Suppose Alice and Bob are perfect act utilitarians or perfect amoral
egoists in any combination. They are about to play a game where they
raise a left hand or a right hand in a separate booth, and if they both
raise the same hand, they both get something good. …
Like many others, I see Crump et al. (2022) as a milestone for improving upon previous guidelines and for extending their framework to decapod crustaceans. Their proposal would benefit from a firm evolutionary foundation by adding the comparative measurement of life-history complexity as a ninth criterion for attributing sentience to nonhuman animals.
A counterpossible is a counterfactual whose antecedent is impossible. The vacuity thesis says all counterpossibles are true solely because their antecedents are impossible. Recently, some have rejected the vacuity thesis by citing purported non-vacuous counterpossibles in science. One limitation of this work, however, is that it is not grounded in experimental data. Do scientists actually reason non-vacuously about counterpossibles? If so, what is their basis for doing so? We presented biologists (N = 86) with two counterfactual formulations of a well-known model in biology, the antecedents of which contain what many philosophers would characterize as a metaphysical impossibility. Participants consistently judged one counter-factual to be true, the other to be false, and they explained that they formed these judgments based on what they perceived to be the mathematical relationship between the antecedent and consequent. Moreover, we found no relationship between participants’ judgments about the (im)possibility of the antecedent and whether they judged a counterfactual to be true or false. These are the first experimental results on counterpossibles in science with which we are familiar. We present a modal semantics that can capture these judgments, and we deal with a host of potential objections that a defender of the vacuity thesis might make.
Large-scale language technologies are increasingly used in various forms of communication with humans across different contexts. One particular use case for these technologies is conversational agents, which output natural language text in response to prompts and queries. This mode of engagement raises a number of social and ethical questions. For example, what does it mean to align conversational agents with human norms or values? Which norms or values should they be aligned with? And how can this be accomplished? In this paper, we propose a number of steps that help answer these questions. We start by developing a philosophical analysis of the building blocks of linguistic communication between conversational agents and human interlocutors. We then use this analysis to identify and formulate ideal norms of conversation that can govern successful linguistic communication between humans and conversational agents. Furthermore, we explore how these norms can be used to align conversational agents with human values across a range of different discursive domains. We conclude by discussing the practical implications of our proposal for the design of conversational agents that are aligned with these norms and values.
In your career you have worked across areas: doing empirical field and laboratory work, cra ing various kinds of ar cles, and teaching legions of undergraduates. Also you have wri en several popular science books (Sapolsky et al. , 2004; 2005; 2017), variously bringing a en on to ulcers, hormones, and learning. Recently you have appeared on various podcasts such as with Prof. Andrew Huberman (Huberman & Sapolsky, 2022), Here We Are (Mauss & Sapolsky, 2022), and Freakonomics Radio (Levi & Sapolsky, 2021). To pick up here with this interview where some of these previous conversa ons have le off, on Freakonomics Radio you said: “I don’t think we have any free will whatsoever. I think we are the outcomes of the sheer random, good and bad biological luck that each of us has stumbled into”, and on the Huberman podcast you denied that humans have even a “ shred of free will ”. For clarity in this interview, can you provide your usage or defini on of free will here? What are your defini ons of consciousness and awareness?
A recently proposed gedankenexperiment involving the (gravitational or electromagnetic) interaction between two objects—one placed in a state of quantum superposition of two locations—seems to allow for faster-than-light communication. However, it has been argued that, if the mediating fields are endowed with quantum properties, then the possibility for superluminal signaling is fully avoided. Moreover, in the gravitational case, this conclusion has been used to argue for the view that the gravitational field must be quantized. In this work, we point out various limitations to this and related assessments and we show that consideration of the way in which entanglement spreads across the system explains how superluminal communication is averted in this and related settings.
Short Abstract: This paper provides a survey of evidence from computational cognitive psychology, perceptual psychology, developmental psychology, comparative psychology, and social psychology, in favor of the language of thought hypothesis (LoTH). We outline six core properties of LoTs and argue that these properties cluster together throughout cognitive science. Instead of regarding LoT as a relic of the previous century, researchers in cognitive science and philosophy of mind should take seriously the explanatory breadth of LoT-based architectures as computational/representational approaches to the mind continue to advance.
Alice and Bob are both perfect Bayesian epistemic agents and
subjectively perfect utilitarians (i.e., they always do what by their
lights maximizes expected utility). Bob is going to Megara. He comes to
a crossroads, from which two different paths lead to Megara. …
Heidi Maibom, University of Cincinnati and University of the Basque Country
Given the differences I discussed in my last post between how we regard others and ourselves pre-reflectively (reflectively we understand that others are agents just like us, of course), it should not be surprising that adopting a perspective that reverses these asymmetries can prove very helpful. …
Can an ugly experiment be a good experiment? Philosophers have identified many beautiful experiments and explored ways in which their beauty might be connected to their epistemic value. In contrast, the present chapter seeks out (and celebrates) ugly experiments. Among the ugliest are those being designed by AI algorithms. Interestingly, in the contexts where such experiments tend to be deployed, low aesthetic value correlates with high epistemic value. In other words, ugly experiments can be good. Given this, we should conclude that beauty is not generally necessary or sufficient for epistemic value, and increasing beauty will not generally tend to increase epistemic value.
Here I translate two excerpts of epistolary exchanges, which record Wang Yangming’s mature views on the unity of knowledge and action. The letters, which come down to us as excerpts in Wang’s collected works, date from 1524. They show clearly that Wang continued to espouse the doctrine of the unity of knowledge and action after the watershed moment in his philosophical development, around 1521, when he began to emphasize the notion of liangzhi (良知). To my knowledge, neither exchange has been translated into English before. In particular, they do not appear in Julia Ching’s important collection of the philosophical letters of Wang Yangming (Ching (1972)).
Imagine, if you can, an accurate moralometer -- an inexpensive device you could point at someone to get an accurate reading of their overall moral goodness or badness. Point it at Hitler and see it plunge down into the deep red of evil. …
There are empirical indications that various skills and maybe even
virtues are pretty domain specific. It seems that being good at
reasoning about one thing need not make one good at reasoning about
another, even if the reasoning is formally equivalent. …
Heidi Maibom, University of Cincinnati and University of the Basque Country
In my last post, I talked in general ways about how the creatures that we are determines our pre-reflective way of thinking about the world. …
Disjointism is the view that co-located objects do not share any parts. A human-shaped statue is composed from a torso, head and limbs; the co-located lump of clay is only composed from chunks of clay. This essay discusses the tenability of this relatively neglected view, focusing on two objections. The first objection is that disjointism implies co-located copies of microphysical particles. I argue that it doesn’t imply this and that there are more plausible disjointist views of tiny parts available. The second objection is that disjointism is at a loss to explain how material objects can be co-located and why the weights of co-located objects don’t add up. The standard pluralist account appeals to the fact that co-located objects stand in mereological relations and this account is not available to the disjointist. I sketch an alternative account that appeals to a notion of ‘material identity’: the statue is taken to be the same matter as the lump of clay. The resort to a new theoretical primitive may seem to invite a quick rejection on grounds of unnecessary theoretical complexity but I argue that an abductive comparison with rival forms of pluralism shows that such a rejection is misguided.
De se thoughts have traditionally been seen to be exceptional in mandating a departure from orthodox theories of attitudes. Against this, skeptics about the de se have argued that the de se phenomena demand no more of our theories of attitudes than traditional Frege cases. In this camp one view is that the de se can be accounted for by MOPs in the same way that MOPs can account for how it can be rational to believe, for instance, ”Hesperus is shining” while also believing ”Phosphorus is shining.” This paper formulates some minimal conditions that de se MOPs must have in order to explain the relevant de se phenomena. Some potential replies are answered. I conclude that de se MOPs are not exceptional.
Many areas of frontier physics are confronted with the crisis of a lack of accessible, direct evidence. As a result, direct model building has failed to lead to any new empirical discoveries. In this paper I argue that these areas of frontier physics have developed common methods for turning precision measurements of known quantities into potential evidence for anomalies hinting at new physics. This method of framework generalization has arisen as a sort of model-independent method for generalizing beyond known physics and organizing experimental searches. I argue that this method is well-justified given the current epistemic landscape, and that theory construction in general is much broader than simply building new dynamical models.
Overdetermination and Causal Closure: A Defense of the Causal Argument for Physicalism Alyssa Ney September 27, 2022 1. Introduction Among the arguments that have been proposed for physicalism, the “causal argument” developed in work by David Lewis (1966), David Papineau (2001), Jaegwon Kim (1998, 2005), and Daniel Stoljar (2011) is widely taken to be the most compelling. This is an empirical argument that aims to show how advances since the Scientific Revolution make physicalism a reasonable metaphysical position to hold. Recently, Justin Tiehen (2015) has raised an interesting objection to this argument that takes the form of a dilemma. Tiehen’s ultimate conclusion is that at best, the causal argument is circular and so its premises cannot provide support for its conclusion, physicalism. The aim of the present paper is to respond to Tiehen’s objection in order to provide a defense of the causal argument. Although there are several rather straightforward responses a physicalist can give to Tiehen’s dilemma, consideration of this argument is worthwhile for clarifying the status of and motivation for the argument’s key premise: the causal closure of the physical domain.
In “Pascal’s Mugging” (Bostrom 2009), Pascal gives away his wallet for an extremely tiny chance of an extremely large reward. In this continuation of Bostrom’s story, Pascal’s friend counsels him to take into account the possibility of making mistakes about his true expected utilities, and they consider to what extent this will help Pascal make plans to avoid future muggings.
In nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, the state of a system is given by its wave function. The wave function is often captured by a vector on Hilbert space, where the dimensions of this space correspond to the number of eigenstates associated with a given observable. For example, to describe the z-spin state of a particle, the wave function is given by a state vector on a two-dimensional Hilbert space, with one axis corresponding to an eigenvalue of z-spin = +1 and the other to an eigenvalue of z-spin = -1. In contexts in which the variable of interest is position, the wave function will be captured by a state vector in a Hilbert space with dimensions corresponding to definite position states. Alternatively, it may be given by a function on configuration space. For a system consisting of a single particle in three-dimensional space, the wave function is a function that takes in locations in this space and yields complex numbers. In general, to represent the position states of N-particle systems, the wave function is a function that takes in locations in a 3N-dimensional configuration space.
According to evidentialist views, credence in a proposition p should be proportional to the degree of evidential support that one has in favor of p. However, empirical evidence suggests that our credences are systematically sensitive to practical factors. In this paper, I provide a cost-benefit analysis of credences’ practical sensitivity. The upshot of this analysis is that credences sensitive to practical factors fare better than practically insensitive ones along several dimensions. All things considered, our credences should be sensitive to practical factors.
In this paper, we argue that a crossover class of climate change solutions (which we term “technological solutions”) may disproportionately and adversely impact some populations over others. We begin by situating our discussion in the wider climate discourse, particularly with regard to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Basel Convention. We then suggest that many of the most attractive technological solutions to climate change, such as solar energy and electric car batteries, will likely add to the rapidly growing stream of electronic waste (“e-waste”). This e-waste may have negative downstream effects on otherwise disenfranchised populations. We argue that e-waste burdens women unfairly and disproportionately, affecting their mortality/morbidity and fertility, as well as the development of their children. Building on this, we claim that these injustices are more accurately captured as problems of recognition rather than distribution, since women are often institutionally under-acknowledged both in the workplace and in the home. Without institutional support and representation, women and children are deprived of adequate safety equipment, health precautions, and health insurance. Finally, we return to the question of climate justice in the context of the human right to health and argue for greater inclusion and recognition of women waste workers and other disenfranchised groups in forging future climate agreements.
One might think that reasons for action are exhaustively and
exclusively divided into the moral and the prudential. Here is a problem
with this. Suppose that you have a spinner divided into red and green
Heidi Maibom, University of Cincinnati and University of the Basque Country
Terminology: A first-person perspective contains three sub-perspectives: an agent perspective (how we view ourselves, our own actions, and what happens to us), an observer perspective (how we view others, their actions, and what happens to them), and an interactor perspective (how we view others and ourselves when we are directly engaged with them). …
The meaning of the wave function is an important unresolved issue in Bohmian mechanics. On the one hand, according to the nomological view, the wave function of the universe or the universal wave function is not ontic but nomological, like a law of nature. On the other hand, the PBR theorem proves that the wave function in quantum mechanics or the effective wave function in Bohmian mechanics is ontic, representing the ontic state of a physical system in the universe. It is usually thought that the nomological view of the universal wave function is compatible with the ontic view of the effective wave function, and thus the PBR theorem has no implications for the nomological view. In this paper, I argue that this is not the case, and these two views are in fact incompatible. This means that if the effective wave function is ontic as the PBR theorem proves, then the universal wave function cannot be nomological, and the ontology of Bohmian mechanics cannot consist only in particles. Moreover, I argue that although the nomological view can be held by rejecting one key assumption of the PBR theorem, the rejection will lead to serious problems, such as that the results of measurements and their probabilities cannot be explained in ontology in Bohmian mechanics.
A further argument for human space settlement is formulated on the basis of the risk of information catastrophe, as recently outlined by Melvin Vopson. Both the increase in the overall material basis of the human civilization and the lowering of operational temperature will act to mitigate this type of risk. Human space settlement and the creation of the Solar System technosphere is certain to advance both these important trends.
Causal Dispositionalism provides an account of causation based on an ontology of causal powers, properties with causal essence. According to the account, causation can be analysed in terms of the interaction of powers and its subsequent production of their effect. Recently, Baltimore (2020) has raised a challenge against two competing approaches, the compositional view (CV) and the mutual manifestation view (MMV), to explain what makes powers interactive – the interaction gap. In this paper, we raise the challenge of explaining what makes powers productive –the production gap. While Baltimore’s verdict is tentatively favouring (MMV), we find both approaches wanting. Our conclusion is that Causal Dispositionalists should take Baltimore’s and our critique seriously. Powers cannot cause their effects just by bearing the name “causal”. To deserve their names, more metaphysical details are needed.
What is involved in having a singular thought about an ordinary object? On the leading epistemic view, one has this capacity if and only if one has belief-forming dispositions which would reliably enable one to get its properties right (Dickie, 2015). I first argue that Dickie’s official view entails surprising and unpalatable claims about either rationality or singular thought, before offering a precisification. Once we have reached that level of abstraction, it becomes difficult to see what is distinctively epistemic about the framework. If we are to tease out the delicate connection between singular thought and knowledge, we should suspend the assumption that there is a homogeneous core, present in all cases of such thought, and that it is from there that its (univocal) epistemic character derives.
philosophical work, with important consequences felt throughout metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and so on. Our aim in this paper is to show that rigidity has yet another role to play, with surprising consequences for the problem of free will and determinism, for the phenomenon of rigidity has the upshot that some metaphysically necessary truths are up to us. The significance of this claim is shown in the context of influential arguments against free will. We show that some virtually indisputable inference rules employed in formulations of the Consequence Argument, as well as in fatalistic arguments, fail with a variety of counter-examples. Along the way, we compare the present arguments to other, similar arguments made in recent years.
"Never interpret; experience, experiment." -Gilles DeleuzeSpeculative pragmatism or speculative empiricism seems to have had a moment (maybe is still having a moment). It is best understood as something like an intercontinental inquiry, beginning with the works of William James and Henri Bergson, then including Jean Wahl, Alfred North Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze, Isabelle Stengers, Brian Massumi, and the various people working in their wake. …