The writings of Joseph Henry Woodger (1894–1981) are often taken to exemplify everything that was wrongheaded, misguided, and just plain wrong with early twentieth-century philosophy of biology. Over the years, commentators have said of Woodger: (a) that he was a fervent logical empiricist who tried to impose the explanatory gold standards of physics onto biology, (b) that his philosophical work was completely disconnected from biological science, (c) that he possessed no scientific or philosophical credentials, and (d) that his (...) work was disparaged – if not altogether ignored – by the biologists and philosophers of his era. In this paper, we provide the first systematic examination of Woodger’s oeuvre, and use it to demonstrate that the four preceding claims are false. We argue that Woodger’s ideas have exerted an important influence on biology and philosophy, and submit that the current consensus on his legacy stems from a highly selective reading of his works. By rehabilitating Woodger, we hope to show that there is no good reason to continue to disregard the numerous contributions to the philosophy of biology produced in the decades prior to the professionalization of the discipline. (shrink)
In Unifying Biology, Smocovitis offers a series of claimsregarding the relationship between key actors in the synthesisperiod of evolutionary studies and positivism, especially claimsentailing Joseph Henry Woodger and the Unity of Science Movement.This commentary examines Woodger''s possible relevance to key synthesis actors and challenges Smocovitis'' arguments for theexplanatory relevance of logical positivism, and positivism moregenerally, to synthesis history. Under scrutiny, these arguments areshort on evidence and subject to substantial conceptual confusion.Though plausible, Smocovitis'' minimal interpretation – that somegeneralised form (...) of Comtean positivism had a role in synthesishistory – requires more of an evidential basis and must engageexisting scholarship on epistemic reforms in the biological sciencesprior to the synthesis period. Smocovitis is right to investigateepistemology in the synthesis period of evolutionary studies and tolook for links to wider changes in science and philosophy. However,in its present form, Unifying Biology fails to support herbasic interpretation. (shrink)
Published with the aid of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Contains the only complete English-language text of The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages. Tarski made extensive corrections and revisions of the original translations for this edition, along with new historical remarks. It includes a new preface and a new analytical index for use by philosophers and linguists as well as by historians of mathematics and philosophy.
Woodger first gives a rough account of the "Boole-Frege" movement in modern logic and persuasively argues as to the importance of formalized language-systems for the methodology of science. Some of these arguments are as follows: A natural language such as English, he notes, "is not only used for purposes of communication in the scientific sense. It is also used for the writing of poetry, for religious devotion, for political controversy, and for persuading people to buy some of the products (...) of industrial activity which they would not otherwise want. But these pursuits make demands upon language which are very different from those made by science. The requirements of science prove on investigation to be quite surprisingly meagre and the excessive riches of a natural language like English are a source of embarrassment. They tempt us to employ linguistic devices borrowed from extra-scientific usages which can have unfortunate consequences. Metaphors, for example, with which some branches of biology abound, are often suggestive and may be harmless enough if they are recognized for what they are. But at best they are makeshifts and substitutes for genuine biological statements, and the fact that recourse is had to them is surely a sign of immaturity. Science demands great linguistic austerity and discipline, and the canons of good style in scientific writing are different from those of good writing in other kinds of literature." Another argument is that "sooner or later the linguistic habits of everyday life will cease to do justice to... the... increasing complexity and novelty of observation and hypothesis." A third argument is that scientific language is used not only for the purpose of communication, for recording observations, or for formulating general laws or hypotheses. It is also used for calculation and the unearthing of the consequences of our assumptions. The logic underlying a formalized language is explicitly designed to enable us to calculate easily and efficiently. The important, and now thoroughly established, methodological distinction between object-language and meta-language is blurred for natural language and is best maintained in terms of formalized language-systems. And, finally, in natural language the important distinction between syntax and semantics also tends to be blurred. "From both the syntactical and the semantical points of view natural languages are incredibly complicated and unruly. The rules of ordinary gram mar are quite insufficient from the standpoint of the requirements of science, and the problems connected with meaning and truth in relation to natural languages are enormously complicated and perhaps insoluble.". (shrink)
In The Varieties of Reference, Gareth Evans argues that the content of perceptual experience is nonconceptual, in a sense I shall explain momentarily. More recently, in his book Mind and World, John McDowell has argued that the reasons Evans gives for this claim are not compelling and, moreover, that Evans’s view is a version of “the Myth of the Given”: More precisely, Evans’s view is alleged to suffer from the same sorts of problems that plague sense-datum theories of perception. In (...) particular, McDowell argues that perceptual experience must be within “the space of reasons,” that perception must be able to give us reasons for, that is, to justify, our beliefs about the world: And, according to him, no state that does not have conceptual content can be a reason for a belief. Now, there are many ways in which Evans’s basic idea, that perceptual content is nonconceptual, might be developed; some of these, I shall argue, would be vulnerable to the objections McDowell brings against him. But I shall also argue that there is a way of developing it that is not vulnerable to these objections. (shrink)
Some ways of defending inequality against the charge that it is unjust require premises that egalitarians find easy to dismiss—statements, for example, about the contrasting deserts and/or entitlements of unequally placed people. But a defense of inequality suggested by John Rawls and elaborated by Brian Barry has often proved irresistible even to people of egalitarian outlook. The persuasive power of this defense of inequality has helped to drive authentic egalitarianism, of an old-fashioned, uncompromising kind, out of contemporary political philosophy. The (...) present essay is part of an attempt to bring it back in. (shrink)
1. The present paper is a continuation of my “Self-Ownership, World Ownership, and Equality,” which began with a description of the political philosophy of Robert Nozick. I contended in that essay that the foundational claim of Nozick's philosophy is the thesis of self-ownership, which says that each person is the morally rightful owner of his own person and powers, and, consequently, that each is free to use those powers as he wishes, provided that he does not deploy them aggressively against (...) others. To be sure, he may not harm others, and he may, if necessary, be forced not to harm them, but he should never be forced to help them, as people are in fact forced to help others, according to Nozick, by redistributive taxation. (shrink)
Reminiscences of Peter, by P. Oppenheim.--Natural kinds, by W. V. Quine.--Inductive independence and the paradoxes of confirmation, by J. Hintikka.--Partial entailment as a basis for inductive logic, by W. C. Salmon.--Are there non-deductive logics?, by W. Sellars.--Statistical explanation vs. statistical inference, by R. C. Jeffre--Newcomb's problem and two principles of choice, by R. Nozick.--The meaning of time, by A. Grünbaum.--Lawfulness as mind-dependent, by N. Rescher.--Events and their descriptions: some considerations, by J. Kim.--The individuation of events, by D. Davidson.--On properties, by (...) H. Putnam.--A method for avoiding the Curry paradox, by F. B. Fitch.--Publications (1934-1969) by Carl G. Hempel (p. -270). (shrink)
As opposed to a ‘one size fits all’ approach, precision medicine uses relevant biological, medical, behavioural and environmental information about a person to further personalize their healthcare. This could mean better prediction of someone’s disease risk and more effective diagnosis and treatment if they have a condition. Big data allows for far more precision and tailoring than was ever before possible by linking together diverse datasets to reveal hitherto-unknown correlations and causal pathways. But it also raises ethical issues relating to (...) the balancing of interests, viability of anonymization, familial and group implications, as well as genetic discrimination. This article analyses these issues in light of the values of public benefit, justice, harm minimization, transparency, engagement and reflexivity and applies the deliberative balancing approach found in theEthical Framework for Big Data in Health and Research to a case study on clinical genomic data sharing. Please refer to that article for an explanation of how this framework is to be used, including a full explanation of the key values involved and the balancing approach used in the case study at the end. Our discussion is meant to be of use to those involved in the practice as well as governance and oversight of precision medicine to address ethical concerns that arise in a coherent and systematic manner. (shrink)
Abstract G.A. Cohen has produced an influential criticism of libertarian?ism that posits joint ownership of everything in the world other than labor, with each joint owner having a veto right over any potential use of the world. According to Cohen, in that world rationality would require that wealth be divided equally, with no differential accorded to talent, ability, or effort. A closer examination shows that Cohen's argument rests on two central errors of reasoning and does not support his egalitarian conclusions, (...) even granting his assumption of joint ownership. That assumption was rejected by Locke, Pufendorf and other writers on property for reasons that Cohen does not rebut. (shrink)
Editor James Fetzer presents an analytical and historical introduction and a comprehensive bibliography together with selections of many of Carl G. Hempel's most important studies to give students and scholars an ideal opportunity to appreciate the enduring contributions of one of the most influential philosophers of science of the 20th century.
This article examines the main aspects of Husserl's phenomenology, which are analyzed in "Appearance and Sense" by Gustav Shpet: the relation between sense and comprehension and between noesis and noema. Shpet emphasizes the hermeneutical theme of "comprehension" as a resolutive dimension to solve aspects not clarified by Husserl. Shpet's critical enquiry, in the course of his subsequent observation, converge into an hermeneutical logic. Shpet identifies the centrality of language as a form of thinking, through the recovery of Humbodt's meaning of (...) the "inner form". (shrink)
In ‘Wittgenstein on Language and Rules’, Professor N. Malcolm took us to task for misinterpreting Wittgenstein's arguments on the relationship between the concept of following a rule and the concept of community agreement on what counts as following a given rule. Not that we denied that there are any grammatical connections between these concepts. On the contrary, we emphasized that a rule and an act in accord with it make contact in language. Moreover we argued that agreement in judgments and (...) in definitions is indeed necessary for a shared language. But we denied that the concept of a language is so tightly interwoven with the concept of a community of speakers as to preclude its applicabilty to someone whose use of signs is not shared by others. Malcolm holds that ‘This is an unwitting reduction of Wittgenstein's originality. That human agreement is necessary for “shared” language is not so striking a thought as that it is essential for language simpliciter.’ Though less striking, we believe that it has the merit of being a true thought. We shall once more try to show both that it is correct, and that it is a correct account of Wittgenstein's arguments. (shrink)