green numbers give full details.     |    back to list of philosophers     |     unexpand these ideas

Ideas of Samir Okasha, by Text

[British, fl. 2008, Professor at the University of Bristol.]

2002 Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and Essentialism
p.201 p.223 Virtually all modern views of speciation rest on relational rather than intrinsic features
     Full Idea: On all modern species concepts (except the phenetic), the property in virtue of which a particular organism belongs to one species rather than another is a relational rather than an intrinsic property of the organism.
     From: Samir Okasha (Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and Essentialism [2002], p.201), quoted by Michael Devitt - Resurrecting Biological Essentialism 4
     A reaction: I am in sympathy with Devitt's attack on this view, for the same reason that I take relational explanations of almost anything (such as the mind) to be inadequate. We need to know the intrinsic features that enable the relations.
2016 Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed)
1 p.2 Not all sciences are experimental; astronomy relies on careful observation
     Full Idea: Not all sciences are experimental - astronomers obviously cannot do experiments on the heavens, but have to content themselves with careful observation instead.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 1)
     A reaction: Biology too. Psychology tries hard to be experimental, but I doubt whether the main theories emerge from experiments.
1 p.14 The discoverers of Neptune didn't change their theory because of an anomaly
     Full Idea: Adams and Leverrier began with Newton's theory of gravity, which made an incorrect prediction about the orbit of Uranus. They explained away the conflicting observations by postulating a new planet, Neptune.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 1)
     A reaction: The falsificationists can say that the anomalous observation did not falsify the theory, because they didn't know quite what they were observing. It was not in fact an anomaly for Newtonian theory at all.
2 p.4 Galileo refuted the Aristotelian theory that heavier objects fall faster
     Full Idea: Galileo's most enduring contribution lay in mechanics, where he refuted the Aristotelian theory that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 2)
     A reaction: This must the first idea in the theory of mechanics, allowing mathematical treatment and accurate comparisons.
2 p.19 Science mostly aims at confirming theories, rather than falsifying them
     Full Idea: The goal of science is not solely to refute theories, but also to determine which theories are true (or probably true). When a scientist collects data …they are trying to show that their own theory is true.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 2)
     A reaction: This is the aim of 'accommodation' to a wide set of data, rather than prediction or refutation.
2 p.24 Induction is inferences from examined to unexamined instances of a given kind
     Full Idea: Some philosophers use 'inductive' to just mean not deductive, …but we reserve it for inferences from examined to unexamined instances of a given kind.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 2)
     A reaction: The instances must at least be comparable. Must you know the kind before you start? Surely you can examine a sequence of things, trying to decide whether or not they are of one kind? Is checking the uniformity of a kind induction?
2 p.29 Randomised Control Trials have a treatment and a control group, chosen at random
     Full Idea: In the Randomised Controlled Trial for a new drug, patients are divided at random into a treatment group who receive the drug, and a control group who do not. Randomisation is important to eliminate confounding factors.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 2)
     A reaction: [compressed] Devised in the 1930s, and a major breakthrough in methodology for that kind of trial. Psychologists use the method all the time. Some theorists say it is the only reliable method.
2 p.35 If the rules only concern changes of belief, and not the starting point, absurd views can look ratiional
     Full Idea: If the only objective constraints concern how we should change our credences, but what our initial credences should be is entirely subjective, then individuals with very bizarre opinions about the world will count as perfectly rational.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 2)
     A reaction: The important rationality has to be the assessement of a diverse batch of evidence, for which there can never be any rules or mathematics.
3 p.52 Multiple realisability is said to make reduction impossible
     Full Idea: Philosophers have often invoked multiple realisability to explain why psychology cannot be reduced to physics or chemistry, but in principle the explanation works for any higher-level science.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 3)
     A reaction: He gives the example of a 'cell' in biology, which can be implemented in all sorts of ways. Presumably that can be reduced to many sorts of physics, but not just to one sort. The high level contains patterns that vanish at the low level.
4 p.67 Theories with unobservables are underdetermined by the evidence
     Full Idea: According to anti-realists, scientific theories which posit unobservable entities are underdetermined by the empirical data - there will always be a number of competing theories which can account for the data equally well.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 4)
     A reaction: The fancy version is Putnam's model theoretic argument, explored by Tim Button. The reply, apparently, is that there are other criteria for theory choice, apart from the data. And we don't have to actually observe everything in a theory.
5 p.80 Two things can't be incompatible if they are incommensurable
     Full Idea: If two things are incommensurable they cannot be incompatible.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 5)
     A reaction: Kuhn had claimed that two rival theories are incompatible, which forces the paradigm shift. He can't stop the slide off into total relativism. The point is there cannot be a conflict if there cannot even be a comparison.