Aristotle’s Theory of TOPOS (Place)

[This is something I wrote before I had this blog, but I really like it and hope the readers here will find it interesting.] The task of explaining Aristotle’s theory of place lies in the interpretation of this sentence: “Hence the place of a thing is the innermost motionless boundary of what contains it,” (Physics IV 212a20).  Now the idea of a motionless boundary for perceptible and obviously movable objects seems impossibly counterintuitive.  However, using […]

Genetic Drift and the Uncertainty Principle

I have previously argued that the history of species must be treated like a evolutionary trajectory: we can only appreciate a species in a relative sense, just as we must evaluate physical trajectories relative to our own motion. But what happens when we try to measure the very small in physics?  We find there is a limit to the precision at which we can measure, as given by the uncertainty principle. This suggests that there […]

Monty Redux

In the Monty Hall Problem a contestant is given a choice between one of three doors, with a fabulous prize behind only one door. After the initial door is selected the host, Monty Hall, opens one of the other doors that does not reveal a prize. Then the contestant is given the option to switch his or her choice to the remaining door, or stick with the original selection. The question is whether it is […]

Climate Change

This is a post for Blog Action Day 09! If the climate changes rapidly enough, the human race is finished.  If the climate does not change quite that rapidly, we’ve got other problems. For the sake of argument, let us assume that we are not beings in some religious pantheon, but are merely biological organisms of this Earth.  If the climate changes, i.e. if nature as we know it no longer exists, then how are […]

Sexual Reproduction, The Case for, Round 2

Let us assume that there are different kinds of adaptations.  Specifically, some are better than others in the long run:  some adaptations will only make a difference in an organism’s ability to reproduce viable offspring over a short period of time, whereas others will be beneficial for many generations. In asexual reproduction there is no mechanism for distinguishing between a short term beneficial adaptation and a long term beneficial adaptation.  This subjects long term beneficial […]

Sexual Reproduction

Say you are a single celled organism.  To reproduce you have to double your size and then you need to split yourself in half.  Repeat indefinitely. Now say you are a single celled organism that has the option to reproduce sexually.  To reproduce you need to increase yourself to 3/2 your original size and find a similar mate.  Then you both contribute 1/2 to the new organism and repeat indefinitely. Asexual reproduction requires you to […]

A Priori Against Physicalism

I saw that Richard Brown is working to defend physicalism against a priori arguments.  He says that most (all?) arguments use the same intuitions found in the zombie-knowledge arguments. This got me to thinking about a priori arguments against physicalism and I came up with something different: If physicalism is, as Dr. Brown says, “… the view that only physical things exist. Physical things are those things that are postulated by a completed physics,” then […]

A Rabbit in a Forest of Mushrooms

Today I was in a shop and a young mother came in with her stroller and a handbag with an image of a sleeping rabbit in a forest of mushrooms.  The rabbit had a thought bubble that read, “A rabbit in a forest of mushrooms.” I told her I liked the bag… I don’t think she realized that it had reminded me of the last paragraph of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty: 676. “But even if in […]

On Charitability

There is no such thing as a private reality.  By private reality I mean any portion of reality that you alone can experience, that no one else could possibly understand. There is, however, reality that is yet unexperienced and unknown to you.  Others may have experienced it before you, like explorers who have been to a far away place.  If a philosopher is clever, it is possible that she found a way to imbue her […]

What Science Ignores

I was skimming the philosophy blogs today and came across “Should Scientific Methods and Data be Public?” over at It’s Only A Theory (and Brains for that matter).  Gualtiero Piccinini argues that scientific matters ought to be made public.  My first thought was, “What exactly does G.P. mean by public?” and my second was, “Anyone who doesn’t think scientific methods should be public is bat-shit crazy.” (Yes, I get angry about this stuff.  And from […]