Can Science Answer the 'Life' Question? by Tyler Wood

"What is life?" is a question that theoretical biologists are trying hard to figure out. Physicists have even entered into this field of inquiry. There are no definitive answers as of yet, but the question of how to get these answers persists. Can science ever understand what life is?  I will look at two different views of how we are going to arrive at these answers, if possible;  one based on a tradition of science from one of these physicists turned theoretical biologist, and one from a new science emerging (how ironic) from the biological tradition only to try and flip the views on their heads. The former being Erwin Schrödinger in his infamous and well-noted essay entitled aptly What is Life? and the latter being a proponent of artificial life Christopher G. Langton in his essay entitled also very pertinently Artificial Life. Schrödinger takes the traditional reductionist view of life, while Langton takes a view that, instead of going top down, goes from bottom up. Are these methods going to answer the question to what life is, or is science getting in over its head on this question? I will argue that these methods have added greatly to the study of science and what features life might have but they remain unable to answer the question – "what is life?"

Read More

Victorian Virtue: Smith, Malthus, and Hardy by Tyler Wood

"Manners make the man; that is, they make his fortune (Household Words 296)."

Self-sacrifice, in Victorian England, was a virtue of the utmost importance. This was a time when modesty and manners reigned supreme, but also a time of a child boom, so what was virtuous for a man to do in this era? One thing for sure is to sacrifice for the betterment of all. This idea was ingrained into the realms of economics, politics, nation building, sexuality, and of course - morality. In Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy uses the popular ideas of a virtuous man and turns them on their head for the sake of showing what ends society's 'virtue' and 'morality' ultimately lead to. Hardy, unlike Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus, makes love and passion worthy ideals to sacrifice for.

Read More

Equality: What Equality Should An Egalitarian Care About? by Tyler Wood

An egalitarian is one who wants equality for all people in a society, but what equality should we care about? We care about equality because we want everyone to live a good life no matter what issues they may have. The main arguments I will discuss are the theory of Equality of Welfare, the Equality of Resources, Dworkin's Equality of fortune, and Anderson's Democratic Equality, then I will propose a possible solution to the issues with these theories with my own theory, the Equality of Self-Sustainability. My theory will be a hybrid theory of the others but it will treat people as ends not means in the Kantian view. My theory will be more pragmatic and realistic, and won't cost as much in the end, for true justice and equality.

Read More

Nozick, Political Justice, and the Democratic Protection Association by Tyler Wood

Robert Nozick conceives of a "Dominant Protection Association" (DPA) model that would arise from the Lockean state of nature through an "invisible hand" model, meaning not designed but organic. He claims that this "invisible hand" model would violate no ones rights because no one would be in charge of it (like natural disasters aren't violating rights). This would be a natural progression from nature in the attempt to gather into society for protection, but is this protection agency enough or do we need more? Nozick agrees with more, he wants to get to the minimal state which has a monopoly on the use of force. I think a different approach is the model that would work the best - the model of the naturally constructed democratic DPA which Nozick doesn't offer.

Read More

Greek Hullabaloo: The Greek Miracle Explained by Tyler Wood

The "Greek Miracle" was neither a miracle nor entirely Greek, however, it does signify a hazy start to a new minded human in the western world. The supposed "Greek Miracle" has been, according to modern philosophers, initially started by a man named Thales from Miletus, to signify the 'break' from designating the causes for natural phenomena to the gods and their whims (mythical) to a more natural 'answer' to natural 'problems'.  I will argue that this is not a miracle, of course, but also that it is not even what is meant by that term either, namely, that there was one significant break from the norm into a more 'modern' way of thinking. I will show that it was a step by step progression (albeit a significant one) that may have well been started further back, had we any evidence for or against it, that lead up to Socrates and, inevitably, us.

Read More