What attitude should you take towards (1)? Reject it? Suspend judgement? Adopt middling confidence? Adopt a special vagueness-related mode of uncertainty? Or what? Answering this question would be to take a stance on the cognitive role of indeterminacy. It is the first step in building a theory of rational belief—and eventually an entire normative psychology—appropriate to sentences and propositions that lack determinate truth values. Call an answer to the cognitive role question exclusionary if the attitude to (1) it recommends is something that is rationally incompatible with belief. Middling confidence, suspension of judgement, rejection, a special mode of uncertainty—all these answers are exclusionary in the relevant sense. Despite their differences, exclusionary answers can reach consensus on the following: less than full confidence that A is determinate rationally requires less than full confidence that A. The contraposed form of this principle will be our starting point in what follows: certainty of A rationally requires certainty that A is determinate.
In a recent paper in this journal, Tobias Fuchs has offered a ‘working test’ for well-being. According to this test, if it is fitting to feel compassion for a subject because they have some property, then the subject is badly off because they have that property. Since subjects of deception seem a fitting target for compassion, this test is said to imply that a number of important views, including hedonism, are false. I argue that this line of reasoning is mistaken: seems fitting does not imply is badly off. I suggest that Fuchs’s test can tell us little about well-being that we do not already know; and ultimately, tests of the sort he proposes can yield little insight into the nature of well-being.
While increasing attention has been paid in recent years to the relation between Foucault's conception of critique and Kant’s, much controversy remains over whether Foucault’s most sustained early engagement with Kant, his dissertation on Kant’s Anthropology, should be read as a wholesale rejection of Kant’s views or as the source of Foucault’s late return to ethics and critique. In this paper, I propose a new reading of the dissertation, considering it alongside 1950s-era archival materials of which I advance the first scholarly appraisal. I argue that Foucault manifests a fundamental ambivalence to Kantian anthropology, rejecting it in theoretical terms while embracing its practical (‘pragmatic’) conception of the subject. Furthermore, I take these texts to collectively evidence Foucault’s attempt to situate himself within the anthropological-critical tradition rather than extricating himself from it. If we interpret Foucault to reject this tradition’s appeal to an essentialized, theoretical conception of subjectivity, what remains of anthropology is its inherent practical reflexivity in structure. Thus, I situate Foucault’s conception of ethics as one’s relation to oneself in continuity with this tradition.
Psychometrics and the representational theory of measurement (RTM) are widely used in social scientific measurement. They are currently pursued largely in isolation from one another. I argue that despite their separation in practice, RTM and psychometrics are complementary approaches, because they can contribute in complementary ways to the establishment of what I argue is a crucial measurement property, namely, Representational Interpretability. Because RTM and psychometrics are complementary in the establishment of Representational Interpretability, the current separation of measurement approaches is unfounded.
I argue that it is possible to give an interpretation of the classical ~ → 0 limit of quantum mechanics that results in a partial explanation of the success of classical mechanics. The interpretation is novel in that it allows one to explain the success of the theoretical structure of classical mechanics. This interpretation clarifies the relationship between physical quantities and propositions in quantum theories, and provides a precise notion of a quantum theory holding “approximately on certain scales”.
Intense pleasure is very good in itself
Consequentialism applies to non-rational animals. Then here is a modest proposal: Have all feedlot animals outfitted with electrical stimulators of brain pleasure centers. …
In the last couple of posts, I’ve been discussing Lewis’s derivation of iterated “reason to believe” q from the existence of a special kind of state of affairs A. I summarize my version of this derivation as follows, with the tilde standing for “x and y are similar in epistemic standards and background beliefs”. …
I recently finished my first solo-authored book (available in all good bookstores in September!). Here’s a question: do I deserve any praise for doing this? Well, consider some relevant facts. …
Many commentators have questioned whether the interpretation of the term “ex post facto law” in Calder v. Bull, which restricted that term to retroactive criminal laws, is historically accurate. Most prominently, over seventy years ago, Professor William Winslow Crosskey argued not only that this “criminal-only” reading of “ex post facto law” departed from the original understanding of the Constitution, but also that Justices Chase, Iredell, and Paterson adopted that erroneous interpretation in order to assist James Wilson, who by 1798 had fled from his creditors and needed retroactive bankruptcy protection. Drawing on new evidence related to legal disputes involving three land companies with which Wilson was associated, which eventually gave rise to Hollingsworth v. Virginia, Fletcher v. Peck, and Johnson v. M’Intosh, this Article contends that Crosskey was likely correct about the original meaning of “ex post facto law,” but likely mistaken about the Justices’ motivations in Calder. In fact, Wilson’s land speculation, conflicts of interest, and aggressive pursuit of his companies’ interests were probably a source of embarrassment to his fellow Justices. Nonetheless, there is a clear discrepancy between the narrow construal of “ex post facto law” in Calder and how that term was widely used in the founding era, which merits further investigation. A better historical understanding of these land disputes also raises new doubts about the reliability of the discussion of ex post facto laws in James Madison’s Notes of the Debates in the Federal Convention.
J. N. Findlay was a twentieth century South African philosopher who
taught at universities in South Africa, New Zealand, England, and
North America. He was respected for his analytical abilities, and is
credited by Arthur Prior with being the founder of tense logic. In the
philosophy of mind and language, he maintained the tradition of
Brentano, Meinong, and Husserl against the contrary tradition of
Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein. In a series of Gifford lectures, he
argued for a mystical metaphysics that was very much influenced by
Plotinus and by Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. The abbreviations for citations to books are listed at the beginning
of the Bibliography.
Has the rise of data-intensive science, or ‘big data’, revolutionized our ability to predict? Does it imply a new priority for prediction over causal understanding, and a diminished role for theory and human experts? I examine four important cases where prediction is desirable: political elections, the weather, GDP, and the results of interventions suggested by economic experiments. These case studies extend existing philosophical analysis. They also suggest caution. Although big data methods are indeed very useful sometimes, in this paper’s cases they improve predictions either limitedly or not at all, and their prospects of doing so in the future are limited too.
Quasi-truth (a.k.a. pragmatic truth or partial truth) is typically advanced as a framework accounting for incompleteness and uncertainty in the actual practices of science. Also, it is said to be useful for accommodating cases of inconsistency in science without leading to triviality. In this paper, we argue that the given developments do not deliver all that is promised. We examine the most prominent account of quasi-truth available in the literature, advanced by da Costa and collaborators in many places, and argue that it cannot legitimately account for incompleteness in science: we shall claim that it conflates paraconsistency and paracompleteness. It also cannot account for inconsistencies, because no direct contradiction of the form α ∧ ¬α can be quasi-true, according to the framework. Finally, we advance an alternative interpretation of the formalism in terms of dealing with distinct contexts where incompatible information is dealt with. This does not save the original program, but seems to make better sense of the formalism.
J.K. Rowling introduced the name ‘Hermione Granger’ in the novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and used it in a number of subsequent novels, including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.1 ‘Hermione Granger’ is a name from fiction. Gottlob Frege (1892) discusses names from fiction in “On Sense and Reference.” In this paper, I discuss views about names from fiction that are based on, or inspired by, what Frege says there. In Sections 2 and 3, I discuss views on which names from fiction refer to numbers or properties. In Sections 4 and 5, I discuss the view that names from fiction don’t refer to anything but express senses given by definite descriptions. We can distinguish three kinds of sentences (or three kinds of uses of sentences) that contain names from fiction.
We consider systems of rational agents who act in pursuit of their individual and collective objectives and we study the reasoning of an agent or an external observer about the consequences from the expected choices of action of the other agents based on their objectives, in order to assess the reasoners ability to achieve his own objective. To formalize such reasoning we introduce new modal operators of conditional strategic reasoning and use them to extend Coalition Logic in order to capture variations of conditional strategic reasoning. We provide formal semantics for the new conditional strategic operators, introduce the matching notion of bisimulation for each of them and discuss and compare briefly their expressiveness.
A prominent novelist, Madeleine de Scudéry (1607–1701)
composed a series of dialogues dealing with philosophical issues. Primarily ethical in focus, her dialogues examine the virtues and
vices proper to the aristocratic society of the period. They also
explore questions of moral psychology, in particular the interplay
between temperament and free will. In the area of epistemology,
Scudéry analyzes the problem of certitude and self-knowledge. Theologically, she defends cosmological arguments demonstrating
God’s existence. Her aesthetic theory endorses the mimetic
thesis concerning art as the imitation of nature but the individuality
of artistic perception also receives attention.
A red chunk of playdough needs to be red through and through. A red car need only be red on the outside. Peanut butter to be smooth must be smooth all the way through. But a mattress needs to only be smooth on the upper side to be smooth. …
What is the intersectional thesis a thesis about? Some understand it as a claim about the metaphysics of oppression, social kinds, or experience; about the limits of antidiscrimination law or identity politics; or about the importance of fuzzy sets and multifactor analysis in social science. We argue, however, that intersectionality, interpreted as a thesis in any particular theoretical domain, faces regress problems. We propose that headway on these and other questions can be made when intersectionality is modeled as a regulative ideal, i.e., a guiding methodological and practical principle, and not as a general theory or hypothesis. Qua ideal, intersectionality requires activists and inquirers to treat existing classification schemes as if they are indefinitely mutually informing, with the specific aim of revealing and resisting inequality and injustice. Qua regulative, intersectionality points to a rich and expanding set of heuristics for guiding social-scientific research and the construction of multifaceted political coalitions.
Actions can often be explained by beliefs and desires. Why is Mary flapping her arms like that? Because she wants Sam to laugh, and she believes that he will laugh if she flaps her arms like that. Very often such explanations appeal, as this one does, to a de se belief, a belief that one would naturally express using the first-person pronoun. Mary, for example, would presumably express her belief by saying, Sam will laugh if I flap my arms like this. A persistent theme in the literature on de se attitudes is that such attitudes enjoy a special connection to action. Is this right? If so, what is the nature of this special connection?
We consider the nature of quantum randomness and how one might have empirical evidence for it. We will see why, depending on one’s computational resources, it may be impossible to determine whether a particular notion of randomness properly characterizes one’s empirical data. Indeed, we will see why even an ideal observer under ideal epistemic conditions may never have any empirical evidence whatsoever for believing that the results of one’s quantum-mechanical experiments are randomly determined. This illustrates a radical sort of empirical underdetermination faced by fundamentally stochastic theories like quantum mechanics.
For the Stoics, I argue, a definition of X is a component of a theory of X that spells out some dimension of the concept X, to the effect that acquaintance with a definition improves one’s ability to apply the concept to items in the world. Concepts enable us to identify items as what they are. The more refined our concepts are, the better we are at not mistaking, say, a wolf for a monster. The theory of definition thus addresses a fundamental way in which falsity enters our thinking: through the misapplication of concepts.
The Philebus starts by setting up a contest. Two positions, Revised Hedonism and Reason as I call them, offer competing views on the good. The two positions are modified versions of the long-standing ideas that either pleasure or wisdom are the good. They are formulated, however, in distinctive ways. In response the interlocutors investigate, broadly and extensively, what goes on in our minds. The emerging project includes not only psychology and epistemology, but also the metaphysics of plurality. Moreover, both positions construe good as good-for: the good for human beings. This will prompt the interlocutors to pursue nothing less than the metaphysics of the kind of mix—a limit-unlimited combination—that a good human life is. The chapter reads the beginning of the Philebus as launching this tour de force across philosophical disciplines.
For a long time after their early formulations in Conee and Feldman (1985, 2004) and Sosa (1980, 1991), evidentialism and virtue epistemology appeared to be markedly divergent theories. This divergence reflected a broader rivalry between reasons-first epistemology, which grounds epistemic normativity in reasons, and a family of virtue-first epistemologies, which ground epistemic normativity in faculties, competences, or character traits. But times are changing, partly owing to recent attempts to integrate work on epistemic reasons with work on practical reasons, and partly owing to new work on evidence and virtue. In response to these developments, some reasons-first epistemologists and virtue epistemologists have been refashioning their theories with the aim of putting each other’s objections to rest. A result is that some appealing versions of evidentialism and virtue epistemology are now converging in their predictions. Given these trends, one might be forgiven for jumping to the Parfitian conclusion that the two parties are climbing the same mountain from different sides, only to arrive at the same peak.
Typically, public discussions of questions of social import exhibit two important properties: (1) they are influenced by conformity bias, and (2) the influence of conformity is expressed via social networks. We examine how social learning on networks proceeds under the influence of conformity bias. In our model, heterogeneous agents express public opinions where those expressions are driven by the competing priorities of accuracy and of conformity to one’s peers. Agents learn, by Bayesian conditionalization, from private evidence from nature, and from the public declarations of other agents. Our key findings are that networks that produce configurations of social relationships that sustain a diversity of opinions empower honest communication and reliable acquisition of true beliefs, and that the networks that do this best turn out to be those which are both less centralized and less connected.
The basic idea of string theory goes back to the late 1960s. (For textbooks on string theory, see Polchinski 1999, Zwiebach 2007, Becker, Becker and Schwarz 2007. For a collection of texts on early string theory, see Cappelli, Castellani, Colomo, Di Vecchia 2012. A philosophy-minded history of string theory is Rickles 2013.) After its foundations had been laid from 1968 onwards as a candidate theory for describing strong interaction (Veneziano 1968), string theory was proposed as a universal theory of all interactions in 1974 (Scherk and Schwarz 1974) and became popular after the formulation of the action of a quantized superstring (Green and Schwarz 1984). Since then, string theory has played the role of the leading approach to a unified theory of all interactions. String theory’s history as a subject of philosophical investigation is much shorter. Apart from Weingard (1989), which introduced string theory to philosophers, not a single philosophical paper on string theory was written in the 20th century. After a second philosophical ”suggestion” to look at the theory at turn of the 21st century in Butterfield and Isham (2001), the theory became a subject of more extensive philosophical inquiry about a decade ago. Increasing activity in recent years may indicate the emergence of a fully fledged philosophical field of research.
A widely made observation is that there is something that disfavors repeating names, and name-like terms, when they are intended to corefer. This paper investigates the sentence internal version of this penalty. I begin by relating it to a more general condition in Tom Wasow’s MIT dissertation that disallows an anaphor from having more information in it than that anaphor’s antecedent. I attempt to sketch how that condition can be viewed as a consequence of how the presuppositions of definite descriptions are accommodated. I then argue that Principle C is a related version of this process, but one that holds of function application rather than anaphora strictly speaking. This is an idea of Ed Keenan’s, which I modify so that it is related to the repeated name condition.
. Nathan Schachtman (who was a special invited speaker at our recent Summer Seminar in Phil Stat) put up a post on his law blog the other day (“Palavering About P-values”) on an article by a statistics professor at Stanford, Helena Kraemer. …
In this paper, I argue that the two most common views of how to respond rationally to peer disagreement–the Total Evidence View (TEV) and the Equal Weight View (EWV)–are both inadequate for substantial reasons. TEV does not issue the correct intuitive verdicts about a number of hypothetical cases of peer disagreement. The same is true for EWV. In addition, EWV does not give any explanation of what is rationally required of agents on the basis of sufficiently general epistemic principles. I will then argue that there is a genuine alternative to both views–the Preemption View (PV)–that fares substantially better in both respects. I will give an outline and a detailed defense of PV in the paper.
Once upon a time, I used to teach criminal law. For me, the most challenging section of the course was invariably the section on sexual offences. Some students would find the subject uncomfortable, perhaps even traumatising. …
In the last post I set out a puzzling passage from Lewis. That was the first part of his account of “common knowledge”. If we could get over the sticking point I highlighted, we’d find the rest of the argument would show us how individuals confronted with a special kind of state of affairs A—a “basis for common knowledge that Z”—would end up having reason to believe that Z, reason to believe that all others have reason to believe Z, reason to believe that all others have reason to believe that all others have reason to believe Z, and so on for ever. …
What is it for two people to think of an object, natural kind or other entity under the same mode of presentation (MOP)? This has seemed a particularly difficult question for advocates of the Mental Files approach, the Language of Thought, or other ‘atomistic’ theories. In this paper I propose a simple answer. I first argue that, by parallel with the synchronic intrapersonal case, the sharing of a MOP should involve a certain kind of epistemic transparency between the token thoughts of the two thinkers. I then explain how shared words help bring about this transparency. Finally, I show how this account can be extended for thoughts expressed using demonstratives or indexicals.