination is taught, thought of, or evaluated by scientists. This article begins to remedy this by presenting the results of a qualitative study performed on two systems biology laboratories. I found that the more advanced a participant was in their scientific career, the more they valued imagination. Further, positive attitudes toward imagination were primarily due to the perceived role of imagination in problem-solving. (...) But not all problem-solving episodes involved clear appeals to imagination, only maximally specific problems did. This pattern is explained by the presence of an implicit norm governing imagination use in the two labs: only use imagination on maximally specific problems, and only when all other available methods have failed. This norm was confirmed by the participants, and I argue that it has epistemological reasons in its favour. I also found that its strength varies inversely with career stage, such that more advanced scientists do (and should) occasionally bring their imaginations to bear on more general problems. A story about scientific pedagogy explains the trend away from (and back to) imagination over the course of a scientific career. Finally, some positive recommendations are given for a more imagination-friendly scientific pedagogy. (shrink)
Scientists imagine for epistemic reasons, and these imaginings can be better or worse. But what does it mean for an imagining to be epistemically better or worse? There are at least three metaepistemological frameworks that present different answers to this question: epistemological consequentialism, deontic epistemology, and virtue epistemology. This paper presents empirical evidence that scientists adopt each of these different epistemic frameworks with respect to imagination, but argues that the way they do this is best explained if scientists are fundamentally (...) epistemic consequentialists about imagination. (shrink)
Aristotle’s account of friendship has largely withstood the test of time. Yet there are overlooked elements of his account that, when challenged by apparent threats of current and emerging communication technologies, reveal his account to be remarkably prescient. I evaluate the danger that technological advances in communication pose to the future of friendship by examining and defending Aristotle’s claim that perfect or character-friends must live together. I concede that technologically-mediated communication can aid existing character-friendships, but I argue that character-friendships cannot (...) be created and sustained entirely through technological meditation. I examine text-based technologies, such as Facebook and email, and engage a non-text based technology that poses the greatest threat to my thesis—Skype. I then address philosophical literature on friendship and technology that has emerged in the last decade in Ethics and Information Technology to elucidate and defend my account by contrast. I engage Cocking and Matthews (2000), who argue that friendship cannot be created and sustained entirely through text-based contact, Briggle (2008), who argues that friendship can be created and sustained entirely through text-based contact, and Munn (2012), who argues that friendship cannot be created and entirely sustained through text-based contact but can be created and sustained entirely in immersive virtual worlds. My account discusses a certain kind of friendship, character-friendship, and a certain kind of technology, Skype, that these accounts do not. Examination of these essays helps to demonstrate that character friendship cannot be sustained entirely by technologically-aided communication and that character-friends must live together. (shrink)
Philosophical conceptual analysis is an experimental method. Focusing on this helps to justify it from the skepticism of experimental philosophers who follow Weinberg, Nichols & Stich. To explore the experimental aspect of philosophical conceptual analysis, I consider a simpler instance of the same activity: everyday linguistic interpretation. I argue that this, too, is experimental in nature. And in both conceptual analysis and linguistic interpretation, the intuitions considered problematic by experimental philosophers are necessary but epistemically irrelevant. They are like variables introduced (...) into mathematical proofs which drop out before the solution. Or better, they are like the hypotheses that drive science, which do not themselves need to be true. In other words, it does not matter whether or not intuitions are accurate as descriptions of the natural kinds that undergird philosophical concepts; the aims of conceptual analysis can still be met. (shrink)
Darwin''s biology was teleological only if the term teleology is defined in a manner that fails to recognize his contribution to the metaphysics and epistemology of modern science. His use of teleological metaphors in a strictly teleonomic context is irrelevant to the meaning of his discourse. The myth of Darwin''s alleged teleology is partly due to misinterpretations of discussions about whether morphology should be a purely formal science. Merely rejecting such notions as special creation and vitalism does not prevent the (...) pernicious effects of teleological reasoning, even at the present time. (shrink)
The history of the philosophy of thought experiments has touched on the work of Kuhn, Popper, Duhem, Mach, Lakatos, and other big names of the 20th century, but so far, almost nothing has been written about Paul Feyerabend. His most influential work was Against Method, 8 chapters of which concern a case study of Galileo with a specific focus on Galileo’s thought experiments. In addition, the later Feyerabend was very interested in what might be called the epistemology of drama, including (...) stories and myths. This paper brings these different aspects of Feyerabend’s work together in an attempt to present what might have been his considered views on scientific thought experiments. I conclude by contrasting Feyerabend’s ideas with two modern currents in the debate surrounding thought experiments: 1) the claim that the epistemology of thought experiments is just the epistemology of deductive or inductive arguments, and 2) the claim that the specifically narrative quality of thought experiments must be taken into account if we want a complete epistemology of thought experiments. (shrink)
Neuropsychiatrist Michael T. H. Wong argues that the notions of soul, mind, brain, self and consciousness are no longer adequate on their own to explain humanity. He formulates a “third discourse” that brings philosophy neuroscience theology and psychiatry together as an innovative multilayered narrative for the person in the twenty-first century.