Monday, July 16, 2007

Notables and Linkables

* The newest Philosophers' Carnival is up at "Philosophy Sucks!". The theme is Mind, Meaning, and Morals.

* Anthony Esolen has a fascinating post suggesting the characteristics of flourishing artistic periods; it gets some interesting discussion in the comments.

* Janet Stemwedel discusses whether philosophy of science does scientists any good. I think a lot of the phil. sci. Janet discusses does (or would); I'm less convinced that most of what is published in Philosophy of Science and similar journals, interesting though it be in its own right, does so (or could do so). It's clear enough that philosophy of science has done scientists much good; one thinks of Whewell.

* In response to Medawar's criticism of science papers, Chris Rowan offers a spirited defense, on the basis that they exist less to document scientific process than to persuade other scientists. This is certainly true. I also think it's a mistake to focus on the Introduction-Methods-Results-Discussion structure; that's merely presentation, like having an essay with an introductory paragraph that includes a thesis statement, a middle that builds an argument, and a conclusion that recapitulates. That's not the structure of the reasoning. Within a scientific paper, however, we get elements of reasoning that tend to fall in general groups. There was a good discussion of this in Philosophy of Science some time ago. See Fred Suppe, "The Structure of a Scientific Paper" ; Allen Franklin, "Comment on 'The Structure of a Scientific Paper'"; Peter Lipontt, "The Best Explanation of a Scientific Paper"; Valerie Gray Hardcastle, "Scientific Papers Have Various Structures". I don't have the exact bibliographical information for the first three on me, but Hardcastle's is: Philosophy of Science, Vol. 66, No. 3, 415-439. Sep., 1999. (The others are in either the immediately prior issue or the one before that.) I highly recommend it for those interested in scientific reasoning. Suppe argues for an encoding scheme that helps to lay out the rational structure of the scientific paper, and thus the reasoning it expresses; Hardcastle's is an important response, because it shows that there are other types of scientific paper than Suppe considers. At some point, when I dig up the relevant issues of Philosophy of Science from the boxes wherein they currently hide, I'll give a more thorough account of the discussion here.

* Johnny-Dee continues discussing Johnny Cash and philosophy by looking at virtue ethics.

* At "Weitermachen!" Matt Brown discusses the problem with 'thought experiments' or 'intuition pumps' in ethics. Good discussion in the comments and Michele has some good discussion of that discussion here.

* Barry Mazur, When is one thing equal to some other thing? (PDF)

* Well worth reading if you like anything in the way of Blish-like science fiction: A Case of Consilience by Ken MacLeod. (ht)

* Kenny Pearce has a good post on ecclesiology, distinguishing four elements of a complete ecclesiology: somatic, apostolic, evangelistic, and eucharistic.

* Rebecca discusses imputed righteousness and the active and passive obedience of Christ. I tend "reformedish" on this myself, although I'm pretty sure that I diverge from the typical Reformed line on many of the details (e.g., I tend to think imputation involves more than Reformed theologians tend to). I find this a lot with Reformed theology; I tend to agree with the gist but think it incomplete -- and that affects a lot of the details. Still, the gist is often very good, and this is one place where I think it is; the imputation of Christ's active obedience is utterly essential to the full living of Christian life.

* Macht lays out Calvin's distinction between the unknowable essence and the knowable nature of God.

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