New Articles

Jack Birner, “From Group Selection to Ecological Niches:  Popper’s Rethinking of Evolution in the Light of Hayek’s Theory of Culture” in Rethinking Popper, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science,  Volume 272, Springer Netherlands,  2009, Part II, pp. 185-202.  University of Trento — Department of Sociology, University College Maastricht, Piazza Venezia 41, Trento, 38100, Italy email:  jack.birner@unitn.it

Abstract:

Hayek’s The Sensory Order contains a physicalistic identity theory of the mind. Popper criticized it, saying that it could not explain the higher functions of language. Hayek took up that challenge in a manuscript but failed to refute Popper’s arguments. Drawing upon the same manuscript, Hayek developed a theory of behavioural rules and cultural evolution. Despite his criticism of the theory of mind on which this evolutionary theory was based, Popper adopted Hayek’s idea of group selection. He transformed it into a theory of the selective power of ecological niches. This became a central element of Popper’s theory of evolution. The chapter traces the influence Popper and Hayek had on each other in the fields of the philosophy of mind and evolutionary theory. This is documented, inter alia, by their correspondence. Popper’s theory of evolution, which is based on his dualistic theory of mind, is presented in its various stages of development The chapter concludes with a possible application of that evolutionary theory, some thoughts about David Hume as the source of the differences between Popper and Hayek, and on the possible impact Popper’s criticism had on Hayek’s role in artificial intelligence.

MALACHI HACOHEN, “THE CULTURE OF VIENNESE SCIENCE AND THE RIDDLE OF AUSTRIAN LIBERALISM”,  Modern Intellectual History (2009), 6:369-396.  Department of History, Duke University E-mail: mhacohen@duke.edu

Abstract:

Vienna’s scientific culture has long attracted historians’ attention. Impressive though the scientific accomplishments of Viennese scientists were, and recognized by numerous Nobel prizes, they alone do not account for the historians’ interest. Rather, Vienna’s culture of science was imbedded in broader humanistic visions and invested in political and educational projects of major historical significance. Viennese philosophy placed humanity’s hopes in science and articulated its historical ramifications to the public, drawing out the political implications of competing scientific methodologies and tying them to dramatic historical events. This philosophy of science still reverberates nowadays in debates on liberty, markets, and government that quickly reveal their underpinning in the methodology of science. Vienna’s scientific culture, it seems, has never ceased to capture the imagination, far beyond Austria.

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