50 words for snow 7: taxing attacks on taxa

We should consider in each case what Question it is that is proposed, and what answer to it would, in the instance before us, be the most opposite or contrasted to the one to be examined. E.G. “You will find this doctrine in Bacon” may be contrasted, either with “You will find in Bacon a Read More…

50 words for snow 5: constructing phenomena

Series Conceptual confusion The economics of cultural categories What are phenomena? What counts as sociocultural? Species Constructing phenomena Explanations and 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, Read More…

Closet Darwinism, and definitions

Every so often, somebody makes the case that “Darwinism”, “Darwinist” and “Darwinian”, being the generic noun, the individual term, and the adjective of Darwin’s name and therefore (supposedly) theory, are dead terms that cause nothing but harm (see Scott and Branch 2009). Larry Moran has just made this very argument, refusing to be called a Read More…

Ooh! Shiny!

Just got the draft cover art of my new book with Malte Ebach: I designed the logo myself… clever, hey?

Pizza reductionism, emergence and phenomena

Debates over reduction in science are as old as philosophy of science, but in the 1960s, Ernest Nagel’s book The Structure of Science really set things going. Nagel argued that a goal of science was to reduce one theory to a more general and explanatory theory, so that one can deduce the laws of the reduced Read More…

Scientism and methodological naturalism

So I’ve been busy with work, and finding a flat and preparing to move. Larry’s been busy tearing strips off those who argue that the ENCODE data shows the genome is mostly functional (only if you think that doing anything happens to be functional). But I hadn’t forgotten his latest claim that methodological naturalism is Read More…

Metaphysical determinism

There is a hypothesis called the Sapir-Whorf Thesis (also known as linguistic relativity) in language that one can only think what one’s language permits you to think, and indeed forces you to think. This idea that some conceptual scheme can determine how you think is widely held. It appears again in the notion of a Read More…

Evolution quotes: Theories are not the whole of science

I opened Structure of Scientific Theories asserting that the “most central or important” problem in philosophy of science is “the nature and structure of theories . . . . For theories are the vehicle of scientific knowledge and one way or another become involved in most aspects of the scientific enterprise” … . Don’t believe Read More…