The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science

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Cambridge University Press, Sep 23, 1999 - Philosophy - 247 pages
2 Reviews
It is often supposed that the spectacular successes of our modern mathematical sciences support a lofty vision of a world completely ordered by one single elegant theory. In this book Nancy Cartwright argues to the contrary. When we draw our image of the world from the way modern science works - as empiricism teaches us we should - we end up with a world where some features are precisely ordered, others are given to rough regularity and still others behave in their own diverse ways. This patchwork makes sense when we realise that laws are very special productions of nature, requiring very special arrangements for their generation. Combining classic and newly written essays on physics and economics, The Dappled World carries important philosophical consequences and offers serious lessons for both the natural and the social sciences.
 

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User Review  - thcson - LibraryThing

This is a dappled book. The chapters seem to have been separately written because they really do not form a unified and focused whole. The argument in the first few chapters is clear (though it didn't ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ElectricRay - LibraryThing

Nancy Cartwright certainly has fashioned a unique place for herself in the philosophy of science, as a mathematically and economically literate writer prepared to write books with titles like How the ... Read full review

Contents

Fundamentalism versus the patchwork of laws
23
Fables and models
35
Nomological machines and the laws they produce
49
Laws and their limits The laws we test in physics
75
Aristotelian natures and the modern experimental method
77
Causal diversity causal stability
104
Ceteris paribus laws and socioeconomic machines
137
Probability machines chance setups and economic models
152
The boundaries of quantum and classical physics and the territories they share
177
How bridge principles set the domain of quantum theory
179
How quantum and classical theories relate
211
Bibliography
234
Index
242
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Page 16 - The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe.
Page 11 - But supposing, which is the real case with regard to man, that this creature is not antecedently convinced of a supreme intelligence, benevolent and powerful, but is left to gather such a belief from the appearances of things; this entirely alters the case, nor will he ever find any reason for such a conclusion.
Page 19 - GLORY be to God for dappled things For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced - fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
Page 19 - Pied Beauty GLORY be to God for dappled things — For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how ?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.
Page 11 - I will allow that pain or misery in man is compatible with infinite power and goodness in the Deity, even in your sense of these attributes: what are you advanced by all these concessions? A mere possible compatibility is not sufficient. You must prove these pure, unmixed and uncontrollable attributes from the present mixed and confused phenomena, and from these alone. A hopeful undertaking!
Page 16 - The behavior of large and complex aggregates of elementary particles, it turns out, is not to be understood in terms of a simple extrapolation of the properties of a few particles. Instead, at each level of complexity entirely new properties appear, and the understanding of new behaviors requires research which I think is as fundamental in its nature as any other.
Page 11 - It must, I think, be allowed that, if a very limited intelligence whom we shall suppose utterly unacquainted with the universe were assured that it were the production of a very good, wise, and powerful Being, however finite, he would, from his conjectures, form beforehand a different notion of it from what we find it to be by experience...
Page 11 - Supposing now that this person were brought into the world, still assured that it was the workmanship of such a sublime and benevolent Being, he might, perhaps, be surprised at the disappointment, but would never retract his former belief if founded on any very solid argument, since such a limited intelligence must be sensible of his own blindness and ignorance, and must allow that there may be many solutions of those phenomena which will for ever escape his comprehension.

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