Stacie Friend raises a problem of “co-identification” involving fictional names such as ‘Hamlet’ or ‘Odysseus’: how to explain judgments that different uses of these names are “about the same object”, on the assumption of irrealism about fictional characters on which such expressions do not refer. To deal with this issue, she contrasts a Kripke-inspired “name-centric” approach, pursued among others by Sainsbury, with an Evans-inspired “info-centric” approach, which she prefers. The approach is motivated by her rejection of descriptivist ways of dealing with the problem. In this paper, I rely on the presuppositional, reference-fixing form of descriptivism I favor for the semantics of names, and I explain how it helps us deal with Friend's problem, which I take to concern primarily the semantic contribution of names to ascriptions of representational content to fictions. The result is a form of the “name-centric” sort of approach that Friend rejects, which can (I'll argue) stand her criticisms.
Now we have seen that in forming a state the power of making laws must either be vested in the body of the citizens, or in a portion of them, or in one man. For, although mens free judgments are very diverse, each one thinking that he alone knows everything, and although complete unanimity of feeling and speech is out of the question, it is impossible to preserve peace, unless individuals abdicate their right of acting entirely on their own judgment. …
Michel Foucault (1926–1984) was a French historian and
philosopher, associated with the structuralist and post-structuralist
movements. He has had strong influence not only (or even primarily) in
philosophy but also in a wide range of humanistic and social
I feel uneasy stepping into the great territories opened up by Nancy Moules (2017) and Kate Beamer (2017) at the tail end of last year’s Journal of Applied Hermeneutics. It is not (yet) a territory I have endured as deeply. That bracketed “yet” is little more than a feeble attempt at trying to remember not to forget what surrounds us all, whatever its proximity. There is no real refuge out of the sight-lines of impermanence, death, and grief. A shuddering thought, that this makes persistent and practiced mindfulness of these sight-lines the only reliable refuge. It is no accident that contemporary hermeneutics, in its ventures to speak about our living circumstances, is inevitably surrounded by penumbras of finitude and its ins and outs, and how, or whether, or to what extent, I have come to live with this inevitably.
Gómez-Torrente advances a methodological argument in favor of the “disquotational”, Tarski-inspired theory of pure quotation, DT, which he has been contributing to make the perhaps most widely supported view in recent years, against all other theories including the Davidsonian, demonstrative Deferred Ostension DO view that I myself favor. He argues that they all make quotation “an eccentric or anomalous phenomenon” (op. cit., 353). In this paper I aim to turn the methodological tables on him. I will reply to Gómez-Torrente’s objections to DO, and I will show that DT fares no better on the data he brings to bear. To tip the scale, I will show that, unlike DO, DT creates a division in the interpretation of quotations for which its proponents have not given any good support, by distinguishing those which semantically refer to their intuitive referents, and those which merely speaker-refer to them. I’ll conclude that DO still affords the “loveliest” explanations.
This paper aims to build a bridge between two areas of philosophical research, the structure of kinds and metaphysical modality. Our central thesis is that kinds typically involve super-explanatory properties, and that these properties lie behind all substantial cases of metaphysical necessity.
Consciousness raises a range of philosophical questions. We can distinguish between the How?, Where?, and What? questions. First, how does consciousness relate to other features of reality? Second, where are conscious phenomena located in reality? And, third, what is the nature of consciousness?
Logical monists and pluralists disagree about how many correct logics there are; the monists say there is just one, the pluralists that there are more. Could it turn out that both are wrong, and that there is no logic at all? Such a view might with justice be called logical nihilism and here I’ll assume a particular gloss on what that means: nihilism is the view that there are no laws of logic, so that all candidates—e.g. the law of excluded middle, modus ponens, disjunctive syllogism et. al.—fail. Nihilism might sound absurd, but the view has come up in recent discussions of logical pluralism. Some pluralists have claimed that different logics are correct for different kinds of case, e.g. classical logic for consistent cases and paraconsistent logics for dialethic ones. Monists have responded by appealing to a principle of generality for logic: a law of logic must hold for absolutely all cases, so that it is only those principles that feature in all of the pluralist’s systems that count as genuine laws of logic. The pluralist replies that the monist’s insistence on generality collapses monism into nihilism, because, they maintain, every logical law fails in some cases.
The rapid expansion of psychological research on unconscious processes has brought with it a similar expansion in philosophical discussions of what to make of these processes. One such discussion has asked whether we can be responsible for actions produced by unconscious processes – whether we should be praised or blamed for them. A venerable view holds conscious intentions to be necessary for agency and action. This straightforwardly rules out behaviours caused by unconscious processes as instances of responsibility-apt action. Levy (2014) provides perhaps the most comprehensive argument for this point, but it is often implicitly assumed. In fact, many arguments nominally aimed at supporting the claim that we can be responsible for automatically produced actions do so by tracing a relation between the unconscious process and some conscious process such that conscious processing is still really shouldering the weight (Wigley 2007, Levy and Bayne 2004) or advocating externalism about responsibility for unconscious action (Washington and Kelly 2016).
Berkeley’s ‘master argument’ for idealism has been the subject of extensive criticism. Two of his strongest critics, A.N. Prior and J.L. Mackie, argue that due to various logical confusions on the part of Berkeley, the master argument fails to establish his idealist conclusion. Prior (1976) argues that Berkeley’s argument ‘proves too little’ in its conclusion, while Mackie (1964) contends that Berkeley confuses two different kinds of self-refutation in his argument. In this paper, I put forward a defence of the master argument based on intuitionistic logic. I argue that, analysed along these lines, Prior’s and Mackie’s criticisms fail to undermine Berkeley’s argument.
Aesthetic attitude theories suggest we must attend disinterestedly to the properties of objects to experience aesthetic delight in them: we view them without regard to their use for us. Bence Nanay’s recent revival of the concept explains it through the distribution of our attention over the many properties of individual objects. While agreeing with Nanay’s approach, I argue such perception presupposes certain intentionality towards the object in the Fregean-Husserlian sense. Whether we see the same object as informative or aesthetically gratifying depends on whether we understand it as, say, a map or as a work of design or art. Furthermore, intending an object as aesthetic means we treat it as internally coherent: its properties are defined in relation to one another, rather than the purposes of a subject. This, I conclude, even affects the presentation of historical or moral values that obviously originate outside the object of aesthetic appreciation.
1. We express our personality by what we say and by what we do. 1.1 What we say we say with words...
1.2 What we do, we do in many ways, and these ways "show" a personality. 1.21 "Style" is a word sometimes used to describe this. …
In several recent papers, Daniel Deasy has argued that the presentism-eternalism debate is unclear and should be abandoned. According to Deasy, there is no way of spelling out the predicate ‘is present’ that leads to a satisfactory definition of presentism: on some interpretations, presentism turns out to be compatible with eternalism, on others, it is clearly false or unacceptable for other reasons. The aim of this paper is to show that this line of argument should be resisted: if the predicate ‘is present’ is spelled out in terms of where things are located, the result is a definition of presentism that is neither compatible with eternalism nor clearly false. There is thus no need to abandon the debate between presentists and eternalists.
This is a critical discussion of Paul Humphreys’s fusion view of emergence, focusing on the basal loss feature of his ontology. The discussion yields some general morals for special science ontology. 1. Introduction. In a series of papers (1996, 1997a, 1997b, and 2000), Paul Humphreys presents an original vision of what special science ontology might be. Humphreys’s speculative proposal—call it fusion emergentism— is based on “taking singular interactions [‘fusions’] as the basis of one form of emergentism” (Humphreys 1996, 53). What is most distinctive in fusion emergentism is Humphreys’s property fusion operation, which takes property instances (at the ith level) and generates an emergent property instance (at the i ⫹ 1st level) with novel causal powers. When property instances at the generating ith level are fused, the individual property instances are destroyed and are nonindividuable within the emergent fusion existing at the i ⫹ 1st level. Call this the basal loss feature of fusion emergentism.
Whereas Bayesians have proposed norms such as probabilism, which requires immediate and permanent certainty in all logical truths, I propose a framework on which credences, including credences in logical truths, are rational because they are based on reasoning that follows plausible rules for the adoption of credences. I argue that my proposed framework has many virtues. In particular, it resolves the problem of logical omniscience.
This edition of the newsletter continues a focus on pedagogy and outreach—of teaching Native American and Indigenous philosophy and of creating supports for Native American and other underrepresented students so that more see college and further study of philosophy as live options for themselves.
The interlude in the Theaetetus was a seminal text for Plotinus, who endorsed both Socrates’ conception of the ideal of god-likeness (ὁμοίωσις θεῷ) and his claim that evil would “inevitably haunt mortal nature.” (176a7-8) However, in so far as the interlude raised more questions than could be addressed in what would become ten Stephanus pages, Plotinus reinterpreted the Socratic claims and integrated them in the framework of his emanative ontology. The god to whom we are to make ourselves “like” became the hypostasis Intellect and the archetypes of virtue therein; virtue became the state of embodied human souls who activate the traces of the Forms within themselves; and contemplation became the focus of the best life for a human being to lead. As for the claim that evil would forever stalk human nature, which Socrates had left vague and unsupported, it led Plotinus to formulate a highly complex theory of matter as metaphysical evil and indirect source of moral evil. Plotinus’ conception of both virtue and vice, it will be argued, is a form of moral realism avant la lettre.
Society’s relationship with modern animal farming is an ambivalent one: on the one hand there is rising criticism about modern animal farming; on the other hand people appreciate certain aspects of it, such as increased food safety and low food prices. This ambivalence reflects the two faces of modernity: the negative (exploitation of nature and loss of traditions) and the positive (progress, convenience, and efficiency). This article draws on a national survey carried out in the Netherlands that aimed at gaining a deeper understanding about the acceptance of modern dairy farming in Dutch society. People take two dimensions into account when evaluating different aspects of modern dairy farming: (1) the way living beings are used for production and (2) the way a dairy farm functions as a business.
A philosophical tradition from Dilthey (1883/1989) to Nagel (1986) sees an important distinction between the methods of the natural sciences and the methods of the social sciences, where the phrase ‘social sciences’ is broadly interpreted so as to include sociology, economics, political theory, anthropology, literary criticism, history, and psychology. According to this tradition, the natural sciences explain phenomena by exhibiting them as instances of orderly patterns, hierarchies of classification, and laws, whereas the social sciences typically require something more, namely, an understanding of meaning, including what actions and experience mean to a person from the inside. We can understand physics or chemistry without knowing what it is like to be an electron, but we cannot fully understand what people are doing or saying unless we have an understanding of how things are for them.
Despite an enormous philosophical literature on models in science, surprisingly little has been written about data models and how they are constructed. In this paper, I examine the case of how paleodiversity data models are constructed from the fossil data. In particular, I show how paleontologists are using various model-based techniques to correct the data. Drawing on this research, I argue for the following related theses: First, the 'purity' of a data model is not a measure of its epistemic reliability. Instead it is the fidelity of the data that matters. Second, the fidelity of a data model in capturing the signal of interest is a matter of degree. Third, the fidelity of a data model can be improved 'vicariously', such as through the use of post hoc model-based correction techniques. And, fourth, data models, like theoretical models, should be assessed as adequate (or inadequate) for particular purposes.
We assess the arguments for recognising functionally integrated multi-species consortia as genuine biological individuals, including cases of so-called ‘holobionts’. We provide two examples in which the same core biochemical processes that sustain life are distributed across a consortium of individuals of different species. Although the same chemistry features in both examples, proponents of the holobiont as unit of evolution would recognize one of the two cases as a multi-species individual whilst they would consider the other as a compelling case of ecological dependence between separate individuals. Some widely used arguments in support of the ‘holobiont’ concept apply equally to both cases, suggesting that those arguments have misidentified what is at stake when seeking to identify a new level of biological individuality. One important aspect of biological individuality is evolutionary individuality. In line with other work on the evolution of individuality, we show that our cases can be distinguished by focusing on the fitness alignment between the partners of the consortia. We conclude that much of the evidence currently presented for the ubiquity and importance of multi-species individuals is simply not to the point, at least unless the issue of biological individuality is firmly divorced from the question of evolutionary individuality.
In the societal tradeoffs problem, each agent perceives certain quantitative tradeoffs between pairs of activities, and the goal is to aggregate these tradeoffs across agents. This is a problem in social choice; specifically, it is a type of quantitative judgment aggregation problem. A natural rule for this problem was axiomatized by Conitzer et al. [AAAI 2016]; they also provided several algorithms for computing the outcomes of this rule. In this paper, we present a significantly improved algorithm and evaluate it experimentally. Our algorithm is based on a tight connection to minimum-cost flow that we exhibit. We also show that our algorithm cannot be improved without breakthroughs on min-cost flow.
In this paper I critically evaluate Reisman and Forber’s (Philos Sci 72(5):1113–1123, 2005) arguments that drift and natural selection are population-level causes of evolution based on what they call the manipulation condition. Although I agree that this condition is an important step for identifying causes for evolutionary change, it is insufficient. Following Woodward, I argue that the invariance of a relationship is another crucial parameter to take into consideration for causal explanations. Starting from Reisman and Forber’s example on drift and after having briefly presented the criterion of invariance, I show that once both the manipulation condition and the criterion of invariance are taken into account, drift, in this example, should better be understood as an individual-level rather than a population-level cause. Later, I concede that it is legitimate to interpret natural selection and drift as population-level causes when they rely on genuinely indeterministic events and some cases of frequency-dependent selection.
. Excerpts from the Preface:
The Statistics Wars:
Today’s “statistics wars” are fascinating: They are at once ancient and up to the minute. They reflect disagreements on one of the deepest, oldest, philosophical questions: How do humans learn about the world despite threats of error due to incomplete and variable data? …
Primitives are both important and unavoidable, and which set of primitives we endorse will greatly shape our theories and how those theories provide solutions to the problems that we take to be important. After introducing the notion of a primitive posit, I discuss the different kinds of primitives that we might posit. Following Cowling (2013), I distinguish between ontological and ideological primitives, and, following Benovsky (2013) between functional and content views of primitives. I then propose that these two distinctions cut across each other leading to four types of primitive posits. I then argue that theoretical virtues should be taken to be meta-theoretical ideological primitives. I close with some reflections on the global nature of comparing sets of primitives.
The rise and fall of spectators performing “the wave” in a football stadium offers an analogy for how brain waves ripple across the cortex and lower brain. In both, the underlying actors (humans, neurons) serve multiple roles. First, in the stadium, each spectator dutifully passes along each wave to his neighbors. Second, any motivated spectator can initiate his own wave and enlist his neighbors’ support to broadcast it to the rest of the stadium. Third, a spectator can perceive incoming waves, and retain a memory of historical wave patterns (frequency and amplitude changes) in his local, private notebook. Fourth, a spectator can scour his library of existing notebooks (assuming he has these with him) to compare new incoming wave patterns with legacy patterns. Fifth, a spectator can assign himself a unique name within the stadium. Sixth, a spectator can broadcast (via waves) an inquiry to any other spectator in the stadium and receive a reply, addressing the other spectator by their unique name. Seventh, a spectator can train himself to learn more specifics and subtleties about his environment and make this skill available to any other spectator who requests it.
Olympiodorus of Alexandria, presumably a late pupil of Ammonius Hermeiou,
the commentator on Aristotle and teacher of Simplicius and Philoponus,
was one of the last pagans to teach philosophy at the school of
Alexandria in the 6th century. In his lectures, he
interpreted classical philosophical texts, mainly by Plato and
Aristotle; we still possess three of his commentaries on Plato and two
on Aristotle. At times, these seem to be carefully crafted pieces of
pedagogy, but at other times they read more like transcripts drawn up
by one of the students. Although Olympiodorus comes across as a
learned man and guardian of traditional paideia, both
literary and philosophical, his œuvre compares unfavorably, from
a philosophical standpoint, with commentaries written by either
Ammonius or Olympiodorus’ contemporaries such as Simplicius and John
We show that combining two different hypothetical enhancements to quantum computation— namely, quantum advice and non-collapsing measurements—would let a quantum computer solve any decision problem whatsoever in polynomial time, even though neither enhancement yields extravagant power by itself. This complements a related result due to Raz. The proof uses locally decodable codes.
My student Brandon Coya has finished his thesis! • Brandon Coya, Circuits, Bond Graphs, and Signal-Flow Diagrams: A Categorical Perspective, Ph.D. thesis, U. C. Riverside, 2018. It’s about networks in engineering. …
« The stupidest story I ever wrote (it was a long flight)
PDQP/qpoly = ALL
I’ve put up a new paper. Unusually for me these days, it’s a very short and simple one (8 pages)—I should do more like this! Here’s the abstract:
We show that combining two different hypothetical enhancements to quantum computation—namely, quantum advice and non-collapsing measurements—would let a quantum computer solve any decision problem whatsoever in polynomial time, even though neither enhancement yields extravagant power by itself. …