. Tour guides in your travels jot down Mementos and Keepsakes from each Tour[i]. Their scribblings, which may at times include details, at other times just a word or two, may be modified through the Tour, and in response to questions from travelers (so please check back). …
We investigate how epistemic injustice can manifest itself in mathematical practices. We do this as both a social epistemological and virtue-theoretic investigation of mathematical practices. We delineate the concept both positively – we show that a certain type of folk theorem can be a source of epistemic injustice in mathematics – and negatively by exploring cases where the obstacles to participation in a mathematical practice do not amount to epistemic injustice. Having explored what epistemic injustice in mathematics can amount to, we use the concept to highlight a potential danger of intellectual enculturation.
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16 October 2018
More on Facebook and Mental Health Privacy
By Gordon Hull
It’s not news that Facebook generates a lot of privacy concerns. But it’s nonetheless worth keeping up a little, just to indicate how seriously we need to be concerned about the connection between Facebook and data analytics. …
Consider forty rational people each individually keeping track of the ethnicities and virtue/vice of the people they interact with and hear about (admittedly, one wonders why a rational person would do that!). …
This chapter examines the philosophical grounds for linking responsibility with capacities to reason and to judge in the light of moral considerations. It discusses five different accounts that connect responsibility and rationality, the work of: Susan Wolf, R Jay Wallace, the jointly authored work of John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza, Angela M Smith, and Pamela Hieronymi. Through these authors’ contributions, the chapter argues that the notion of rational ability is central to understanding and justifying practices of responsibility. Although there has been clear progress in debates about this connection, however, understanding the notion of rational or moral ability still poses profound challenges. One reason for this is suggested: such abilities may have constitutive connections with practices of holding responsible and of taking responsibility – connections that have yet to be fully explored in the literature.
In Eudoxia, which spreads both upward and down, with winding alleys, steps, dead ends, hovels, a carpet is preserved in which you can observe the city's true form. At first sight nothing seems to resemble Eudoxia less than the design of that carpet, laid out in symmetrical motives whose patterns are repeated along straight and circular lines, interwoven with brilliantly colored spires, in a repetition that can be followed throughout the whole woof. …
My colleague at Stanford’s Center for Ethics in Society, Johannes Himmelreich, is a philosopher who investigates agency and responsibility in contexts of collective collaboration and technological augmentation. …
I think it is possible for one mind to have multiple spheres of consciousness. One kind of case is diachronic: there need be no unity of consciousness between my awareness at t1 and my awareness at t2. …
I’m not really keeping abreast with what’s available on elementary category theory right now — who would have thought that revising an elementary logic text would be so all-consuming? (Maybe it is one of those cheering features of, erm, mature years … you can only think about one thing at a time.) …
(I appear in this video from 15:49-25:51)
[The following is, roughly, the text of a speech I delivered to the Trinity College, Dublin Historical Society on the 10th October 2018 (which you can watch in the video above from 15:49 - 25:51). …
Ontological pluralism is the view that there are different ways to exist. It is a position with deep roots in the history of philosophy. For example, Aristotle seemed to endorse it when he said that ‘there are many senses in which a thing may be said to ‘be’’. Although the view fell out of favour, there has recently been a resurgence of interest, sparked by defences from Kris McDaniel [2009, 2010a, 2010b] and Jason Turner [2010, 2012]. Indeed, while the position may still have relatively few adherents in quite these terms, the influential Fregean approach to higher-order quantification—according to which this is over ‘concepts’ rather than objects— would seem to be an instance of it. In contemporary presentations, the view is stated in terms of fundamental languages. That is, languages whose expressions ‘carve nature at the joints’, or whose meanings are natural in the sense of Lewis [1983, 1986]. Thus stated, it is the claim that such languages have more than one type of quantification, ranging over different domains. For example, ∃a ranging over abstract objects, and ∃c ranging over concrete ones.
Kripke  gives a formal theory of truth based on Kleene’s strong evaluation scheme. It is probably the most important and influential that has yet been given—at least since Tarski. However, it has been argued that this theory has a problem with generalized quantifiers such as All(φ, ψ), i.e. all φs are ψ, or Most(φ, ψ). Specifically, it has been argued that such quantifiers preclude the existence of just the sort of language that Kripke aims to deliver, that is, one that contains its own truth predicate. In this paper I solve the problem by showing how Kleene’s strong scheme, and Kripke’s theory that is based on it, can in a natural way be extended to accommodate the full range of generalized quantifiers.
Computational complexity theory, or in other words, the theory of tractability and intractability, is defined in terms of limit behavior. A typical question of computational complexity theory is of the form: As the size of the input increases, how do the running time and memory requirements of the algorithm change? Therefore, computational complexity theory, among other things, investigates the scalability of computational problems and algorithms, i.e. it measures the rate of increase in computational resources required as a problem grows (see, e.g., Arora and Barak, 2009). The implicit assumption here is that the size of the problem is unbounded. For example, models can be of any finite size, formulas can contain any number of distinct variables, and so on.
Herbert Feigl was an Austrian-born logical empiricist philosopher
who published the main part of his writings after his emigration to the
United States in 1931. To a large extent inspired by the writings of
his academic teacher Moritz Schlick, Feigl delivered important
contributions to the philosophical analysis of probability, to the
debate over scientific realism, and to the analysis of the mind-body
problem. His overarching aim was to inform established philosophical
analysis by what he called the “scientific
We observe that verbs like wonder do not just imply that their subject does not know the answer to the embedded question, but a stronger form of ignorance, which we call distributive ignorance. This is not predicted by existing work on the semantics of wonder, and we argue that it cannot be straightforwardly derived as a pragmatic inference either. We consider two possible semantic accounts, and conclude in favor of one on which the lexical semantics of wonder involves exhaustification w.r.t. structural alternatives as well as sub-domain alternatives of its complement.
Despite the intuitive conflict between deterministic laws of nature and objective chances, philosophers have attempted to develop accounts which allow for the compatibility of determinism and chance. I offer an explicit argument for why this compatibility is not possible and also criticize the various notions of deterministic chance supplied by the compatibilists. Many of them are strongly motivated by the existence of objective probabilities in scientific theories with deterministic laws, the most salient of which is classical statistical mechanics. I show that there is no interpretational difficulty here: statistical mechanics is either an indeterministic theory or else its probabilities are not chances—just as incompatibilism demands.
In a recent article in this journal Mona Simion argues that Sally Haslanger’s “engineering” approach to gender concepts such as ‘woman’ faces an epistemic objection. The primary function of all concepts—gender concepts included—is to represent the world, but Haslanger’s engineering account of ‘woman’ fails to adequately represent the world because, by her own admission, it doesn’t include all women in the extension of the concept ‘woman’. I argue that this objection fails because the primary function of gender concepts— and social kind concepts in general—is not (merely) to represent the world, but rather to shape it. I finish by considering the consequences for “conceptual engineering” in philosophy more generally. While Haslanger’s account may escape Simion’s objection, other appeals to conceptual engineering might not fair so well.
Jeanette Bicknell has argued that a singer’s public persona is relevant to the aesthetic evaluation of that singer’s public performances of popular song. Here, I distinguish varieties of personas: those which are transparent (such as when a singer performs more or less as that singer) and those which are opaque (such as when a singer performs more or less as a fctional character). I also distinguish between performance personas and song personas. After introducing and elucidating these distinctions, I discuss ways in which they further inform aesthetic evaluation of such performances.
Knowledge is one of the most central and important subjects of philosophical inquiry. Many people aspire to it, both for the power it brings and for its own sake. Many people claim to have it, but often the knowledge claims of different people turn out to conflict with one another. Moreover, it is widely agreed that individual actions, as well as joint enterprises, based on knowledge rather than mere opinion are more likely to be successful. As a result, we must determine both what knowledge is and how one goes about acquiring it. The central target of this chapter is what is known as propositional knowledge. Therefore, not only will we have to distinguish knowledge of propositions from other kinds of knowing but we will also need an account of what conditions have to be satisfied in order for someone to know a particular proposition. One question is what knowledge is; another is whether we have any. The epistemological skeptic claims that knowledge is impossible. In this chapter we will assess whether the skeptic has offered any good reason to believe this is true.
According to ontological nihilism there are, fundamentally, no individuals. Both natural languages and standard predicate logic, however, appear to be committed to a picture of the world as containing individual objects. This leads to what I call the expressibility challenge for ontological nihilism: what language can the ontological nihilist use to express her account of how matters fundamentally stand? One promising suggestion is for the nihilist to use a form of predicate functorese, a language developed by Quine. This proposal faces a difficult objection, according to which any theory in predicate functorese will be a notational variant of the corresponding theory stated in standard predicate logic. Jason Turner (2011) has provided the most detailed and convincing version of this objection. In the present paper, I argue that Turner’s case for the notational variance thesis relies on a faulty metasemantic principle and, consequently, that an objection long thought devastating is in fact misguided.
I rarely take myself to know that someone is culpable for some particular wrongdoing. There are three main groups of exception:
my own wrongdoings, so many of which I know by introspection to be culpable
cases where others give me insight into their culpability through their testimony, their expressions of repentance, etc. …
Not everyone is master of his own affairs. Chiefs and leaders who are masters of the affairs of men are few in comparison with the rest. As a rule, man must by necessity be dominated by someone else. If the domination is kind and just and the people under it are not oppressed by its laws and restrictions, they are guided by the courage or cowardice that they possess in themselves. …
I don’t believe (1). Add that I am opinionated on what I believe:
For each proposition p, I either believe that I believe p or believe that I do not believe p.
My beliefs are closed under entailment. …
A plausible constraint on normative reasons to act is that it must make sense to use them as premises in deliberation. I argue that a central sort of deliberation—what Bratman calls partial planning—is question-directed: it is over, and aims to resolve, deliberative questions. Whether it makes sense to use some consideration as a premise in deliberation in a case of partial planning can vary with the deliberative question at issue. I argue that the best explanation for this is that reasons are contrastive, or relativized to deliberative questions.
KK is the thesis that if you can know p, you can know that you can know p. Though it’s unpopular, a flurry of considerations have recently emerged in its favor. Here we add fuel to the fire: standard resources allow us to show that any failure of KK will lead to the knowability and assertability of abominable indicative conditionals of the form, ‘If I don’t know it, p.’ Such conditionals are manifestly not assertable—a fact that KK defenders can easily explain. I survey a variety of KK-denying responses and find them wanting. Those who object to the knowability of such conditionals must either (i) deny the possibility of harmony between knowledge and belief, or (ii) deny well-supported connections between conditional and unconditional attitudes. Meanwhile, those who grant knowability owe us an explanation of such conditionals’ unassertability —yet no successful explanations are on offer. Upshot: we have new evidence for KK.
[These are some general reflections on the future of automation in policing. They are based on a workshop I gave to the ACJRD (Association for Criminal Justice Research and Development) annual conference in Dublin on the 4th October 2018). …
After a brief introduction to issues that plague the realization of a theory of quantum gravity, I suggest that the main one concerns a quantization of the principle of relative simultaneity. This leads me to a distinction between time and space, to a further degree than that present in the canonical approach to general relativity. With this distinction, superpositions are only meaningful as interference between alternative paths in the relational configuration space of the entire Universe. But the full use of relationalism brings us to a timeless picture of Nature, as it does in the canonical approach (which culminates in the Wheeler-DeWitt equation). After a discussion of Parmenides and the Eleatics’ rejection of time, I show that there is middle ground between their view of absolute timelessness and a view of physics taking place in timeless configuration space. In this middle ground, even though change does not fundamentally exist, the illusion of change can be recovered in a way not permitted by Parmenides. It is recovered through a particular density distribution over configuration space which gives rise to ‘records’. Incidentally, this distribution seems to have the potential to dissolve further aspects of the measurement problem that can still be argued to haunt the application of decoherence to Many- Worlds. I end with a discussion indicating that the conflict between the conclusions of this paper and our view of the continuity of the self may still intuitively bother us. Nonetheless, those conclusions should be no more challenging to our intuition than Derek Parfit’s thought experiments on the same subject.
Dawid, DeGroot and Mortera showed, a quarter century ago, that any agent who regards a fellow agent as a peer–in particular, defers to the fellow agent’s prior credences in the same way that she defers to her own– and updates by split-the-difference is prone (on pain of triviality) to diachronic incoherence. On the other hand one may show that there are special scenarios in which Bayesian updating approximates difference splitting, so it remains an important question whether it remains a viable (approximate) response to “generic” peer update. We look at arguments by two teams of philosophers (Fitelson & Jehle and Nissan-Rozen & Spectre) against difference splitting.
Putnam (1963) construed the aim of Carnap’s program of inductive logic as the specification of a “universal learning machine,” and presented a diagonal proof against the very possibility of such a thing. Yet the ideas of Solomonoff (1964) and Levin (1970) lead to a mathematical foundation of precisely those aspects of Carnap’s program that Putnam took issue with, and in particular, resurrect the notion of a universal mechanical rule for induction. In this paper, I take up the question whether the Solomonoff-Levin proposal is successful in this respect. I expose the general strategy to evade Putnam’s argument, leading to a broader discussion of the outer limits of mechanized induction. I argue that this strategy ultimately still succumbs to diagonalization, reinforcing Putnam’s impossibility claim.
This paper has two central aims. The first is to explore philosophical complications that arise when we move from (i) explaining the evolutionary origins of genetically influenced traits associated with human cooperation and altruism, to (ii) explaining present manifestations of human thought, feeling and behaviour involving cooperation and altruism. While the former need only appeal to causal factors accessible to scientific inquiry, the latter must engage also with a distinctive form of explanation, i.e. reason-giving explanation, which in turn raises important philosophical questions, the answers to which will affect the nature of the ultimate explanations of our moral beliefs and related actions. On one possibility I will explore, this explanatory project cannot avoid engaging with first-order ethical theory. The second aim is to apply lessons from these explanatory complications to the critique of ‘evolutionary debunking arguments’, which seek to debunk morality, or at least objective construals of it (i.e. moral realism), by appeal to allegedly scientific debunking explanations of our moral beliefs that would defeat our justification for them. The explanatory complications brought out in the first half raise difficulties for such debunking arguments. If we avoid begging central philosophical questions then such debunking arguments pose little threat of saddling us with moral scepticism or subjectivism, though they do pose an important challenge for those developing a moral realist view.