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Ideas of Stephen Boulter, by Text

[British, fl. 2012, At Oxford Brookes University.]

2019 Why Medieval Philosophy Matters
1 p.33 Thoughts are general, but the world isn't, so how can we think accurately?
     Full Idea: Our thoughts are full of generalities, but the world contains no generalities. So how can our thoughts accurately represent the world? This is the problem of universals.
     From: Stephen Boulter (Why Medieval Philosophy Matters [2019], 1)
     A reaction: I so love it when someone comes up with a really clear explanation of a problem, and this is a beauty from Stephen Boulter. Only a really clear explanation can motivate philosophical issues for non-philosophers.
1 p.38 Our concepts can never fully capture reality, but simplification does not falsify
     Full Idea: While the natural order is richer than our conceptual representations of it, nonetheless our concepts can be adequate to real singulars because simplification is not falsification.
     From: Stephen Boulter (Why Medieval Philosophy Matters [2019], 1)
     A reaction: I don't know if 'simplification' is one of the faculties I am trying to identify. I suspect it is a common factor among most of our intellectual faculties. I love 'simplification is not falsification'. Vagueness isn't falsification either.
2 p.51 Science begins with sufficient reason, de-animation, and the importance of nature
     Full Idea: Three assumptions needed for the emergence of science are central to medieval thought: that the natural order is subject to the principle of sufficient reason, that nature is de-animated, and that it is worthy of study.
     From: Stephen Boulter (Why Medieval Philosophy Matters [2019], 2)
     A reaction: A very illuminating and convincing observation. Why did Europe produce major science? The answer is likely to be found in Christianity.
2 p.55 Science rests on scholastic metaphysics, not on Hume, Kant or Carnap
     Full Idea: The metaphysical principles that allow the scientist to learn from experience are scholastic, not Humean or Kantian or those of twentieth-century positivism.
     From: Stephen Boulter (Why Medieval Philosophy Matters [2019], 2)
     A reaction: Love this. Most modern philosophers of science would be deeply outraged by this, but I reckon that careful and open-minded interviews with scientists would prove it to be correct. We want to know the essential nature of electrons.
2 p.58 Experiments don't just observe; they look to see what interventions change the natural order
     Full Idea: Experiments differ from observational studies in that experiments usually involve intervening in some way in the natural order to see if altering something about that order causes a change in the response of that order.
     From: Stephen Boulter (Why Medieval Philosophy Matters [2019], 2)
     A reaction: Not convinced by this. Lots of experiments isolate a natural process, rather than 'intervening'. Chemists constantly purify substances. Particle accelerators pick out things to accelerate. Does 'intervening' in nature even make sense?
4 p.104 Logical possibility needs the concepts of the proposition to be adequate
     Full Idea: One can only be sure that a proposition expresses a genuine logical possibility if one can be sure that one's concepts are adequate to things referred to in the proposition.
     From: Stephen Boulter (Why Medieval Philosophy Matters [2019], 4)
     A reaction: Boulter says this is a logical constraint place on logical possibility by the scholastics which tends to be neglected by modern thinkers, who only worry about whether the proposition implies a contradiction. So we now use thought experiments.
5 p.122 Aristotelians accept the analytic-synthetic distinction
     Full Idea: Aristotle and the scholastics accept the analytic/synthetic distinction, but do not take it to be particularly significant.
     From: Stephen Boulter (Why Medieval Philosophy Matters [2019], 5)
     A reaction: I record this because I'm an Aristotelian, and need to know what I'm supposed to think. Luckily, I accept the distinction.
6 p.144 The facts about human health are the measure of the values in our lives
     Full Idea: The objective facts relating to human health broadly construed are the facts that measure the moral value of our actions, policies and institutions.
     From: Stephen Boulter (Why Medieval Philosophy Matters [2019], 6)
     A reaction: This is the Aristotelian approach to facts and values, which I thoroughly endorse. To say there is nothing instrinsically wrong with being unhealthy is an absurd attitude.