2012 Fall Proseminar Class Notes A

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August 29, 2012

Alfino's Post

First Class Topics

  • Course, Material, and Goals
  • Course Methods and web sites
  • Course website
  • Course wiki
  • Einstruction site - speech, surveymonkey.
  • A typical prep cycle for the course: read, engage, review, prep SQs.
  • 6 hours / week !
  • Grading Schemes
  • Ereserves - pdf print incentive day is coming - Sept 4th.

Philosophy Exercise

We'll try an exercise to bring out some of your ideas about philosophy, and some issues in defining philosophy.

Student Posts

Daniel Bell-Garrison: I've read through two of the week's readings, and thus far the most interesting point being raised is the distinction between philosophy as a way of life (as the ancient philosophers lived) and philosophy as a discourse. On one hand, I do try to use any lessons I've learned in class, whether that be English, history, psychology, or philosophy, in everyday situations instead of just learning the material to move on to the next class, as well as using lessons to make me a better person in general. I feel this is closer to the code of conduct way of thinking that the ancient philosophers lived by. However, I can also agree that much of contemporary learning is lessons in order to reach higher lessons. Anyway, I'm sure we'll mention this in class. I just wanted to write it all out to clear my own thoughts up. Maybe it's helpful for others too.

September 5, 2012

Alfino's Post

Investigating Philosophy as a Discipline

Question for investigating Philosophy as a discipline

  1. What is philosophy?
  2. What are the major fields of Philosophy? See this wiki list.
  3. What are some basic concepts, issues, and methods of each? Browse.
  4. What are the major temporal epochs of Western philosophy?
  5. Is philosophy a global phenomenon? What is comparative philosophy? How do you identify philosophy in other cultures? (See course unit)
  6. What is the difference between continental and analytic philoosphy? (Course unit)
  7. What are: existentialism, postmodernism, positivism, romanticism, enlightenment philosophy, scientific revolution, renaissance, neo-platonism, scholasticism, game theory, cognitive science, moral psychology, ...
  8. How does philosophy relate to literature and religion?
  9. What are contemporary philosophers saying about art & politics?
  10. Why did language become so important in 20th century philosophy?

Major Sub-fields

Discussion of Hadot, "Spiritual Exercises"

"Spiritual exercises can be best observed in the context of Hellenistic and Roman schools of philosophy. The Stoics, for instance, declared explicitly that philosophy, for them, was an "exercise."n In their view, philosophy did not consist in teaching an abstract theory - much less in the exegesis of texts'n, out rather in the art of living.n It is a concrete attitude and determinate life-Style, which engages the whole of existence. The philosophical act is not situated merely on the cognitive level, but on that of the self and of being. It is a progress which causes us to be more fully, and makes us better.'n It is a conversion'n which turns our entire life upside down, changing the life of the person who goes through it.n It raises the individual from an inauthentic condition of life, darkened by unconsciousness and harassed by worry, to an authentic state of life, in which he attains self-consciousness, an exact vision of the world, inner peace, and freedom." 82
86: "For the Stoic, then, doing philosophy meant practicing how to "live": thatis, how to live freely and consciously. Consciously, in that we pass beyond thelimits of individuality, to recognize ourselves as a part of the reason-animatedcosmos. Freely, in that we give up desiring that which does not depend on usand is beyond our control, so as to attach ourselves only to what depends onus: actions which are just and in conformity with reason."
  • Philosophers as therapists / Philosophy as therapeutic.
  • In Epicurean thought -- the tetrapharmakos; also in Phaedrus.
88: "For the Epicureans, in the last analysis, pleasure is a spiritual exercise. Notpleasure in the form of mere sensual gratification, but the intellectual pleasurederived from contemplating nature, the thought of pleasures past and present,and lastly the pleasure of friendship. "
  • Prosoche -- attention.
  • Learning to Die -- It's role in defining philosophy.
  • Plotinus - sculpting your statue.

Begin Review of Theory of Argument and Explanation

We'll work from the following three documents for this line of instruction:

Hadot, "Philosophy as a Way of Life"

  • Opening quote from Philo of Alexandria - mix of stoic thought. wise are joyous. Who was Philo?
  • thesis: Philosophy was a way of life. Discusses Symposium as model.
  • Wisdom sought also because it brings peace of mind (ataraxia) and inner freedom (autarkeia). Philosopy as therapeutic.
  • "Philosophy presented itself as a method for achieving independence andinner freedom {autarkeia), that state in which the ego depends only uponitself. We encounter this theme in Socrates, among the Cynics, in Aristotle for whom only the contemplativeWhat life is independent - in Epicurus," among the Stoics." Although their methodologies differ, we find in allphilosophical schools the same awareness of the power of the human self tofree itself from everything which is alien to it, even if, as in the case of theSkeptics, it does so via the mere refusal to make any decision." 266
  • Hadot claims there was a big distinction between "discourse" on philosophy and doing philosophy. The task of philosophy was living wisely. Anecdote about the carpenter (267). read par. top of 268, "Does the philosophical life..."
  • -269: Thesis: "From its very beginnings - that is, from the second century AD on - Christianity had presented itself as a philosophy: the Christian way of life. Indeed, the very fact that Christianity was able to present itself as a philosophy confirms the assertion that philosophy was conceived in antiquity as a way of life. If to do philosophy was to live in conformity with the law of reason, so the argument went, the Christian was a philosopher, since he lived in conformity with the law of the Logos - divine reason. In order to present itself as a philosophy, Christianity was obliged to integrate elements borrowed from ancient philosophy. It had to make the Logos of the gospel according to John coincide with Stoic cosmic reason, and subsequently also with the Aristotelian or Platonic intellect. It also had to integrate philosophical spiritual exercises into Christian life. The phenomenon of integration appears very clearly in Clement of Alexandria, and was intensely developed in the monastic movement, where we find the Stoico/Platonic exercises of attention to oneself (prosoche), meditation, examination of conscience, and the training for death. We also re-encounter the high value accorded to peace of mind and impassibility."
  • claims this tradition lapse in medieval period. Revived by Ignatius.

===Deleuze, "What is Philosophy?"

  • "Philosophy is the art of forming, inventing, and fabricating concepts." 2
  • "The philosopher is expert in concepts and in the lack of them. He knows which of them are not viable, which are arbitrary or inconsistent, which ones do not hold up for an instant." 3
  • Note that the rhetorical dimensions of philosophy, "conceptual personae", it's relation to an audience, to the friend, lover, etc. are part of philosophy for Deleuze.
  • Philosophy is not contemplation, relfection or communication.6
  • "Although concepts are dated, signed, and baptized, they have their own way of not dying while remaining subject to constraints of renewal, replacement, and mutation that give philosophy a history as well as a turbulent geography, each moment and place of which is preserved (but in time) and that passes (but outside time)." 8
  • 10: Philosophy confused today? "the general movement that replaced Critique with sales promotion" allusion to simulacrum.

DeBotton, Dillard, and Golding

  • We'll briefly discuss each piece and consider them as alternatives to academic writing of philosophy.

Begin Review of Theory of Argument and Explanation

We'll work from the following three documents for this line of instruction:

Student Posts

September 12, 2012

Alfino's Post

Timeline Examples:

  • Anarchism [1]
  • Existentialism [2]

Philosophical Method

  • review of induction and deduction
  • review of structure of argument, argument vs. explanation, reconstruction.

Schick and Vaughn, Science and Its Pretenders

  • Induction and Deduction in gen/testing hypotheses -- note claim that hyp gen is not automatic or strict induction.
  • Methods for testing hypotheses: terms: control group, placebo controlled trial, bling and double blind.
  • Hypotheses tested in bundles. "saving the theory" "ad hoc" reasoning p. 169.
  • Criteria of adequacy: testability, fruitfulness, scope, simplicity, and conservatism.

Giere, Understanding and Evaluating Thoeretical Hypotheses

  • What does the account of the search for the structure of DNA show about science, acc to Giere?
  • Models - maps as analogs for theoretical models, relations of map to reality.
  • Theoretical Hypothesis, defined, 27.
  • Models, Data, Hypotheses.
  • Figure 2.9. Indirect realism.

Barnes, Natural Science in the 17th and 18th centuries

  • Relation of science to universities and to independent societies.
  • Instruments and technology.
  • Celestial Mechanics and the Church. (Note on Copernicus, 677)
  • What's important about Kepler's laws? relation to Tycho Brahe [3]
  • Dev. of stats -- Huygens, 681
  • Knowledge of circulation, early surgery, cellular structure
  • Locke, Hobbes, and early psychology.
  • Newton, Leibniz, and calculus!

Student Posts

September 19, 2012

Alfino's Post

Student Posts

http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2009/10/26/24271/ http://www.independentliving.org/docs5/singer.html I found an article about protests after Singer was appointed as a professor at Princeton. It seems his majorly controversial views are about the traditional view of the 'sanctity of life'. Basically, he says there are situations where killing humans is fine, and even morally right in some cases. This includes abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide. One of the bigger controversies, along the lines of abortion, is his belief that killing cognitively-handicapped infants up to 28 days after birth is perfectly acceptable. He's a big utilitarian (obviously), and it's pretty easy to see why a lot of people might have opposing views. -Daniel

http://vigilantcitizen.com/moviesandtv/the-hunger-games-a-glimpse-at-the-new-world-order/ I found this article to be an interesting connection to some of Singer's points in Rich and Poor And One World. A slightly different take that I would say we can all relate to a bit. Just a little food for thought. Love, Kate

September 26, 2012

Alfino's Post

Herman, Chapter 8: A Select Society

  • How does reading about philosophers in historical context alter our perceptions of them?
  • Scottish Enlightenment: societies, Edin/Glasgow, relation to Kirk. (book opens with last execution: theology student Thomas Aikenhead.)
  • Smith's views as compromise of tendencies in Scottish Enlightenment (Hutcheson / Kames p. 215)
  • Radicalness of Hume's views.
  • Importance of contrast between advocates of Liberty then...
  • Both Smith and Hume are thinking about moral sense as mix of instinct/habit.
  • Smith's "frame" was not so much economy as moral sociology.
  • Correctives: 1. invisible hand misunderstood 2. laissez-faire 3. not apology for big business.
  • Smith's account of corruption of commercial society. These folks are anticipating modern anthropology/sociology.

Hume's Epistemology

1. Initial charcterization.

2. Implications for nature of knowledge.

3. Problem of Induction. Simple demonstration. Principle of uniformity no solution.

4. Sceptical and Constructive sides of Hume's epistemology. Similarity, Custom & Habit, disputes over status of "necessary connection" -- constant conjunction -- regression analysis...

Student Posts

October 3, 2012

Alfino's Post

Schick & Vaughn, Laboratory of the Mind, Thought Experiments

  • Note how authors introduce thought experiments in relation to logical argument methods.
  • "Thought experiments test claims about the conditions under which concept sapply or events occur."49
  • Criteria for criticizing thought experiments: lack of control.
  • Conceivability as a criterion for creating a counter example. (Conceivability vs. Possibility)

Thompson, A Defense of Abortion

  • begins assuming fetus is a person, though she denies that a clump of cells is a person. Wants to see where the arguments goes with that assumption. Step from showing its a person to concluding that it can't be aborted needs more attention. Most of the attention falls on showing it's a person.
Core model argument:
Fetus is a person.
Every person has a right to life.
Fetus has a rights to life.
  • 48: Violinist Thought Experiment.
  • Point: You don't have an obligation to remain connected to the violinist. "the extreme view" is that abortion is impermissible even to save the life of the mother.
  • additional premises needed for the extreme view:
  • 1. Direct killing of an innocent person is always and absolutely impermissible
  • 2. Direct killing .... is murder, murder is always impermissible.
  • 3. Duty to refrain from direct killing is always stronger than duty to keep a person from dying.
  • But all of these additional premises are false.
  • If the mother performs abortion on herself to save her life, that can't be murder. 51-52.vvPart of the problem in the abortion discussion is that we always decide what's permissible for a 3rd party to do, because we always assume the abortion is performed by a 3rd party.
  • Tiny House thought experiment. 52
  • Point: A 3rd party might say to you "There's no way to choose between you and the child", but that doesn't mean that you can't choose between you and the child.
  • Still, there are limits to self-defense.
  • Variation on the Tiny House thought experiment - include notion of maternal ownership of the "house". Then the 3rd party could help. Two people need a coat to keep from freezing, but one person owns it.
  • 55: meaning of "right to life" Any right to life that the violinist has doesn't entail a right to your kidneys. If "the touch of Henry Fonda's cool hand on my brow" were the only thing that could save my life, it wouldn't follow that I have a right to it.
  • often understood as "right not to be killed by anybody", but the purely negative formulation would leave you unable to act against the violinist and would essentially confer a positive right on him to your kidneys.
  • 56: the right to life doesn't guarantee having a right to the use of someone's body. So right to life will not serve opponents of abortion as they think.
  • Section 4 Another way to bring it out. To deny someone's rights is to treat them unjustly, but it's not unjust to deny the violinist use of your kidneys.
  • The right to life must be understood in terms of "unjust killing". So the violinst could have the right to life, but you do not kill him unjustly by unplugging him.
  • 57b [addresses the problem of voluntariness.]
  • by having intercourse, isn't the woman "inviting" the person in? partly responsible?
  • example of the burglar. You aren't partly responsible for the burglar coming in just because you open the window.
  • 58: People seed thought experiment.
  • Point: As with the burglar, the people seed that slips through the screen doesn't acquire a right to your house.

  • Section 5.
  • From the other side....
  • It would be "morally indecent" to deny the violinist use of your kidneys for one hour.
  • [interesting. an anti-abortionist could argue that the same applies to "nine months"]
  • but this doesn't warrant claims of injustice or denial of rights if you don't.
  • Section 6.

from the pro-choice critic. Thomson's argument does not allow you to guarantee the death of the fetus. If unplugging him doesn't kill him, you have no interest in seeing him dead.

  • It think what Thompson is attempting to do in this article is to give a more moderate defense of abortion. Instead of attacking the notion that life begins at conception (which is irrefutable) or opting for the position pro-lifers have called "abortion on demand;" she is analyzing the moral status of the fetus and saying there are at least some instances in the developmental processes before birth where abortion can be morally justified, or perhaps, better put, not immoral.

Student Posts

So here is a TED talk from Nick Bostrom.... thought it was kind of interesting. I also could not find his essay, but I thought this was a great TED video. Hopefully someone else will enjoy it!


-from blue

This might help if you love Futurama and don't understand Schrodinger's cat [[5]] -Marco

October 10, 2012

Alfino's Post

Strategy for Class

After our successful clicker quiz, we need to develop the central narrative of modern philosophy in order to see Kant as the "turning point" that he was.

  • From Descartes: Attention to sources of certainty in subjectivity; cogito, rational argument for God, dualism, problems. Privleges intuition of a sort.
  • From Locke: ideas and sensations part of empirical consciousness. All data of csness. Mind as tabula rasa. Primary/Secondary, hangs on to substance, but not nec. cohering. Started modern topic of personal identity.
  • Note from our study of Hume that we can see where Locke's empiricism leads. Failure of project of certainty, acceptance of problem of induction. Supports a range of responses: skeptical, pragmatic, model theory view of science.
Berkeley: What happens when we hold empiricists to their psychology? B's position can be viewed as a reductio ad absurdum, but he seriously proposes taking our knowledge to be based solely in sensation. Esse est percipi. God is needed to be the percipient of all things in reality, hence a ground of objective reality.
  • So what's the situation between rationalism and empiricism in light of this kind of sequence of views? How Hume pose a final challenge here?
  • Kant as Novel Solution to the problem of grounding certainty of knowledge and determining the possibility of metaphysics. (read Scruton, p. 133)
  • Copernican Revolution.

Some things to track in Kenny, Chapter 3, Descartes to Kant

  • -note how philosophy is produced through this period (first couple pages)
  • Descartes: life, main ideas (113), method of doubt; cogito; not much to track 117-121; mind/body problems; comments on intuition p. 126
  • Locke: notice two problems emerging: where do ideas come from and what grounds them as knowledge. innate ideas; primary secondary qualities; view of substance; personal identity (let's get off the train here and talk about this in seminar 136-139.)
  • Berkeley: general critique of Descartes and up-ending of empiricism.

Student Posts

October 17, 2012

Alfino's Post

Siderits on Buddhism in General

  • details from the history
  • Four Noble Truths; existential suffering, suffering from conditions, dependent origination (22f), model of liberation
  • Problems with Nirvana (?)

Siderits on Buddhism idea of non-self

  • Qualitative and Numerical Identity
  • Uniqueness and identity, p. 34
  • Argument from Impermanence for non-self p. 35, imp. of exhaustiveness claim. connection with Hume.
  • Arguemnt from control for non-self, p. 46. Idea of "controller self" might be advanced as model for self. The controller self would have to operate on itself (since there is nothing about us that we do not sometimes change or control), but violates the Anti-Reflexivity Principle. Therefore there's no controller self.
  • Broader solution for Buddhist: Conventional (convenient designator) vs. Ultimate reality (related to the nominalist/realist debate in Western Phil)
  • Questions of King Melinda -- reality of the chariott, "the average college student", (also, "the university")
  • Problem of reality of person becomes practical: p. 58. Who's reincarnated? Who's responsible for anyone or anything?
  • Example of flame, example of milk in different forms.

Student Posts

October 24, 2012

Alfino's Post

Nagel, What is it Like to Be a Bat?

Background on Nagel

From a previous student:

  • Nagel is a professor of Philosophy and Law at NYU.[6] HIs work mainly deals with questions of consciousness and objectivity versus subjectivity. He has been described by his peers as being a Rationalist, and ethical Kantian. Because we will be focusing on his Philosophy of Mind perspective in " What is it Like to be a Bat?", it would probably be a good idea to get a general sense of what he thinks about the subject as a whole.
  • Since he focuses and advocates for human subjectivety, it makes sense that he also is regarded for his views of whether objectivity is possible. For Nagel, it isn't a matter of whether something is or isn't objective. Nagel believes that objectivity exists in a matter of degrees. Objectivity can be obtained, but only to the degree that an individual is willing to subjectively choose wider perspectives outside his own immediate one. While this would seem problematic given the subjective nature of choosing a wider perspective, his view is still quoted widely. One place i have located his theory in use is the the field of Journalism Philosophy. Here is the address to a pdf article containing references to Nagel in this area. [www.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/PDF/1218.pdf]

Nagel, What is it Like to Be a Bat?

  • reductionism
  • the "problem of consciousness" - unanalyzability (436); point of view (437)
  • you can know that you can't know what it's like to be a bat
  • near solipsism or radical incompleteness of knowledge because of "point of view" (read 441)

Dennett, excerpt from Consciousness Explained on Nagel's argument

  • note other possible comparisions: spider, chimp.
  • there is a lot we can know about what it's like to be a bat.
  • mistake of the "Cartesean theatre" -- thinking there's another you watching what happens in your brain.

Scruton, Continental Philosophy from Fichte to Sartre

  • Our goals: to get a sense of the character of post-Kantian romantic philosophy. To see the philosophical conditions from which the analytic/continental divide emerges.
  • Fichte and the "drama of the self" -- positing the I as subject and object.
  • Trying to get around Kant's limit to intuition
  • Themes in Schelling and Schiller: unifying Spirit and Nature;
  • Hegel's subjective idealism
  • Reality as spirit coming to know itself.
  • Role of dialectic -- logical relations as processes
  • master slave dialectic, leads to mutual recognition.
  • Marx
  • concept of alienation from tradition and Hegel.
  • "left" Hegelians
  • transposing the dialectic to materialism.
  • analysis of class consciousness
  • Schopenhauer
  • Nietzsche
  • also thinking about will as fundamental.
  • radical critique of Chritian culture vis a via aristocratic ideals.
  • subjectivity of experience. power and creativity celebrated.
  • truth a moving army of metaphors.

Student Posts

October 31, 2012

Alfino's Post

Alfino, "Postmodern Theories of Meaning and Truth"

  • Postmodernism identified with undermining.
  • Cultural details about postmodernism in the academy.
  • "Structure, Sign, and Play"
  • Slogans:
  • There's nothing outside the text.
  • no pre-linguistic access. ubiquity of "text"
  • Man is an invention of recent date.
  • ideas have histories
  • Language speaks us.
  • undermines sense of control. not neutral tool. code/coded. Language and creation of the self.
  • Postmodernism as methodological rather than systematic philosophy.
  • Structuralist to Post-structuralist
  • Structuralism: de Saussure; culture understood in terms of oppositions, paradigms.
  • Saussure's concept of sign: arbitrariness in signifier/signified. linguistic value as relational. Linguistic value.
  • Example of the 8:25 train from Geneva to Paris.
  • UPS model vs. Postmodern model.
  • Derridean appropriation: Meaning not present in sign.
  • Derrida critiques' "hidden metaphysics" in S's division of sign.
  • Derrida critiques speech/writing distinction. Myth of presence, logocentrism. Privledging moment of pure contact of mind/reality. Derridean readings.
  • Philosophy after Postmodernism
  • Philosophy's traditional self-image. "Philosophical truth" Text as scene of conflict/power.
Summary of Postmodern Claims
  1. There is nothing outside the text.
  2. Postmodernism readings defamiliarize ideas.
  3. Language speaks us.
  4. Presence of meaning is either an illusion or a careful construct.
  5. Stability of meaning requires more explanation than meaning difference and drift.

Foucault, Derrida, and Rorty -- in brief

  • Foucault
  • Critique of self and traditional anthropology
  • Connects knowledge and power
  • Method: Geneology -- breaking down grand narratives or unifying theories
  • Derrida
  • Critique of Meaning (also from talk)
  • Metaphysics of Presence
  • Deconstruction
  • Rorty
  • What is a pragmatist?
  • What makes Rorty's pragmatism postmodern?

Student Posts

November 7, 2012

Alfino's Post

Class -- I just pasted reading notes in below, so here's a more concise list of major ideas and topics:

Summary of key issues and ideas in first three chapters

Chapter 1

  • Problems with teleological explanations
  • Locke and Hume's "near miss" in breaking out of mind-first explanation

Chapter 2

  • Darwin, speciation, and the essence/accident distinction
  • What is an algorithm? explanatory power of.
  • Wonder and the coin flipping contest

Chapter 3

  • Universal Acid --- mindless creation. evolved minds.
  • Design to Order
  • Why is everything going so fast? does culture and learning change the rate of change? Baldwin, cranes, skyhooks
  • Reductionism -- greedy and good

Dennett, Daniel, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Chapter 1: Tell Me Why

Can wonder and purpose be sustained in light of Darwinism?

Compares Darwin to Galileo. DD would give Darwin award for best idea ever.

Section 2 -- distinguishes 4 causes, or aitia. (23) material, formal, efficient, and final, roughly "What, Where, When, Why" Problem with teleological questions, no way to stop them, but that doesn't mean they continue to make sense. Darwin gives us new way of asking why questions, dissolves conundrums of the 4 causes.

2 Examples of world view Darwin made obsolete: Locke's "Mind First" view (26-28)

-matter alone can't produce mind, mind must come first.

Hume - Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779) - DD mentions dist. between natural and revealed religion. In the dialogue, Cleanthes defends the argument from design - world is one great machine. Philo objects to the generalization from one part of the universe (and the presence of mind locally) to a Designer. Also, he points out the regress problem. (30)

Philo gets Cleanthes to admit God's Mind is like man's mut then possibly God is a bungler (read 30-31) (interesting anticipation of Darwinism thinking here)

At the end of the dialogue, Philo caves in and seems to acknowledge there must be a Designer, but Denntt shows that this was not from fear of atheism charge, but because Hume couldn't imagine an alternative to "mind first"

32-33: shows another passage which Philo seems to Anticipate D-ian thining.

Dennett, Daniel, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Chapter 2: An Idea is Born

-naturalism, before D., of aristotles' essence/accident distinction (even though in Darwin's time this view was common) Darwin made this obsolete.

-real v. nominal essences in Locke. 38: Platonic bias against species change, since essences don't change.

Introduces Malthus (40). 41: repeats same two points Darwin added to Malthus (as in Ruse, I think): 1. advanatage at crunch time to those adapted. 2. Advanatges can be inherited.

For Dennett, evolution wasn't D's great idea, but the algorthm of selection.

44: Darwin winds up defining species pragmatically, not essentially. Interesting examples to undermine "interbreeding" as an essential mark of species. groups that are considered separate species but can breed, groups that are the same species but don't interbreed.

cites Ridley on ring species like the Herring gull.

Darwin described how a non-intelligent Artificer could produce variation. This reverses Hume's problem of not being able to imagine an alternative to "mind first". Now it's hard to imagine an alternative to selection as a means of producing variation.

50 - DD gives his algorithm interpretation of D-ism.

algorithms - a formal process that can be counted on - logically - to yield a certain sort of result whenerver it is "run" ex. long division, balancing your checkbook, etc.

features of algorithms: 1) substrate neutrality; 2) underlying mindlessness; and 3) guaranteed results

discusses (52-53) algorithms for long division. elimination tournament alg. are more like evolutionary alg. important to note how "automatically" the alg. produces the winner. and how mindlessly.

-the high odds we associate with winning a coin flipping contest are always eperienced retrospectively. from the standpoint of the algorithm it's a necessary outcome that someone will "beat" the odds.

-56: illusion of the alg. process that they seem to have a purpose. but alg. that happen to attract our interest are ones which achieve goals we're interested it. that doesn't mean that alg. themselves are purposive. Big misunderstanding of Darwinism that evolution is purposive. Cites Gould's Wonderful Life argument approvingly. If we were to rewind the tape of life, it's massively unlikely that evolution would produce US again. [note problem for view of Deist God that intended our existence]

[radical contingency]

-interesting examples of alg. processes. production of sand on shore, annealing process for metal.

59: final restatement of D's dangerous idea: "the algorithmic level is the level that best accounts for the speed of the antelope, the wing of the eagle, the shapte of the orchid, the diversity of species, and all the other occasions for sonder in theworld of nature."

Dennett, Daniel, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Chapter 3: Universal Acid

Dennett think its important that Darwin gave an explanation "in the middle" after life was present. He saw the implications of his view for metaphysics, but he focused on the recursive mechanism and the best way to see that is in the diversity of species.

63: "If redesign could be a mindless, algorithmic process of evolution, why couldn't tha twhole process itself be the product of evolution, and so forth, all the way down? And if mindless evolution could account for the breathtakingly clever artifacts of the biosphere, how could the products of our own "real" minds be exempt from an evolutionary explanation? Darwin's idea thus also threatened to spread all the way up, dissolving the illusion of our own authorship, our own divine spark of creativity and understanding."

Lots of work on evolution is about containing this universal acid. [like Ruse]

2. Darwin's Assult on the Cosmic Pyramid

dist between order and design depends in tradition, on telos. order is just regularity, design has purpose. Darwin claims design can come from order without imposition of mind (that's the lesson the chapter on design space).

"Darwin reduced teleology to nonteleology, Design to Order"

65: great quote from an historical objection to Darwin.

67: Can we treat selection as "designed" in total? Does God create evolution to achieve his ends?

3. The Principle of Accumulation of Design

-we should grant the premise of the Design argument -- appearance of Design is an indication of work done

-introduces idea of selction as a means of creating local exceptions to the 2nd law of thermodynamics. cites Richard Gregory.

70: funny story illustrating how life is a temporary triumph over the 2nd law. How do you unscramble eggs? Chemically, it would be very hard, but it you feed them to a hen, it's easy.

Minds are at the "top" of an evolutionary process in the sense that they have the most design.

72: raises the question of whether it makes more sense to assume a common design process for evolved organisms, or allow for parallel processes (sort of like parallel discovery in industrial design). Later is less likely, you'd want to see the evidence of the prallel process.

4. The Tools for R and D: Skyhooks or Cranes?

introduces the terms and shows how Cranes can do the design work in evolution. skyhooks are related to "min first" explpanations.

cranes "speed things up"

76: sex is a crane. better than asexual reproduction, allows selection (by sight for example)

Baldwin effect: Asked, "How could it be that individual animals, by solving problems in the own lifetimes, could change the conditions of competition for their own offspring, making those prpoblems easaier to solve in the future?"

Baldwin discovered that creatures capable of reinforcement learning evolved faster because of a "greater capacity to discover design mprovements in the neighborhood." 79

explains why this isn't Lamarkianism. 80

5. Who's Afraid of Reductionism?

distinguishes greedy from good reductionism. greedy reductionists think everything can be explained without cranes, good reductionists think everything can be explained without skyhooks.

proper reductionism doesn't explain things away, though it might take some of the mystery out of them.

David Papineau, Physicalism


-seems odd that thoughts are physical, but if not how can they interact with the world?


everything is physical, applied to mind as well

-How can things not physical have effects? Not incoherent for non-physical to have effect, but last 200 years of science suggests this principle.

-Isn't this an assumption of science? No, science used to allow, forces of contact, gravitation, vital forces, mental forces. Some of these look non-physical to us.

-conservation of energy and study of bodies made the difference.

-Possible that something non-physical is there, just lots of evidence against.

-epiphenomenolism - mind not physical, just there for the ride.

What about qualia? They don't seem reducible. Mary's Room thought experiment. Jackson: Mary gains new knowledge with first experience of color. Additional fact must be non-physical. Physicalism is false.

Response: Mary had a new experience. New brain process. No problem there, but problem if she knows something new. Papineau's approach: Mary is changed, but her new knowledge is something she new under scientific description. She acquires a new concept of seeing something red.

-Importance of openness in Newtonian thought to non-physical forces. At that time, most scientists were dualists. Late 19th evidence tips. Dualist "on the back foot"

Papineau's voice?

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