Alan C. LoveDarwinian calisthenicsAn athlete engages in calisthenics as part of basic training and as a preliminary to more advanced or intense activity. Whether it is stretching, lunges, crunches, or push-ups, routine calisthenics provide a baseline of strength and flexibility that prevent a variety of injuries that might otherwise be incurred. Peter Bowler has spent 40 years doing Darwinian calisthenics, researching and writing on the development of evolutionary ideas with special attention to Darwin and subsequent filiations among scientists exploring (...) evolution . Therefore, we would expect that when Bowler engages in a counterfactual history—imagining a world without Darwin—he is able to avoid historical injury and generate novel insights. My assessment is that the results are mixed. Before we can see why, it is necessary to walk briskly through the main contours of his argument.Bowler begins with an apologia for a counterfactual appr .. (shrink)
Acknowledgments 1. Culture Is Essential 2. Culture Exists 3. Culture Evolves 4. Culture Is an Adaptation 5. Culture Is Maladaptive 6. Culture and Genes Coevolve 7. Nothing about Culture Makes Sense except in the Light of Evolution.
Ambitiously identifying fresh issues in the study of complex systems, Peter J. Taylor, in a model of interdisciplinary exploration, makes these concerns accessible to scholars in the fields of ecology, environmental science, and science studies. Unruly Complexity explores concepts used to deal with complexity in three realms: ecology and socio-environmental change; the collective constitution of knowledge; and the interpretations of science as they influence subsequent research. For each realm Taylor shows that unruly complexity-situations that lack definite boundaries, where what (...) goes on "outside" continually restructures what is "inside," and where diverse processes come together to produce change-should not be suppressed by partitioning complexity into well-bounded systems that can be studied or managed from an outside vantage point. Using case studies from Australia, North America, and Africa, he encourages readers to be troubled by conventional boundaries-especially between science and the interpretation of science-and to reflect more self-consciously on the conceptual and practical choices researchers make. (shrink)
Metaphysicians should pay attention to quantum mechanics. Why? Not because it provides definitive answers to many metaphysical questions-the theory itself is remarkably silent on the nature of the physical world, and the various interpretations of the theory on offer present conflicting ontological pictures. Rather, quantum mechanics is essential to the metaphysician because it reshapes standard metaphysical debates and opens up unforeseen new metaphysical possibilities. Even if quantum mechanics provides few clear answers, there are good reasons to think that any adequate (...) understanding of the quantum world will result in a radical reshaping of our classical world-view in some way or other. Whatever the world is like at the atomic scale, it is almost certainly not the swarm of particles pushed around by forces that is often presupposed. This book guides readers through the theory of quantum mechanics and its implications for metaphysics in a clear and accessible way. The theory and its various interpretations are presented with a minimum of technicality. The consequences of these interpretations for metaphysical debates concerning realism, indeterminacy, causation, determinism, holism, and individuality are explored in detail, stressing the novel form that the debates take given the empirical facts in the quantum domain. While quantum mechanics may not deliver unconditional pronouncements on these issues, the range of possibilities consistent with our knowledge of the empirical world is relatively small-and each possibility is metaphysically revisionary in some way. This book will appeal to researchers, students, and anybody else interested in how science informs our world-view. (shrink)
Although much has been written about the vigorous debates over science and religion in the Victorian era, little attention has been paid to their continuing importance in early twentieth-century Britain. Reconciling Science and Religion provides a comprehensive survey of the interplay between British science and religion from the late nineteenth century to World War II. Peter J. Bowler argues that unlike the United States, where a strong fundamentalist opposition to evolutionism developed in the 1920s (most famously expressed in the (...) Scopes "monkey trial" of 1925), in Britain there was a concerted effort to reconcile science and religion. Intellectually conservative scientists championed the reconciliation and were supported by liberal theologians in the Free Churches and the Church of England, especially the Anglican "Modernists." Popular writers such as Julian Huxley and George Bernard Shaw sought to create a non-Christian religion similar in some respects to the Modernist position. Younger scientists and secularists—including Rationalists such as H. G. Wells and the Marxists—tended to oppose these efforts, as did conservative Christians, who saw the liberal position as a betrayal of the true spirit of their religion. With the increased social tensions of the 1930s, as the churches moved toward a neo-orthodoxy unfriendly to natural theology and biologists adopted the "Modern Synthesis" of genetics and evolutionary theory, the proposed reconciliation fell apart. Because the tensions between science and religion—and efforts at reconciling the two—are still very much with us today, Bowler's book will be important for everyone interested in these issues. Contents: Illustrations Preface Introduction: A Legacy of Conflict? Confrontation, Cooperation, or Coexistence? Victorian Background Science and Religion in the New Century Part One: The Sciences and Religion 1. The Religion of Scientists Changing Patterns of Belief Scientists and Christianity Scientists and Theism Method and Meaning Science and Values 2. Scientists against Superstition Science and Rationalism Religion without Revelation Marxists and Other Radicals Science, Religion, and the History of Science 3. Physics and Cosmology Ether and Spirit The New Physics The Earth and the Universe 4. Evolution and the New Natural Theology Science and Creation Evolution and Progress The Role of Lamarckism Darwinism Revived 5. Matter, Life, and Mind The Origin of Life Vitalism and Organicism Mind and Body Psychology and Religion Part Two: The Churches and Science 6. The Churches in the New Century The Challenge of the New The Churches’ Response 7. The New Theology in the Free Churches Precursors of the New Theology Campbell and the New Theology Modernism in the Free Churches 8. Anglican Modernism Modernism and the New Natural Theology Charles F. D’Arcy E. W. Barnes W. R. Inge Charles Raven 9. The Reaction against Modernism Evangelicals against Evolution Liberal Catholicism The Menace of the New Psychology Science and Modern Life Theology in the Thirties Roman Catholicism Part Three: The Wider Debate 10. Science and Secularism Against Idealism Popular Rationalism The Social Reformers 11. Religion’s Defenders From Idealism to Spiritualism Creative and Emergent Evolution Evolution and the Human Spirit Progress through Struggle The Christian Response Epilogue Biographical Appendix Bibliography Index. (shrink)
Starmaking brings together a cluster of work published over the past 35 years by Nelson Goodman and two Harvard colleagues, Hilary Putnam and Israel Scheffler, on the conceptual connections between monism and pluralism, absolutism and relativism, and idealism and different notions of realism -- issues that are central to metaphysics and epistemology. The title alludes to Goodman's famous defense of the claim that because all true representations of stars and other objects are human creations, it follows that in an important (...) sense the stars themselves are made by us. More generally, the argument moves from the fact that our right representations are constructed by us to the claim that the world itself is similarly constructed. Starmaking addresses the question of whether this seeming paradox can be turned into a serious philosophical view. Goodman and Putnam are sympathetic; Scheffler is the critic. Although many others continue to write about pluralism, relativism, and constructionalism, Starmaking brings together the protagonists in the debate since its beginnings and follows closely its still developing form and substance, focusing sharply on Goodman's claim that "we make versions, and right versions make worlds.". (shrink)
This book seeks to restore Homer to his rightful place among the principal figures in the history of political and moral philosophy. Through this fresh and provocative analysis of the Iliad and the Odyssey, Peter J. Ahrensdorf examines Homer's understanding of the best life, the nature of the divine, and the nature of human excellence. According to Ahrensdorf, Homer teaches that human greatness eclipses that of the gods, that the contemplative and compassionate singer ultimately surpasses the heroic warrior in (...) grandeur, and that it is the courageously questioning Achilles, not the loyal Hector or even the wily Odysseus, who comes closest to the humane wisdom of Homer himself. Thanks to Homer, two of the distinctive features of Greek civilization are its extraordinary celebration of human excellence, as can be seen in Greek athletics, sculpture, and nudity, and its singular questioning of the divine, as can be seen in Greek philosophy. (shrink)
What is good political judgment? Is it a science subject to strict standards of logic and inference, or is it more like an art, the product of intuition, feeling, or even chance? Peter J. Steinberger shows how the seemingly contradictory claims of inference and intuition are reconciled in the concept of political judgment. Resting his argument on the larger notion of judgment itself, Steinberger develops an original model of how political judgments are made and how we justify calling some (...) of them "good." His systematic analysis of such thinkers as Machiavelli, Kant, Gadamer, Wittgenstein, and Oakeshott introduces an original notion of judgment as "intelligent performance," incorporating both intuition and rational reconstruction. Steinberger's conclusion—that a coherent political society must also be a judgmental one—flies in the face of much contemporary thinking. (shrink)
In A Professor's Duties, distinguished philosopher Peter J. Markie adds to the expanding discussion of the ethics of college teaching. Part One concentrates on the obligations of individual professors, primarily with regard to issues about what and how to teach. Part Two expands Professor Markie's views by providing a selection of the most significant previously published writings on the ethics of college teaching.
This paper argues for the general proper functionalist view that epistemic warrant consists in the normal functioning of the belief-forming process when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as an etiological function. Such a process is reliable in normal conditions when functioning normally. This paper applies this view to so-called testimony-based beliefs. It argues that when a hearer forms a comprehension-based belief that P (a belief based on taking another to have asserted that P) through the exercise of a (...) reliable competence to comprehend and filter assertive speech acts, then the hearer's belief is prima facie warranted. The paper discusses the psychology of comprehension, the function of assertion, and the evolution of filtering mechanisms, especially coherence checking. (shrink)
Advances in molecular biological research in the latter half of the twentieth century have made the story of the gene vastly complicated: the more we learn about genes, the less sure we are of what a gene really is. Knowledge about the structure and functioning of genes abounds, but the gene has also become curiously intangible. This collection of essays renews the question: what are genes? Philosophers, historians and working scientists re-evaluate the question in this volume, treating the gene as (...) a focal point of interdisciplinary and international research. It will be of interest to professionals and students in the philosophy and history of science, genetics and molecular biology. (shrink)
I hold that epistemic warrant consists in the normal functioning of the belief-forming process when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as an etiological function. Evolution by natural selection is the central source of etiological functions. This leads many to think that on my view warrant requires a history of natural selection. What then about learning? What then about Swampman? Though functions require history, natural selection is not the only source. Self-repair and trial-and-error learning are both sources. Warrant requires (...) history, but not necessarily that much. (shrink)
Modern political conflict characteristically reflects and represents deep-seated but also unacknowledged and un-analyzed disagreements about what it means to be 'objective'. In defending this proposition, Peter J. Steinberger seeks to reaffirm the idea of rationalism in politics by examining important problems of public life explicitly in the light of established philosophical doctrine. The Politics of Objectivity invokes, thereby, an age-old, though now widely ignored, tradition of western thought according to which all political thinking is inevitably embedded in and underwritten (...) by larger structures of metaphysical inquiry. Building on earlier studies of the idea of the state, and focusing on highly contested practices of objectivity in judgement, this book suggests that political conflict is an essentially discursive enterprise deeply implicated in the rational pursuit of theories about how things in the world really are. (shrink)
Stewart Cohen has recently presented solutions to two forms of what he calls “The Problem of Easy Knowledge”. I offer alternative solutions. Like Cohen’s, my solutions allow for basic knowledge. Unlike his, they do not require that we distinguish between animal and reflective knowledge, restrict the applicability of closure under known entailments, or deny the ability of basic knowledge to combine with self-knowledge to provide inductive evidential support. My solution to the closure version of the problem covers a variation on (...) the problem that is immune to Cohen’s approach. My response to the bootstrapping version presents reasons to question whether the problem case, as Cohen presents it, is even possible, and, assuming it is, my solution avoids a false implication of Cohen’s own. The key to my solutions for both versions is the distinction between an inference’s transferring epistemic support, on the one hand, and its not begging the question against skeptics, on the other. (shrink)
The main difficulty facing no-collapse theories of quantum mechanics in the Everettian tradition concerns the role of probability within a theory in which every possible outcome of a measurement actually occurs. The problem is two-fold: First, what do probability claims mean within such a theory? Second, what ensures that the probabilities attached to measurement outcomes match those of standard quantum mechanics? Deutsch has recently proposed a decision-theoretic solution to the second problem, according to which agents are rationally required to weight (...) the outcomes of measurements according to the standard quantum-mechanical probability measure. I show that this argument admits counterexamples, and hence fails to establish the standard probability weighting as a rational requirement. (shrink)
Recently, Richard Healey and Simon Friederich have each advocated a pragmatist interpretation of quantum mechanics as a way to dissolve its foundational problems. The idea is that if we concentrate on the way quantum claims are used, the foundational problems of quantum mechanics cannot be formulated, and so do not require solution. Their central contention is that the content of quantum claims differs from the content of non-quantum claims, in that the former is prescriptive whereas the latter is descriptive. Healey (...) also argues that claims about non-decoherent systems are largely devoid of content. I consider various objections to these claims, noting in particular the ways in which the application of pragmatism to quantum mechanics differs from previous examples of pragmatist therapy. I conclude that a pragmatist dissolution of the foundational difficulties of quantum mechanics is promising, but requires fairly radical changes to our understanding of the content of propositions and the extent of physical explanation. (shrink)
Oedipus the tyrant and the limits of political rationalism -- Blind faith and enlightened statesmanship in Oedipus at colonus -- The pious heroism of Antigone -- Conclusion: Nietzsche, Plato, and Aristotle on philosophy and tragedy.
The use of socially learned information (culture) is central to human adaptations. We investigate the hypothesis that the process of cultural evolution has played an active, leading role in the evolution of genes. Culture normally evolves more rapidly than genes, creating novel environments that expose genes to new selective pressures. Many human genes that have been shown to be under recent or current selection are changing as a result of new environments created by cultural innovations. Some changed in response to (...) the development of agricultural subsistence systems in the Early and Middle Holocene. Alleles coding for adaptations to diets rich in plant starch (e.g., amylase copy number) and to epidemic diseases evolved as human populations expanded (e.g., sickle cell and G6PD deﬁ- ciency alleles that provide protection against malaria). Large-scale scans using patterns of linkage disequilibrium to detect recent selection suggest that many more genes evolved in response to agriculture. Genetic change in response to the novel social environment of contemporary modern societies is also likely to be occurring. The functional effects of most of the alleles under selection during the last 10,000 years are currently unknown. Also unknown is the role of paleoenvironmental change in regulating the tempo of hominin evolution. Although the full extent of culture-driven gene-culture coevolution is thus far unknown for the deeper history of the human lineage, theory and some evidence suggest that such effects were profound. Genomic methods promise to have a major impact on our understanding of gene-culture coevolution over the span of hominin evolutionary history. (shrink)
What is the biological function of perception? I hold perception, especially visual perception in humans, has the biological function of accurately representing the environment. Tyler Burge argues this cannot be so in Origins of Objectivity (Oxford, 2010), for accuracy is a semantical relationship and not, as such, a practical matter. Burge also provides a supporting example. I rebut the argument and the example. Accuracy is sometimes also a practical matter if accuracy partly explains how perception contributes to survival and reproduction.
For a half-century or more, political theory has been characterized by a pronounced distrust of metaphysical or ontological speculation. Such a disposition has been sharply at odds with influential currents in post-war philosophy - both analytic and continental - where metaphysical issues have become a central preoccupation. The Idea of the State seeks to reaffirm the importance of systematic philosophical inquiry into the foundations of political life, and to show how such an approach can cast a new and highly instructive (...) light on a variety of controversial, seemingly intractable problems of tolerance, civil disobedience, democracy and consent. The author considers the problem of the state in light of recent developments in philosophy and social thought, and seeks to provide an account of what the state really is. In doing so he pursues a range of fundamental issues pertaining to the office, the authority and the internal organization of political society. (shrink)
In 'Perceptual Entitlement' (PPR 2003), Tyler Burge argues that on his teleological reliabilist account of perceptual warrant, warrant will persist in non-normal conditions, even radical skeptical scenarios like demon worlds. This paper explains why Burge's explanation falls short. But if we distinguish two grades of warrant, we can explain, in proper functionalist, teleological reliabilist terms, why warrant should persist in demon worlds. A normally functioning belief-forming process confers warrant in all worlds, provided it is reliable in normal conditions when functioning (...) normally. The first grade requires normal functioning. The second grade also requires being situated in normal conditions. (shrink)
Epistemic defeat is standardly understood in either evidentialist or responsibilist terms. The seminal treatment of defeat is an evidentialist one, due to John Pollock, who famously distinguishes between undercutting and rebutting defeaters. More recently, an orthogonal distinction due to Jennifer Lackey has become widely endorsed, between so-called doxastic (or psychological) and normative defeaters. We think that neither doxastic nor normative defeaters, as Lackey understands them, exist. Both of Lackey’s categories of defeat derive from implausible assumptions about epistemic responsibility. Although Pollock’s (...) evidentialist view is superior, the evidentialism per se can be purged from it, leaving a general structure of defeat that can be incorporated in a reliabilist theory that is neither evidentialist nor responsibilist in any way. (shrink)
In this book, Peter Ahrensdorf explores an overlooked but crucial role that Homer played in the thought of Plato, Machiavelli, and Nietzsche concerning, notably, the relationship between politics, religion, and philosophy; and in their debates about human nature, morality, the proper education for human excellence, and the best way of life. By studying Homer in conjunction with these three political philosophers, Ahrensdorf demonstrates that Homer was himself a philosophical thinker and educator. He presents the full force of Plato's critique (...) of Homer and the paramount significance of Plato's achievement in winning honor for philosophy. Ahrensdorf also makes possible an appreciation of the powerful concerns expressed by Machiavelli and Nietzsche regarding that achievement. By uncovering and bringing to life the rich philosophic conversation among these four foundational thinkers, Ahrensdorf shows that there are many ways of living a philosophic life. His book broadens and deepens our understanding of what a philosopher is. (shrink)
The world looks three-dimensional unless one looks closely, when it looks 3N-dimensional. But which appearance is veridical, and which the illusion? Albert contends that the three-dimensionality of the everyday world is illusory, and that 3N-dimensional wavefunction one discerns in quantum phenomena is the reality behind the illusion. What I try to do here is to argue for the converse of Albert's position; the world really is three dimensional, and the 3N-dimensional appearance of quantum phenomena is the theoretical analog of an (...) illusion; we represent quantum reality to ourselves as 3N-dimensional in order to more readily visualize the correlations between wave packets. (shrink)
Demography plays a large role in cultural evolution through its effects on the effective rate of innovation. If we assume that useful inventions are rare, then small isolated societies will have low rates of invention. In small populations, complex technology will tend to be lost as a result of random loss or incomplete transmission (the Tasmanian effect). Large populations have more inventors and are more resistant to loss by chance. If human populations can grow freely, then a population-technology-population positive feedback (...) should occur such that human societies reach a stable growth path on which the rate of growth of technology is limited by the rate of invention. This scenario fits the Holocene to a first approximation, but the late Pleistocene is a great puzzle. Large-brained hominins existed in Africa and west Eurasia for perhaps 50,000 years with, at best, slow rates of technical innovation. The most sophisticated societies of the last glacial period appear after 50,000 years ago and were apparently restricted to west and north-central Eurasia and North Africa. These patterns have no simple, commonly accepted explanation. We argue that increased high-frequency climate change around 70,000–50,000 years ago may have tipped the balance between humans and their competitor-predators, such as lions and wolves, in favor of humans. At the same time, technically sophisticated hunters would tend to overharvest their prey. Perhaps the ephemeral appearance of complex tools and symbolic artifacts in Africa after 00,000 years ago resulted from hunting inventions that allowed human populations to expand temporarily before prey overexploitation led to human population and technology collapse. Sustained human populations of moderate size using distinctively advanced Upper Paleolithic artifacts may have existed in west Eurasia because cold, continental northeastern Eurasia–Beringia acted as a protected reserve for prey populations. (shrink)
Recovering Reason: Essays in Honor of Thomas L. Pangle is a collection of essays composed by students and friends of Thomas L. Pangle to honor his seminal work and outstanding guidance in the study of political philosophy. These essays examine both Socrates' and modern political philosophers' attempts to answer the question of the right life for human beings, as those attempts are introduced and elaborated in the work of thinkers from Homer and Thucydides to Nietzsche and Charles Taylor.
What are the causes of the evolution of complex cognition? Discussions of the evolution of cognition sometimes seem to assume that more complex cognition is a fundamental advance over less complex cognition, as evidenced by a broad trend toward larger brains in evolutionary history. Evolutionary biologists are suspicious of such explanations since they picture natural selection as a process leading to adaptation to local environments, not to progressive trends. Cognitive adaptations will have costs, and more complex cognition will evolve only (...) when its local utility outweighs them. (shrink)