It is easier to define scientific realism than it is to identify its role as a distinctly philosophical doctrine. Scientific realists hold that the characteristic product of successful scientific research is knowledge of largely theory-independent phenomena and that such knowledge is possible (indeed actual) even in those cases in which the relevant phenomena are not, in any non-question-begging sense, observable.
According to scientific realists, for example, if you obtain a good contemporary chemistry textbook you will have good reason to believe (because the scientists whose work the book reports had good scientific evidence for) the (approximate) truth of the claims it contains about the existence and properties of atoms, molecules, sub-atomic particles, energy levels, reaction mechanisms, etc. Moreover, you have good reason to think that such phenomena have the properties attributed to them in the textbook independently of our theoretical conceptions in chemistry.
Scientific realism is thus the common sense (or common science) conception that, subject to a recognition that scientific methods are fallible and that most scientific knowledge is approximate, we are justified in accepting the most secure findings of scientists “at face value.”
Andrew Mills blogs at Small Philosophy Departments and discusses issues related to teaching in that environment.
This blog is dedicated to issues arising for those faculty who teach in small philosophy departments. The first set of posts to the blog are the results of a survey conducted in 2008 which asked faculty working in small philosophy departments (defined as departments with three or fewer full-time philosophy faculty) to comment on the challenges and advantages of such a work environment.
He makes these interesting observations on the kind of instructor who tends to thrive in a small department.
If you want to succeed in a small department, you should be the kind of person who…
…is happy putting teaching ahead of scholarship on your priority list
…can handle a heavy teaching load
…is content to be in a department that may not enjoy prestige on campus
…is content to be a member of a “service” department–i.e., a dept. that serves other majors.
…enjoys forming close mentoring relationships with undergraduates
…can teach a wide variety of courses
…is content to be the only person on your campus who works in your field
…can be happy without much, if any, intellectual engagement with campus colleagues
…can find intellectual stimulation interacting with people from different disciplines
…is able to recruit majors, primarily through teaching engaging and interesting courses
…is willing to advise a philosophy club or honorary society
…is willing and able to serve on college committees and in other service capacities
…derives satisfaction from seeing students learn
…doesn’t require professional accolades or prominence in the discipline
…enjoys learning about areas of philosophy you’ve never studied before
…enjoys the freedom to create new courses
…enjoys seeing the same students in multiple courses
I’m a sucker for these kinds of posts. Tyndale Tech lists several helpful online services and software for managing the various kinds of information you work with. With these tools you can:
- have an electronic photographic memory which is searchable
- have automatic backups, ready for the day your computer dies
- access your work and software from any web-connected computer
- and you do NOT have to be continuously online.
The top 5 tools are the following.
The site lists additional details for each, such as this for Dropbox.
1) Dropbox: Access your files on any computer – even with a poor connection:
Where should you keep shared files? – on your computer or online?
- Files on your computer are fast and available even when the internet fails,
- Files online are backed up and can be accessed on any computer
Now you can have BOTH, automatically updated, by using Dropbox.
- files in your Dropbox folder live on your computer, and online
- they are automatically kept in sync with identical folders on your other computers
- or, on a public computer, you can go online and load the file from your storage
- and if you accidentally delete it, the last three revisions are safely online
Get a free 2.25 Gb Dropbox here (enough space for about 2000 PhD theses!)
Nearest rivala: SugarSync – 2 Gb free, on only one extra computer or PDA
and LiveMesh – 5Gb online free, and syncs more. In Beta, but looks good.
Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, Volume 2 is now on Amazon. OUP’s site lists it here, with the following information:
Table of Contents
Introduction , Jonathan L. Kvanvig
1. On Evil’s Vague Necessity , Michael J. Almeida, (University of Texas, San Antonio)
2. Epistemic Humility, Arguments from Evil, and Moral Skepticism , Daniel Howard-Snyder, (Western Washington University)
3. Fission, Freedom, and the Fall , Hud Hudson, (Western Washington University)
4. Evaluating Religion , Tomis Kapitan, (Northern Illinois University)
5. Against Deity Theories , Brian Leftow, (University of Oxford)
6. Pointless Suffering? How to Make the Problem of Evil Sufficiently Serious , Hugh J. McCann, (Texas A&M University)
7. Divine Will Theory: Intentions or Desires? , Christian Miller, (Wake Forest University, North Carolina)
8. Design Inferences in an Infinite Universe , Brad Monton, (University of Colorado, Boulder)
9. Gods , Graham Oppy, (Monash University, Australia)
10. The Evolutionary Answer to the Problem of Faith and Reason , J. L. Schellenberg, (Mount Saint Vincent University, Nova Scotia)
11. Lotteries and Miracles , Jordan Howard Sobel, (University of Toronto)
12. Ockhamism and Molinism — Foreknowledge and Prophecy , Ted A. Warfield, (University of Notre Dame)
How many of us can relate to this? In a letter to his friend Arthur Greeves, C. S. Lewis wrote,
I quite agree with what you say about buying books, and love the planning and scheming beforehand, and if they come by post, finding the neat little parcel waiting for you on the hall table and rushing upstairs to open it in the privacy of your own room. (Letters of C. S. Lewis, edited by W. H. Lewis, p. 27)
(Via Addenda & Errata)