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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
Lawrence Cahoone
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
Arthur Fine
John Martin Fischer
Frederic Fitch
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Heraclitus
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Walter Kaufmann
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Thomas Kuhn
Andrea Lavazza
Christoph Lehner
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Jules Lequyer
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Otto Neurath
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
Parmenides
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Protagoras
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
C.F. von Weizsäcker
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Walter Baade
Bernard Baars
Jeffrey Bada
Leslie Ballentine
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Mara Beller
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Gregory Chaitin
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
Francis Crick
E. P. Culverwell
Antonio Damasio
Olivier Darrigol
Charles Darwin
Richard Dawkins
Terrence Deacon
Lüder Deecke
Richard Dedekind
Louis de Broglie
Stanislas Dehaene
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Gerald Edelman
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
David Foster
Joseph Fourier
Philipp Frank
Steven Frautschi
Edward Fredkin
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A. O. Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Mark Hadley
Patrick Haggard
J. B. S. Haldane
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Donald Hebb
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Art Hobson
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
William R. Klemm
Christof Koch
Simon Kochen
Hans Kornhuber
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Leopold Kronecker
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Joseph LeDoux
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
John McCarthy
Warren McCulloch
George Miller
Stanley Miller
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Alexander Oparin
Abraham Pais
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Jürgen Renn
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Tilman Sauer
Jürgen Schmidhuber
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Lee Smolin
Ray Solomonoff
Roger Sperry
John Stachel
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
Max Tegmark
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Giulio Tononi
Peter Tse
Vlatko Vedral
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
Stephen Wolfram
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek
Konrad Zuse
Fritz Zwicky

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Thomas Kuhn

Thomas Kuhn is perhaps the best known philosopher of science. He claimed that the advance of scientific knowledge proceeds in discontinuous breaks that he called "revolutions" and which came to be known as "paradigm shifts."

Kuhn suggested that basic scientific concepts and language terms that describe them change their meanings across these breaks, producing an incommensurability of ideas that make communications between scientists working in different paradigms difficult or even impossible.

Kuhn is simply wrong about this. Any conceptual idea about any structure or process in the world that changes in a Kuhnian revolution can be described in the language terms used before and after the revolution by scientific experts who can provide an adequate translation between the terms.

Kuhn came of age when analytic language philosophers were abandoning the logical positivism of Bertrand Russell and the early Ludwig Wittgenstein and their "truth tables." Even the logical empiricists of the Vienna Circle in Europe, with their theory that science advances by "verification" of observations came under attack.

Kuhn's most famous work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, first appeared as an article in the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, a publication of the Vienna Circle.

In philosophy of science, the logical empiricists were challenged by Karl Popper, who insisted that scientific theories stand and fall not on verification, but on his criterion of "falsification." This was flawed. Falsification is just a negative verification, equally likely to be overthrown by future scientific evidence. And all scientific theories rest on experimental evidence, not logical "proofs."

Analytic language philosophy itself had a revolution against the logical "truth" of all knowledge, that all facts could be built up from "atomic facts." just as all matter is built up from atoms. Wittgenstein thought that language provided a "picture theory" of the world, that sentences can be framed as formal "propositions" like those in the great Principia Mathematica of Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. All mathematics and then all of science could be based upon these "logical atoms." This too was flawed.

Behind this was the great philosophical and ultimately theological idea that the world and the universe are rationally constructed, so its structure can be understood by reason alone. This is called modernism, over against the idea of tradition, that knowledge is simply handed down from generation to generation by authorities. The first modern theology was Thomas Aquinas and other scholastics, who claimed revelation and reason could be reconciled. The first modern philosopher was René Descartes, whose work led to the age of enlightenment and the "laws" of modern science..

Modernists believe that reason can establish or "grounded" objective knowledge. Kuhn questioned the existence of "objective" knowledge, just when many philosophers of science were questioning the idea of an objective physical reality. Albert Einstein's theories of special and general relativity had made "relativism" fashionable in many fields. And quantum mechanics threatened the deterministic implications of classical physics.

Structuralism in linguistics, anthropology, psychology, and the social sciences was the idea that universal structures underlie everything that human beings do, think, perceive, and feel. It gave way to post-structuralism, cultural relativism, and then postmodernism, or deconstruction.

Kuhn was a postmodern, though perhaps a reluctant one, especially in the face of attacks on his idea of incommensurabiity by many scientists and philosophers.

Where Kuhn was right is the idea that scientific progress is not made by works of individual thinkers who establish the objective truth about reality. Truth, especially objective or absolute truth, is a concept that is essential in mathematics and logic. The meaningful equivalent in science is the statistical evidence supporting various theories.

Kuhn properly located progress in science in the scientific community as a whole. He saw the community of scientists as having only individual "subjective" positions. All "objective" knowledge is ultimately the result of "subjective," culturally biased, views of the individual scientists. "Objective" science is impossible

Concerns about objectivity had been thought through in an earlier century by perhaps the greatest ever philosopher of science, Charles Sanders Peirce. He described a "community of inquirers" who could achieve "intersubjective agreement" in the long run. For Peirce, this agreement would be an approach, perhaps only asymptotic, to something like scientific "truth."

Better than any other philosopher, Peirce articulated the difference between a priori probabilities and a posteriori statistics. He knew that probabilities are a priori theories and that statistics are a posteriori empirical measurements, the results of observations and experiments.

The "truth" of any scientific theory is therefore always provisional, subject to change or incorporation into a larger, more comprehensive theory that explains all past evidentiary facts as well as newly discovered facts in the future.

With Peirce in mind, we see that all science, like all knowledge (our SUM), is a living thing that is still growing.

On Blackbody Radiation
Kuhn's 1987 book Black-Body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity, 1894-1912 helped establish that Max Planck had no idea that light quanta were real, as Einstein proved.
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