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…

Species: The evolution of the idea

My revised book is now titled Species: The evolution of the idea, and now contains a philosophy section as well as a complete list of species concept[ion]s and an appendix of all taxonomic levels I could locate. It is due out in February 2018 from CRC Press. I have done a complete revision of all sections 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, 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 coherent?

In my last post I argued that physicalism cannot be rejected simply because people assert there are nonphysical objects which are beyond specification. Some are, however, specifiable, and one commentator has identified the obvious ones: abstract objects like the rules of chess or numbers. I have dealt with these before in my “Pizza reductionism” post, 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…