Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Philosophy Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Articles 1 - 26 of 26

Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

The New Mechanical Philosophy, Stuart Glennan Aug 2017

The New Mechanical Philosophy, Stuart Glennan

Philosophy, Religion, and Classics

The New Mechanical Philosophy argues for a new image of nature and of science--one that understands both natural and social phenomena to be the product of mechanisms, and that casts the work of science as an effort to discover and understand those mechanisms. Drawing on an expanding literature on mechanisms in physical, life, and social sciences, Stuart Glennan offers an account of the nature of mechanisms and of the models used to represent them. A key quality of mechanisms is that they are particulars - located at different places and times, with no one just like another. The crux of the ...


Carl F. Craver And Lindley Darden: In Search Of Mechanisms: Discoveries Across The Life Sciences, Stuart Glennan Jul 2014

Carl F. Craver And Lindley Darden: In Search Of Mechanisms: Discoveries Across The Life Sciences, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Carl Craver and Lindley Darden are two of the foremost proponents of a recent approach to the philosophy of biology that is often called the New Mechanism. In this book they seek to make available to a broader readership insights gained from more than two decades of work on the nature of mechanisms and how they are described and discovered. The book is not primarily aimed at specialists working on the New Mechanism, but rather targets scientists, students and teachers who are looking for a broad, philosophically and historically informed image of discovery in the life sciences.


On The Relation Between Quantum Mechanical And Neo-Mechanistic Ontologies And Explanatory Strategies, Meinard Kuhlmann, Stuart Glennan May 2014

On The Relation Between Quantum Mechanical And Neo-Mechanistic Ontologies And Explanatory Strategies, Meinard Kuhlmann, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Advocates of the New Mechanicism in philosophy of science argue that scientific explanation often consists in describing mechanisms responsible for natural phenomena. Despite its successes, one might think that this approach does not square with the ontological strictures of quantum mechanics. New Mechanists suppose that mechanisms are composed of objects with definite properties, which are interconnected via local causal interactions. Quantum mechanics calls these suppositions into question. Since mechanisms are hierarchical it appears that even macroscopic mechanisms must supervene on a set of “objects” that behave non- classically. In this paper we argue, in part by appeal to the theory ...


Contesting Faith, Truth, And Religious Language At The Creation Museum: A Historical-Theological Reflection, Brent A. R. Hege Apr 2014

Contesting Faith, Truth, And Religious Language At The Creation Museum: A Historical-Theological Reflection, Brent A. R. Hege

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, attempts to demonstrate the flaws in contemporary science and to offer an alternative explanation of human origins and biological complexity rooted in a specific reading of the biblical narrative. This effort, however, is paradoxically rooted in the worldview of modern science and the Enlightenment. This article will examine the Creation Museum’s definitions of faith, truth, and religious language and will compare these definitions to those of mainline Protestant Christianity to uncover the historical and theological presuppositions of Creationist and mainline Protestant engagements with contemporary science.


Aspects Of Human Historiographic Explanation: A View From The Philosophy Of Science, Stuart Glennan Jan 2014

Aspects Of Human Historiographic Explanation: A View From The Philosophy Of Science, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

While some philosophers of history have argued that explanations in human history are of a fundamentally different kind than explanations in the natural sciences, I shall argue that this is not the case. Human beings are part of nature, human history is part of natural history, and human historical explanation is a species of natural historical explanation. In this paper I shall use a case study from the history of the American Civil War to show the variety of close parallels between natural and human historical explanation. In both instances, I shall argue that these explanations involve narrative descriptions of ...


Visual Rhetoric And The Promotion Of Scientific Ideas: The Strange Case Of The Prion, Carol Reeves Jan 2011

Visual Rhetoric And The Promotion Of Scientific Ideas: The Strange Case Of The Prion, Carol Reeves

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

In the field that investigates infectious brain diseases such as mad cow disease, the verbal and visual packaging of scientific visuals associated with identifying the agent, prion, its processes, and structure served the community ritual of establishing belief in a highly unorthodox phenomenon. Visual promotion fed into cultural expectations of single agents and simple processes, even though the actual agency and disease process have proven highly complex and perhaps unknowable.


Singular And General Causal Relations: A Mechanist Perspective, Stuart Glennan Jan 2011

Singular And General Causal Relations: A Mechanist Perspective, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

My aim in this paper is to make a case for the singularist view from the perspective of a mechanical theory of causation (Glennan 1996, 1997, 2010, forthcoming), and to explain what, from this perspective, causal generalizations mean, and what role they play within the mechanical theory.


Mechanisms, Causes, And The Layered Model Of The World, Stuart Glennan Jan 2010

Mechanisms, Causes, And The Layered Model Of The World, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Most philosophical accounts of causation take causal relations to obtain between individuals and events in virtue of nomological relations between properties of these individuals and events. Such views fail to take into account the consequences of the fact that in general the properties of individuals and events will depend upon mechanisms that realize those properties. In this paper I attempt to rectify this failure, and in so doing to provide an account of the causal relevance of higher-level properties. I do this by critiquing one prominent model of higher-level properties – Kim’s functional model of reduction – and contrasting it with ...


Mechanisms (Oxford), Stuart Glennan Jan 2010

Mechanisms (Oxford), Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Mechanism is undoubtedly a causal concept, in the sense that ordinary definitions and philosophical analyses explicate the concept in terms of other causal concepts such as production and interaction. Given this fact, many philosophers have supposed that analyses of the concept of mechanism, while they might appeal to philosophical theories about the nature of causation, could do little to inform such theories. On the other hand, methods of causal inference and explanation appeal to mechanisms. Discovering a mechanism is the gold standard for establishing and explaining causal connections. This fact suggests that it might be possible to provide an analysis ...


Ephemeral Mechanisms And Historical Explanation, Stuart Glennan Jan 2009

Ephemeral Mechanisms And Historical Explanation, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

While much of the recent literature on mechanisms has emphasized the superiority of mechanisms and mechanistic explanation over laws and nomological explanation, paradigmatic mechanisms—e.g., clocks or synapses – actually exhibit a great deal of stability in their behavior. And while mechanisms of this kind are certainly of great importance, there are many events that do not occur as a consequence of the operation of stable mechanisms. Events of natural and human history are often the consequence of causal processes that are ephemeral and capricious. In this paper I shall argue that, notwithstanding their ephemeral nature, these processes deserve to ...


Productivity, Relevance And Natural Selection, Stuart Glennan Oct 2008

Productivity, Relevance And Natural Selection, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Recent papers by a number of philosophers have been concerned with the question of whether natural selection is a causal process, and if it is, whether the causes of selection are properties of individuals or properties of populations. I shall argue that much confusion in this debate arises because of a failure to distinguish between causal productivity and causal relevance. Causal productivity is a relation that holds between events connected via continuous causal processes, while causal relevance is a relationship that can hold between a variety of different kinds of facts and the events that counterfactually depend upon them. I ...


Whose Science And Whose Religion? Reflections On The Relations Between Scientific And Religious Worldviews, Stuart Glennan Jun 2007

Whose Science And Whose Religion? Reflections On The Relations Between Scientific And Religious Worldviews, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Arguments about the relationship between science and religion often proceed by identifying a set of essential characteristics of scientific and religious worldviews and arguing on the basis of these characteristics for claims about a relationship of conflict or compatibility between them. Such a strategy is doomed to failure because science, to some extent, and religion, to a much larger extent, are cultural phenomena that are too diverse in their expressions to be characterized in terms of a unified worldview. In this paper I follow a different strategy. Having offered a loose characterization of the nature of science, I pose five ...


Modeling Mechanisms, Stuart Glennan Jan 2005

Modeling Mechanisms, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Philosophers of science increasingly believe that much of science is concerned with understanding the mechanisms responsible for the production of natural phenomena. An adequate understanding of scientific research requires an account of how scientists develop and test models of mechanisms. This paper offers a general account of the nature of mechanical models, discussing the representational relationship that holds between mechanisms and their models as well as the techniques that can be used to test and refine such models. The analysis is supported by study of two competing models of a mechanism of speech perception.


"I Knew There Was Something Wrong With That Paper": Scientific Rhetorical Styles And Scientific Misunderstandings, Carol Reeves Jan 2005

"I Knew There Was Something Wrong With That Paper": Scientific Rhetorical Styles And Scientific Misunderstandings, Carol Reeves

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

This selection unpacks scientific prose and claim substantiation for Nobel Prize winner, Stan Prusiner, in the transmissible spongiform encephlopathies field (i.e., mad cow disease). Applying linguistic strategies such as M. A. K. Halliday's "favorite clause type," the author examines argumentative strategies in dense scientific prose both in bold and cautious rhetorical styles and invented lexical changes in new scientific development.


Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation, Stuart Glennan Jan 2002

Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Philosophers of science typically associate the causal-mechanical view of scientific explanation with the work of Railton and Salmon. In this paper I shall argue that the defects of this view arise from an inadequate analysis of the concept of mechanism. I contrast Salmon's account of mechanisms in terms of the causal nexus with my own account of mechanisms, in which mechanisms are viewed as complex systems. After describing these two concepts of mechanism, I show how the complex-systems approach avoids certain objections to Salmon's account of causal-mechanical explanation. I conclude by discussing how mechanistic explanations can provide understanding ...


An Orthodox Heresy: Scientific Rhetoric And The Science Of Prions., Carol Reeves Jan 2002

An Orthodox Heresy: Scientific Rhetoric And The Science Of Prions., Carol Reeves

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

A significant theoretical shift in the research community examining a class of terminal, infectious neurological disorders that includes Mad Cow Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Kuru was assisted by rhetorical production. The local rhetoric of one laboratory, that of Professor Stanley B. Prusiner, involved first situating an heretical hypothesis within the framework of the orthodox narrative and then audaciously promoting that heresy. Another aspect of rhetorical production in this case involved situating a new language associated with the heretical hypothesis. To promote their new lexicon, the Prusiner team evoked orthodox values of consistency, efficiency, and collective ratification. Eventually, what was once ...


Contextual Unanimity And The Units Of Selection Problem, Stuart M. Glennan Jan 2001

Contextual Unanimity And The Units Of Selection Problem, Stuart M. Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Sober and Lewontin’s critique of genic selectionism is based upon the principle that a unit of selection should make a context‐independent contribution to fitness. Critics have effectively shown that this principle is flawed. In this paper I show that the context independence principle is an instance of a more general principle for characterizing causes,called the contextual unanimity principle. I argue that this latter principle, while widely accepted, is erroneous. What is needed is to replace the approach to causality characterized by the contextual unanimity criterion with an approach based on the concept of causal mechanism. After sketching ...


The Nature Of Science: A Perspective From The Philosophy Of Science, Juli T. Eflin, Stuart Glennan, George Reisch Jan 1999

The Nature Of Science: A Perspective From The Philosophy Of Science, Juli T. Eflin, Stuart Glennan, George Reisch

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

In a recent article in this journal, Brian Alters (1997) argued that, given the many ways in which the nature of science (NOS) is described and poor student responses to NOS instruments such as Nature of Scientific Knowledge Scale (NSKS), Nature of Science Scale (NOSS), Test on Understanding Science (TOUS), and others, it is time for science educators to reconsider the standard lists of tenets for the NOS. Alters suggested that philosophers of science are authorities on the NOS and that consequently, it would be wise to investigate their views of current NOS tenets. To that end, he conducted a ...


Rhetoric And The Aids Virus Hunt, Carol Reeves Jan 1998

Rhetoric And The Aids Virus Hunt, Carol Reeves

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

By comparing the papers produced by the laboratory teams of Robert Gallo and Jean Luc Montagnier during the AIDS virus hunt, we have an opportunity to discern the fine line between a bold, explicit rhetoric that may convince as well as offend and a bald, reserved rhetoric that may actually conceal important implications. Going too far in either direction may create misunderstandings and ethical dilemmas as will be demonstrated in a textual analysis deepened by an exploration of historical context and interviews with key participants. Since a public health crisis calls upon communication that thwarts misunderstandings, scientists should understand the ...


Probable Causes And The Distinction Between Subjective And Objective Chance, Stuart M. Glennan Jan 1997

Probable Causes And The Distinction Between Subjective And Objective Chance, Stuart M. Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

In this paper I present both a critical appraisal of Humphreys' probabilistic theory of causality and a sketch of an alternative view of the relationship between the notions of probability and of cause. Though I do not doubt that determinism is false, I claim that the examples used to motivate Humphreys' theory typically refer to subjective rather than objective chance. Additionally, I argue on a number of grounds that Humphreys' suggestion that linear regression models be used as a canonical form for the description of causal relations is untenable. I conclude by exploring the variety of ways in which probabilistic ...


Capacities, Universality And Singularity, Stuart M. Glennan Jan 1997

Capacities, Universality And Singularity, Stuart M. Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

In this paper I criticize Cartwright's analysis of capacities and offer an alternative analysis. I argue that Cartwright's attempt to connect capacities to her condition CC fails because individuals can exercise capacities only in certain contexts. My own analysis emphasizes three features of capacities: 1) Capacities belong to individuals; 2) Capacities are typically not metaphysically fundamental properties of individuals, but can be explained by referring to structural properties of individuals; and 3) Laws are best understood as ascriptions of capacities.


Mechanisms And The Nature Of Causation, Stuart Glennan Jan 1996

Mechanisms And The Nature Of Causation, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

In this paper I offer an analysis of causation based upon a theory of mechanisms – complex systems whose "internal" parts interact to produce a system's "external" behavior. I argue that all but the fundamental laws of physics can be explained by reference to mechanisms. Mechanisms provide an epistemologically unproblematic way to explain the necessity which is often taken to distinguish laws from other generalizations. This account of necessity leads to a theory of causation according to which events are causally related when there is a mechanism that connects them. I present reasons why the lack of an account of ...


Computationalism And The Problem Of Other Minds, Stuart M. Glennan Jan 1995

Computationalism And The Problem Of Other Minds, Stuart M. Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

In this paper I discuss Searle's claim that the computational properties of a system could never cause a system to be conscious. In the first section of the paper I argue that Searle is correct that, even if a system both behaves in a way that is characteristic of conscious agents (like ourselves) and has a computational structure similar to those agents, one cannot be certain that that system is conscious. On the other hand, I suggest that Searle's intuition that it is “empirically absurd” that such a system could be conscious is unfounded. In the second section ...


Why There Can't Be A Logic Of Induction, Stuart Glennan Jan 1994

Why There Can't Be A Logic Of Induction, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Carap's attempt to develop an inductive logic has been criticized on a variety of grounds, and while there may be some philosophers who believe that difficulties with Carnap's approach can be overcome by further elaborations and modifications of his system, I think it is fair to say that the consensus is that the approach as a whole cannot succeed. In writing a paper on problems with inductive logic (and with Carnap's approach in particular), I might therefore be accused of beating a dead horse. However, there are still some (e.g., Spirtes, Glymour and Scheines 1993) who ...


Owning A Virus: The Rhetoric Of Scientific Discovery Accounts, Carol Reeves Jan 1992

Owning A Virus: The Rhetoric Of Scientific Discovery Accounts, Carol Reeves

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

No Abstract Available


Establishing The Phenomenon: The Rhetoric Of Early Research Reports On Aids, Carol Reeves Jan 1990

Establishing The Phenomenon: The Rhetoric Of Early Research Reports On Aids, Carol Reeves

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

In the first three medical reports on AIDS which were published in 1981 in the New England Journal of Medicine, the writers' primary rhetorical agenda was to argue that a new medical discovery had been made. A secondary agenda was to offer etiological explanations for the new problem. To establish the new disease entity as deserving serious attention, the writers built a sense of mystery by confronting established medical knowledge about immunodeficiency and emphasizing the inability of modern medicine to diagnose and treat the problem. When they explained the phenomenon in etiological terms, rather than confronting the disciplinary matrix, the ...