1. 5002.936157
    TLDR: You’re unsure about something. Then it happens—and you think to yourself, “I kinda expected that.” Such hindsight bias is commonly derided as irrational. But any Bayesian who is (1) unsure of exactly what they think, and (2) trusts their own judgment should exhibit hindsight bias. …
    Found 1 hour, 23 minutes ago on Stranger Apologies
  2. 14271.936307
    I led a session of a workshop, recently, on how to write a “trade book” in philosophy. I don’t love the phrase “trade book,” which I’ve put in protective scare-quotes. And I feel some discomfort, too, in being cast as an authority. …
    Found 3 hours, 57 minutes ago on Under the Net
  3. 83827.936325
    It is well known how to define the operator Q for the total charge (i.e., positron number minus electron number) on the standard Hilbert space of the second-quantized Dirac equation. Here we ask about operators QA representing the charge content of a region A ⊆ R in 3d physical space. There is a natural formula for QA but, as we explain, there are difficulties about turning it into a mathematically precise definition. First, QA can be written as a series but its convergence seems hopeless. Second, we show for some choices of A that if QA could be defined then its domain could not contain either the vacuum vector or any vector obtained from the vacuum by applying a polynomial in creation and annihilation operators. Both observations speak against the existence of QA for generic A.
    Found 23 hours, 17 minutes ago on R. Tumulka's site
  4. 83835.936337
    This is the second of several short interviews on AI and agency. In the interest of our guests’ and audience’s time, the interviews will be brief, but each interview is supplemented with a reading list that allows readers to explore the topic in greater depth. …
    Found 23 hours, 17 minutes ago on The Brains Blog
  5. 83968.936348
    As to whether time is real Some say yes and some say no. This dispute I’ll settle now: Sitting still, I’ve felt time go. I believe that what we see As a progress of events Is a progress of events, Not a timeless tapestry. …
    Found 23 hours, 19 minutes ago on Mostly Aesthetics
  6. 86572.936359
    [Editor’s Note: The following new entry by Marc Artiga replaces the former entry on this topic by the previous author.] The concept of information is widely used in the biological sciences. Informational concepts are central to molecular biology, where it is standard to talk about translation, transcription, proofreading, redundancy, DNA libraries, the genetic code, genetic editing, or the genetic program. Genes are also meant to carry information about our evolutionary past. Information is a key notion in cognitive science; cognitive systems are said to trade on information, which is connected to talk of mental representation, neural signals, neurotransmitters, and so forth.
  7. 95465.93637
    Whenever we communicate, we inevitably have to say one thing before another. This means introducing particularly subtle patterns of salience into our language. In this paper, I introduce ‘order-based salience patterns,’ referring to the ordering of syntactic contents where that ordering, pretheoretically, does not appear to be of consequence. For instance, if one is to describe a colourful scarf, it wouldn’t seem to matter if one were to say it is ‘orange and blue’ or ‘blue and orange.’ Despite their apparent triviality, I argue that order-based salience patterns tend to make the content positioned first more salient – in the sense of attention-grabbing – in a way that can have surprising normative implications. Giving relative salience to gender differences over similarities, for instance, can result in the activation of cognitively accessible beliefs about gender differences. Where those beliefs are epistemically and/or ethically flawed, we can critique the salience pattern that led to them, providing an instrumental way of evaluating those patterns. I suggest that order-based salience patterns can also be evaluated on constitutive grounds; talking about gender differences before similarities might constitute a subtle form of bias. Finally, I reflect on how the apparent triviality of order-based salience patterns in language gives them an insidious strength.
    Found 1 day, 2 hours ago on Ergo
  8. 95490.936381
    Standard approaches to ontological simplicity focus either on the number of things or types a theory posits or on the number of fundamental things or types a theory posits. In this paper, I suggest a ground-theoretic approach that focuses on the number of something else. After getting clear on what this approach amounts to, I motivate it, defend it, and complete it.
    Found 1 day, 2 hours ago on Ergo
  9. 95512.936393
    We spend much of our adult lives thinking and reminiscing about particular events of the past, which, by their very nature, can never be repeated. What is involved in a capacity to think thoughts of this kind? In this paper, I propose that such thoughts are essentially connected with a capacity to communicate about past events, and specifically in the special way in which events of the past are valued and shared in our relationships with one another. I motivate this proposal by way of the claim that such thoughts are practically useless: there are no practical, forward-looking tasks that require information which is specific to particular past events. Thus I suggest that thoughts of this specific kind have a home only in the cognitive economy of a creature who finds past events to be of interest for their own sake, and that this interest in the past is a peculiar feature of human social life.
    Found 1 day, 2 hours ago on Ergo
  10. 95536.936404
    For several decades, intercultural philosophers have produced an extensive body of scholarly work aimed at mutual intercultural understanding. They have focused on the ideal of intercultural dialogue that is supported by dialogue principles and virtuous attitudes. However, this ideal is challenged by decolonial scholarship as one which neglects power inequalities. Decolonial scholars have emphasized the differences between cultures and worldviews, shifting the focus to colonial history and radical alterity. In return, intercultural philosophers have worried about the very possibility of dialogue and mutual understanding in frameworks that use coloniality as their singular pole of analysis. In this paper, we explore the complex relations between decolonial
    Found 1 day, 2 hours ago on Ergo
  11. 95561.936416
    Past philosophical analyses of bullshit have generally presented bullshit as a formidable threat to truth. However, most of these analyses also reduce bullshit to a mere symptom of a greater evil (e.g. indifference towards truth). In this paper, I introduce a new account of bullshit which, I argue, is more suited to understand the threat posed by bullshit. I begin by introducing a few examples of “truth-tracking bullshit”, before arguing that these examples cannot be accommodated by past, process-based accounts of bullshit. I then introduce my new, output-based account of bullshit, according to which a claim is bullshit when it is presented as or appears as interesting at first sight but is revealed not to be that interesting under closer scrutiny. I present several arguments in favor of this account, then argue that it is more promising than past accounts when it comes to explaining how bullshit spreads and why it is a serious threat to truth.
    Found 1 day, 2 hours ago on Ergo
  12. 95587.936427
    A number of philosophers hold that some types of mental states are composed of two or more mental states. It is commonly thought, for instance, that hoping involves the desire for some outcome to occur and the belief that such an outcome is possible (but has yet to occur). Although the existence of combinatory states (CS’s) is widely accepted, one issue that has not been thoroughly discussed is how we know we token a given combinatory state. This paper aims to fill this lacuna. I do so by first discussing one way of knowing our CS’s—namely, by knowing we token the relevant constituting states, and then inferring that we have the relevant CS from such a knowledge-base. I argue that while anti-skeptics of self-knowledge should embrace the view that we can know our CS’s in this manner, this way of knowing we possess such states is quite demanding. Given the latter, I proceed to examine whether there are alternative ways we can know our CS’s. I defend the view that given the tenability of particular accounts of self-knowledge for non-CS’s, we can avoid the view that we only know our CS’s by in part knowing the constituents of such states.
    Found 1 day, 2 hours ago on Ergo
  13. 95683.936443
    People report believing weird things: that the Earth is flat, that senior Democrats are subjecting kidnapped children to abuse, and so on. How can people possibly believe things like this? Some philosophers have recently argued for a surprising answer: people don’t believe these things at all. Rather, they mistake their imaginings for beliefs. They are shmelievers, not believers. In this paper, I consider the prospects for this kind of explanation. I argue that some belief reports are simply insincere, and that much of the evidence for shmeliefs can be explained by the content of the beliefs reported, rather than by the attitude people take to them. But some reported beliefs are good candidates for being shmeliefs. I consider how shmeliefs are acquired and sustained, and why they might be harmful despite not being seriously believed.
    Found 1 day, 2 hours ago on Ergo
  14. 95740.936454
    In this paper I aim to undermine Stoic and Neo-Stoic readings of Benedict de Spinoza by examining the latter’s strong agreements with Epicurus (a notable opponent of the Stoics) on the nature and ethical role of pleasure in living a happy life. Ultimately, I show that Spinoza and Epicurus are committed to three central claims which the Stoics reject: (1) pleasure holds a necessary connection to healthy natural being, (2) pleasure manifests healthy being through positive changes in state and states of healthy being per se, and (3) pleasure is by nature good. The Stoics reject these three claims due to their views on pleasant sensations as preferred moral indifferents and passionate pleasures as diseases of the soul, views which Spinoza (due to the above-mentioned commitments) is strongly opposed to, thereby placing him (at least on the subject of pleasure) outside the realm of merely following or improving on Stoic doctrines. From this comparative analysis we also gain deeper insight into both Spinoza’s engagement with ancient Greek philosophy and the value of Epicureanism and Spinozism in helping us achieve and maintain happiness in the present day, particularly with respect to the benefits and harms of bodily and mental pleasures.
    Found 1 day, 2 hours ago on Ergo
  15. 135981.936465
    Most philosophers agree that lies are assertions. Most also agree that to presuppose information is different from asserting it. In a series of papers, Viebahn (2020), (2021), along with an empirical study in Viebahn, Wiegmann, Engelmann, and Williemsen (2021), has recently argued that one can lie with presuppositions, and therefore one can assert that p by presupposing that p. The latter conclusion is a rejection of a cornerstone of modern philosophy of language and linguistics, and as such we should require strong reasons for accepting it. I argue here that the reasons for thinking that presuppositions can be lies are too weak to motivate giving up either the view that lies are assertions or the traditional distinction between presuppositions and assertions.
    Found 1 day, 13 hours ago on Andreas Stokke's site
  16. 141773.936475
    Higher-order metaphysicians take facts to be higher-order beings, i.e., entities in the range of irreducibly higher-order quantifiers. In this paper, I investigate the impact of this conception of facts on the debate about the reality of tense. I identify two major repercussions. The first concerns the logical space of tense realism: on a higher-order conception of facts, a prominent version of tense realism, dynamic absolutism, turns out to conflict with the laws of (higher-order tense) logic. The second concerns our understanding of the positions occupying this logical space: on a higher-order conception of facts, an attractive interpretation of the central tense realist notion of ‘facts constituting reality’ becomes unavailable. I discuss these results in the context of the more general project of higher-order metaphysics and the (meta)metaphysics of time, drawing out their implications for the nature of the disputes both between realists and anti-realists about tense and between different tense realist factions.
    Found 1 day, 15 hours ago on Lukas Skiba's site
  17. 145471.936485
    It is an honor to have been asked to contribute a paper to a Festschrift for John Martin Fischer and it is a pleasure to do so. A paper to be included in a volume honoring a scholar need not, speaking strictly, address that scholar’s work, but I would not dream of contributing an essay to a book honoring John that was not about his work. That resolution, however, confronts me with a problem, for the only things worth anyone’s attention that I have to say about John’s contributions to philosophy pertain to his well-known and influential work on the relation (or lack thereof) between determinism and moral responsibility, and those things I have already said —and said as well as I shall ever be able to. The only solution to this problem seems to me to be to reply to one of John’s criticisms of my own work—which carries the danger of my own work, rather than John’s, becoming the topic of this chapter. My only excuse for risking this unseemly outcome is that when I tried to think of a topic for the essay that addressed John’s work and about which I had something to say that I had not already said, only this came to mind.
    Found 1 day, 16 hours ago on Peter van Inwagen's site
  18. 158212.936496
    Last month I was on the wonderful Joe Walker Podcast. You can watch the full video, or read the unabridged transcript. Joe handpicked the following highlights: What did you learn about Japanese urbanism? …
    Found 1 day, 19 hours ago on Bet On It
  19. 164290.936507
    This paper concerns local yet systematic problems of contrastive underdetermination of model choice in cognitive neuroscience debates about the so-called two visual systems hypothesis. The underdetermination problem is systematically generated by the way certain assumptions about the representationalist nature of computation are translated into experimental practice. The problem is that behavioural data underdetermine the choice between competing representational models. In this paper, I diagnose how these assumptions generate underdetermination problems in the choice between competing functional models of perception– action. Using the tools of philosophy of science, I describe the type of underdetermination and sketch a possible cure.
    Found 1 day, 21 hours ago on Thor Grünbaum's site
  20. 180301.936523
    This is the summer break and I’m publishing old essays written when the audience of this newsletter was confidential. This post has been originally published March 16, 2022. This morning, I almost fell off from my chair (fortunately, I was in my bed) when I read an op-ed (gated, in French) from Cécile Philippe, head of the libertarian French think tank Molinari Institute. …
    Found 2 days, 2 hours ago on The Archimedean Point
  21. 182208.936534
    All Humeans hold, roughly, that laws are informative summaries of non-lawful matters of fact. Pragmatic Humeans go further: for them, what makes these summaries the laws is their usefulness to agents like us. By adding elements of our specific epistemic interests and constraints, pragmatists contend, we can arrive at satisfying explanations of otherwise surprising features of our actual laws and our actual scientific practice. But the pragmatic shift is not without problems. The more elements of our particular psychology we add to our nomic formula, the more susceptible we are to idealistic ratbaggery. Intuitively, what can or must happen does not depend on our particular cognitive architecture: we cannot change the laws by changing us. But if laws are distinguished from accidents by features of our psychology or the language our society contingently speaks, then changes in our psychology or culture might lead to differences in what the laws of nature allow. My aim here is to clarify the role of pragmatic constraints, and thereby respond to this challenge from creeping idealism.
    Found 2 days, 2 hours ago on Michael Townsen Hicks's site
  22. 183128.93655
    When do two sentences say the same thing, that is, express the same content? We defend two-component (2C) semantics: the view that propositional contents comprise (at least) two irreducibly distinct constituents: (1) truth-conditions and (2) subject-matter. We contrast 2C with one-component (1C) semantics, focusing on the view that subject-matter is reducible to truth-conditions. We identify exponents of this view and argue in favor of 2C. An appendix proposes a general formal template for propositional 2C semantics.
    Found 2 days, 2 hours ago on Peter Hawke's site
  23. 230813.936561
    All facts completely reducible to physics are first-order facts. All facts completely explained by first-order facts are themselves completely reducible to first-order facts. Facts about our epistemic reliability are facts about truth. …
    Found 2 days, 16 hours ago on Alexander Pruss's Blog
  24. 230813.936573
    In a lovely paper, Leon Porter shows that semantic naturalism is false. One way to put the argument is as follows: If semantic naturalism is true, truth is a natural property. All natural properties are first order. …
    Found 2 days, 16 hours ago on Alexander Pruss's Blog
  25. 234839.936589
    The truthteller paradox is focused on the sentence: - This sentence is true. There is no contradiction in taking (1) to be true, but neither is there a contradiction in taking (1) to be false. So where is the paradox? …
    Found 2 days, 17 hours ago on Alexander Pruss's Blog
  26. 243210.9366
    Mobs like to get people fired for saying things they don’t like. Politicians from the opposite party like to use this to fundraise and drum up outrage against “cancel culture”. I don’t know of any direct fix to the cultural problem of people being vindictive, censorious jerks. …
    Found 2 days, 19 hours ago on Good Thoughts
  27. 261872.93661
    Copyright: © 2024 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/).
    Found 3 days ago on Dustin Lazarovici's site
  28. 315434.936628
    Hardy’s ψ-ontology theorem proves the reality of the wave function under the assumption of restricted ontic indifference. It has been conjectured that restricted ontic indifference, which is a very strong assumption from the ψ-epistemic view, can be derived from two weaker sub-assumptions: an ontic state assumption and a locality assumption. However, Leifer argued that this derivation cannot go through when considering the existence of the vacuum state in the second-quantized description of quantum states. In this paper, I present a new analysis of Hardy’s theorem. First, I argue that the ontic state assumption is valid in the second-quantized description of quantum states. Second, I argue that the locality assumption is a locality assumption for product states and it is weaker than the preparation independence assumption of the PBR theorem. Third, I argue that Leifer’s objection to the derivation of restricted ontic indifference is invalid. Finally, I argue that although the vacuum state is irrelevant, the existence of the tails of the wave function will block the derivation of restricted ontic indifference from the ontic state assumption and the locality assumption.
    Found 3 days, 15 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  29. 315454.936638
    This paper designs and defends a conceptual framework for the disambiguation of scientific language regarding open and closed systems. We argue that the open-closed distinction should always be precisifed by specifying a characteristic quantity that is conserved if and only if the system is closed. Open systems are those for which conservation of the characteristic quantity fails. This precisification is in accord with much but not all existing practice. We show that an open system can have well-posed autonomous dynamics and need not be embeddable in any larger system. We distinguish two kinds of autonomy and show that they dissociate from the open-closed distinction. We argue that this framework clears the path towards a new approach to the modelling of autonomous open systems in quantum physics and cosmology.
    Found 3 days, 15 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  30. 315472.936649
    In a recent paper (Found Phys 54:14, 2024), Carcassi, Oldofredi and Aidala concluded that the ψ-ontic models defined by Harrigan and Spekkens cannot be consistent with quantum mechanics, since the information entropy of a mixture of non-orthogonal states are different in these two theories according to their information theoretic analysis. In this paper, I argue that this no-go theorem for ψ-ontic models is false by explaining the physical origin of the von Neumann entropy in quantum mechanics.
    Found 3 days, 15 hours ago on PhilSci Archive