•  12
    Donald Cary Williams
    with Keith Campbell and Douglas Ehring
    In Edward Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. pp. 0. 2013.
    Stanford Encyclopedia article surveying the life and work of D.C. Williams, notably in defending realism in metaphysics in the mid-twentieth century and in justifying induction by the logic of statistical inference.
  •  14
    Mental furniture from the philosophers
    Et Cetera 40 177-191. 1983.
    The abstract Latinate vocabulary of modern English, in which philosophy and science are done, is inherited from medieval scholastic Latin. Words like "nature", "art", "abstract", "probable", "contingent", are not native to English but entered it from scholastic translations around the 15th century. The vocabulary retains much though not all of its medieval meanings.
  •  50
    Catholic Thought and Catholic Action: Dr Paddy Ryan Msc
    Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 17 44-55. 1996.
    An account of the life of Dr P.J. Ryan, Australian Catholic scholastic philosopher and anti-Communist organiser
  •  148
    Are dispositions reducible to categorical properties?
    Philosophical Quarterly 36 (142): 62-64. 1986.
    Dispostions, such as solubility, cannot be reduced to categorical properties, such as molecular structure, without some element of dipositionaity remaining. Democritus did not reduce all properties to the geometry of atoms - he had to retain the rigidity of the atoms, that is, their disposition not to change shape when a force is applied. So dispositions-not-to, like rigidity, cannot be eliminated. Neither can dispositions-to, like solubility.
  •  63
    Healthy Scepticism
    Philosophy 66 (257). 1991.
    The classical arguments for scepticism about the external world are defended, especially the symmetry argument: that there is no reason to prefer the realist hypothesis to, say, the deceitful demon hypothesis. This argument is defended against the various standard objections, such as that the demon hypothesis is only a bare possibility, does not lead to pragmatic success, lacks coherence or simplicity, is ad hoc or parasitic, makes impossible demands for certainty, or contravenes some basic stan…Read more
  •  47
    Stove's anti-darwinism
    Philosophy 72 (279): 133-136. 1997.
    Stove's article, 'So you think you are a Darwinian?'[ 1] was essentially an advertisement for his book, Darwinian Fairytales.[ 2] The central argument of the book is that Darwin's theory, in both Darwin's and recent sociobiological versions, asserts many things about the human and other species that are known to be false, but protects itself from refutation by its logical complexity. A great number of ad hoc devices, he claims, are used to protect the theory. If co operation is observed where th…Read more
  •  35
    Australia's wackiest postmodernists
    MercatorNet 0-1. 2006.
    Postmodernism is not so much a theory as an attitude. It is an attitude of suspicion – suspicion about claims of truth and about appeals to rational argument. Its corrupting effects must be answered by finding a better alternative, which must include a defence of the objecvity of both reason and ethics. Natural law thinking is necessary for the latter
  •  28
    Evaluating extreme risks in invasion ecology: learning from banking compliance
    with Mark Burgman, Scott Sisson, and J. K. Martin
    Diversity and Distributions 14 581-591. 2008.
    methods that have shown promise for improving extreme risk analysis, particularly for assessing the risks of invasive pests and pathogens associated with international trade. We describe the legally inspired regulatory regime for banks, where these methods have been brought to bear on extreme ‘operational risks’. We argue that an ‘advocacy model’ similar to that used in the Basel II compliance regime for bank operational risks and to a lesser extent in biosecurity import risk analyses is ideal f…Read more
  •  20
    The lure of philosophy in Sydney
    Quadrant 53 (10): 76-79. 2009.
    Does life have a meaning, and if so what is it? What can I be certain of, and how should I act when I am not certain? Why are the established truths of my tribe better than the primitive superstitions of your tribe? Why should I do as I'm told? Those are questions it is easy to avoid, in the rush to acquire goods and prestige. Even for many of a more serious outlook, they are questions easy to dismiss with excuses like "it's all a matter of opinion" or "let's get on with practical matters" or "t…Read more
  •  156
    Evidence gained from torture: Wishful thinking, checkability, and extreme circumstances
    Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law 17 281-290. 2009.
    "Does torture work?" is a factual rather than ethical or legal question. But legal and ethical discussions of torture should be informed by knowledge of the answer to the factual question of the reliability of torture as an interrogation technique. The question as to whether torture works should be asked before that of its legal admissibility—if it is not useful to interrogators, there is no point considering its legality in court.
  •  25
    A polemical account of Australian philosophy up to 2003, emphasising its unique aspects (such as commitment to realism) and the connections between philosophers' views and their lives.
  •  37
    Mathematics, core of the past and hope of the future
    In Catherine A. Runcie & David Brooks (eds.), Reclaiming Education: Renewing Schools and Universities in Contemporary Western Society, Edwin H. Lowe Publishing. pp. 149-162. 2018.
    Mathematics has always been a core part of western education, from the medieval quadrivium to the large amount of arithmetic and algebra still compulsory in high schools. It is an essential part. Its commitment to exactitude and to rigid demonstration balances humanist subjects devoted to appreciation and rhetoric as well as giving the lie to postmodernist insinuations that all “truths” are subject to political negotiation. In recent decades, the character of mathematics has changed – or rathe…Read more
  •  33
    Pascal’s wager and the origins of decision theory: decision-making by real decision-makers
    In Paul Bartha & Lawrence Pasternack (eds.), Pascal's Wager, Cambridge University Press. pp. 27-44. 2018.
    Pascal’s Wager does not exist in a Platonic world of possible gods, abstract probabilities and arbitrary payoffs. Real decision-makers, such as Pascal’s “man of the world” of 1660, face a range of religious options they take to be serious, with fixed probabilities grounded in their evidence, and with utilities that are fixed quantities in actual minds. The many ingenious objections to the Wager dreamed up by philosophers do not apply in such a real decision matrix. In the situation Pascal addres…Read more
  •  25
    An Argument Against Drug Testing Welfare Recipients
    Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 28 (3): 309-340. 2018.
    Programs of drug testing welfare recipients are increasingly common in US states and have been considered elsewhere. Though often intensely debated, such programs are complicated to evaluate because their aims are ambiguous – aims like saving money may be in tension with aims like referring people to treatment. We assess such programs using a proportionality approach, which requires that for ethical acceptability a practice must be: reasonably likely to meet its aims, sufficiently important in p…Read more
  •  7
    Seized by the spirit of modern science
    with James Franklin, Stephen Gaukroger, John Schuster, and Alan Taylor
    Metascience 6 (1): 1-28. 1997.
  •  25
    The teaching of the Aquinas Academy in its first thirty years was based on the scholastic philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, then regarded as the official philosophy of the Catholic Church. That philosophy has not been so much heard of in the last thirty years, but it has a strong presence below the surface. Its natural law theory of ethics, especially, still informs Vatican pronouncements on moral topics such as contraception and euthanasia. It has also been important in Australia in the High Court’…Read more
  •  119
    Resurrecting logical probability
    Erkenntnis 55 (2): 277-305. 2001.
    The logical interpretation of probability, or ``objective Bayesianism''''– the theory that (some) probabilitiesare strictly logical degrees of partial implication – is defended.The main argument against it is that it requires the assignment ofprior probabilities, and that any attempt to determine them by symmetryvia a ``principle of insufficient reason'''' inevitably leads to paradox.Three replies are advanced: that priors are imprecise or of little weight, sothat disagreement about them does no…Read more
  •  27
    Dynamic context generation for natural language understanding: A multifaceted knowledge approach
    with James Franklin and S. W. K. Chan
    IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics Part A 33 23-41. 2003.
    We describe a comprehensive framework for text un- derstanding, based on the representation of context. It is designed..
  •  1368
    • It would be a moral disgrace for God (if he existed) to allow the many evils in the world, in the same way it would be for a parent to allow a nursery to be infested with criminals who abused the children. • There is a contradiction in asserting all three of the propositions: God is perfectly good; God is perfectly powerful; evil exists (since if God wanted to remove the evils and could, he would). • The religious believer has no hope of getting away with excuses that evil is not as bad as it …Read more
  •  73
    Immigration vs democracy
    IPA Review 54 (2): 29. 2002.
    Democracy has difficulties with the rights on non-voters (children, the mentally ill, foreigners etc). Democratic leaders have sometimes acted ethically, contrary to the wishes of voters, e.g. in accepting refugees as immigrants
  •  16
    Is jensenism compatible with christianity?
    Quadrant 48 (12): 30-31. 2004.
    A RECENT BIOGRAPHY of Marcus Loane, evangelical Anglican Archbishop of Sydney in the 1960s, records that as a student at Moore Theological College he would read during lectures to avoid having to listen to the liberal Principal. When you are committed to a closed system of thought, you can't be too careful when it comes to letting ideas in from the outside. But what about the ideas already inside? How does the Sydney Anglican interpretation of Christianity compare to what Jesus said?
  •  130
    The late twentieth century saw two long-term trends in popular thinking about ethics. One was an increase in relativist opinions, with the “generation of the Sixties” spearheading a general libertarianism, an insistence on toleration of diverse moral views (for “Who is to say what is right? – it’s only your opinion.”) The other trend was an increasing insistence on rights – the gross violations of rights in the killing fields of the mid-century prompted immense efforts in defence of the “inalien…Read more
  •  43
    Brains, unlike artificial neural nets, use sym- bols to summarise and reason about percep- tual input. But unlike symbolic AI, they “ground” the symbols in the data: the sym- bols have meaning in terms of data, not just meaning imposed by the outside user. If neu- ral nets could be made to grow their own sym- bols in the way that brains do, there would be a good prospect of combining neural networks and symbolic AI, in such a way as to combine the good features of each.
  •  28
    Calwell, Catholicism and the origins of multicultural Australia
    Proceedings of the Australian Catholic Historical Society Conference. 2009.
    The large Eastern European migration program to Australia in the late 1940s was driven not only by Australia's need for migrants, but by Catholic views on the rights of refugees and an international Cold War plan to resettle the million people who had fled the Red Army.
  •  58
    Philosophy in Sydney
    In G. Oppy & N. Trakakis (eds.), The Antipodean Philosopher, Lexington Books. pp. 61-66. 2011.
    Let me tell you what philosophy is about, then about how Sydney does it in its own special way. Does life have a meaning, and if so what is it? What can I be certain of, and how should I act when I am not certain? Why are the established truths of my tribe better than the primitive superstitions of your tribe? Why should I do as I’m told? Those are questions it’s easy to avoid, in the rush to acquire goods and prestige. Even for many of a more serious outlook, they are questions easy to dismiss …Read more
  •  14
    Regulated capitalism, market socialism
    Dissent 5 11-13. 2001.
    Eric Aarons' `Why Communism failed' Dissent no. 4) is welcome especially for its determination to go back to basics. The `infinite preciousness of every human life' in the words he quotes from Rai Gaita, has always been at the bottom of concepts like liberation and freedom. How could they not be, since what is the point of liberty, unless humans themselves are valuable?
  •  4
    Uncertainty
    Encounter (ABC Radio National) 0-0. 2006.
    Postmodernism is an attitude of suspicion, indeed of unteachable suspicion, in the face of evidence.