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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
 
George F. R. Ellis

George F. R. Ellis is a professor emeritus of Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

He earned his Ph.D. in applied math and theoretical physics from Cambridge University in 1964. While a post-doc at Cambridge, in 1972 he co-authored with Stephen Hawking the landmark book on cosmology and general relativity The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time.

Ellis has written extensively on science and religion and was awarded the Templeton Prize in 2004.

His deep knowledge of physics has influenced major Christian theologians who integrate the indeterminism of quantum physics into their concept of a divine being. Traditional theologians have argued that randomness in the universe is in direct conflict with a God who is omnipotent and omniscient.

As has been argued since Anselm in the eleventh century, God cannot be both omnipotent and omniscient. Moreover, random events invalidate the idea of God's foreknowledge.

The Christian concept of a benevolent and providential God is in further conflict with both classical deterministic physics and indeterministic quantum physics.

Ellis was a major contributor to a multi-year collaborative research program on the role of randomness in nature sponsored in part by the Vatican Observatory and the John Templeton Foundation.

In an important article in Nature, Ellis argued that complexity of hierarchical systems can explain the intentionality of human purpose, goal-directed action. He wrote

It is possible that what actually happened was the contextual emergence of complexity: the existence of human beings and their creations was not uniquely implied by the initial data in the early Universe; rather the underlying physics together with that initial data created a context that made the existence of human beings possible. Conditions at the time of the decoupling of matter and radiation 14 billion years ago were such as to lead to the eventual development of minds that are autonomously effective...

With this view, the higher levels in the hierarchy of complexity have autonomous causal powers that are functionally independent of lower-level processes. Top-down causation takes place as well as bottom-up action, with higher-level contexts determining the outcome of lower-level functioning, and even modifying the nature of lower-level constituents.

Stored information plays a key role, resulting in non-linear dynamics that are non-local in space and time...Consequently physics per se cannot causally determine the outcome of human creativity; rather it creates the ‘possibility space’ to allow human intelligence to function autonomously...

So far, attempts to relate physics to complexity... take us only a small step on this road.

Complexity and chaos theory have been popular for the last few decades as an alternative to the ontological indeterminism of quantum physics. Hierarchical systems theory supports the emergence of new properties, even "laws." Ellis is correct that information plays a key role.

Information philosophy explains the reality of emergence, because what emerges is new information. The universe began with minimal information. For hundreds of thousands of years, the only information structures were fundamental particles [from quarks to protons, neutrons, and electrons].

These were only the simplest matter, and they are conserved quantities. In a deterministic universe, that initial information would be all the information in the universe today and in the future, because information would be conserved.

But information is not conserved. Because it is neither matter not energy, information is immaterial. Matter can be converted to energy (E = mc2), but their total is a constant. The only thing that is new is information. Information is the only emergent.

A complex physical world of galaxies, stars, and planets has emerged, a diverse biological world has emerged, and a mental world of ideas has emerged, including the idea of emergence itself. Emergence is the result of the cosmic creation process.

And this process is fundamentally a rearrangement and transformation of the fundamental particles of matter and energy. The basic idea of emergence is that there are properties - perhaps even “laws” - at the upper hierarchical levels of nature that are not derivable from or reducible to the properties and laws of the lower levels. Thus chemistry has properties not derivable from physics, biology has properties not derivable from chemistry, and psychology has properties not derivable from biology.

In his contribution to the 2018 volume reporting on randomness in nature, Ellis proposed an explanation for a third form of causation beyond the chance and necessity of Jacques Monod. Of course the tertium quid explaining human purpose and moral responsibility has been clear since the ancient philosophers, notably Epicurus.

Ellis goes beyond the epistemological randomness of everyday probabilities, e.g., in games of chance, and the supposed collisions of independent deterministic causal chains Epicurus called sumbebekos or "accidental chance." This he calls "chance as ontological indeterminism" based on quantum physics.

He describes the "outcome" of his thinking...

Layers of quantum indeterminateness at the bottom, classically deter­minate causation at higher levels, and indeterminate effects in emergent higher-level structures at the top can embody higher-level organization and meaning through learning processes allowed by adaptive selection.

There is no "classically deter­minate causation" or "physical necessity" of course. There is only the statistical or adequate determinism that emerges for large macroscopic objects where quantum indeterminism is averaged over and processes approach statistical certainty because of the law of large numbers.

Ellis argues strongly for the existence of libertarian free will. He thinks it requires something beyond "chance and necessity." Instead, free will - as well as purpose and goal-directed actions - are simply a combination of quantum indeterminism and the adequate determinism in large objects like the mind.

As in our "two-stage model" for free will, quantum indeterminism generates alternative possibilities in the first stage. An adequate determinism in the second stage makes our choices morally responsible.

These two steps are involved in the creation of new information structures since the beginning of time.

References
God's Providence and Randomness in Nature, ed. Robert John Russell, Templeton Press, 2018

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