“The Dialectical Biologist: A Discussion w/ Dr. Richard Levins“
Richard Levins studied agriculture and mathematics at Cornell. He was a tropical farmer in Puerto Rico before getting his PhD at Columbia University. He later moved to Harvard with the sponsorship of E. O. Wilson, with whom they had later disputes over sociobiology. Levins was elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences but resigned because of the Academy’s role in advising the US military.
Levins is John Rock Professor of Population Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health. During the last two decades Levins has concentrated on application of ecology to agriculture, particularly in the less developed nations. He has also written on philosophical issues in biology and modelling.
An influential article of his is “The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology”. He has influenced a number of contemporary philosophers of biology. With the evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin, Levins has written a number of articles on methodology, philosophy, and social implications of biology.
This interview, conducted by Professor of Philosophy Paul Eckstein (Bergen Community College, NJ), focuses mainly on Levins’ contribution to the text, Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, Agriculture, and Health (w/ Lewontin).
One-Hour Special: The Spirituality of ‘Cause and Effect!’
We occupy a universe in which a continuous causal fabric connects everyone and everything that ever was and ever will be. This is not some silly mumbo-jumbo sounding nonsense, it is evidence-based scientific reality. If we fully take in all that living in a ’cause and effect’ universe implies, a very real alternate way to experience our understanding of ourselves and others begins to emerge.
The evidence based narrative of our 21st century understanding of the nature and operation of our cosmos is much more far fetched and way more intense than any ancient people could have dreamed.
In this hour we will be joined by two articulate physicists: the renowned Chair of the New York University Department of Physics Dr. David Grier, and the chief science writer at the American Institute of Physics Dr. Philip Schewe. Also joining us will be Director of the Center for Naturalism, and a frequent guest on Equal Time for Freethought, Thomas Clark.
Our three guests will help us understand what state of the art knowledge in physics tell us about what we are and how we fit into the cosmos.
Or, Can You Call Yourself a Naturalist and Still Believe in Free Will?
At its core, the most defining element of a naturalistic world-view is the idea that there exists an unbroken chain of cause and effect which determines the way that all entities in our classical universe behave.
In a naturalistic world-view, there are no forces or entities that exist outside the chain of cause and effect that can influence events in our universe. Everything that exists, has ever existed, or ever will exist, is inextricably linked in this chain; and this, of course, includes humans.
Using this idea to address the most crucial questions of our time with regard to our place in the universe, our relationship to each other, and our understanding of our selves, is to bring the full power of the naturalistic world-view to its most practical social and personal applications.
This week and next, Equal Time for Freethought will be joined by the Director of The Center for Naturalism, and author of the new primer on naturalism Encountering Naturalism, Thomas Clark.
A couple of weeks ago week, “Equal Time for Freethought” featured an encore presentation of a discussion we had this past summer with Eddie Ellis, host of WBAI’s “On the Count!: The Criminal Justice and Prison Report.” During our conversation one major question which emerged hinged on the question of whether people behave as they do as a result of their own free will, or as a result of factors which they do not choose.
Continue reading “Show 185: The Free Will Question”
For anyone who is a humanist, reform of our brutal criminal justice system is a major concern, but can real structural changes to our criminal justice system become adopted and be sustained without a radical change in our nation’s consciousness which departs from religion?
The host of WBAI’s ‘On the Count!’: The Criminal Justice and Prison Report’s” Eddie Ellis, join’s “Equal Time for Freethought’s” Arnell Dowret for a wide ranging examination of the philosophical and theological ideas involved in creating a new, more humane and just criminal justice paradigm. Included in this discussion is a look at how a secular humanist world view compares with a world view that is faith-based in regard to relevant social, economic, and political issues such as poverty, capitalism, racism, and reparations.