•  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
  •  50
    On the divisibility and subtlety of matter
    with Émilie du Châtelet
    In L. Patton (ed.), Philosophy, Science, and History, Routledge. pp. 332-42. 2014.
    Translation for this volume by Lydia Patton of Chapter 9 (pages 179-200) of Émilie du Châtelet's Institutions de Physique (Foundations of Physics). Original publication date 1750. Paris: Chez Prault Fils.
  •  482
    Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) established results both controversial and enduring: analysis of mixed colors and of combination tones, arguments against nativism, and the analysis of sensation and perception using the techniques of natural science. The paper focuses on Helmholtz’s account of sensation, perception, and representation via “physiological psychology”. Helmholtz emphasized that external stimuli of sensations are causes, and sensations are their effects, and he had a practical and…Read more
  •  902
    Review: Makkreel and Luft (eds.), Neo-Kantianism in Contemporary Philosophy (review)
    Philosophy in Review 30 (4): 280-282. 2010.
    A volume dealing seriously with the influence of the major schools of Neo-Kantian thought on contemporary philosophy has been needed sorely for some time. But this volume of essays aims higher: it 'is published in the hopes that it will secure Neo-Kantianism a significant place in contemporary philosophical discussions' (Introduction, 1). The aim of the book, then, is partly to provide a history of major Neo-Kantian thinkers and their influence, and partly to argue for their importance in contem…Read more
  •  347
    Experiment and theory building
    Synthese 184 (3): 235-246. 2012.
    I examine the role of inference from experiment in theory building. What are the options open to the scientific community when faced with an experimental result that appears to be in conflict with accepted theory? I distinguish, in Laudan's (1977), Nickels's (1981), and Franklin's (1993) sense, between the context of pursuit and the context of justification of a scientific theory. Making this distinction allows for a productive middle position between epistemic realism and constructivism. The de…Read more
  •  81
    In _Aspects of Scientific Explanation_ (New York, 1965), Carl Hempel argued that the philosophy of science should focus on objectivist explanation and should not incorporate an account of pragmatic or subjective understanding. The stated aim of this collection of essays is to argue against Hempel's objectivist view by arguing for incorporating accounts of understanding into the philosophy of science and by giving a substantive account of the role of understanding in modeling and in scientific pr…Read more
  •  424
    Signs, Toy Models, and the A Priori
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (3): 281-289. 2009.
    The Marburg neo-Kantians argue that Hermann von Helmholtz's empiricist account of the a priori does not account for certain knowledge, since it is based on a psychological phenomenon, trust in the regularities of nature. They argue that Helmholtz's account raises the 'problem of validity' (Gueltigkeitsproblem): how to establish a warranted claim that observed regularities are based on actual relations. I reconstruct Heinrich Hertz's and Ludwig Wittgenstein's Bild theoretic answer to the problem …Read more
  •  269
    Methodology of the Sciences
    In Michael Forster & Kristin Gjesdal (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of German Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century, Oxford University Press. pp. 594-606. 2015.
    In the growing Prussian university system of the early nineteenth century, "Wissenschaft" (science) was seen as an endeavor common to university faculties, characterized by a rigorous methodology. On this view, history and jurisprudence are sciences, as much as is physics. Nineteenth century trends challenged this view: the increasing influence of materialist and positivist philosophies, profound changes in the relationships between university faculties, and the defense of Kant's classification …Read more
  •  60
    Friedrich Albert Lange
    with Nadeem J. Z. Hussain
    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2012.
    Friedrich Albert Lange (b. 1828, d. 1875) was a German philosopher, pedagogue, political activist, and journalist. He was one of the originators of neo-Kantianism and an important figure in the founding of the Marburg school of neo-Kantianism. He is also played a significant role in the German labour movement and in the development of social democratic thought. His book, THE HISTORY OF MATERIALISM, was a standard introduction to materialism and the history of philosophy well into the twentieth c…Read more
  •  299
    Incommensurability and the Bonfire of the Meta-Theories: Response to Mizrahi
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4 (7): 51-58. 2015.
    Scientists working within a paradigm must play by the rules of the game of that paradigm in solving problems, and that is why incommensurability arises when the rules of the game change. If we deny the thesis of the priority of paradigms, then there is no good argument for the incommensurability of theories and thus for taxonomic incommensurability, because there is no invariant way to determine the set of results provable, puzzles solvable, and propositions cogently formulable under a given par…Read more
  •  129
    Reconsidering Experiments
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 1 (2): 209-226. 2011.
    Experiments may not reveal their full import at the time that they are performed. The scientists who perform them usually are testing a specific hypothesis and quite often have specific expectations limiting the possible inferences that can be drawn from the experiment. Nonetheless, as Hacking has said, experiments have lives of their own. Those lives do not end with the initial report of the results and consequences of the experiment. Going back and rethinking the consequences of the experiment…Read more