Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Empirical science and the transcendentals

As James Ladyman notes in Understanding Philosophy of Science, “many scientists intuitively regard simple and unifying theories as, all other things being equal, more likely to be true than messy and complex ones” (p. 83).  In the minds of some prominent scientists, this simplicity criterion is tied to aesthetic value.  Einstein is often quoted as saying that “the only physical theories that we are willing to accept are the beautiful ones.”  Paul Dirac went so far as to opine that “it is more important to have beauty in one’s equations than to have them fit experiment.”

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The problem of Hume’s problem of induction

In the context of discussion of Hume’s famous “problem of induction,” induction is typically characterized as reasoning from what we have observed to what we have not observed.  For example, we reason inductively in this sense when we infer from the fact that bread has nourished us in the past that it will also nourish us in the future.  (There are, of course, other ways to characterize induction, but we can ignore them for the purposes of this post.)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Goldman on Dreher’s The Benedict Option

People have been asking me to comment on David Goldman’s review of Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option.  The reason is that among Goldman’s criticisms of Dreher (some of which I agree with) are a set of objections to metaphysical realism, which has its roots in Plato and Aristotle, was central to the thought of medieval philosophers like Aquinas, and was abandoned by nominalists like Ockham – an abandonment which prepared the ground for some of the aspects of modernity Dreher rightly deplores.  (I’ve discussed the nature and consequences of this philosophical shift myself in several places, such as The Last Superstition.)