50 words for snow 5: constructing phenomena

There is a naive empiricist view held by nobody on close inspection, that phenomena merely present themselves to the observer, and call for explanation. At least since Kant, such a view has been untenable, as Michela Massimi has shown. As she notes, it is well understood that phenomena are underdetermined by observational data, and she Read More…

50 words for snow 4; species

All classificatory terms are impossible of exact definition. Their use always has and always will depend upon the consensus of opinion of those best qualified by wisdom, experience and natural good sense. They will never become stable; we shall never cease to amend, to change, to repudiate old and propose new, because we shall never Read More…

50 words for snow 3: what are phenomena?

If experienced observers are trained to observe natural phenomena in their environment, pace the “interference” of cultural accidents, what is it they observe? As I mentioned before, we are not born into a world of ready made phenomena. William James referred to the sensory world of a newborn baby as a “blooming, buzzing confusion”: Experience, from Read More…

50 words for snow 2: or, the economics of cultural categories

Humans evolved in a world where knowing whether an animal was an antelope or a lion was essential for their survival: they could eat the antelope, and they could be eaten by the lion. Accordingly, the human mind seems to have evolved to organize its knowledge of the natural world into sets of related categories Read More…

50 words for snow, or conceptual confusion

In a well-known and generally debunked story, Inuit people have around 50 words for snow. Or so the argument by anthropologist Franz Boas goes. In fact, people who engage with the phenomena of their environments often make distinctions that those who rarely or never engage in the same way with those phenomena don’t. Snow is Read More…

Species: The evolution of the idea

I have completed and submitted the manuscript now for my revision of Species: A history of the idea, now renamed Species: the evolution of the idea. I am publishing it with CRC Press, and it is due out next year. In addition to updating and revising the historical sections of the book, I have added Read More…

Is physicalism an impoverished metaphysics?

Every so often, we read about some philosopher or other form of public intellectual who makes the claim that a physicalist ontology – a world view in which only things that can be described in terms of physics are said to exist – is impoverished. That is, there are things whereof science cannot know, &c. Read More…

Even more videos by Adam Ford

Adam has caught up with the remainder of his interviews with me and put them on Facebook. Once more I remind viewers this was entirely ad hoc and unrehearsed. Late note: I have now added all the videos. Many thanks to Adam. Check out his Youtube feed.

Some more videos

Adam Ford has added some more of the short videos he did with me a couple of weeks ago. I list them below. I might add that what missed the edit with respect to the Bayesianism versus frequentism video is that “This is not my field but I will give it my best shot”… Bayesianism Read More…

Wilkins on demarcation

Continuing Adam Ford’s series of me as a talking head: