1. 20987.959481
    In this paper, I evaluate the prospects and limitations of radical enactivism as recently developed by Hutto and Myin (henceforth, “H&M”) (2013, 2017). According to radical enactivism, cognition does not essentially involve content and admits explanations on a semantic level only as far as cognition is scaffolded with social and linguistic practices. I investigate their claims, focusing on H&M’s criticism of the predictive processing account of cognition (dubbed the bootstrap hell argument) and their own account of the emergence of content (the natural origins of content). I argue that H&M fail on two fronts: unsupervised learning can arrive at contentful representations and H&M’s account of the emergence of content assumes an equivalent bootstrapping. My case is illustrated with Skyrms’ evolutionary game-theoretic account of the emergence of content and recent deep learning research on neural language models. These arguments cast a shadow of doubt on whether radical enactivism is philosophically interesting or empirically plausible. Keywords: hard problem of content; radical enactivism; predictive processing; neural language models; deep learning; bootstrap hell; semantic information.
    Found 5 hours, 49 minutes ago on PhilSci Archive
  2. 25436.959549
    What is it to be mentally healthy? In the ongoing movement to promote mental health, to reduce stigma and to establish parity between mental and physical health, there is a clear enthusiasm about this concept and a recognition of its value in human life. However, it is often unclear what mental health means in all these efforts and whether there is a single concept underlying them. Sometimes the initiatives for the sake of mental health are aimed just at reducing mental illness, thus implicitly identifying mental health with the absence of diagnosable psychiatric disease. More ambitiously, there are high-profile proposals to adopt a positive definition, identifying mental health with psychic or even overall wellbeing. We argue against both: a definition of mental health as mere absence of mental illness is too thin, too undemanding, and too closely linked to psychiatric value judgments, while the definition in terms of wellbeing is too demanding and potentially oppressive. As a compromise we sketch out a middle position. On this view mental health is a primary good, that is the psychological preconditions of pursuing any conception of the good life, including wellbeing, without being identical to wellbeing.
    Found 7 hours, 3 minutes ago on Anna Alexandrova's site
  3. 103544.959584
    Albert Einstein (1879–1955) is well known as the most prominent physicist of the twentieth century. His contributions to twentieth-century philosophy of science, though of comparable importance, are less well known. Einstein’s own philosophy of science is an original synthesis of elements drawn from sources as diverse as neo-Kantianism, conventionalism, and logical empiricism, its distinctive feature being its novel blending of realism with a holist, underdeterminationist form of conventionalism. Of special note is the manner in which Einstein’s philosophical thinking was driven by and contributed to the solution of problems first encountered in his work in physics.
    Found 1 day, 4 hours ago on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  4. 103573.959616
    Joane Petrizi (12th century)—the most significant Georgian medieval philosopher—devoted intensive work to neo-Platonic philosophy. He translated Nemesius of Emesa’s On the Nature of Man into Georgian, a work which in that day attracted considerable attention. Of particular importance is his Georgian translation of Proclus’s Elementatio theologica, to which he also wrote a step-by-step commentary. Petrizi’s commentary on the Elementatio theologica represents a significant effort at reception inasmuch as the Georgian philosopher interprets the work immanently, that is, on the basis of Proclus’s philosophy itself.
    Found 1 day, 4 hours ago on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  5. 103597.959647
    Consider the following pairs of properties. (As is common in the literature on this topic, this entry will use the words ‘property’ and ‘relation’ interchangeably. Properties in the usual sense are distinguished as “monadic”, and relations in the usual sense as “polyadic”.) Column 1 Column 2 being a triangle being a three-to-five sided figure none of whose sides is more than one-and-a-half times as long as any other intersecting at an angle of 90 degrees intersecting at an angle of 87 degrees being electrically charged being negatively charged and not part of a fish being composed entirely of carbon dioxide molecules being a cappucino being green being grue (Goodman 1954): either green and observed before a certain time \(t\) or blue and not observed before \(t\).
    Found 1 day, 4 hours ago on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  6. 111272.959679
    I’m going to try to post more short news items. For example, here’s a new book I haven’t read yet: • Naomi Klein On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, Simon and Schuster, 2019. I think she’s right when she says this: I feel confident in saying that a climate-disrupted future is a bleak and an austere future, one capable of turning all our material possessions into rubble or ash with terrifying speed. …
    Found 1 day, 6 hours ago on Azimuth
  7. 121017.959711
    A trivalent theory of indicative conditionals automatically enforces Stalnaker’s thesis— the equation between probabilities of conditionals and conditional probabilities. This result holds because the trivalent semantics requires, for principled reasons, a modification of the ratio definition of conditional probability in order to accommodate the possibility of undefinedness. I analyze precisely how this modification allows the trivalent semantics to avoid a number of well-known triviality results, in the process clarifying why these results hold for many bivalent theories. I suggest that the slew of triviality published in the last 40-odd years need not be viewed as an argument against Stalnaker’s thesis: it can be construed instead as an argument for abandoning the bivalent requirement that conditionals somehow be assigned a truth-value in worlds in which their antecedents are false.
    Found 1 day, 9 hours ago on Daniel Lassiter's site
  8. 123054.959741
    In a recent issue of Bioethics, I argue that compulsory moral bioenhancement should be administered covertly. Alexander Zambrano has criticized this argument on two fronts. First, contrary to my claim, Zambrano claims that the prevention of ultimate harm by covert moral bioenhancement fails to meet conditions for permissible liberty-restricting public health interventions. Second, contrary to my claim, Zambrano claims that covert moral bioenhancement undermines autonomy to a greater degree than does overt moral bioenhancement. In this paper, I rebut both of these arguments, then finish by noting important avenues of research that Zambrano’s arguments motivate.
    Found 1 day, 10 hours ago on PhilPapers
  9. 123091.959772
    It is widely thought that there is an important argument to be made that starts with premises taken from the science of physics and ends with the conclusion of physicalism. Maybe the argument isn’t decisive, and maybe physics isn’t univocal on the topic. Still, surely there is some sort of physics­based argument for physicalism to be made. My question in what follows is, just how should this argument go?
    Found 1 day, 10 hours ago on PhilPapers
  10. 126822.959803
    The aim of this paper is to give a simple argument against certain views of modality and then to explore a slightly more complicated response. The argument is based on the idea that some views of modality leave modal patterns unexplained, in a way that is inappropriate. These modal patterns call out for explanation and that’s a problem for theories that take them to be unexplained. The argument targets certain versions of modal primitivism, but also some non-primitivist views of modality, like Lewisian modal realism. In order to respond we have to deny that the modal patterns call out for explanation – their being unexplained is not a problem for the theory. This requires considering when patterns can reasonably be left unexplained and when they can’t. This is an extremely complicated question to answer in full generality, but, I argue, the answer depends upon the conception of explanation that we accept.
    Found 1 day, 11 hours ago on Harjit Bhogal's site
  11. 126853.959835
    Armstrong, along with many others, criticized Humean views for having a problem with induction. If there is no glue holding the world together, as the Humean believes, then there seems to be no basis on which to infer from past to future. However, Humeans have typically been unconcerned. After all, they say, everyone has a problem with induction. But, if we look at the connection between induction and explanation, we can develop the problem of induction in a way that hits the Humean, but not the anti-Humean. The Humean faces an ‘internal’ problem with induction – inductive skepticism naturally flows from their position in a way that it doesn’t for the anti- Humean. This is a major problem for the Humean, but I’ll end by suggesting a possible way that the Humean could respond – this response is based on larger considerations about what different theories can appropriately take as basic and unexplained.
    Found 1 day, 11 hours ago on Harjit Bhogal's site
  12. 129633.959877
    Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) was a mathematician and astronomer who proposed that the sun was stationary in the center of the universe and the earth revolved around it. Disturbed by the failure of Ptolemy’s geocentric model of the universe to follow Aristotle’s requirement for the uniform circular motion of all celestial bodies and determined to eliminate Ptolemy’s equant, an imaginary point around which the bodies seemed to follow that requirement, Copernicus decided that he could achieve his goal only through a heliocentric model. He thereby created a concept of a universe in which the distances of the planets from the sun bore a direct relationship to the size of their orbits.
    Found 1 day, 12 hours ago on John Danaher's site
  13. 136620.959908
    Historians recently rehabilitated Einstein’s “physical strategy” for General Relativity (GR). Independently, particle physicists similarly re-derived Einstein’s equations for a massless spin 2 field. But why not a light massive spin 2, like Neumann and Seeliger did to Newton? Massive gravities are bimetric, supporting conventionalism over geometric empiricism. Nonuniqueness lets field equations explain geometry but not vice versa. Massive gravity would have blocked Schlick’s critique of Kant’s synthetic a priori. Finally in 1970 massive spin 2 gravity seemed unstable or empirically falsified. GR was vindicated, but later and on better grounds. However, recently dark energy and theoretical progress have made massive spin 2 gravity potentially viable again.
    Found 1 day, 13 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  14. 136653.959942
    This survey covers some of the main philosophical debates raised by the framework of effective field theories during the last decades. It is centered on three issues: whether effective field theories underpin a specific realist picture of the world, whether they support an anti-reductionist picture of physics, and whether they provide reasons to give up the ultimate aspiration of formulating a final and complete physical theory. Reviewing the past and current literature, we argue that effective field theories do not give convincing reasons to adopt a particular stance towards these speculative issues. They hold good prospects for asking ontologically perspicuous and sensible questions about currently accessible domains. With respect to more fundamental questions, however, the only certainty is provisional and instrumental: effective theories are currently indispensable for conducting fruitful scientific research.
    Found 1 day, 13 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  15. 136692.959975
    In a series of papers Colbeck and Renner (2011, 2015a,b) claim to have shown that the quantum state provides a complete description for the prediction of future measurement outcomes. In this paper I argue that thus far no solid satisfactory proof has been presented to support this claim. Building on the earlier work of Leifer (2014), Landsman (2015) and Leegwater (2016), I present and prove two results that only partially support this claim. I then discuss the arguments by Colbeck, Renner and Leegwater concerning how these results are to generalize to the full claim. This argument turns out to hinge on the implicit use of an assumption concerning the way unitary evolution is to be represented in any possible completion of quantum mechanics. I argue that this assumption is unsatisfactory and that possible attempts to validate it based on measurement theory also do not succeed.
    Found 1 day, 13 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  16. 147985.960005
    One strategy for avoiding ontological commitment to sets is to deal with pluralities and multigrade relations. Multigrade relations are relations that can be had by a variable number of things. Instead of, say, saying of the books on my shelf that there is a set of them whose total number of pages is exactly 800, one says that there are xs such that each of them is a book on my shelf and the xs stand in the multigrade relation of jointly having 800 pages. …
    Found 1 day, 17 hours ago on Alexander Pruss's Blog
  17. 151119.960041
    This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Over the past three days, I’ve discussed the epistemic role of consciousness in perception, cognition, and introspection. …
    Found 1 day, 17 hours ago on The Brains Blog
  18. 151974.960076
    Semantic universals are properties of meaning shared by the languages of the world. We offer an explanation of the presence of such universals by measuring simplicity in terms of ease of learning, showing that expressions satisfying universals are simpler than those that do not according to this criterion. We measure ease of learning using tools from machine learning and analyze universals in a domain of function words (quantifiers) and content words (color terms). Our results provide strong evidence that semantic universals across both function and content words reflect simplicity as measured by ease of learning.
    Found 1 day, 18 hours ago on Jakub Szymanik's site
  19. 161073.960109
    It is hard to characterize an “informative characterization”. Here is an instructive illustration. Ned Markosian in his famous brutal composition paper says that an informative, or non-trivial, characterization of when the xs compose something is one that is not synonymous with the statement that the xs compose something. …
    Found 1 day, 20 hours ago on Alexander Pruss's Blog
  20. 167992.960141
    In my Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) book, I defend a PSR that holds that every contingent truth has an explanation, but I do not defend a contrastive PSR. Many think this is a cop-out. But i makes sense to ask why it is that The moon is round and I don’t have an odd number of fingers. …
    Found 1 day, 22 hours ago on Alexander Pruss's Blog
  21. 194800.960172
    This paper argues that a plant together with the symbiotic fungus attached to its roots, a mycorrhizal collective, is an evolutionary individual, and further, that mycorrhizal individuality has important implications for evolutionary theory. Theoretical individuation is defended and then employed to show that mycorrhizal collectives function as interactors according to David Hull’s replicator-interactor model of evolution by natural selection, and because they have the potential to engage in pseudo-vertical transmission, mycorrhizal collectives also function as Darwinian individuals, according to Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Darwinian Populations model of evolution by natural selection. Mycorrhizae in nature usually connect the roots of multiple plants, so mycorrhizal individuality entails the existence of overlapping evolutionary individuals, and because the potential to engage in pseudo-vertical transmission comes in degrees, it follows that these overlapping evolutionary individuals also come in degrees. I suggest here that the degree of evolutionary individuality in a symbiotic collective corresponds to its probability of reproducing with vertical or pseudo-vertical transmission. This probability constitutes a fourth parameter of graded Darwinian individuality in collective reproducers and warrants an update to Godfrey-Smith’s 3D model.
    Found 2 days, 6 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  22. 194831.960207
    Following Reichenbach, it is widely held that in making a direct inference, one should base one’s conclusion on a relevant frequency statement concerning the most specific reference class for which one is able to make a warranted and relatively precise-valued frequency judgment. In cases where one has accurate and precise-valued frequency information for two relevant reference classes, R1 and R2, and one lacks accurate and precise-valued frequency information concerning their intersection, R R2, it is widely held, following Reichenbach, that no inference may be drawn. In contradiction to Reichenbach and the common wisdom, I argue for the view that it is often possible to draw a reasonable informative conclusion, in such circumstances. As a basis for drawing such a conclusion, I show that one is generally in a position to formulate a reasonable direct inference for a reference class that is more specific than either of R1 and R2.
    Found 2 days, 6 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  23. 208926.960248
    In her book Kant on Reflection and Virtue, Melissa Merritt presents an extended defense of Kant’s “reflective ideal” against the objection that it is “precious, hyper-deliberate and repugnantly moralistic” (2). This defense is in part constituted by the articulation of a theory of cognitive virtue, which Merritt attributes to Kant. Merritt hopes that Kant’s statement that we have a “duty to reflect” (e.g. A261/B317) may be mitigated within the context of such a virtue theory. The requirement to reflect is not, as the “caricature” has it, that one must constantly step back and deliberate as to whether something is worth doing or accepting as true. Rather, “the requirement is to be met by putting one’s cognitive capacities to use in the right way, or in the right spirit: reflection can be adverbial, and it is not essentially episodic…what drives the development of cognitive and moral character is an essentially outward-directed interest in knowing” (206), which Merritt identifies with Kant’s conception of a “healthy human understanding.” This interpretation, she argues, allows the Kantian reflective ideal to avoid being overly demanding, and it helps explain how some kinds of cognitive activity that are not deliberate (at least as that term is typically understood) might nevertheless be justified or “cognitively excellent” (205).
    Found 2 days, 10 hours ago on Colin McLear's site
  24. 228543.960278
    Easy-road mathematical fictionalists grant for the sake of argument that quantification over mathematical entities is indispensable to some of our best scientific theories and explanations. Even so they maintain we can accept those theories and explanations, without believing their mathematical components, provided we believe the concrete world is intrinsically as it needs to be for those components to be true. Those I refer to as “mathematical surrealists” by contrast appeal to facts about the intrinsic character of the concrete world, not to explain why our best mathematically imbued scientific theories and explanations are acceptable in spite of having false components, but in order to replace those theories and explanations with parasitic, nominalistically acceptable alternatives. I argue that easy-road fictionalism is viable only if mathematical surrealism is and that the latter constitutes a superior nominalist strategy. Two advantages of mathematical surrealism are that it neither begs the question concerning the explanatory role of mathematics in science nor requires rejecting the cogency of inference to the best explanation.
    Found 2 days, 15 hours ago on Kenny Boyce's site
  25. 234084.960313
    In our representations of the world, especially in physics, (mathematical) infinities play a crucial role. The continuum of the real numbers, \(\Re\), as a representation of time or of one-dimensional space is surely the best known example and, by extension, the \(n\)-fold cartesian product, \(\Re^{n}\), for \(n\)-dimensional space. However, these same infinities also cause problems. One just has to think about Zeno’s paradoxes or the present-day continuation of that discussion, namely the discussion about supertasks, to see the difficulties (see the entry on supertasks in this encyclopedia for a full treatment).
    Found 2 days, 17 hours ago on Wes Morriston's site
  26. 234687.960345
    This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Today, I’ll discuss the epistemic role of consciousness in introspection.What is introspection? …
    Found 2 days, 17 hours ago on The Brains Blog
  27. 239178.960377
    This is a work in analytic metaphysics, which addresses a cluster of interrelated issues at the interface of mereology and persistence over time. In particular, it outlines a defence of a version of Endurance Theory according to which every enduring object is either a mereo-logical simple or a mere sum of mereological simples. It includes, among other things, a proposal of a new way of framing the debate between Endurance Theory and Four-Dimensionalism, a defence of Endurance Theory over Four-Dimensionalism, arguments against the existence of compound substances, and a defence of a traditional metaphysical atom-ism according to which all objects are ultimately made up of microscopic simples.
    Found 2 days, 18 hours ago on PhilPapers
  28. 243629.960408
    Assessment relativism, as developed by John MacFarlane, is the view that the truth of our claims involving a variety of English expressions—‘tasty’, ‘knows’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘might’, and ‘ought’—is relative not only to aspects of the context of their production but also to aspects of the context in which they are assessed. Assessment relativism is thus a form of truth relativism which is offered as a new way of understanding perspectival thought and talk. In this article, I present the main theses of assessment relativism, focusing in particular on highlighting the points of commonality and contrast with other forms of truth relativism. I then offer some critical remarks concerning the motivation of assessment relativism in relation to matters of taste.
    Found 2 days, 19 hours ago on Filippo Ferrari's site
  29. 244002.960437
    It is generally taken that a view on which there are mental properties that do not supervene on the properties of physics is a non-naturalistic view: it is a form of property dualism. But now imagine that we find out that: There are chemical properties that do not supervene on the properties physics speaks of. …
    Found 2 days, 19 hours ago on Alexander Pruss's Blog
  30. 255418.960468
    In Material Beings, Peter van Inwagen argues that his view that there are no complex artifacts does not contradict (nearly?) universal human belief. The argument is based on his view that the propositions expressed by ordinary statements like “There are three valuable chairs in this room” do not entail the negation of the Radical Claim that there are no artifacts, for such a proposition does not entail that there exist chairs. …
    Found 2 days, 22 hours ago on Alexander Pruss's Blog