Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Some Advance Copies of Papers on Graphic and Visual Representation of Evidence and Inference in Legal Settings

See Advance Access, Law Probability and Risk (check with your university's or law school's librarian about getting a password; if you do not have a password, this web page provides access only to the abstracts).

The advance papers include:

John D. Lowrance, "Graphical manipulation of evidence in structured arguments," Law, Probability and Risk Advance Access published on September 25, 2007. doi:10.1093/lpr/mgm011

Kevin D. Ashley, "Comment on Lowrance's ‘Graphical manipulation of evidence in structured arguments’," Law, Probability and Risk Advance Access published on July 23, 2007. doi:10.1093/lpr/mgm012

Floris Bex, Susan van den Braak, Herre van Oostendorp, Henry Prakken, Bart Verheij, and Gerard Vreeswijk, "Sense-making software for crime investigation: how to combine stories and arguments?," Law, Probability and Risk Advance Access published on July 7, 2007. doi:10.1093/lpr/mgm007

William Twining, "Argumentation, stories and generalizations: a comment," Law, Probability and Risk Advance Access published on August 13, 2007. doi:10.1093/lpr/mgm008

Vern R. Walker, "Visualizing the dynamics around the rule–evidence interface in legal reasoning," Law, Probability and Risk Advance Access published on August 19, 2007. doi:10.1093/lpr/mgm015

David A. Schum and Jon R. Morris, "Assessing the competence and credibility of human sources of intelligence evidence: contributions from law and probability," Law, Probability and Risk Advance Access published on August 28, 2007. doi:10.1093/lpr/mgm025

Amanda B. Hepler, A. Philip Dawid, and Valentina Leucari, "Object-oriented graphical representations of complex patterns of evidence," Law, Probability and Risk Advance Access originally published on May 24, 2007. This version published June 13, 2007. doi:10.1093/lpr/mgm005

Dale A. Nance, "The inferential arrow: a comment on interdisciplinary conversation," Law, Probability and Risk Advance Access published on September 25, 2007. doi:10.1093/lpr/mgm035

The hard copy version of the special triple issue containing all of the papers and comments will very probably appear in November, 2007. Additional papers will appear on the "Advance Access" web page from time to time. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Do You Believe in Sociobiology and Law?

Ibn al-Shatir's model for the appearances of Mercury, showing the multiplication of epicycles in a Ptolemaic enterprise. 14th century C.E.


If you are an enthusiast for law and sociobiology -- law's version of ultra-Darwinism (or the modern equivalent of Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics) --, you should take a gander at David Stove, So You Think You Are a Darwinian?


Of course most educated people now are Darwinians, in the sense that they believe our species to have originated, not in a creative act of the Divine Will, but by evolution from other animals. But believing that proposition is not enough to make someone a Darwinian. It had been believed, as may be learnt from any history of biology, by very many people long before Darwinism, or Darwin, was born.

What is needed to make someone an adherent of a certain school of thought is belief in all or most of the propositions which are peculiar to that school, and are believed either by all of its adherents, or at least by the more thoroughgoing ones. In any large school of thought, there is always a minority who adhere more exclusively than most to the characteristic beliefs of the school: they are the ‘purists’ or ‘ultras’ of that school. What is needed and sufficient, then, to make a person a Darwinian, is belief in all or most of the propositions which are peculiar to Darwinians, and believed either by all of them, or at least by ultra-Darwinians.

I give below ten propositions which are all Darwinian beliefs in the sense just specified. Each of them is obviously false: either a direct falsity about our species or, where the proposition is a general one, obviously false in the case of our species, at least. Some of the ten propositions are quotations; all the others are paraphrases.

One of Stove's targets -- Stove died in 1994 -- was Richard Dawkins. Extract:
...I start from the present day, and from the inferno-scene - like something by Hieronymus Bosch - which the 'selfish gene’ theory makes of all life. Then I go back a bit to some of the falsities which, beginning in the 1960s, were contributed to Darwinism by the theory of ‘inclusive fitness’. And finally I get back to some of the falsities, more pedestrian though no less obvious, of the Darwinism of the 19th or early-20th century.

1. The truth is, ‘the total prostitution of all animal life, including Man and all his airs and graces, to the blind purposiveness of these minute virus-like substances’, genes.

This is a thumbnail-sketch, and an accurate one, of the contents of The Selfish Gene (1976) by Richard Dawkins. It was not written by Dawkins, but he quoted it with manifest enthusiasm in a defence of The Selfish Gene which he wrote in this journal in 1981. Dawkins’ status, as a widely admired spokesman for ultra-Darwinism, is too well-known to need evidence of it adduced here. His admirers even include some philosophers who have carried their airs and graces to the length of writing good books on such rarefied subjects as universals, or induction, or the mind. Dawkins can scarcely have gratified these admirers by telling them that, even when engaged in writing those books, they were ‘totally prostituted to the blind purposiveness of their genes Still, you ‘have to hand it’ to genes which can write, even if only through their slaves, a good book on subjects like universals or induction. Those genes must have brains all right, as well as purposes. At least, they must, if genes can have brains and purposes. But in fact, of course, DNA molecules no more have such things than H2O molecules do.

For more from Stove see Darwinian Fairytales, Aldershot: Avebury Press, 1995, repr. New York: Encounter Books, 2006. A reviewer (Martin Gardner) said of this book:
Whatever your opinion of "Intelligent Design," you’ll find Stove’s criticism of what he calls "Darwinism" difficult to stop reading. Stove’s blistering attack on Richard Dawkins’ "selfish genes" and "memes" is unparalleled and unrelenting. A discussion of spiders who mimic bird droppings is alone worth the price of the book. Darwinian Fairytales should be read and pondered by anyone interested in sociobiology, the origin of altruism, and the awesome process of evolution.
The blurb by Encounter Books states:
Philosopher David Stove concludes in his hilarious and razor-sharp inquiry that Darwin’s theory of evolution is “a ridiculous slander on human beings.” But wait! Stove is no “creationist” nor a proponent of so-called “intelligent design.” He is a theological skeptic who admits Darwin’s great genius and acknowledges that the theory of natural selection is the most successful biological theory in history. But Stove also thinks that it is also one of the most overblown and gives a penetrating inventory of what he regards as the “unbelievable claims” of Darwinism. Darwinian Fairytales is a must-read book for people who want to really understand the issues behind the most hotly debated scientific controversy of our time.