•  21
    Organic Memory and the Perils of Perigenesis: The Helmholtz-Hering Debate
    In Charles T. Wolfe, Paolo Pecere & Antonio Clericuzio (eds.), Mechanism, Life and Mind in Modern Natural Philosophy, Springer. pp. 345-362. 2022.
    This paper will focus on a famous nineteenth century debate over the physiology of perception between Ewald Hering and Hermann von Helmholtz. This debate is often explained as a contest between empiricism (Helmholtz) and nativism (Hering) about perception. I will argue that this is only part of the picture. Hering was a pioneer of Lamarckian explanations, arguing for an early version of the biogenetic law. Hering explains physical processes, including perception, in terms of ‘organic memory’ tha…Read more
  •  6
    A well known conception of axiomatization has it that an axiomatized theory must be interpreted, or otherwise coordinated with reality, in order to acquire empirical content. An early version of this account is often ascribed to key figures in the logical empiricist movement, and to central figures in the early “formalist” tradition in mathematics as well. In this context, Reichenbach’s “coordinative definitions” are regarded as investing abstract propositions with empirical significance. We arg…Read more
  •  114
    The framework of the modern Western analysis of culture, in terms of the socio-historical situation of the subject and the reciprocal influence of one on the other, has its roots in nineteenth century discussions. This paper will examine two traditions: the hermeneutic approach of Wilhelm Dilthey, and the Völkerpsychologie of Moses Lazarus and Chajim Steinthal. The account will focus on two elements. First, Lazarus and Steinthal attempted to motivate an account based on collective structures, or…Read more
  •  135
    Symbolic Forms and the Logic of the Cultural Sciences: Cassirer in Context and Influence
    In Luigi Filieri & Anne Pollok (eds.), The Method of Culture, Editioni Ets. pp. 261-278. 2021.
    My paper will analyze Cassirer’s logic of the cultural sciences as it developed in close engagement with work on logic, psychology, biology, and linguistics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The paper focuses on Chajim Steinthal, who sees the “expressive form” of language as a natural function of human engagement with the environment, developing independently of logic. When read in the context of his engagement with Steinthal, the biologist Uexküll, and the neuroscientist Kurt Gol…Read more
  •  89
    Finitism in the Metaphysical Foundations
    In Michael Bennett McNulty (ed.), Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science: A Critical Guide, Cambridge University Press. pp. 119-137. 2022.
    In this paper, building on recent and longstanding work (Warren 2001, Friedman 2013, Glezer 2018), I investigate how the account of the essences or natures of material substances in the Metaphysical Foundations is related to Kant’s demand for the completeness of the system of nature. We must ascribe causal powers to material substances for the properties of those substances to be observable and knowable. But defining those causal powers requires admitting laws of nature, taken as axioms or princ…Read more
  •  9
    Editor’s Note
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 11 (1): 211-211. 2021.
  •  283
    Kuhn's Kantian Dimensions
    In K. Brad Wray (ed.), Interpreting Kuhn, Cambridge University Press. pp. 27-44. 2021.
    Two questions should be considered when assessing the Kantian dimensions of Kuhn’s thought. First, was Kuhn himself a Kantian? Second, did Kuhn have an influence on later Kantians and neo-Kantians? Kuhn mentioned Kant as an inspiration, and his focus on explanatory frameworks and on the conditions of knowledge appear Kantian. But Kuhn’s emphasis on learning; on activities of symbolization; on paradigms as practical, not just theoretical; and on the social and community aspects of scientific res…Read more
  •  12
    Editor’s Note
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 10 (1): 225-225. 2020.
    HOPOS is proud to support this special issue, “Descriptive Psychology and Völkerpsychologie—in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism, and Naturalism.” The issue emerges from a workshop at the University of Vienna in 2017. It is edited by Christian Damböck, Uljana Feest, and Martin Kusch.
  •  39
    Expanding theory testing in general relativity: LIGO and parametrized theories
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 69 142-53. 2020.
    The multiple detections of gravitational waves by LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), operated by Caltech and MIT, have been acclaimed as confirming Einstein's prediction, a century ago, that gravitational waves propagating as ripples in spacetime would be detected. Yunes and Pretorius (2009) investigate whether LIGO's template-based searches encode fundamental assumptions, especially the assumption that the background theory of general relativity is an accurate descr…Read more
  •  31
    William Boos (1943–2014) was a mathematician, set theorist, and philosopher. His work is at the intersection of these fields. In particular, Boos looks at the classic problems of epistemology through the lens of the axiomatic method in mathematics and physics, or something resembling that method.
  •  201
    Francesca Biagioli: Space, Number, and Geometry from Helmholtz to Cassirer: Springer, Dordrecht, 2016, 239 pp, $109.99 , ISBN: 978-3-319-31777-9 (review)
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (2): 311-315. 2019.
    Francesca Biagioli’s Space, Number, and Geometry from Helmholtz to Cassirer is a substantial and pathbreaking contribution to the energetic and growing field of researchers delving into the physics, physiology, psychology, and mathematics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book provides a bracing and painstakingly researched re-appreciation of the work of Hermann von Helmholtz and Ernst Cassirer, and of their place in the tradition, and is worth study for that alone. The contribution…Read more
  •  229
    Ernst Mach’s defense of relativist theories of motion in Die Mechanik involves a well-known criticism of Newton’s theory appealing to absolute space, and of Newton’s “bucket” experiment. Sympathetic readers (Norton 1995) and critics (Stein 1967, 1977) agree that there’s a tension in Mach’s view: he allows for some constructed scientific concepts, but not others, and some kinds of reasoning about unobserved phenomena, but not others. Following Banks (2003), I argue that this tension can be interp…Read more
  •  213
    Perspectivalism in the Development of Scientific Observer-Relativity
    In Martin Kusch, Katherina Kinzel, Johannes Steizinger & Niels Jacob Wildschut (eds.), The Emergence of Relativism, Routledge. pp. 63-78. 2019.
    Hermann von Helmholtz allows for not only physiological facts and psychological inferences, but also perspectival reasoning, to influence perceptual experience and knowledge gained from perception. But Helmholtz also defends a version of the view according to which there can be a kind of “perspectival truth” revealed in scientific research and investigation. Helmholtz argues that the relationships between subjective and objective, real and actual, actual and illusory, must be analyzed scientific…Read more
  •  303
    Laws of Thought and Laws of Logic after Kant
    In Sandra Lapointe (ed.), Logic from Kant to Russell, Routledge. pp. 123-137. 2018.
    George Boole emerged from the British tradition of the “New Analytic”, known for the view that the laws of logic are laws of thought. Logicians in the New Analytic tradition were influenced by the work of Immanuel Kant, and by the German logicians Wilhelm Traugott Krug and Wilhelm Esser, among others. In his 1854 work An Investigation of the Laws of Thought on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities, Boole argues that the laws of thought acquire normative force wh…Read more
  •  82
    Intuitions and Assumptions in the Debate over Laws of Nature
    with Walter Ott
    In Walter R. Ott & Lydia Patton (eds.), Laws of Nature, Oxford University Press. pp. 1-17. 2018.
    The conception of a ‘law of nature’ is a human product. It was created to play a role in natural philosophy, in the Cartesian tradition. In light of this, philosophers and scientists must sort out what they mean by a law of nature before evaluating rival theories and approaches. If one’s conception of the laws of nature is yoked to metaphysical notions of truth and explanation, that connection must be made explicit and defended. If, on the other hand, one’s aim is to disentangle laws from truth …Read more
  •  185
    Ernst Cassirer’s focus on the expressive function of language should be read, not in the context of Carnap’s debate with Heidegger, but in the context of the earlier work of Chajim (Heymann) Steinthal. Steinthal distinguishes the expressive form of language, when language is studied as a natural phenomenon, from language as a logical, inferential system. Steinthal argues that language always can be expressed in terms of logical inference. Thus, he would disagree with Heidegger, just as Carnap do…Read more
  •  31
    Laws of Nature (edited book)
    with Walter R. Ott
    Oxford University Press. 2018.
    What is the origin of the concept of a law of nature? How much does it owe to theology and metaphysics? To what extent do the laws of nature permit contingency? Are there exceptions to the laws of nature? Is it possible to give a reductive analysis of lawhood, or is it a primitive? Twelve brand-new essays by an international team of leading philosophers take up these and other central questions on the laws of nature, whilst also examining some of the most important intuitions and assumptions tha…Read more
  •  17
    In Memoriam
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 8 (1). 2018.
    A partial listing of researchers in the history and philosophy of science who passed away in 2015-2018.
  •  207
    Moti Mizrahi has argued that Thomas Kuhn does not have a good argument for the incommensurability of successive scientific paradigms. With Rouse, Andersen, and others, I defend a view on which Kuhn primarily was trying to explain scientific practice in Structure. Kuhn, like Hilary Putnam, incorporated sociological and psychological methods into his history of science. On Kuhn’s account, the education and initiation of scientists into a research tradition is a key element in scientific training a…Read more
  •  309
    Kantian Essentialism in the Metaphysical Foundations
    The Monist 100 (3): 342-356. 2017.
    Ott (2009) identifies two kinds of philosophical theories about laws: top-down, and bottom-up. An influential top-down reading, exemplified by Ernst Cassirer, emphasized the ‘mere form of law’. Recent bottom-up accounts emphasize the mind-independent natures of objects as the basis of laws of nature. Stang and Pollok in turn focus on the transcendental idealist elements of Kant’s theory of matter, which leads to the question: is the essence of Kantian matter that it obeys the form of law? I argu…Read more
  •  44
    Frederick C. Beiser, The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism, 1796-1880 (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2015. 2015.
    In this intricately crafted history by Frederick C. Beiser, the neo-Kantian philosophy is not merely a doctrine or an approach to philosophical questions; it is also a strategy. From the beginning, the neo-Kantians were concerned to establish the independence, relevance, and power of philosophy. The historical situation of the neo-Kantian tradition is distinct from ours. On Beiser's telling, the historical context only puts into sharper focus how much their predicament is ours and how many of th…Read more
  •  1216
    German supporters of the Kantian philosophy in the late 19th century took one of two forks in the road: the fork leading to Baden, and the Southwest School of neo-Kantian philosophy, and the fork leading to Marburg, and the Marburg School, founded by Hermann Cohen. Between 1876, when Cohen came to Marburg, and 1918, the year of Cohen's death, Cohen, with his Marburg School, had a profound influence on German academia.
  •  186
    Psillos, Kitcher, and Leplin have defended convergent scientific realism against the pessimistic meta-induction by arguing for the divide et impera strategy. I argue that DEI faces a problem more serious than the pessimistic meta-induction: the problem of accretion. When empirically successful theories and principles are combined, they may no longer make successful predictions or allow for accurate calculations, or the combination otherwise may be an empirical failure. The shift from classical m…Read more
  •  99
    Ontology & Methodology
    with Benjamin C. Jantzen and Deborah G. Mayo
    Synthese 192 (11): 3413-3423. 2015.
    Philosophers of science have long been concerned with the question of what a given scientific theory tells us about the contents of the world, but relatively little attention has been paid to how we set out to build theories and to the relevance of pre-theoretical methodology on a theory’s interpretation. In the traditional view, the form and content of a mature theory can be separated from any tentative ontological assumptions that went into its development. For this reason, the target of inter…Read more
  •  40
    Review: Watkins (ed.), Immanuel Kant, Natural Science (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. 2013.
    Natural Science is a new volume of the Cambridge translations of Kant's works. It makes available some of the most significant texts of Kant's pre-Critical period, some appearing for the first time in English translation. The translations are largely clear and accurate. Eric Watkins is a sure and knowledgeable editor, and provides concise and informative introductions to each text.
  •  102
    Review: Hyder, The Determinate World: Kant and Helmholtz on the Physical Meaning of Geometry (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (7). 2010.
    Hyder constructs two historical narratives. First, he gives an account of Helmholtz's relation to Kant, from the famous Raumproblem, which preoccupied philosophers, geometers, and scientists in the mid-19th century, to Helmholtz's arguments in his four papers on geometry from 1868 to 1878 that geometry is, in some sense, an empirical science (chapters 5 and 6). The second theme is the argument for the necessity of central forces to a determinate scientific description of physical reality, an abi…Read more
  •  2988
    Hermann Cohen’s History and Philosophy of Science
    Dissertation, McGill University. 2004.
    In my dissertation, I present Hermann Cohen's foundation for the history and philosophy of science. My investigation begins with Cohen's formulation of a neo-Kantian epistemology. I analyze Cohen's early work, especially his contributions to 19th century debates about the theory of knowledge. I conclude by examining Cohen's mature theory of science in two works, The Principle of the Infinitesimal Method and its History of 1883, and Cohen's extensive 1914 Introduction to Friedrich Lange's History…Read more
  •  210
    Hilbert's Objectivity
    Historia Mathematica 41 (2): 188-203. 2014.
    Detlefsen (1986) reads Hilbert's program as a sophisticated defense of instrumentalism, but Feferman (1998) has it that Hilbert's program leaves significant ontological questions unanswered. One such question is of the reference of individual number terms. Hilbert's use of admittedly "meaningless" signs for numbers and formulae appears to impair his ability to establish the reference of mathematical terms and the content of mathematical propositions (Weyl (1949); Kitcher (1976)). The paper trace…Read more