Philosophical Progress and blog posts found on 14 September 20192019-09-14T23:59:00Z2019-09-14T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2019-09-14://<b>: <a href="">It’s better to be ignorant of our moral enhancement: A reply to Zambrano</a></b> (pdf, 3832 words)<br /> <div>In a recent issue of <i>Bioethics</i>, I argue that compulsory moral bioenhancement should be administered covertly. Alexander Zambrano has criticized this argument on two fronts. First, contrary to my claim, Zambrano claims that the prevention of ultimate harm by covert moral bioenhancement fails to meet conditions for permissible liberty-restricting public health interventions. Second, contrary to my claim, Zambrano claims that covert moral bioenhancement undermines autonomy to a greater degree than does overt moral bioenhancement. In this paper, I rebut both of these arguments, then finish by noting important avenues of research that Zambrano’s arguments motivate.</div><br /> <b>Causation in Physics: <a href="">Causation in Physicalism</a></b> (doc, 9285 words)<br /> <div>It is widely thought that there is an important argument to be made that starts with premises taken from the science of physics and ends with the conclusion of physicalism. Maybe the argument isn’t decisive, and maybe physics isn’t univocal on the topic. Still, surely there is some sort of physics­based argument for physicalism to be made. My question in what follows is, just how should this argument go?</div><br /> <b>Cian Dorr: <a href="">Natural Properties</a></b> (html, 20763 words)<br /> <div>Consider the following pairs of properties. (As is common in the literature on this topic, this entry will use the words ‘property’ and ‘relation’ interchangeably. Properties in the usual sense are distinguished as “monadic”, and relations in the usual sense as “polyadic”.) <i>Column 1</i> <i>Column 2</i> being a triangle being a three-to-five sided figure none of whose sides is more than one-and-a-half times as long as any other intersecting at an angle of 90 degrees intersecting at an angle of 87 degrees being electrically charged being negatively charged and not part of a fish being composed entirely of carbon dioxide molecules being a cappucino being green being <i>grue</i> (Goodman 1954): either green and observed before a certain time \(t\) or blue and not observed before \(t\).</div><br /> <b>Daniel Lassiter: <a href="">What we can learn from how trivalent conditionals avoid triviality</a></b> (pdf, 6811 words)<br /> <div>A trivalent theory of indicative conditionals automatically enforces Stalnaker’s thesis— the equation between probabilities of conditionals and conditional probabilities. This result holds because the trivalent semantics requires, for principled reasons, a modification of the ratio definition of conditional probability in order to accommodate the possibility of undefinedness. I analyze precisely how this modification allows the trivalent semantics to avoid a number of well-known triviality results, in the process clarifying why these results hold for many bivalent theories. I suggest that the slew of triviality published in the last 40-odd years need not be viewed as an argument against Stalnaker’s thesis: it can be construed instead as an argument for abandoning the bivalent requirement that conditionals somehow be assigned a truth-value in worlds in which their antecedents are false.</div><br /> <b>Don A. Howard, Marco Giovanelli: <a href="">Einstein’s Philosophy of Science</a></b> (html, 14467 words)<br /> <div>Albert Einstein (1879–1955) is well known as the most prominent physicist of the twentieth century. His contributions to twentieth-century philosophy of science, though of comparable importance, are less well known. Einstein’s own philosophy of science is an original synthesis of elements drawn from sources as diverse as neo-Kantianism, conventionalism, and logical empiricism, its distinctive feature being its novel blending of realism with a holist, underdeterminationist form of conventionalism. Of special note is the manner in which Einstein’s philosophical thinking was driven by and contributed to the solution of problems first encountered in his work in physics.</div><br /> <b>Harjit Bhogal: <a href="">On Unexplained (Modal) Patterns</a></b> (pdf, 8525 words)<br /> <div>The aim of this paper is to give a simple argument against certain views of modality and then to explore a slightly more complicated response. The argument is based on the idea that some views of modality leave modal patterns unexplained, in a way that is inappropriate. These modal patterns <i>call out for explanation</i> and that’s a problem for theories that take them to be unexplained. The argument targets certain versions of modal primitivism, but also some non-primitivist views of modality, like Lewisian modal realism. In order to respond we have to deny that the modal patterns call out for explanation – their being unexplained is not a problem for the theory. This requires considering when patterns can reasonably be left unexplained and when they can’t. This is an extremely complicated question to answer in full generality, but, I argue, the answer depends upon the conception of explanation that we accept.</div><br /> <b>Harjit Bhogal: <a href="">Induction and the Glue of the World</a></b> (pdf, 11180 words)<br /> <div>Armstrong, along with many others, criticized Humean views for having a problem with induction. If there is no glue holding the world together, as the Humean believes, then there seems to be no basis on which to infer from past to future. However, Humeans have typically been unconcerned. After all, they say, <i>everyone</i> has a problem with induction. But, if we look at the connection between induction and explanation, we can develop the problem of induction in a way that hits the Humean, but not the anti-Humean. The Humean faces an ‘internal’ problem with induction – inductive skepticism naturally flows from their position in a way that it doesn’t for the anti- Humean. This is a major problem for the Humean, but I’ll end by suggesting a possible way that the Humean could respond – this response is based on larger considerations about what different theories can appropriately take as basic and unexplained.</div><br /> <b>J. Brian Pitts: <a href="">Historical and Philosophical Insights about General Relativity and Space-time from Particle Physics</a></b> (pdf, 5633 words)<br /> <div>Historians recently rehabilitated Einstein’s “physical strategy” for General Relativity (GR). Independently, particle physicists similarly re-derived Einstein’s equations for a massless spin 2 field. But why not a light massive spin 2, like Neumann and Seeliger did to Newton? Massive gravities are bimetric, supporting conventionalism over geometric empiricism. Nonuniqueness lets field equations explain geometry but not vice versa. Massive gravity would have blocked Schlick’s critique of Kant’s synthetic a priori. Finally in 1970 massive spin 2 gravity seemed unstable or empirically falsified. GR was vindicated, but later and on better grounds. However, recently dark energy and theoretical progress have made massive spin 2 gravity potentially viable again.</div><br /> <b>R. Hermens: <a href="">Completely real? A critical note on the claims by Colbeck and Renner</a></b> (pdf, 14017 words)<br /> <div>In a series of papers Colbeck and Renner (2011, 2015a,b) claim to have shown that the quantum state provides a complete description for the prediction of future measurement outcomes. In this paper I argue that thus far no solid satisfactory proof has been presented to support this claim. Building on the earlier work of Leifer (2014), Landsman (2015) and Leegwater (2016), I present and prove two results that only partially support this claim. I then discuss the arguments by Colbeck, Renner and Leegwater concerning how these results are to generalize to the full claim. This argument turns out to hinge on the implicit use of an assumption concerning the way unitary evolution is to be represented in any possible completion of quantum mechanics. I argue that this assumption is unsatisfactory and that possible attempts to validate it based on measurement theory also do not succeed.</div><br /> <b>Sebastien Rivat, Alexei Grinbaum: <a href="">Philosophical Foundations of Effective Field Theories</a></b> (pdf, 8323 words)<br /> <div>This survey covers some of the main philosophical debates raised by the framework of effective field theories during the last decades. It is centered on three issues: whether effective field theories underpin a specific realist picture of the world, whether they support an anti-reductionist picture of physics, and whether they provide reasons to give up the ultimate aspiration of formulating a final and complete physical theory. Reviewing the past and current literature, we argue that effective field theories do not give convincing reasons to adopt a particular stance towards these speculative issues. They hold good prospects for asking ontologically perspicuous and sensible questions about currently accessible domains. With respect to more fundamental questions, however, the only certainty is provisional and instrumental: effective theories are currently indispensable for conducting fruitful scientific research.</div><br /> <b>Sheila Rabin: <a href="">Nicolaus Copernicus</a></b> (html, 7545 words)<br /> <div>Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) was a mathematician and astronomer who proposed that the sun was stationary in the center of the universe and the earth revolved around it. Disturbed by the failure of Ptolemy’s geocentric model of the universe to follow Aristotle’s requirement for the uniform circular motion of all celestial bodies and determined to eliminate Ptolemy’s equant, an imaginary point around which the bodies seemed to follow that requirement, Copernicus decided that he could achieve his goal only through a heliocentric model. He thereby created a concept of a universe in which the distances of the planets from the sun bore a direct relationship to the size of their orbits.</div><br /> <b>Tengiz Iremadze: <a href="">Joane Petrizi</a></b> (html, 4568 words)<br /> <div>Joane Petrizi (12<sup>th</sup> century)—the most significant Georgian medieval philosopher—devoted intensive work to neo-Platonic philosophy. He translated Nemesius of Emesa’s <i>On the Nature of Man</i> into Georgian, a work which in that day attracted considerable attention. Of particular importance is his Georgian translation of Proclus’s <i>Elementatio theologica</i>, to which he also wrote a step-by-step commentary. Petrizi’s commentary on the <i>Elementatio theologica</i> represents a significant effort at reception inasmuch as the Georgian philosopher interprets the work immanently, that is, on the basis of Proclus’s philosophy itself.</div><br /> <b>Azimuth: <a href="">Oreskes on the Green New Deal</a></b> (html, 1005 words)<br /> <div>I’m going to try to post more short news items. For example, here’s a new book I haven’t read yet: • Naomi Klein On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, Simon and Schuster, 2019. I think she’s right when she says this: I feel confident in saying that a climate-disrupted future is a bleak and an austere future, one capable of turning all our material possessions into rubble or ash with terrifying speed. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 13 September 20192019-09-13T23:59:00Z2019-09-13T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2019-09-13://<b>: <a href="">On Mycorrhizal Individuality</a></b> (doc, 7991 words)<br /> <div>This paper argues that a plant together with the symbiotic fungus attached to its roots, a <i>mycorrhizal collective</i>, is an evolutionary individual, and further, that mycorrhizal individuality has important implications for evolutionary theory. Theoretical individuation is defended and then employed to show that mycorrhizal collectives function as <i>interactors</i> according to David Hull’s <i>replicator-interactor</i> model of evolution by natural selection, and because they have the potential to engage in <i>pseudo-vertical transmission</i>, mycorrhizal collectives also function as Darwinian individuals, according to Peter Godfrey-Smith’s <i>Darwinian Populations</i> model of evolution by natural selection. Mycorrhizae in nature usually connect the roots of multiple plants, so mycorrhizal individuality entails the existence of overlapping evolutionary individuals, and because the potential to engage in pseudo-vertical transmission comes in degrees, it follows that these overlapping evolutionary individuals also come in degrees. I suggest here that the degree of evolutionary individuality in a symbiotic collective corresponds to its probability of reproducing with vertical or pseudo-vertical transmission. This probability constitutes a fourth parameter of graded Darwinian individuality in collective reproducers and warrants an update to Godfrey-Smith’s 3D model.</div><br /> <b>Colin McLear: <a href="">Kant on Reflection and Virtue</a></b> (pdf, 6672 words)<br /> <div>In her book <i>Kant on Reflection and Virtue</i>, Melissa Merritt presents an extended defense of Kant’s “reflective ideal” against the objection that it is “precious, hyper-deliberate and repugnantly moralistic” (2). This defense is in part constituted by the articulation of a theory of cognitive virtue, which Merritt attributes to Kant. Merritt hopes that Kant’s statement that we have a “duty to reflect” (e.g. A261/B317) may be mitigated within the context of such a virtue theory. The requirement to reflect is not, as the “caricature” has it, that one must constantly step back and deliberate as to whether something is worth doing or accepting as true. Rather, “the requirement is to be met by putting one’s cognitive capacities to use in the right way, or in the right spirit: reflection can be adverbial, and it is not essentially episodic…what drives the development of cognitive and moral character is an essentially outward-directed interest in knowing” (206), which Merritt identifies with Kant’s conception of a “healthy human understanding.” This interpretation, she argues, allows the Kantian reflective ideal to avoid being overly demanding, and it helps explain how some kinds of cognitive activity that are not deliberate (at least as that term is typically understood) might nevertheless be justified or “cognitively excellent” (205).</div><br /> <b>Paul D. Thorn: <a href="'s%20Reference%20Class%20Problem%20(PREPRINT).pdf">A Formal Solution to Reichenbach’s Reference Class Problem</a></b> (pdf, 8004 words)<br /> <div>Following Reichenbach, it is widely held that in making a direct inference, one should base one’s conclusion on a relevant frequency statement concerning the most specific reference class for which one is able to make a warranted and relatively precise-valued frequency judgment. In cases where one has accurate and precise-valued frequency information for two relevant reference classes, R1 and R2, and one lacks accurate and precise-valued frequency information concerning their intersection, R R2, it is widely held, following Reichenbach, that no inference may be drawn. In contradiction to Reichenbach and the common wisdom, I argue for the view that it is often possible to draw a reasonable informative conclusion, in such circumstances. As a basis for drawing such a conclusion, I show that one is generally in a position to formulate a reasonable direct inference for a reference class that is more specific than either of R1 and R2.</div><br /> <b>Shane Steinert-Threlkeld, Jakub Szymanik: <a href="">Ease of Learning Explains Semantic Universals</a></b> (pdf, 8178 words)<br /> <div>Semantic universals are properties of meaning shared by the languages of the world. We offer an explanation of the presence of such universals by measuring simplicity in terms of ease of learning, showing that expressions satisfying universals are simpler than those that do not according to this criterion. We measure ease of learning using tools from machine learning and analyze universals in a domain of function words (quantifiers) and content words (color terms). Our results provide strong evidence that semantic universals across both function and content words reflect simplicity as measured by ease of learning.</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">The Phenomenal Basis of Epistemic Justification</a></b> (html, 1052 words)<br /> <div>This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Over the past three days, I’ve discussed the epistemic role of consciousness in perception, cognition, and introspection. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Multigrade relations</a></b> (html, 416 words)<br /> <div>One strategy for avoiding ontological commitment to sets is to deal with pluralities and multigrade relations. Multigrade relations are relations that can be had by a variable number of things. Instead of, say, saying of the books on my shelf that there is a set of them whose total number of pages is exactly 800, one says that there are xs such that each of them is a book on my shelf and the xs stand in the multigrade relation of jointly having 800 pages. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Informative characterizations</a></b> (html, 197 words)<br /> <div>It is hard to characterize an “informative characterization”. Here is an instructive illustration. Ned Markosian in his famous brutal composition paper says that an informative, or non-trivial, characterization of when the xs compose something is one that is not synonymous with the statement that the xs compose something. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Contrastive PSR</a></b> (html, 263 words)<br /> <div>In my Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) book, I defend a PSR that holds that every contingent truth has an explanation, but I do not defend a contrastive PSR. Many think this is a cop-out. But i makes sense to ask why it is that The moon is round and I don’t have an odd number of fingers. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 12 September 20192019-09-12T23:59:00Z2019-09-12T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2019-09-12://<b>Brett Calcott: <a href="">Further Clarification on Permissive and Instructive Causes</a></b> (pdf, 5060 words)<br /> <div>I respond to recent criticism of my analysis of the permissive-instructive distinction and outline problems with the alternative analysis on offer. Amongst other problems, I argue that the use of formal measures is unclear and unmotivated, that the distinction is conflated with others that are not equivalent, and that no good reasons are provided for thinking the alternative model or formal measure tracks what biologists are interested in. I also clarify my own analysis where it has been misunderstood or ignored.</div><br /> <b>Colin McLear: <a href="">On the Transcendental Freedom of the Intellect</a></b> (pdf, 35091 words)<br /> <div>As is well known, Kant holds that the applicability of the moral ‘ought’ depends on a kind of agent-causal freedom that is incompatible with the deterministic structure of phenomenal nature. I argue that Kant understands this determinism to threaten not just morality but the very possibility of our status as rational beings. Rational beings exemplify “cognitive control” in all of their actions, including not just rational willing and the formation of doxastic attitudes, but also more basic cognitive acts such as judging, conceptualizing, and synthesizing.</div><br /> <b>Filippo Ferrari: <a href="">Assessment Relativism</a></b> (pdf, 4987 words)<br /> <div>Assessment relativism, as developed by John MacFarlane, is the view that the truth of our claims involving a variety of English expressions—‘tasty’, ‘knows’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘might’, and ‘ought’—is relative not only to aspects of the context of their production but also to aspects of the context in which they are assessed. Assessment relativism is thus a form of truth relativism which is offered as a new way of understanding perspectival thought and talk. In this article, I present the main theses of assessment relativism, focusing in particular on highlighting the points of commonality and contrast with other forms of truth relativism. I then offer some critical remarks concerning the motivation of assessment relativism in relation to matters of taste.</div><br /> <b>Ingo Brigandt: <a href="">How Are Biology Concepts Used and Transformed?</a></b> (pdf, 9270 words)<br /> <div>Scientific knowledge (and its transformation) is often presented in terms of models or overarching theories (Parke this volume). This chapter, in contrast, focuses on <i>concepts</i> as units and organizers of scientific knowledge. Concepts, on the one hand, are more fine-grained units in that a scientific theory contains many individual concepts. On the other hand—and this makes a look at concepts in biology particularly interesting—a concept can be used across several theories, and it can persist even when a theory has been discarded. The concept of a species continues to be used well after pre-Darwinian theories about species were abandoned, and this concept is used across all of biology, in such different theoretical context as vertebrate development and microbial ecology. The gene concept is likewise used in very different fields, and has survived despite the flaws of the original Mendelian theory of inheritance and a move toward molecular accounts.</div><br /> <b>Jean Paul Van Bendegem: <a href="">Finitism in Geometry</a></b> (html, 12310 words)<br /> <div>In our representations of the world, especially in physics, (mathematical) infinities play a crucial role. The continuum of the real numbers, \(\Re\), as a representation of time or of one-dimensional space is surely the best known example and, by extension, the \(n\)-fold cartesian product, \(\Re^{n}\), for \(n\)-dimensional space. However, these same infinities also cause problems. One just has to think about Zeno’s paradoxes or the present-day continuation of that discussion, namely the discussion about supertasks, to see the difficulties (see the entry on supertasks in this encyclopedia for a full treatment).</div><br /> <b>Kenny Boyce: <a href="">Mathematical Surrealism as an Alternative to Easy-Road Fictionalism</a></b> (pdf, 10845 words)<br /> <div>Easy-road mathematical fictionalists grant for the sake of argument that quantification over mathematical entities is indispensable to some of our best scientific theories and explanations. Even so they maintain we can <i>accept</i> those theories and explanations, <i>without believing</i> their mathematical components, provided we believe the concrete world is intrinsically as it needs to be for those components to be true. Those I refer to as “mathematical surrealists” by contrast appeal to facts about the intrinsic character of the concrete world, not to explain why our best mathematically imbued scientific theories and explanations are acceptable in spite of having false components, but in order to <i>replace</i> those theories and explanations with parasitic, nominalistically acceptable alternatives. I argue that easy-road fictionalism is viable only if mathematical surrealism is and that the latter constitutes a superior nominalist strategy. Two advantages of mathematical surrealism are that it neither begs the question concerning the explanatory role of mathematics in science nor requires rejecting the cogency of inference to the best explanation.</div><br /> <b>Matteo Benocci: <a href="">Endurance and Parthood</a></b> (pdf, 64423 words)<br /> <div>This is a work in analytic metaphysics, which addresses a cluster of interrelated issues at the interface of mereology and persistence over time. In particular, it outlines a defence of a version of Endurance Theory according to which every enduring object is either a mereo-logical simple or a mere sum of mereological simples. It includes, among other things, a proposal of a new way of framing the debate between Endurance Theory and Four-Dimensionalism, a defence of Endurance Theory over Four-Dimensionalism, arguments against the existence of compound substances, and a defence of a traditional metaphysical atom-ism according to which all objects are ultimately made up of microscopic simples.</div><br /> <b>Mike D. Schneider: <a href="">Betting on future physics</a></b> (pdf, 11928 words)<br /> <div>The “Cosmological Constant Problem” (CCP) has historically been understood as describing a conflict between cosmological observations in the framework of general relativity (GR) and theoretical predictions from quantum field theory (QFT), which a future theory of quantum gravity ought to resolve. I argue that this view of the CCP is best understood in terms of a bet about future physics made on the basis of particular interpretational choices in GR and QFT respectively. Crucially, each of these choices must be taken as itself grounded in the success of the respective theory for this bet to be justified.</div><br /> <b>Ori Simchen: <a href="">Realism and Instrumentalism in Philosophical Explanation</a></b> (pdf, 12463 words)<br /> <div>There is a salient contrast in how theoretical representations are regarded. Some are regarded as revealing the nature of what they represent, as in familiar cases of theoretical identification in physical chemistry where water is represented as hydrogen hydroxide and gold is represented as the element with atomic number 79. Other theoretical representations are regarded as serving other explanatory aims without being taken individually to reveal the nature of what they represent, as in the representation of gold as a standard for pre-20<sup>th</sup> century monetary systems in economics or the representation of the meaning of an English sentence as a function from possible worlds to truth values in truth-conditional semantics. Call the first attitude towards a theoretical representation realist and the second attitude instrumentalist. Philosophical explanation purports to reveal the nature of whatever falls within its purview, so it would appear that a realist attitude towards its representations is a natural default. I offer reasons for skepticism about such default realism that emerge from attending to several case studies of philosophical explanation and drawing a general metaphilosophical moral from the foregoing discussion.</div><br /> <b>Rodica Condurache, Riccardo De Masellis, Valentin Goranko: <a href="">Dynamic multi-agent systems: conceptual framework, automata-based modelling and verification</a></b> (pdf, 8023 words)<br /> <div>We study dynamic multi-agent systems (dmass). These are multi-agent systems with explicitly dynamic features, where agents can join and leave the system during the evolution. We propose a general conceptual framework for modelling such dmass and argue that it can adequately capture a variety of important and representative cases. We then present a concrete modelling framework for a large class of dmass, composed in a modular way from agents specified by means of automata-based representations. We develop generic algorithms implementing the dynamic behaviour, namely addition and removal of agents in such systems. Lastly, we state and discuss several formal verification tasks that are specific for dmass and propose general algorithmic solutions for the class of automata representable dmass.</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">A Simple Theory of Introspection</a></b> (html, 1047 words)<br /> <div>This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Today, I’ll discuss the epistemic role of consciousness in introspection.What is introspection? &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Naturalism and property dualism</a></b> (html, 269 words)<br /> <div>It is generally taken that a view on which there are mental properties that do not supervene on the properties of physics is a non-naturalistic view: it is a form of property dualism. But now imagine that we find out that: There are chemical properties that do not supervene on the properties physics speaks of. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Ordinary language and "exists"</a></b> (html, 796 words)<br /> <div>In Material Beings, Peter van Inwagen argues that his view that there are no complex artifacts does not contradict (nearly?) universal human belief. The argument is based on his view that the propositions expressed by ordinary statements like “There are three valuable chairs in this room” do not entail the negation of the Radical Claim that there are no artifacts, for such a proposition does not entail that there exist chairs. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Creation and artifacts</a></b> (html, 274 words)<br /> <div>Analytic metaphysics is widely thought a dry discipline. I want to show how it could be used to connect with some deeply devotional theological claims. Here is a valid argument: If artifacts exist, we created them. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>D. G. Mayo's blog: <a href="">Gelman blogged our exchange on abandoning statistical significance</a></b> (html, 1330 words)<br /> <div>The philosopher wrote: The big move in the statistics wars these days is to fight irreplication by making it harder to reject, and find evidence against, a null hypothesis. Mayo is referring to, among other things, the proposal to “redefine statistical significance” as p less than 0.005. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>John Danaher's blog: <a href="">Are robots like animals? In Defence of the Animal-Robot Analogy</a></b> (html, 4662 words)<br /> <div> Via Rochelle Don on Flickr People dispute the ontological status of robots. Some insist that they are tools: objects created by humans to perform certain tasks — little more than sophisticated hammers. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 11 September 20192019-09-11T23:59:00Z2019-09-11T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2019-09-11://<b>Hallvard Lillehammer: <a href="">Autonomy, consent and the “non-ideal” case</a></b> (pdf, 7731 words)<br /> <div>In much of the recent literature on the subject, autonomy is interpreted as having the capacity and freedom to be the primary judge and executor of how one’s life goes (see e.g. Dworkin 1998; Dworkin 1994; Beauchamp and Childress 2008; Korsgaard 2009; Radoilska 2013). In the case of the normal and competent human adult - sometimes identified with the enfranchised citizen of a modern democratic state - our capacity for self-governance can be thought of as grounding a constraint on what other people (including the state and its representatives) can legitimately do to us, thereby providing a rationale for consent requirements of various sorts (see e.g. Estlund 2007). On this view, the failure to elicit my consent in the context of some specific interaction is to fail to respect me as the autonomous, and thereby normatively qualified, agent I am. One obvious limitation of this explanation is that the practice of constraining behaviour by eliciting consent extends far beyond the domain of agents who satisfy the standard requirements of autonomous, self governing, rational</div><br /> <b>Stephanie Leary: <a href="">What is Moorean Non-naturalism?</a></b> (pdf, 13341 words)<br /> <div>In <i>Principia Ethica,</i> G. E. Moore (1903) argued that <i>goodness</i> is a “non-natural” property and thereby sparked the so-called “naturalism vs. non-naturalism” debate in metaethics. This debate is still live, but unwell, today because, while much ink has been spilled defending both sides, there is a lack of consensus amongst parties to the debate (even within their own camps) about what exactly it would mean for normative properties to be non-natural in the first place<i>.</i> In fact, most naturalists and non-naturalists simply stipulate what they take “non-naturalism” to mean, rather than get bogged down in the tricky taxonomical question of what is the best way to characterize the view. For example, Jackson (1998), Shafer-Landau (2003), and Parfit (2011) stipulate that they take non-naturalism to be the view that some normative properties are <i>not identical</i> to descriptive properties, while Schroeder (2007), Chang (2013), Scanlon (2014), and Dunaway (2016) take non-naturalism to be the view that some normative facts are <i>not fully grounded in</i> – i.e. metaphysically explained by – non-normative facts.</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">Beliefs and Subdoxastic States</a></b> (html, 1118 words)<br /> <div>This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Today, I’ll discuss the epistemic role of consciousness in cognition.Could there be a cognitive zombie – that is, an unconscious creature with the capacity for cognition? &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 10 September 20192019-09-10T23:59:00Z2019-09-10T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2019-09-10://<b>Eleonore Neufeld: <a href=";idno=3521354.0019.035;format=pdf">An Essentialist Theory of the Meaning of Slurs</a></b> (pdf, 19189 words)<br /> <div>On New Year’s Eve 2016, the Cologne Police Department proudly reported via Twitter that it was currently screening hundreds of “nafris” at the main train station in Cologne. The label ‘nafri’, used by the police to refer to North Africans, had its (public) linguistic debut in this tweet, which was immediately followed by national moral outrage.</div><br /> <b>Emar Maier, Merel Semeijn: <a href="">Extracting fictional truth from unreliable sources</a></b> (pdf, 12406 words)<br /> <div>A fictional text is commonly viewed as constituting an invitation to play a certain game of make-believe, with the individual sentences written by the author providing the propositions we are to imagine and/or accept as true within the fiction. However, we can’t always take the text at face value. What narratologists call ‘unreliable narrators’ may present a confused or misleading picture of the fictional world. Meanwhile there has been a debate in philosophy about so-called ‘imaginative resistance’ in which we are inclined to resist imagining (or even accepting as true in the fiction) what’s explicitly stated in the text. But if we can’t take the text’s word for it, how do we determine what’s true in a fiction? We propose an account of fiction interpretation in a dynamic setting (a version of DRT with a mechanism for opening, updating, and closing temporary ‘workspaces’) and combine this framework with belief revision logic. With these tools in hand we turn to modelling imaginative resistance and unreliable narrators.</div><br /> <b>Francis Heylighen, Shima Beigi: <a href="">Mind outside Brain: a radically non-dualist foundation for distributed cognition</a></b> (pdf, 14364 words)<br /> <div>We approach the problem of the extended mind from a radically non-dualist perspective. The separation between mind and matter is an artefact of the outdated mechanistic worldview, which leaves no room for mental phenomena such as agency, intentionality, or experience. We propose to replace it by an action ontology, which conceives mind and matter as aspects of the same network of processes. By adopting the intentional stance, we interpret the catalysts of elementary reactions as agents exhibiting desires, intentions, and sensations. Autopoietic networks of reactions constitute more complex super-agents, which moreover exhibit memory, deliberation and sense-making. In the specific case of social networks, individual agents coordinate their actions via the propagation of challenges. The distributed cognition that emerges from this interaction cannot be situated in any individual brain. This non-dualist, holistic view extends and operationalizes process metaphysics and Eastern philosophies. It is supported by both mindfulness experiences and mathematical models of action, self-organization, and cognition.</div><br /> <b>Monima Chadha, Shaun Nichols: <a href=";idno=3521354.0019.038;format=pdf">Self-Conscious Emotions Without a Self</a></b> (pdf, 10396 words)<br /> <div>Certain metaphysical views are thought to have implications for the kinds of feelings that are appropriate to have. For instance, many philosophers maintain that we lack free will and that, as a result, reactive attitudes like resentment are inappropriate. Resentment would only be appropriate if people had genuine libertarian free will; since people lack such free will, we should not resent people even when they do us wrong (e.g., Pereboom 2001, Sommers 2007). Buddhist metaphysics also has implications for the kinds of reactive attitudes that are appropriate to have. Insofar as Buddhism denies the existence of a self, emotions that depend on a representation of self are based on a fundamental mistake.</div><br /> <b>Rodolfo Gambini, Jorge Pullin: <a href="">Physical requirements for models of consciousness</a></b> (pdf, 10670 words)<br /> <div>Consciousness presents a series of characteristics that have been observed throughout the years: unity, continuity, richness and robustness are some of them. It manifests itself in regions of the brain capable of processing a huge quantity of integrated information with a level of neural activity close to criticality. We argue that the physics of consciousness cannot be exclusively based on classical physics. Consciousness unity cannot be explained classically as the classical properties are always Humean like a mosaic. One needs an entangled quantum system that can at least satisfy part of the functions of a quantum computer to allow to generate an inner aspect with the unity of consciousness and to couple with a classical system that gives it simultaneous access to preprocessed information at the neural level and to produce events that generate neural firings.</div><br /> <b>William Roche, Elliott Sober: <a href=";idno=3521354.0019.040;format=pdf">Conduciveness and Observation Selection Effects</a></b> (pdf, 16069 words)<br /> <div>It is widely recognized that the process used to make observations often has a significant effect on how hypotheses should be evaluated in light of those observations. Arthur Stanley Eddington (1939, Ch. II) provides a classic example. You’re at a lake and are interested in the size of the fish it contains. You know, from testimony, that at least some of the fish in the lake are big (i.e., at least 10 inches long), but beyond that you’re in the dark. You devise a plan of attack: get a net and use it to draw a sample of fish from the lake. You carry out your plan and observe: O : 100% of the fish in the net are big.</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">Blindsight and Super-Blindsight</a></b> (html, 1256 words)<br /> <div>This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Today, I’ll discuss the epistemic role of consciousness in perception.Human perception is normally conscious: there is something it is like for us to perceive the world around us. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Anselm's ontological argument</a></b> (html, 200 words)<br /> <div>Here is my favorite version of the “existence is not a property” objection to Anselm’s first ontological argument. It makes no sense to talk of the greatness of a nonexistent being except hypothetically as the greatness it would have if it existed. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Ethics and complexity</a></b> (html, 390 words)<br /> <div>Here is a picture of ethics. We are designed to operate with a specific algorithm A for generating imperatives from circumstances. Unfortunately, we are broken in two ways: we don’t always follow the generated imperatives and we don’t always operate by means of A. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 09 September 20192019-09-09T23:59:00Z2019-09-09T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2019-09-09://<b>Christopher J. G. Meacham: <a href="">Difference Minimizing Theory</a></b> (pdf, 15507 words)<br /> <div>Standard decision theory has trouble handling cases involving acts without finite expected values. This paper has two aims. First, building on earlier work by Colyvan (2008), Easwaran (2014), and Lauwers &amp; Vallentyne (2016), it develops a proposal for dealing with such cases, Difference Minimizing Theory. Difference Minimizing Theory provides satisfactory verdicts in a broader range of cases than its predecessors. And it vindicates two highly plausible principles of standard decision theory, Stochastic Equivalence and Stochastic Dominance. The second aim is to assess some recent arguments against Stochastic Equivalence and Stochastic Dominance. If successful, these arguments refute Difference Minimizing Theory. This paper contends that these arguments are not successful.</div><br /> <b>Gregor P. Greslehner: <a href="">A dual decomposition strategy of both microbial and phenotypic components for a better understanding of causal claims</a></b> (pdf, 2225 words)<br /> <div>In our commentary on Lynch et al.’s target paper (2019, this issue), we focus on decomposition as a research strategy. We argue that not only the presumptive microbial causes but also their supposed phenotypic effects need to be decomposed relative to each other. Such a dual decomposition strategy ought to improve the way in which causal claims in microbiome research can be made and understood.</div><br /> <b>Tommaso Piazza: <a href="">The Value of Truth and the Normativity of Evidence</a></b> (pdf, 13132 words)<br /> <div>To say that evidence is normative is to say that what evidence one possesses, and how this evidence relates to any proposition, determines which attitude among believing, disbelieving and withholding one ought to take toward this proposition if one deliberates about whether to believe it. It has been suggested by McHugh that this view can be vindicated by resting on the premise that truth is epistemically valuable. In this paper, I modify the strategy sketched by McHugh so as to overcome the initial difficulty that it is unable to vindicate the claim that on counterbalanced evidence with respect to P one ought to conclude deliberation by withholding on P. However, I describe the more serious difficulty that this strategy rests on principles whose acceptance commits one to acknowledging non-evidential reasons for believing. A way to overcome this second difficulty, against the evidentialists who deny this, is to show that we sometimes manage to believe on the basis of non-epistemic considerations. If this is so, one fundamental motivation behind the evidentialist idea that non-epistemic considerations could not enter as reasons in deliberation would lose its force. In the second part of this paper I address several strategies proposed in the attempt to show that we sometimes manage to believe on the basis of non-epistemic considerations and show that they all fail. So, I conclude that the strategy inspired by McHugh to ground the normativity of evidence of the value of truth ultimately fails.</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">The Mental Lives of Zombies</a></b> (html, 1332 words)<br /> <div>This week, I’m blogging about my new book, The Epistemic Role of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, September 2019). Thanks to John Schwenkler for hosting me. Today, I’ll start by situating the project of the book within a broader landscape in the philosophy of mind.What is the role of phenomenal consciousness in our mental lives? &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Ten varieties of contrastive explanation</a></b> (html, 423 words)<br /> <div>In connection with free will, quantum mechanics or divine creation it is useful to talk about contrastive explanation. But there is no single generally accepted concept of contrastive explanation, and what one says about these topics varies depending on the chosen concept. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Scott Aaronson's blog: <a href="">Paul Bernays Lectures</a></b> (html, 952 words)<br /> <div>« A rare classified ad Paul Bernays Lectures Last week, I had the honor of giving the annual Paul Bernays Lectures at ETH Zürich. My opening line: “as I look at the list of previous Bernays Lecturers—many of them Nobel physics laureates, Fields Medalists, etc.—I think to myself, how badly did you have to screw up this year in order to end up with me?” Paul Bernays was the primary assistant to David Hilbert, before Bernays (being Jewish by birth) was forced out of Göttingen by the Nazis in 1933. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 08 September 20192019-09-08T23:59:00Z2019-09-08T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2019-09-08://<b>Alexandre Costa-Leite: <a href="">Oppositions in a Line Segment</a></b> (pdf, 3265 words)<br /> <div>Traditional oppositions are at least two-dimensional in the sense that they are built based on a famous bidimensional object called square of oppositions and on one of its extensions such as Blanche’s hexagon. Instead of two-dimensional objects, this article proposes a construction to deal with oppositions in a one-dimensional line segment.</div><br /> <b>Luis Oliveira: <a href="">Evading the Doxastic Puzzle by Deflating Epistemic Normativity</a></b> (pdf, 9283 words)<br /> <div>About 30 years ago, William Alston (1988) penned the <i>locus classicus</i> for a puzzle that is at the heart of contemporary debates on epistemic normativity. Alston’s puzzle, in short, comes from realizing that the most natural way of understanding talk of epistemic justification seems to be in tension with the limited control we have over our belief formation. In this paper, I want to clarify and expand this puzzle, as well as examine the nature and full consequences of a deflationary approach to its resolution.</div><br />