[SydPhil] Title/Asbract for Justin Smith, Sep 2

Brian Hedden brian.hedden at sydney.edu.au
Sun Aug 30 17:56:21 AEST 2015

Hi all,

Here is the title and abstract for Justin Smith's department seminar talk, this Wed, Sep 2 from 1-2:30 pm in the Muniment Room.  See you all there.

What Is a Fossil?
Teleology, Natural Order, and the Knowability of the Past

In this talk I would like to examine a cluster of philosophical problems concerning the interpretation of fossil evidence, as they were discussed in the pre-evolutionary context of 17th and 18th-century natural philosophy. I will argue particular that in the work of Nicolaus Steno (1638-1686) and of G. W. Leibniz (1646-1716) we find a clear elaboration of what would later be called 'abductive inference' by C. S. Peirce, as the best method for any science, such as palaeontology, that seeks to reconstruct past processes. I will argue further that it was in part the perceived limits of this method that triggered Kant's conclusions concerning natural teleology in the Critique of the Faculty of Judgment.
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