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Philosophy of Science

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Developmental Systems and Evolution

The nature/nurture debate is not dead. Dichotomous views of development still underlie many fundamental debates in the biological and social sciences. Developmental systems theory (DST) offers a new conceptual framework with which to resolve such debates. DST views ontogeny as contingent cycles of interaction among a varied set of developmental resources, no one of which controls the process. These factors include DNA, cellular and organismic structure, and social and ecological interactions.

A Computer Model

The psychologist William James observed that "a native talent for perceiving analogies is ... the leading fact in genius of every order." The centrality and the ubiquity of analogy in creative thought have been noted again and again by scientists, artists, and writers, and understanding and modeling analogical thought have emerged as two of the most important challenges for cognitive science.

Connectionism, Concepts, and Representational Change

Connectionist approaches, Andy Clark argues, are driving cognitive science toward a radical reconception of its explanatory endeavor. At the heart of this reconception lies a shift toward a new and more deeply developmental vision of the mind - a vision that has important implications for the philosophical and psychological understanding of the nature of concepts, of mental causation, and of representational change.

Complexity and Change in Biology

Development and Evolution surveys and illuminates the key themes of rapidly changing fields and areas of controversy that are redefining the theory and philosophy of biology. It continues Stanley Salthe's investigation of evolutionary theory, begun in his influential book Evolving Hierarchical Systems, while negating the implicit philosophical mechanisms of much of that work.

One influential view of science focuses on the credibility that scientists attach to alternative theories and on the evolution of these credibilities under the impact of data. Interpreting credibility as probability leads to the Bayesian analysis of inquiry, which has helped us to understand diverse aspects of scientific practice. Eric Martin and Daniel N. Osherson take as their starting point a different set of intuitions about the variables to be retained in a model of inquiry.

Theories of Spatial Perception from Kant to Helmholtz

Gary Hatfield examines theories of spatial perception from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century and provides a detailed analysis of the works of Kant and Helmholtz, who adopted opposing stances on whether central questions about spatial perception were amenable to natural-scientific treatment.

Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives

The last decade saw the arrival of a new player in the creation/evolution debate—the intelligent design creationism (IDC) movement, whose strategy is to act as "the wedge" to overturn Darwinism and scientific naturalism. This anthology of writings by prominent creationists and their critics focuses on what is novel about the new movement. It serves as a companion to Robert Pennock's Tower of Babel, in which he criticizes the wedge movement, as well as other new varieties of creationism.

Since the 1960s, two claims have been at the core of disputes about scientific change: that scientists reason rationally and that science is progressive. For most of this time discussions were polarized between philosophers, who defended traditional Enlightenment ideas about rationality and progress, and sociologists, who espoused relativism and constructivism. Recently, creative new ideas going beyond the polarized positions have come from the history of science, feminist criticism of science, psychology of science, and anthropology of science.

A Search for the Hidden Meaning of Science

Nature has secrets, and it is the desire to uncover them that motivates the scientific quest. But what makes these "secrets" secret? Is it that they are beyond human ken? that they concern divine matters? And if they are accessible to human seeking, why do they seem so carefully hidden? Such questions are at the heart of Peter Pesic's enlightening effort to uncover the meaning of modern science.

New Interdisciplinary Essays

The concept of species has played a central role in both evolutionary biology and the philosophy of biology, and has been the focus of a number of books in recent years. This book differs from other recent collections in two ways. It is more explicitly integrative and analytical, centering on issues of general significance such as pluralism and realism about species. It also draws on a broader range of disciplines and brings neglected cognitive, anthropological, and historical dimensions to philosophical debates over species.

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