Saturday, May 17, 2008

Probable Origin of Term "Circumstantial"

James Franklin, The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability before Pascal 32 (Johns Hopkins, 2001) (footnote omitted):
[Baldus de Ubaldis, in his late fourteenth century commentaries] mentions a kind of presumption called circumferent, which proves only when collected with others, apparently the origin of modern "circumstantial" evidence.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Courage and Love of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

The story of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's struggle with the consequences of Alzheimer's disease is quite moving. (Her husband is afflicted with Alzheimer's and Justice O'Connor retired early from the Court to help arrange for his care.) Her recent (brief) plea for increased funding for research into this disease is also moving. See Lauren Neergaard (AP), "O'Connor makes personal plea for Alzheimer's aid," (May 14, 2008).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jerry Fodor Strikes Again

"As for me, I'm inclined to think that Chicken Little got it right. Abduction really is a terrible problem for cognitive science, one that is unlikely to be solved by any kind of theory we have heard of so far." Jerry Fodor, The Mind Doesn't Work That Way 41 (MIT 2001).

N.B. Many theorists believe there are three (rather than two) basic patterns of inference:

1. deduction
2. induction
3. abduction
Abductive inference involves -- roughly speaking -- the mysterious business of finding more in information or events than seems to be there in strictu sensu; for example, abduction involves the suggestive character of evidentiary details; it involves events and matters that function as "signs," or hints, as matters that somehow (in the human imagination) point beyond themselves.


How does Rutgers manage to land so many philosophers with captivating prose (as well as interesting ideas)?

A Malicious Fairy Princess Spreading Spreading Pixie Dust Laced with DNA over European Crime Scenes?

A friend alerted me to the following odd story about the "phantom of Heilbronn." See Tristana Moore, "Germany hunts phantom killer," BBC News (April 21, 2008). European police have recovered "matching" DNA -- DNA said to belong to a single unknown female person -- from crime scenes in a wide variety of areas in Europe involving a variety of crimes (30 sets of crimes) committed over a period of 15 years. The police now think they may be close to identifying the perpetrator -- either that or the source of this DNA. It will be very interesting to see how this story unfolds.