Elliott R. Sober (born 6 June 1948, Baltimore) is Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at University of Wisconsin–Madison. Sober is noted for his work in philosophy of biology and general philosophy of science.
Sober earned his Ph.D in philosophy from Harvard University under the supervision of Hilary Putnam, after doing graduate work at Cambridge University under the supervision of Mary Hesse. His work has also been strongly influenced by the biologist Richard Lewontin, and he has collaborated with David Sloan Wilson, Steven Orzack and Mike Steel, also biologists.
Sober has served as the president of both the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association and the Philosophy of Science Association. He was president of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science (Division of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science) from 2012 until 2015. He taught for one year at Stanford University and has been a regular visiting professor at the London School of Economics.
One of Sober's main fields of research has been the subject of simplicity or parsimony in connection with theory evaluation in science. Sober also has been interested in altruism, both as the concept is used in evolutionary biology and also as it is used in connection with human psychology. His book with David Sloan Wilson, Unto Others: the Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior (1998), addresses both topics.
Sober has been a prominent critic of intelligent design. He also has written about evidence and probability, scientific realism and instrumentalism, laws of nature, the mind-body problem and naturalism.
Sober's The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus (1984) has been instrumental in establishing the philosophy of biology as a prominent research area in philosophy. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "The Nature of Selection...marks the point at which most philosophers became aware of the philosophy of biology." In his review of the book, biologist Ernst Mayr wrote "Sober has ... given us what is perhaps the most careful and penetrating analysis of the concept of natural selection as it affects the process of evolution".
Sober's first publication on parsimony was his 1975 book, Simplicity. In it, he argued that the simplicity of a hypothesis should be understood in terms of a concept of question-relative informativeness. Sober abandoned this theory in the 1980s when he started to think about the concept of cladistic parsimony used in evolutionary biology. This led him to think of parsimony in terms of the concept of likelihood, an idea he developed in his 1988 book Reconstructing the Past: Parsimony, Evolution, and Inference. In the 1990s he started to think about the role of parsimony in model selection theory—for example, in the Akaike Information Criterion. He published a series of articles in this area with Malcolm Forster, the first of which was their 1994 paper "How to Tell When Simpler, More Unified, or Less Ad Hoc Theories Will Provide More Accurate Predictions." His most recent publication on parsimony, his 2015 book Ockham's Razors: A User's Manual, describes both the likelihood framework and the model selection frameworks as two viable "parsimony paradigms."
The American Philosophical Association (APA) is the main professional organization for philosophers in the United States. Founded in 1900, its mission is to promote the exchange of ideas among philosophers, to encourage creative and scholarly activity in philosophy, to facilitate the professional work and teaching of philosophers, and to represent philosophy as a discipline.Analyzing Marx
Analyzing Marx: Morality, Power and History is a 1984 book about Karl Marx by the political philosopher Richard W. Miller.David Sloan Wilson
David Sloan Wilson (born 1949) is an American evolutionary biologist and a Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences and Anthropology at Binghamton University. He is a son of the author Sloan Wilson and co-founder of the Evolution Institute.Evolutionary ethics
Evolutionary ethics is a field of inquiry that explores how evolutionary theory might bear on our understanding of ethics or morality. The range of issues investigated by evolutionary ethics is quite broad. Supporters of evolutionary ethics have claimed that it has important implications in the fields of descriptive ethics, normative ethics, and metaethics.
Descriptive evolutionary ethics consists of biological approaches to morality based on the alleged role of evolution in shaping human psychology and behavior. Such approaches may be based in scientific fields such as evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, or ethology, and seek to explain certain human moral behaviors, capacities, and tendencies in evolutionary terms. For example, the nearly universal belief that incest is morally wrong might be explained as an evolutionary adaptation that furthered human survival.
Normative (or prescriptive) evolutionary ethics, by contrast, seeks not to explain moral behavior, but to justify or debunk certain normative ethical theories or claims. For instance, some proponents of normative evolutionary ethics have argued that evolutionary theory undermines certain widely held views of humans' moral superiority over other animals.
Evolutionary metaethics asks how evolutionary theory bears on theories of ethical discourse, the question of whether objective moral values exist, and the possibility of objective moral knowledge. For example, some evolutionary ethicists have appealed to evolutionary theory to defend various forms of moral anti-realism (the claim, roughly, that objective moral facts do not exist) and moral skepticism.Fine-tuned Universe
The fine-tuned Universe is the proposition that the conditions that allow life in the Universe can occur only when certain universal dimensionless physical constants lie within a very narrow range of values, so that if any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the Universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood.Various possible explanations of ostensible fine-tuning are discussed among philosophers, scientists, theologians, and proponents and detractors of creationism. The fine-tuned Universe observation is closely related to, but not exactly synonymous with the anthropic principle, which is often used as an explanation of apparent fine-tuning.Freethought Festival
Freethought Festival is a student-run freethinking convention held annually in Madison, Wisconsin by the student group Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Speakers give talks relating to atheism, freethinking, skepticism, and other topics.Group selection
Group selection is a proposed mechanism of evolution in which natural selection acts at the level of the group, instead of at the more conventional level of the individual.
Early authors such as V. C. Wynne-Edwards and Konrad Lorenz argued that the behavior of animals could affect their survival and reproduction as groups, speaking for instance of actions for the good of the species. In the 1930s, R.A. Fisher and J.B.S. Haldane proposed the concept of kin selection, arguing that animals should sacrifice for their relatives, and thereby implying that they should not sacrifice for non-relatives; Haldane even jokingly introduced a mathematical basis for familial altruism, suggesting that he would die for two siblings or eight cousins. From the mid 1960s, evolutionary biologists such as John Maynard Smith argued that natural selection acted primarily at the level of the individual. They argued on the basis of mathematical models that individuals would not altruistically sacrifice fitness for the sake of a group. They persuaded the majority of biologists that group selection did not occur, other than in special situations such as the haplodiploid social insects like honeybees (in the Hymenoptera), where kin selection was possible.
In 1994 David Sloan Wilson and Elliott Sober argued for multi-level selection, including group selection, on the grounds that groups, like individuals, could compete. In 2010 three authors including E. O. Wilson, known for his work on social insects especially ants, again revisited the arguments for group selection. They argued that group selection can occur when competition between two or more groups, some containing altruistic individuals who act cooperatively together, is more important for survival than competition between individuals within each group. Their proposals provoked a strong rebuttal from a large group of evolutionary biologists.Index of analytic philosophy articles
This is a list of articles in analytic philosophy.
A. C. Grayling
Alfred Jules Ayer
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
C. D. Broad
Cahiers pour l'Analyse
Carl Gustav Hempel
Charles Sanders Peirce
Contrast theory of meaning
Darwin's Dangerous Idea
David Braine (philosopher)
David Kellogg Lewis
Descriptivist theory of names
Direct reference theory
Doctrine of internal relations
Donald Davidson (philosopher)
Elbow Room (book)
F. C. S. Schiller
Form of life (philosophy)
Frank P. Ramsey
G. E. M. Anscombe
George Edward Moore
Harvey Brown (philosopher)
Indeterminacy of translation
Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy
J. L. Austin
Language, Truth, and Logic
Metaphor in philosophy
Michael Tye (philosopher)
Naming and Necessity
Oets Kolk Bouwsma
Ordinary language philosophy
Original proof of Gödel's completeness theorem
P. F. Strawson
Paradox of analysis
Philosophy of engineering
Philosophy of technology
Private language argument
Richard von Mises
Round square copula
The Bounds of Sense
The Logic of Scientific Discovery
The Mind's I
Two Dogmas of Empiricism
UCLA Department of Philosophy
Willard Van Orman Quine
William James Lectures
William L. Rowe
William W. Tait
Word and Object
Zeno VendlerIndex of philosophy of science articles
An index list of articles about the philosophy of science.Intelligent designer
An intelligent designer, also referred to as an intelligent agent, is the hypothetical willed and self-aware entity that the intelligent design movement argues had some role in the origin and/or development of life. The term "intelligent cause" is also used, implying their teleological supposition of direction and purpose in features of the universe and of living things.International Union of History and Philosophy of Science
The International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology is one of the members of the International Science Council (ISC). It was founded in 1955 by merging the International Union of History of Science (IUHS) and the International Union of Philosophy of Science (IUPS), and consists of two divisions, the Division of History of Science and Technology (DHST) and the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and Technology (DLMPST).Lakatos Award
The Lakatos Award is given annually for an outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science, widely interpreted. The contribution must be in the form of a book published in English during the previous six years.
The Award is in memory of Imre Lakatos and has been endowed by the Latsis Foundation. It is administered by the following committee:
The Director of the London School of Economics (Chairman)
Professor John Worrall (Convenor)
Professor Hans Albert
Professor Nancy Cartwright
Professor Adolf Grünbaum
Professor Philip Kitcher
Professor Alan Musgrave
Professor Michael RedheadThe Committee makes the Award on the advice of an independent and anonymous panel of selectors. The value of the Award is £10,000.
To take up an Award a successful candidate must visit the LSE and deliver a public lecture.List of philosophers of science
This is a chronological list of philosophers of science. For an alphabetical name-list, see Category:Philosophers of science.List of works on intelligent design
This is a list of works addressing the subject or the themes of intelligent design.Mind and Cosmos
Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False is a 2012 book by the philosopher Thomas Nagel.Occam's razor
Occam's razor (also Ockham's razor or Ocham's razor (Latin: novacula Occami); is the problem-solving principle that states "entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily".
The idea is attributed to English Franciscan friar William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), a scholastic philosopher and theologian.
It is sometimes misrepresented in pop culture and other media by some form of the statement "The simplest solution is most likely the right one." . This is not a form of Occam's razor, but instead is known as the law of parsimony (Latin: lex parsimoniae)) or the law of simplicity.Occam's Razor instead is saying that when presented with competing hypotheses that make the same predictions, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions and is not meant to filter out hypotheses that make different predictions.
In science, Occam's razor is used as an abductive heuristic in the development of theoretical models, rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models. In the scientific method, Occam's razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there may be an extremely large, perhaps even incomprehensible, number of possible and more complex alternatives. Since one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are more testable.Richard Lewontin
Richard Charles "Dick" Lewontin (born March 29, 1929) is an American evolutionary biologist, mathematician, geneticist, and social commentator. A leader in developing the mathematical basis of population genetics and evolutionary theory, he pioneered the application of techniques from molecular biology, such as gel electrophoresis, to questions of genetic variation and evolution.
In a pair of seminal 1966 papers co-authored with J.L. Hubby in the journal Genetics, Lewontin helped set the stage for the modern field of molecular evolution. In 1979 he and Stephen Jay Gould introduced the term "spandrel" into evolutionary theory. From 1973 to 1998, he held an endowed chair in zoology and biology at Harvard University, and since 2003 has been a research professor there.
Lewontin opposes genetic determinism.What Darwin Got Wrong
What Darwin Got Wrong is a 2010 book by philosopher Jerry Fodor and cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, in which the authors criticize Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. It is an extension of an argument first presented as "Why Pigs Don't Have Wings" in the London Review of Books.