To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The essay agues that there is little scope for ideal theory in political
philosophy, even under Rawls’s conception of its aims. It begins by
identifying features of a standard example of ideal theory in physics
— the ideal gas law, PV=NRT and draws attention to the
lack of these features in Rawls’s derivation of the principles of
justice from the original position. A. John Simmons’s defense of
ideal theory against criticisms of Amartya Sen is examined, as are further
criticisms of both by David Schmidtz. The essay goes on to develop a conception
of the domain of social relations to be characterized by justice that suggests
that as a moving target it makes ideal theory otiose. Examination of
Rawls’s later views substantiate the conclusion that ideal theory as
propounded in A Theory of Justice is a mistaken starting point in the enterprise
of political philosophy. Differences between the domains of ideal theory in
mathematics, physics, and economics on the one hand, and political philosophy on
the other, reinforce this conclusion.
In this paper I bring together and discuss claims that David Lewis has made in Counterfactuals, and in “Causation,” and explore a number of difficulties which the views of these two works make for each other. If these difficulties are as serious as I suggest, they will require revision or rejection of the view of causation that Lewis defends.
Scientific realism at least in large measure reflects the conviction that physics limns the true nature of reality; that it is the right metaphysical picture of things. This conviction is in turn a product of the failure of positivism's attempt to expunge metaphysics from the corpus of philosophically respectable activities. Since natural science is objective knowledge of the world par excellence post-positivists have embraced it as the ontology which their predecessors had failed to make unnecessary. Scientific realism is metaphysics, shameless or unashamed.
The turtle's optokinetic response is described by a simple model that incorporates visual-response properties of neurons in the pretectum and accessory optic system. Using data from neuronal and eye-movement recordings that have been previously published, the model was realized using algebraic-block simulation software. It was found that the optokinetic response, modelled as a simple negative feedback system, was similar to that measured from a behaving animal. Because the responses of retinal-slip detecting neurons corresponded to the nonlinear, closed-loop optokinetic response, it was concluded that the visual signals encoded in these neurons could provide sufficient sensory information to drive the optokinetic reflex. Furthermore, it appears that the low gain of optokinetic eye movements in turtles, which have a negligible velocity storage time constant, may allow stable oculomotor output in spite of neuronal delays in the reflex pathway. This model illustrates how visual neurons in the pretectum and accessory optic system can contribute to visually guided eye movements.
The F-twist is giving way to the methodology of scientific research programs. Milton Friedman's “Methodology for Economics” is being supplanted as the orthodox rationale for neoclassical economics by Imre Lakatos' account of scientific respectability. Friedman's instrumentalist thesis that theories are to be judged by the confirmation of their consequences and not the realism of their assumptions has long been widely endorsed by economists, under Paul Samuelson's catchy rubric “the F-twist.” It retains its popularity among economists who want no truck with methodology, but among the increasing number of able economists who are writing on methodology the F-twist has been surrendered, not so much because these writers have decided it is false, as because something better has finally come along.
Weintraub is not really interested in whether economics is “science” or not. “Economists are not so unsophisticated as to think that calling economics a ‘science’ says anything about what economists do or should do” (1987, p. 140). But can it really be a matter of indifference to him whether the subject has the character of chemistry as opposed to literary criticism?
Accelerating developments in molecular biology since 1953 have strongly encouraged the advocacy of reductionism by a number of important biologists, including Crick, Monod, and E. O. Wilson, and strong opposition by equally prominent biologists, especially Lewontin, along with most philosophers of biology.
Reductionism is a metaphysical thesis, a claim about explanations, and a research program. The metaphysical thesis that reductionists advance (and antireductionists accept) is physicalism, the thesis that all facts, including the biological facts, are fixed by the physical and chemical facts; there are no nonphysical events, states, or processes, and so biological events, states, and processes are “nothing but” physical ones. This metaphysical thesis is one reductionists share with antireductionists. The reductionist argues that the metaphysical thesis has consequences for biological explanations: they need to be completed, corrected, made more precise, or otherwise deepened by more fundamental explanations in molecular biology. The antireductionist denies this inference, arguing that nonmolecular biological explanations are adequate and need no macromolecular correction, completion, or grounding. The research program that reductionists claim follows from the conclusion about explanations can be framed as the methodological moral that biologists should seek such macromolecular explanations.