Thomists have two stories about how God can act providentially in the world. First, God can work simply miraculously, directly producing an effect that transcends the relevant created causal powers. Second, God can work cooperatively: whenever any finite causal agency is exercised, God intentionally cooperates with it through his primary causation, in such a way that it is up to God which of the causal agents natural effects is produced. …
Modal discourse concerns alternative ways things can be, e.g., what
might be true, what isn’t true but could have been, what should
be done. This entry focuses on counterfactual
modality which concerns what is not, but could or would have
been. What if Martin Luther King had died when he was stabbed in 1958
(Byrne 2005: 1) ? What if the Americas
had never been colonized? What if I were to put that box over here and
this one over there? These modes of thought and speech have been the
subject of extensive study in philosophy, linguistics, psychology,
artificial intelligence, history, and many other allied fields.
Here’s a curious puzzle. Every theist—including the Molinist and the Open Theist—will presumably agree that this conditional is true:
If God were to announce that Trump will freely refrain from tweeting tomorrow, then Trump would freely refrain from tweeting tomorrow. …
Consider this standard bit of dialectic. One gives a Free Will Defense relying on the logical possibility of Trans-World Depravity:
TWD1: In every feasible world, some significantly free creature sins at least once. …
Most philosophical discussions of mindreading stay squarely within the
realm of philosophy of psychology. Theorizing about mindreading plays a role in
debates about the modularity of the mind, the representational theory of mind,
language development, the semantics of ordinary language use, etc. …
A prominent objection against the logicality of second-order logic is the so-called Overgeneration Argument. However, it is far from clear how this argument is to be understood. In the first part of the article, we examine the argument and locate its main source, namely, the alleged entanglement of second-order logic and mathematics. We then identify various reasons why the entanglement may be thought to be problematic. In the second part of the article, we take a metatheoretic perspective on the matter. We prove a number of results establishing that the entanglement is sensitive to the kind of semantics used for second-order logic. These results provide evidence that by moving from the standard set-theoretic semantics for second-order logic to a semantics which makes use of higher-order resources, the entanglement either disappears or may no longer be in conflict with the logicality of second-order logic.
Gender classifications often are controversial. These controversies typically focus on whether gender classifications align with facts about gender kind membership: Could someone really be nonbinary? Is Chris Mosier (a trans man) really a man? I think this is a bad approach. Consider the possibility of ontological oppression, which arises when social kinds operating in a context unjustly constrain the behaviors, concepts, or affect of certain groups. Gender kinds operating in dominant contexts, I argue, oppress trans and nonbinary persons in this way: they marginalize trans men and women, and exclude nonbinary persons. As a result, facts about membership in dominant gender kinds should not settle gender classification practices.
What makes an epistemic norm distinctively epistemic? According to the received view in the literature, if a norm N regulates the epistemic properties required for permissibly phi-ing, then N is an epistemic norm. This paper is involved in conceptual engineering. It has two aims: first, it argues that the received view should be abandoned, in that it fails to identify epistemic and only epistemic requirements, and it misses fit with the general normative landscape. At the same time, I argue, the failure of the received view is no reason for skepticism about ‘the epistemic’ as a sui generis normative domain. This paper’s second and central aim is an ameliorative aim: it proposes a novel approach to individuating epistemic norms. In a nutshell, according to the ameliorative proposal I will develop here, epistemic norms are to be individuated by their association with distinctively epistemic values.
This paper defends a novel view of hermeneutical epistemic injustice (HEI). To this effect, it starts by arguing that Miranda Fricker’s account is too restrictive: hermeneutical epistemic injustice is more ubiquitous than her account allows. That is because, contra Fricker, conceptual ignorance is not necessary for HEI: hermeneutical epistemic injustice essentially involves a failure in concept application rather than in concept possession. Further on, I unpack hermeneutical epistemic injustice as unjustly brought about basing failure. Last, I show that, if this view right, HEI is a form of distributive injustice, and affords the corresponding traditional normative theorizing.
In this post, I argue that Model Theory is a superior account
of the broader conception of mindreading laid out in the previous post. Thus
far, I have refrained from discussing Theory Theory (TT) and Simulation Theory (ST)
even though these theories have been the two main general theories of
mindreading for decades. …
There is a messy little gap in how the Free Will Defense is sometimes thought about—or at least has been thought about by me. First it is argued that the following Trans-World Depravity thesis is logically possible:
(TWD) In every feasible world, every significantly free creature sins at least once. …
Informed consent is currently treated as the core of bioethics. In
clinical practice, the doctrine of informed consent rose to dominance
during the course of the 20th century. It replaced a medical ethos
founded on trust in physicians’ decisions, often on the
assumption that “doctor knows best”, with an ethos that
sought to put patients in charge of their own care. In medical
research, the influential Nuremberg Code responded to the cruelty of
Nazi experiments stipulating: “The voluntary consent of the
human subject is absolutely essential”. But why should we
require informed consent, e.g. when it comes at a cost to the
Philodemus of Gadara (ca. 110–ca. 30 BCE) was an Epicurean
philosopher and epigrammatist who, having studied in the Epicurean
school at Athens when it was led by Zeno of Sidon (c. 150–c. 75
BCE), moved to Italy, probably in the 70s BCE. There he may
have lived in the Greek town of Naples, and perhaps also in Rome. Some
of Philodemus’ poems, which were praised by Cicero, were
preserved in the Palatine Anthology, and these were all that
was known of his writing until the discovery in the
mid-18th century of a trove of papyrus manuscripts in the
ruins of a grand villa in Herculaneum, buried by the eruption of
Vesuvius in 79 CE.
one of the more obscure arguments for Rawls’ difference principle dubbed ‘the Pareto argument for inequality’ has been criticised by G. A. Cohen (1995, 2008) as being inconsistent. In this paper, we examine and clarify the Pareto argument in detail and argue (1) that justification for the Pareto principles derives from rational self-interest and thus the Pareto principles ought to be understood as conditions of individual rationality, (2) that the Pareto argument is not inconsistent, contra Cohen, and (3) that the kind of bargaining model required to arrive at the particular unequal distribution that the difference principle picks out is a model that is not based on bargaining according to one’s threat advantage.
Meat Eating: In the past, Jeff didn’t eat meat, since he was concerned with the harm that meat production does to animals. But then he did some calculations, and figured that the harm that he would do to animals by eating meat for a year equals the harm to animals that he could prevent by donating $200 to animal welfare charities. And he would much rather donate $200 more to charity and eat meat than neither make the extra donation nor eat meat. Given this, Jeff now eats meat, but each year donates $200 more than he otherwise would to animal welfare charities.
Here is an interesting result. If the Biblical account of creation is true, then Plantinga’s Trans-World Depravity (TWD) thesis is false. All this doesn’t affect Plantinga’s Free Will Defense which only needs the logical possibility of TWD, but it limits its usefulness a little by making clear that the defense is based on an actually-false assumption. …
The term syntax (together with the related term semantics) belongs to the most important conceptual tools of not only linguistics, but also logic and philosophy. It was Gödel's meticulous distinguishing between syntax and semantics of formal languages that paved the way to his most path-breaking logical discoveries. And it was Searle's famous dictum "syntax is not enough for semantics", that not only set the agenda of a great deal of discussions concerning the possibilities of AI, but also influenced the way philosophers tend to frame philosophical problems concerning language and human mastery of it. The ease with which the concept is recruited for such foundational enterprises would seem to suggest that it is quite transparent – the fact, however, is that this is far from the truth. In this paper, we try to disentangle some of the intricacies surrounding the concept and we indicate that the ease with which it is often put to use may be quite treacherous.
Systems of illative logic are logical calculi formulated in the untyped λ-calculus supplemented with certain logical constants. In this short paper, I consider a paradox that arises in illative logic. I note two prima facie attractive ways of resolving the paradox. The first is well-known to be consistent, and I briefly outline a now standard construction used by Scott and Aczel that establishes this. The second, however, has been thought to be inconsistent. I show that this isn’t so, by providing a non-empty class of models that establishes its consistency. I then provide an illative logic which is sound and complete for this class of models. I close by briefly noting some attractive features of the second resolution of this paradox.
Absolutists who think that lying is wrong even to save a life are sometimes accused of thinking truth to be more valuable than life. Whether or not absolutism about lying is true (I think it is), the accusation is a misunderstanding of the structure of deontological prohibitions. …
Molinism makes possible a curious kind of moral dilemma. God could reveal to Alice that if Alice doesn’t kill Bob today, she will kill Carl and David tomorrow (all these being innocents), and if she does kill Bob today, she won’t kill anyone tomorrow. …
Harry A. Wolfson once described medieval philosophy as a philosophy
“which placed itself at the service of Scriptures”
(Philo, II, p. 439). From a formal aspect, a new genre was
created: “From now on, a new form of exposition appears in
philosophic literature, the homily on some scriptural text or the
running commentary upon some scriptural books” (p. 444). Joseph
ibn Kaspi is a perfect illustration of this characterization of the
medieval philosopher. He wrote some thirty works dedicated to
explaining the Bible, in which philosophy served him both as a method
and as a compendium of philosophical conclusions which, to his mind,
the biblical author had wanted to convey to the reader.
« Incompleteness ex machina
The Winding Road to Quantum Supremacy
Greetings from QIP’2019 in Boulder, Colorado! Obvious highlights of the conference include Urmila Mahadev’s opening plenary talk on her verification protocol for quantum computation (which I blogged about here), and Avishay Tal’s upcoming plenary on his and Ran Raz’s oracle separation between BQP and PH (which I blogged about here). …
Egoism can be a descriptive or a normative position. Psychological
egoism, the most famous descriptive position, claims that each person
has but one ultimate aim: her own welfare. Normative forms of egoism
make claims about what one ought to do, rather than describe what one
does do. Ethical egoism claims I morally ought to perform some action
if and only if, and because, performing that action maximizes my
self-interest. Rational egoism claims that I ought to perform some
action if and only if, and because, performing that action maximizes
my self-interest. (Here the “ought” is not restricted to
the moral “ought”.)
On doxastic theories of propositional faith, necessarily, S has faith that p only if S believes that p. On nondoxastic theories of propositional faith, it’s false that, necessarily, S has faith that p only if S believes that p. In this article, I defend three arguments for nondoxastic theories of faith and I respond to published criticisms of them.
In this paper, I explore a Bayesian perspective on avalanche decision-making. I motivate this general outlook by introducing a well-known cognitive bias, the base-rate fallacy, and show how a similar pattern applies to decision-making in avalanche-terrain when assessing the relevance of stability tests. I then present three theoretical lessons that emerge from adopting a Bayesian perspective to avalanche decision-making. I conclude by raising numerous challenges for avalanche educators when incorporating the Bayesian perspective into their curriculum and point to future research.
We argue that the most plausible characterisation of the norm of truth—it is permissible to believe that p if and only if p is true—is unable to explain Transparency in doxastic deliberation, a task for which it is claimed to be equipped. In addition, the failure of the norm to do this work undermines the most plausible account of how the norm guides belief formation at all. Those attracted to normativism about belief for its perceived explanatory credentials had better look elsewhere.
Here is a plausible connection between normativity and causal powers:
If x has a power to ϕ in C, and x is in C but does not ϕ, then x qua having that power imperfect. x is imperfect simpliciter if x is imperfect qua having ϕ for some ϕ that x has in virtue of its nature. …
Excursion 4: Objectivity and Auditing (blurbs of Tours I – IV)
. Excursion 4 Tour I: The Myth of “The Myth of Objectivity”
Blanket slogans such as “all methods are equally objective and subjective” trivialize into oblivion the problem of objectivity. …
Critical-Range Utilitarianism is a variant of Total Utilitarianism which can avoid both the Repugnant Conclusion and the Sadistic Conclusion in population ethics. Yet Standard Critical-Range Utilitarianism entails the Weak Sadistic Conclusion, that is, it entails that each population consisting of lives at a bad well-being level is not worse than some population consisting of lives at a good well-being level. In this paper, I defend a version of Critical-Range Utilitarianism which does not entail the Weak Sadistic Conclusion. This is made possible by what I call ‘undistinguishedness’, a fourth category of absolute value in addition to goodness, badness, and neutrality.
For whatever reasons, the writing of the later chapters for IFL2, the new edition of Introduction to Formal Logic, has been going really slowly. But I am at last reasonably content at least with the first third or so of the book, having had some recent very useful comments. …