There is no agreement on whether any invertebrates are conscious and no agreement on a methodology that could settle the issue. How can the debate move forward? I distinguish three broad types of approach: theory-heavy, theory-neutral and theory-light. Theory-heavy and theory-neutral approaches face serious problems, motivating a middle path: the theory-light approach. At the core of the theory-light approach is a minimal commitment about the relation between phenomenal consciousness and cognition that is compatible with many specific theories of consciousness: the hypothesis that phenomenally conscious perception of a stimulus facilitates, relative to unconscious perception, a cluster of cognitive abilities in relation to that stimulus. This “facilitation hypothesis” can productively guide inquiry into invertebrate consciousness. What is needed? At this stage, not more theory, and not more undirected data gathering. What is needed is a systematic search for consciousness-linked cognitive abilities, their relationships to each other, and their sensitivity to masking.
Inconsistency toleration is the phenomenon of working with inconsistent information without threatening one’s rationality. Here I address the role that ignorance plays for the tolerance of contradictions in the empirical sciences. In particular, I contend that there are two types of ignorance that, when present, can make epistemic agents to be rationally inclined to tolerate a contradiction. The first is factual ignorance, understood as temporary undecidability of the truth values of the conflicting propositions. The second is what I call “ignorance of theoretical structure”, which is lack of knowledge of relevant inference patterns within a specific theory. I argue that these two types of ignorance can be explanatory of the scientists’ rational disposition to be tolerant towards contradictions, and I illustrate this with a case study from neutrino physics. Keywords— Inconsistency toleration, factual ignorance, ignorance of theoretical structure, measurement of solar neutrinos’ flux.
The ‘Major Transitions in Evolution’ (MTE) framework has emerged as the dominant paradigm for understanding the origins of life’s hierarchical organization, but it has been criticized on the grounds that it lacks theoretical unity, that is, that the events that make up the category do not constitute a natural kind. I agree with this criticism, and I argue that the best response is to modify the category so that it does approximate a natural kind. Specifically, I recommend defining major transitions as all those, and only those, events and processes that result in the emergence of a new level of individuality. Two sorts of changes will be required to achieve this. First, events and processes that do not meet this criterion, such as the origins of the genetic code and of human language, should be excluded. Second, events and processes that do meet the criterion, but which have generally been neglected, should be included. These changes would have the dual benefits of making MTEs a philosophically coherent category and of increasing the sample size on which we may infer trends and general principles that may apply to all MTEs.
The many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (MWI) is based on three key assumptions: (1) the completeness of the physical description by means of the wave function, (2) the linearity of the dynamics for the wave function, and (3) multiplicity. In this paper, I propose a new thought experiment in which a post-measurement superposition undergoes no net change while individual branches do change under certain unitary time evolution. Moreover, I argue that MWI gives contradictory predictions for this experiment. In order to avoid the contradiction and save many worlds, it seems that we must drop one or both of the first two assumptions.
It has been argued that alethic pluralists—who hold that there are several distinct truth properties—face a problem when it comes to defining validity. Via consideration of the classical concept of logical consequence, and of strategies for defining validity in many-valued logics, this paper proposes two new kinds of solution to the problem.
On some union models of love, like Robert Nozick’s, our well-being extends to include our beloved: good and bad things happening to our beloved count as happening to us. A standard criticism of the union models (I first saw it in Jennifer Whiting’s criticism of Aristotle) is that we end up pursuing the other’s good not for their sake but for our own, since their good is a part of our well-being. …
Visual thinking is widespread in mathematical practice, and has
diverse cognitive and epistemic purposes. This entry discusses
potential roles of visual thinking in proving and in discovering, with
some examples, and epistemic difficulties and limitations are
considered. Also discussed is the bearing of epistemic uses of visual
representations on the application of the a priori–a
posteriori distinction to mathematical knowledge. A final section
looks briefly at how visual means can aid comprehension and deepen
understanding of proofs.
When we make major life choices, we sometimes look to our past as well as our future. But can doing so be in our self-interest? Is it prudentially rational? Set aside cases in which past actions have a causal effect on the future – no doubt I should bear in mind the fact that I’ve taken a big mortgage when considering downshifting, since the bank won’t let me forget about it. But here it’s really the fact that the bank will come after me if I don’t pay that counts. Set aside, too, cases in which what happened before is an indication of what is likely to happen in the future. It’s surely a good idea to bear in mind that my next diet will probably not be any more successful than the previous ones, unless I do something quite different. But here the past matters only insofar as it helps predict the future. In this paper, I’ll investigate and defend the more interesting thesis that it can be prudentially rational to give weight to past actions and events in choosing between possible futures even when they don’t play such causal or informational roles.
Here is a combination of views that, as far as I know, is missing from the literature:
eliminativism about persons
multigrade relational dualism. Let me explain the view. There are no people on earth. …
The topic of the self has long been salient in feminist philosophy,
for it is pivotal to questions about personal identity, the body,
sociality, and agency that feminism must address. Simone de
Beauvoir’s provocative declaration, “He is the Subject, he
is the Absolute—she is the Other”, signals the central
importance of the self for feminism. To be the Other is to be a
non-subject, a non-agent—in short, a mere thing. Women’s
selfhood has been systematically subordinated or even outright denied
by law, customary practice, and cultural stereotypes. Throughout
history, women have been identified either as inferior versions of men
or as their direct opposite, characterized through their perceived
differences from men; in both cases, women have been denigrated on the
basis of these views.
In this paper we develop a view about the disorientation attached to the process of falling out of love and explain its prudential and moral value. We start with a brief background on theories of love and situate our argument within the views concerned with the lovers’ identities. Namely, love changes who we are. In the context of our paper, we explain this common tenet in the philosophy of love as a change in the lovers’ self-concepts through a process of mutual shaping. This, however, is potentially dangerous for people involved in what we call ‘subsuming relationships’, who give up too much autonomy in the process of mutual shaping. We then move on to show how, through the relation between love and the self-concept, we can explain why the process of falling out of love with someone is so disorientating: when one is falling out of love, one loses an important point of reference for self-understanding. While this disorientating process is typically taken to be harmful to the person experiencing it, we will explain how it can also have moral and prudential value. By re-evaluating who we were in the relationship and who we are now, we can escape from oppressive practices in subsuming relationships. We finish by arguing that this gives us reason to be wary of seeking to re-orient ourselves -or others- too quickly after falling out of love.
This paper investigates the ethics of regarding others as epistemically hopeless. To regard a person as epistemically hopeless with respect to p is, roughly, to regard her as unable to see the truth of p through rational means. Regarding a person as epistemically hopeless is a stance that has surprising and nuanced moral implications. It can be a sign of respect, and it can also be a way of giving up on someone. Whether it is morally problematic to take up this stance, I argue, depends on a number of factors—perhaps most interestingly, it depends on the choices that one faces (or is likely to face). I close the paper by arguing against the view that there are standing moral reasons against regarding others as epistemically hopeless.
Wittgenstein’s paradoxical theses that unproved propositions are meaningless, proofs form new concepts and rules, and contradictions are of limited concern, led to a variety of interpretations, most of them centered on rule-following skepticism. We argue, with the help of C. S. Peirce’s distinction between corollarial and theorematic proofs, that his intuitions are better explained by resistance to what we call conceptual omniscience, treating meaning as fixed content specified in advance. We interpret the distinction in the context of modern epistemic logic and semantic information theory, and show how removing conceptual omniscience helps resolve Wittgenstein’s paradoxes and explain the puzzle of deduction, its ability to generate new knowledge and meaning.
Kerr () coined the term ‘HARKing’ to refer to the practice of ‘hypothesizing after the results are known’. This questionable research practice has received increased attention in recent years because it is thought to have contributed to low replication rates in science. The present article discusses the concept of HARKing from a philosophical standpoint and then undertakes a critical review of Kerr’s () twelve potential costs of HARKing. It is argued that these potential costs are either misconceived, misattributed to HARKing, lacking evidence, or that they do not take into account pre- and post-publication peer review and public availability to research materials and data. It is concluded that it is premature to conclude that HARKing has led to low replication rates.
Apparently, Stanislaw Ulam, the mathematican and physicist, who invented the Monte Carlo method, once said that every action should have at least two motivations. Ontic structural realism (OSR) certainly meets that criterion. The first motivation is one it has in common with the so-called ‘epistemic’ form (Worrall 1989), namely that of offering a response to the ontological changes apparently manifested throughout the history of science, as represented by the infamous ‘Pessimistic Meta-Induction’. This response was been traced back by Worrall (ibid.) to Poincaré and is embodied in the emphasis on the relevant equations as representing the structure that underlines such changes. Crucially, however, despite suggestive remarks, Worrall did not extend his considerations into the quantum domain.
Abstract. I show that the Lottery Paradox is just a (probabilistic) Sorites, and argue that this should modify our way of looking at the Paradox itself. In particular, I focus on what I call “the cut-off point problem” and contend that this problem, well known by students of the Sorites, ought to play a key role in the debate on Kyburg’s puzzle.
The view that quantum particles cannot be regarded as individuals was articulated in the early days of the 'quantum revolution' and became so well-entrenched that French and Krause (2006) called it 'the Received View'. However it was subsequently shown that quantum statistics is in fact compatible with a metaphysics of particle individuality, subject to certain caveats. As a consequent it has been claim that there exists a kind of underdetermination of the metaphysics by the physics which in turn has been used to motivate a form of 'notice' structural realism (Ladyman 1998; French 2014). In this essay I will review this purported underdetermination and the motivation for structural realism that it purportedly provides in the context of recent developments in both the philosophy of physics (specifically the work of Saunders) and metaphysics (specifically the work of Dasgupta). I aim to conclude that such developments reinforce the underdetermination and allow one to respond to certain critical concerns regarding its motivational power.
This study aims to provide an analysis of the complementarity principle in quantum theory through the establishment of partial structural congruence relations between the quantum and Boolean kinds of event structure. Specifically, on the basis of the existence of a categorical adjunction between the category of quantum event algebras and the category of presheaves of variable Boolean event algebras, we establish a twofold complementarity scheme consisting of a generalized/global and a restricted/local conceptual dimension, where the latter conception is subordinate to and constrained by the former. In this respect, complementarity is not only understood as a relation between mutually exclusive experimental arrangements or contexts of co-measurable observables, as envisaged by the original conception, but it is primarily comprehended as a reciprocal relation concerning information transfer between two hierarchically different structural kinds of event structure that can be brought into partial congruence by means of the established adjunction. It is further argued that the proposed category-theoretic framework of complementarity naturally advances a contextual realist conceptual stance towards our deeper understanding of the micro-physical nature of reality.
Einstein claimed that the fundamental dynamical insight of special relativity was the equivalence of mass and energy. I disagree. Not only are mass and energy not equivalent (whatever exactly that means) but talk of such equivalence obscures the real dynamical insight of special relativity, which concerns the nature of 4-forces and interactions more generally. In this paper I present and defend a new ontology of special relativistic particle dynamics that makes this insight perspicuous and I explain how alleged cases of mass–energy conversion can be accommodated within that ontology.
For much of the 20th century, Ernst Cassirer was seen as an intellectual historian, besides being the last member of Marburg Neo- Kantianism. More recently, he has been rediscovered as an original, substantive philosopher in his own right, perhaps even one of the great philosophers of the 20th century. This concerns his contributions to the philosophy of science (relativity theory, quantum mechanics, etc.), his mature, wide- ranging philosophy of symbolic forms (leading to a “philosophy of culture”), and the ways in which his views position him, in potentially fruitful ways, at the intersection of “analytic” and “continental” philosophy.1 In addition, Cassirer was a keen observer of developments in pure mathematics, especially of their philosophical significance. There are two separable, though not unrelated, strands on that topic in his writings. The first concerns his reflections on revolutionary changes in geometry during the 19th century, culminating in David Hilbert’s and Felix Klein’s works. The second strand involves parallel changes in algebra, arithmetic, and set theory, where Evariste Galois, Richard Dedekind, and Georg Cantor played key roles.
Stojni´c et al. (Philos Perspect 27(1):502–525, 2013; Linguist Philos 40(5):519–547, ) argue that the reference of demonstratives is fixed without any contribution from the extra-linguistic context. On their ‘prominence/coherence’ theory, the reference of a demonstrative expression depends only on its context-independent linguistic meaning. Here, we argue that Stojni´c et al.’s striking claims can be maintained in only the thinnest technical sense. Instead of eliminating appeals to the extra-linguistic context, we show how the prominence/coherence theory merely suppresses them. Then we ask why one might be tempted to try and offer such a view. Since we are rather sympathetic to the motivations we find, we close by sketching a more plausible alternative.
The thought that knowledge cannot be acquired accidentally has proven to be an enduring one in epistemology. Knowledge, the idea runs, is a particular sort of cognitive achievement, something incompatible with its being the sort of thing that can be acquired by mere accident. In practice, this thought has been taken to mean that knowing that P requires more than just believing that P where P happens to be true. Rather, in order to acquire knowledge that P, one must form the belief that P on the basis of good reasons— reasons to be acquired, presumably, via the good epistemic conduct of the agent.1
The goal of this paper is twofold. First, we argue that the understanding one has of a proposition or a propositional content of a representational vehicle is a species of what contemporary epistemologists characterise as objectual understanding. Second, we demonstrate that even though this type of understanding differs from linguistic understanding, in many instances of successful communication, these two types of understanding jointly contribute to understanding a communicated thought.
My purpose in this essay is to present arguments for the falsity of a central premise of Amie Thomasson’s meta-ontology: that there are such things as analytic existence entailments. My task is made difficult by the fact that I can find in Thomasson’s work no examples of analytic existence entailments that strike me as actually having the features that such statements would have to have to do the work she wants them to do. Here is a sentence from Ordinary Objects that is supposed to be an example of an analytic existence entailment (‘analytic entailment’ means no more than that the conditional so described is an analytic proposition ; the “entailment” is from antecedent to consequent):
Don’t form beliefs on the basis of coin flips or random guesses. More generally, don’t take belief gambles: if a proposition is no more likely to be true than false given your total body of evidence, don’t go ahead and believe that proposition. Few would deny this seemingly innocuous piece of epistemic advice. But what, exactly, is wrong with taking belief gambles?
I’ve never been impressed with the argument that our conscious mental states just seem very different from physical states like neuronal firings. When teaching today, I thought of a reason why not to be impressed with the argument. …
I am excited to report that my new book, Neurofunctional Prudence and Morality: A Philosophical Theory, is now available from Routledge ($70 hardback, $12.50+ ebook). Anyone interested can preview the book’s introduction and part of Chapter 1 here at Google Books. …
New top story on Hacker News: My video interview with Lex Fridman (MIT) about philosophy and quantum computing – protipsss Says:
Comment #1 February 18th, 2020 at 12:27 am
[…] My video interview with Lex Fridman (MIT) about philosophy and quantum computing 4 by furcyd | 0 comments on Hacker News. …
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My video interview with Lex Fridman at MIT about philosophy and quantum computing »
My “Gil Kalai Was Wrong” 2020 World Speaking Tour
(An anonymous friend suggested the above title for what I’ve been doing all winter: traveling the world in response to various invitations to give talks about the theoretical foundations of quantum supremacy experiments, Google’s recent claimed achievement of quantum supremacy, and what it means for quantum computing’s future prospects. …
Parfit describes his task in Part Two of Reasons and Persons as a sustained attack on S, the Self-interest Theory. S makes its first appearance on the first page of the book, where Parfit says that ‘S gives to each person this aim: the outcomes that would be best for himself, and that would make his life go, for him, as well as possible’ (3). Restricting ourselves to evaluation of acts, S says that a person ought to perform act φ only if there is no alternative act ψ such that his life would go better, for him, if he were to ψ than if he were to φ. It bears emphasizing that S does not say that people ought to be selfish or egotistical, at least as we ordinarily understand these characteristics. One’s life might go best by having deep friendships, loving one’s children, and giving to charity. This can be true, albeit for different reasons, on any of the three kinds of theory of well-being that Parfit considers, namely hedonistic theories, desire-fulfilment theories, and objective list theories (Parfit discusses these theories in depth in Appendix I).