Philosophical Progress and blog posts found on 25 January 20212021-01-25T23:59:00Z2021-01-25T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-01-25://<b>Alex Kaiserman: <a href="'Pie%20Fallacy'.pdf">Responsibility and the ‘Pie Fallacy’</a></b> (pdf, 10633 words)<br /> <div><b></b>Much of our ordinary thought and talk about responsibility exhibits what I call the ‘pie fallacy’ – the fallacy of thinking that there is a fixed amount of responsibility for every outcome, to be distributed among all those, if any, who are responsible for it. The pie fallacy is a fallacy, I argue, because how responsible an agent is for some outcome is <i>fully grounded</i> in facts about the agent, the outcome and the relationships between them; it does not depend, in particular, on how responsible anyone else is for that same outcome. In this paper, I explore how the pie fallacy can arise by considering several different kinds of case in which two or more agents are responsible for the same outcome. I’ll end with some brief remarks on the potential consequences of my arguments for how to think about responsibility in war.</div><br /> <b>Alex Kaiserman: <a href="">Alternative possibilities in context</a></b> (pdf, 7414 words)<br /> <div><b></b>Frankfurt cases are often presented as counterexamples to the principle that one is morally responsible for one’s action only if one could have acted otherwise. But ‘could have acted otherwise’ is context-sensitive; it’s therefore open to a proponent of this principle to reply that although there is a salient sense in which agents in Frankfurt-style cases couldn’t have acted otherwise, there’s another, different sense in which they could have, and it is this latter sense which is relevant to what we are morally responsible for doing. In this paper, I will evaluate the prospects of this contextualist response. I will argue that despite some initial signs of promise, the response fails, for reasons that were clearly anticipated in Frankfurt’s original paper.</div><br /> <b>Alex Worsnip: <a href="">Making Space for the Normativity of Coherence</a></b> (pdf, 13721 words)<br /> <div>Some patterns of attitudes (and absences thereof) don’t fit together right, in a distinctive sort of way: they are jointly <i>incoherent</i>. Examples include inconsistent beliefs, cyclical preferences, failures to intend the means to one’s ends, and various forms of akrasia. Very plausibly, such incoherent combinations of states are irrational. (The particular kind of irrationality that they involve is often labelled <i>structural</i> irrationality.) Also very plausibly, facts about what is rational or irrational have normative significance – roughly, that is, they at least have some bearing on what attitudes we <i>ought</i> to have (or get ourselves to have).</div><br /> <b>Derek Baker: <a href="">Deflating the Many Attitudes Problem 1</a></b> (pdf, 8432 words)<br /> <div>Attitudinal embeddings, such as ‘I hope that murder is wrong’ or ‘she is glad that eating meat is not wrong’ are a less substantial problem for expressivists than is standardly thought. If expressivists are entitled to talk of normative beliefs, they can explain what it is to for an attitude to be semantically related to a normative content in terms of being functionally related to a belief with a normative content.</div><br /> <b>Grant Ramsey, Hugh Desmond: <a href="">Philosophy of Biology</a></b> (pdf, 13544 words)<br /> <div>Philosophy of biology is a branch of philosophy of science that centers on philosophical issues concerning biology. While philosophical interest in biology has a long history, philosophy of biology as semi-autonomous discipline originated in the 1970s, with an international society (the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology) and dedicated academic journals from the 1980s onward. One of the original motivations for pursuing a philosophy of biology was in reaction to the dominant focus on physics in philosophy of science, where the treatment of topics such as “explanation” and “laws” was felt to be unsatisfactory in the context of biology. For example, many explanations in physics involve general laws, but biology involves few if any basic laws. Thus, philosophy of biology informs and provides a context for larger questions in the philosophy of science. However, a lot of work in the philosophy of biology is pursued independently of problems in the general philosophy of science. Such work concerns issues specific to biology, and such accounts are not always generalizable. From its inception, philosophy of biology has been heavily focused on philosophy of evolutionary biology. This, among other reasons, reflects both the central place of evolution within biology, and the implications that evolution has for traditional philosophical topics, such as morality and human nature. However, over the decades, philosophy of biology has branched out to other domains, such as microbiology and ecology. A development that has run in parallel to this growth has been the increasing collaboration between philosophers and biologists. Such collaboration has become increasingly common in areas at the frontier of research, such as the topics concerning the extended synthesis. As a consequence, philosophical work has often become more focused on specific conceptual problems directly relevant for empirical practice, producing more tailor-made accounts that are not easily generalizable.</div><br /> <b>Marta Rocchi, David Thunder: <a href="">Can a Good Person be a Good Trader? An Ethical Defense of Financial Trading</a></b> (pdf, 13029 words)<br /> <div>In a 2015 article entitled “The Irrelevance of Ethics,” MacIntyre argues that acquiring the moral virtues would undermine someone’s capacity to be a good trader in the financial system and, conversely, that a proper training in the virtues of good trading directly militates against the acquisition of the moral virtues. In this paper, we reconsider MacIntyre’s rather damning indictment of financial trading, arguing that his negative assessment is overstated. The financial system is in fact more internally diverse and dynamic, and more reformable, than suggested by MacIntyre’s treatment. The challenge at the heart of MacIntyre’s claims can be crystallized in the question, “under which conditions, if any, can a person be an effective trader and simultaneously live a worthy human life?” We conclude that there are realistic possibilities of integrity and growth in moral virtue for those who work in the financial sector, at least for those operating in a work environment minimally permissive toward virtue, provided they possess characters of integrity and genuine aptitude for the skills and attitudes required in their professional tasks.</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">Cognitive Control: An Introduction</a></b> (html, 992 words)<br /> <div>The flexibility of human behaviorIn the early part of 2020, millions of people around the world radically altered their daily behavior in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We acquired new means of remote work, collaboration, and learning. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Killing and letting die</a></b> (html, 110 words)<br /> <div>It is murder to disconnect a patient who can only survive with a ventilator without consent and in order to inherit from them. Every murder is a killing. So, it is a killing to disconnect a patient who can only survive with a ventilator without consent and in order to inherit from them. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Learning whether p by bringing it about that p</a></b> (html, 391 words)<br /> <div>Alice is driving to an appointment she doesn’t care much about. She is, however, curious whether she will arrive on time. To satisfy her curiosity, she stops driving, since she knows that if she stops driving, she won’t arrive on time. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 24 January 20212021-01-24T23:59:00Z2021-01-24T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-01-24://<b>Alex Voorhoeve: <a href="">The Pleasures of Tranquillity</a></b> (pdf, 6710 words)<br /> <div>Epicurus posited that the best life involves the greatest pleasures. He also argued that it involves attaining tranquillity. Commentators from Aristippus of Cyrene to Ken Binmore have expressed scepticism that these two claims are compatible. For, they argue, Epicurus’ tranquil life is so austere that it is hard to see how it could be maximally pleasurable. Here, I offer an Epicurean account of the pleasures of tranquillity. I also consider different ways of valuing lives from a hedonistic point of view. Benthamite hedonists value lives by the sum of pleasures minus the sum of pains, weighted by intensity and duration. Meanwhile, Binmore proposes that Epicurus valued lives by their worst episode. In contrast, I offer an Epicurean argument for why the best life is one in which a person attains tranquillity and tastes its pleasures until death.</div><br /> <b>Artūrs Logins: <a href="">How to Argue with a Pragmatist</a></b> (pdf, 6169 words)<br /> <div>According to Recently Popular Pragmatist Views It May Be Rational for One to Believe P When One’s Evidence Doesn’T Favour P Over Not-P. This May Happen According to Pragmatists in Situations Where One Can Gain Something Practically Important Out of Believing P. In This Paper I Argue That Given Some Independently Plausible Assumptions About the Argumentative Nature of Philosophy and the Irrelevance of Bribes for Good Arguments, Pragmatism Leads to a Contradiction. Key Words: Reasons to Believe; Evidentialism; Pragmatism; Arguments; Methodology; Rationality; Belief; Pragmatic Reasons.</div><br /> <b>Elanor Taylor: <a href="">Backing Without Realism</a></b> (pdf, 10575 words)<br /> <div>One well-established way to make metaphysical claims is to use facts about explanation as a guide to facts about metaphysics. For example, some grounding theorists have argued that from the fact that there are non-causal explanations, it follows that there is a non-causal form of metaphysical determination. In debates about emergence, reduction, and the explanatory gap, the apparent unavailability of certain explanations has been taken as evidence for positions such as dualism and strong emergentism. In debates about metaphysical fundamentality, the metaphysically fundamental is often taken to be equivalent to that which has no explanation. In each of these cases, facts about the availability and nature of explanation are used as guides to, or evidence for, facts about metaphysics.</div><br /> <b>Flavio Del Santo, Nicolas Gisin: <a href="">The relativity of indeterminacy</a></b> (pdf, 5637 words)<br /> <div>A long-standing tradition, largely present in both the physical and the philosophical literature, regards the advent of (special) relativity –with its block-universe picture– as the failure of any indeterministic program in physics. On the contrary, in this paper, we note that upholding reasonable principles of finiteness of information hints at a picture of the physical world that should be both relativistic and indeterministic. We thus rebut the block-universe picture by assuming that fundamental indeterminacy itself should as well be regarded as a relational property when considered in a relativistic scenario. We discuss the consequence that this view may have when correlated randomness is introduced, both in the classical case and in the quantum one.</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 23 January 20212021-01-23T23:59:00Z2021-01-23T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-01-23://<b>Alexander Guerrero: <a href="">Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow</a></b> (pdf, 1456 words)<br /> <div>Maybe you only have 1000 units of some 10 million points of utility and allocation A2 resource, but 10,000 people need the will generate 100,000 points of utility, this is resource or would benefit from it. One question: why do you control the resource? Leave that aside for now. A second question: how should you allocate the resource? If you are a decision- maker in a health system, and if the resource has to do with medicine or public health, we are in the world of the ethics of at least a consideration (although perhaps not a decisive one) in favour of A1. If we want to build in uncertainty, we can shift to an expected utility framework or talk in terms of expected cost–benefit analysis. We can call all of these broad outcome regarding ethical principles. Everyone should accept that these reason to limit our focus to health effects? There is a powerful case to the contrary, which they seem to acknowledge, and perhaps agree with—but then we are already in a broader, and correspondingly more evidentially complex, situation.</div><br /> <b>Alon Chasid: <a href="">Imaginative Immersion, Regulation, and Doxastic Mediation</a></b> (pdf, 12458 words)<br /> <div>This paper puts forward an account of imaginative immersion. Elaborating on Kendall Walton’s thesis that imagining aims at the fictional truth, it first argues that imaginings are inherently rule- or norm-governed: they are ‘regulated’ by that which is presented as fictionally true. It then shows that an imaginer can follow the rule or norm mandating her to imagine the propositions presented as fictional truths either by acquiring explicit beliefs about how the rule (norm) is to be followed, or directly, without acquiring such beliefs. It proceeds to argue that to the extent that an imaginer follows this rule (norm) <i>without</i> holding such beliefs, she is more immersed in her imaginings. The general idea is that immersion in an activity is a matter of following rules or norms that apply to that activity without explicitly thinking about how to follow them, that is, without ‘doxastic mediation.’ Lastly, the paper shows that this thesis can explain various features associated with imaginative immersion, such as the sort of attentiveness it involves, the emotional response it generates, and its relation to spoilers.</div><br /> <b>Andrew Ndhlovu, Grant Ramsey: <a href="">Programmed cell death as a black queen in microbial communities</a></b> (pdf, 8920 words)<br /> <div>Programmed cell death (PCD) in unicellular organisms is in some instances an altruistic trait. When the beneficiaries are clones or close kin, kin selection theory may be used to explain the evolution of the trait, and when the trait evolves in groups of distantly related individuals, group or multilevel selection theory is invoked. In mixed microbial communities, the benefits are also available to unrelated taxa. But the evolutionary ecology of PCD in communities is poorly understood. Few hypotheses have been offered concerning the community role of PCD despite its far-reaching effects.</div><br /> <b>The Splintered Mind: <a href="">Realities ≤ Universes ≤ Worlds ≤ Cosmos</a></b> (html, 1581 words)<br /> <div>My new book project, The Weirdness of the World, engages big-picture metaphysics and cosmology. This has me thinking about solipsism and materialism (aka physicalism), among other things. According to solipsism, the only thing that exists is my own mind. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>John Danaher's blog: <a href="">The Argument from Religious Experience: An Analysis</a></b> (html, 6071 words)<br /> <div> Knock Shrine, IrelandOn the 21st of August 1879, in a small rural village called Knock in Ireland, an unusual event took place. At the gable end of the local church, the Virgin Mary, along with St Joseph and St John the Evangelist is alleged to have appeared to a group of villagers. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 22 January 20212021-01-22T23:59:00Z2021-01-22T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-01-22://<b>Andrew Sepielli: <a href="">How to Challenge Common-Sense Morality</a></b> (pdf, 1481 words)<br /> <div>1) &#34;[Few]&#34; bears R to &#34;[doing]&#34;; &#34;[most]&#34; bears R to &#34;[allowing]&#34;. 2) <i>Ceteris paribus</i>, [few] is no worse than [most]. 3) If (1) and (2), then <i>ceteris paribus</i>, [doing] is no worse than [allowing]. C) [Doing] is no worse than [allowing].</div><br /> <b>James Woodward: <a href="">Causation and Mechanisms in Biology</a></b> (doc, 13104 words)<br /> <div>The paper discusses a number of issues having to do with mechanistic explanation in biology. It argues that, as an empirical matter, in mechanistic explanations, there is often a kind of correspondence between difference making information and information about spatio­temporal or geometrical relations of a sort emphasized in causal process theories of causation. This correspondence can function as a constraint on successful mechanistic explanation. The paper also discusses modularity conditions and the circumstances under which they fail. Failures of modularity are distinguished from cases involving redundancy and causal cycles.</div><br /> <b>Kristina Engelhard, Ansgar Seide: <a href="">Inductive Metaphysics</a></b> (pdf, 10944 words)<br /> <div>This introduction consists of two parts. In the first part, the special issue editors introduce inductive metaphysics from a historical as well as from a systematic point of view and discuss what distinguishes it from other modern approaches to metaphysics. In the second part, they give a brief summary of the individual articles in this special issue.</div><br /> <b>Mathieu Charbonneau, Pierrick Bourrat: <a href="">Fidelity and the grain problem in cultural evolution</a></b> (doc, 10751 words)<br /> <div>High-fidelity cultural transmission, rather than brute intelligence, is the secret of our species’ success, or so many cultural evolutionists claim. It has been selected because it ensures the spread, stability and longevity of beneficial cultural traditions, and it supports cumulative cultural change. To play these roles, however, fidelity must be a causally-efficient property of cultural transmission. This is where the grain problem comes in and challenges the explanatory potency of fidelity. Assessing the degree of fidelity of any episode or mechanism of cultural transmission always depends upon an investigator’s choice of grain of analysis at which cultural traditions are being studied. The fidelity of cultural transmission then appears to be relative to the granularity at which one approaches cultural variation, and since there is a multiplicity of grains of description by which the same tradition can be studied, there results a multiplicity of measures of fidelity for a same event or mechanism of cultural transmission. If this is correct, because fidelity is always relative to the grain of analysis dictated by the local and specific research interests of the investigator, then there seems to be no fact of the matter as to whether cultural transmission is faithful or not, independently from a researcher’s framework of analysis. The aims of this paper are to offer a conceptual clarification of the grain problem in cultural evolution, to assess its causes, to unpack its epistemological implications, and to examine its reach and consequences for a science of cultural evolution.</div><br /> <b>Ming Xiang, Christopher Kennedy: <a href="">Pragmatic Reasoning and Semantic Convention: A Case Study on Gradable Adjectives</a></b> (pdf, 11385 words)<br /> <div>Gradable adjectives denote properties that are relativized to contextual thresholds of application: how long an object must be in order to count as long in a context of utterance depends on what the threshold is in that context. But thresholds are variable across contexts and adjectives, and are in general uncertain. This leads to two questions about the meanings of gradable adjectives in particular contexts of utterance: what truth conditions are they understood to introduce, and what information are they taken to communicate? In this paper, we consider two kinds of answers to these questions, one from semantic theory, and one from Bayesian pragmatics, and assess them relative to human judgments about truth and communicated information. Our findings indicate that although the Bayesian accounts accurately model human judgments about what is communicated, they do not capture human judgments about truth conditions unless also supplemented with the threshold conventions postulated by semantic theory.</div><br /> <b>Stefano Fanti, Wim Oyen, Elisabetta Lalumera: <a href="">Consensus Procedures in Oncological Imaging: The Case of Prostate Cancer</a></b> (pdf, 5216 words)<br /> <div>Recently, there has been increasing interest in methodological aspects of advanced imaging, including the role of guidelines, recommendations, and experts’ consensus, the practice of self-referral, and the risk of diagnostic procedure overuse. In a recent Delphi study of the European Association for Nuclear Medicine (EANM), panelists were asked to give their opinion on 47 scientific questions about imaging in prostate cancer. Nine additional questions exploring the experts’ attitudes and opinions relating to the procedure of consensus building itself were also included. The purpose was to provide insights into the mechanism of recommendation choice and consensus building as seen from the experts’ point of view. Results: Regarding the factors likely to influence the willingness to refer a patient for imaging, the most voted were incorporation into guidelines and data from scientific literature, while personal experience and personal relationship were chosen by a small minority.</div><br /> <b>William Peden: <a href="">The Material Theory of Induction at the Frontiers of Science</a></b> (doc, 9763 words)<br /> <div>A theory of induction has many purposes. It should offer or permit answers to general sceptical challenges to induction, or at least explain why answering these problems is unnecessary. Metaphorically, it should help us defend the heartland of science. The theory should also help us understand and evaluate inductive inferences in everyday science. In other words, it should help elucidate reasoning in the familiar territory of science. Additionally, it should justify the intuitively plausible inductions that occur in largely unfamiliar (for the inductively inferring scientists) domains where scientists’ background knowledge is exiguous. I shall call these unfamiliar domains ‘the frontiers of science’.</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">Bryce Gessell, (Behind the stage of) Prediction and Topological Models in Neuroscience</a></b> (html, 663 words)<br /> <div>Bryce Gessell (Sothern Virginia University) is the first author of this third post in this book symposium for the edited volume Neural Mechanisms: New Challenges in Philosophy of Neuroscience (Springer 2021).We called our chapter “Prediction and Topological Models in Neuroscience,” and we wrote it in the spirit of Jack Gallant. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">Daniel Burnston & Philipp Haueis, Evolving Concepts of “Hierarchy” in Systems Neuroscience</a></b> (html, 820 words)<br /> <div>Daniel Burnston (Tulane University) and Philipp Haueis (Bielefeld University) are the authors of this last post in this book symposium for the edited volume Neural Mechanisms: New Challenges in Philosophy of Neuroscience (Springer 2021).Concepts in science change over time. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Philosophy, et cetera: <a href="">The Risk of Excessive Conservatism</a></b> (html, 443 words)<br /> <div>In 'Lessons from the Pandemic', I summarized what I took to be some of the biggest mistakes of the pandemic response, and tried to give a sense of the scale of the potential damage done, along with some concrete suggestions for how we might have done vastly better. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 21 January 20212021-01-21T23:59:00Z2021-01-21T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-01-21://<b>: <a href="">Structural Representations do not meet the job description challenge</a></b> (pdf, 16861 words)<br /> <div>Structural representations are increasingly popular in philosophy of cognitive science. A key virtue they seemingly boast is that of meeting Ramsey's job description challenge. For this reason, structural representations appear tailored to play a clear representational role within cognitive architectures. Here, however, I claim that structural representations do not meet the job description challenge. This is because even our most demanding account of their functional profile is satisfied by at least some receptors, which paradigmatically fail the job description challenge. Hence, the functional profile typically associated with structural representations does not identify representational posits. After a brief introduction, I present, in the second section of the paper, the job description challenge. I clarify why receptors fail to meet it and highlight why, as a result, they should not be considered representations. In the third section I introduce what I take to be the most demanding account of structural representations at our disposal, namely Gładziejewski's account.</div><br /> <b>Alberto Corti: <a href=",%20Quantum%20Indeterminacy%20is%20not%20Worldly%20Indecision.pdf">Yet Again, Quantum Indeterminacy is not Worldly Indecision</a></b> (pdf, 11713 words)<br /> <div>It has been argued that non-relativistic quantum mechanics is the best hunting ground for genuine examples of metaphysical indeterminacy. Approaches to metaphysical indeterminacy can be divided into two families: meta-level and object-level accounts. It has been shown (Darby, 2010; Skow, 2010) that the most popular version of the meta-level accounts, namely the metaphysical supervaluationism proposed by Barnes and Williams (2011), fails to deal with quantum indeterminacy. Such a fact has been taken by many as a challenge to adapt supervaluationism to quantum cases. In this paper, I will focus on the very last of these attempts, i.e. the situation semantics account proposed by Darby and Pickup (2019). After having shown where quantum indeterminacy arises and having surveyed the assumptions endorsed by the participants of the debate, I turn to Darby and Pickup’s proposal. I argue that, despite the machinery introduced, their account still fails to account for quantum indeterminacy. After considering some possible counterarguments, I suggest in the conclusion that one can plausibly extend the argument to those meta-level approaches that treat quantum indeterminacy as worldly indecision.</div><br /> <b>Andreas Elpidorou, John Gibson: <a href="">Really Boring Art</a></b> (pdf, 14031 words)<br /> <div>There is little question as to whether there is good boring art, though its existence raises a number of questions for both the philosophy of art and the philosophy of emotions. How can boredom ever be a desideratum of art? How can our standing commitments concerning the nature of aesthetic experience and artistic value accommodate the existence of boring art? How can <i>being bored</i> constitute an appropriate mode of engagement with a work of art <i>as a work of art</i>? More broadly, how can there be works of art whose very success requires the experience of boredom? Our goal in this paper is threefold. After offering a brief survey of kinds of boring art, we: i) derive a set of questions that we argue constitutes the philosophical problem of boring art; ii) elaborate an empirically informed theory of boredom that furnishes the philosophical problem with a deeper sense of the affect at the heart of the phenomenon; and iii) conclude by offering and defending a solution to the problem that explains why and how artworks might wish to make the experience of boredom key to their aesthetic and artistic success.</div><br /> <b>Elis Jones: <a href="">Distinguishing regeneration from degradation in coral ecosystems: the role of value</a></b> (pdf, 15174 words)<br /> <div>In this paper I argue that the value attributed to coral reefs drives the characterisation of evidence for their regeneration or degradation. I observe that regeneration and degradation depend on an understanding of what an ecosystem looks like when undegraded (a baseline), and that many mutually exclusive baselines can be given for any single case. Consequently, facts about ecological processes are insufficient to usefully and non-arbitrarily characterise changes to ecosystems. By examining how baselines and the value of reefs interact in coral and algal reef examples, I argue that considering the value of an ecosystem is a necessity when describing processes like regeneration and degradation. This connects <i>value</i> as studied in socio-ecological and economic research with <i>values</i> as discussed in the philosophy of science literature. It also explains why such a broad range of processes may be considered regenerative, including those which introduce significant novelty, as well as pointing towards ways to mediate related debates, such as those surrounding novel and ‘pristine’ ecosystems.</div><br /> <b>Elisabetta Lalumera, Maria Cristina Amoretti: <a href="">COVID‑19 as the underlying cause of death: disentangling facts and values</a></b> (pdf, 1908 words)<br /> <div>In the ongoing pandemic, death statistics influence people’s feelings and government policy. But when does COVID-19 qualify as the cause of death? As philosophers of medicine interested in conceptual clarification, we address the question by analyzing the World Health Organization’s rules for the certification of death. We show that for COVID-19, WHO rules take into account both facts (causal chains) and values (the importance of prevention).</div><br /> <b>Federico Benitez: <a href="">Selective Realism and the framework/interaction distinction: a Taxonomy of Fundamental Physical Theories</a></b> (pdf, 9408 words)<br /> <div>Following the proposal of a new kind of selective structural realism that uses as a basis the distinction between framework and interaction theories, this work discusses relevant applications in fundamental physics. An ontology for the different entities and properties of well-known theories is thus consistently built. The case of classical field theories –including General Relativity as a classical theory of gravitation– is examined in detail, as well as the implications of the classification scheme for issues of realism in Quantum Mechanics. These applications also shed light on the different range of applicability of the ontic and epistemic versions of structural realism.</div><br /> <b>Matthew Mandelkern, Daniel Rothschild: <a href="">Roads to Necessitarianism</a></b> (pdf, 3550 words)<br /> <div>We show that each of three natural sets of assumptions about the conditional entails necessitarianism: that anything possible is necessary. Since most agree that this conclusion is obviously false, this shows that at least one member of each set of assumptions must be rejected. All of these assumptions are, however, widely accepted and well-motivated. This creates a puzzle which we leave open.</div><br /> <b>Sam Fellowes: <a href="">How autism shows that symptoms, like psychiatric diagnoses, are 'constructed': methodological and epistemic consequences</a></b> (pdf, 11808 words)<br /> <div>Critics who are concerned over the epistemological status of psychiatric diagnoses often describe them as being constructed. In contrast, those critics usually see symptoms as relatively epistemologically unproblematic. In this paper I show that symptoms are also constructed. To do this I draw upon the demarcation between data and phenomena. I relate this distinction to psychiatry by portraying behaviour of individuals as data and symptoms as phenomena. I then draw upon philosophers who consider phenomena to be constructed to argue that symptoms are also constructed. Rather than being ready made in the world I show how symptoms are constructs we apply to the world. I highlight this with a historical example and describe methodological constraints on symptom construction. I show the epistemic problems with psychiatric diagnoses are also applicable to symptoms. Following this, I suggest that critics of psychiatric diagnoses should extend their criticism to symptoms or, if they still believe symptoms are relatively epistemologically unproblematic, should rethink their concerns over psychiatric diagnoses.</div><br /> <b>Walter Veit, Milan Ney: <a href="">Metaphors in Arts and Science</a></b> (pdf, 11838 words)<br /> <div>Metaphors abound in both the arts and in science. Due to the traditional division between these enterprises as one concerned with aesthetic values and the other with epistemic values there has unfortunately been very little work on the relation between metaphors in the arts and sciences. In this paper, we aim to remedy this omission by defending a continuity thesis regarding the function of metaphor across both domains, that is, metaphors fulfill any of the same functions in science as they do in the arts. Importantly, this involves the claim that metaphors in arts as well as science have both epistemic and aesthetic functions.</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 20 January 20212021-01-20T23:59:00Z2021-01-20T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-01-20://<b>Arvid Båve: <a href="">Problems for Russellian Act-Type Theories</a></b> (pdf, 7471 words)<br /> <div>This paper presents two interrelated problems for Russellian act-type theories of propositions— particularly, that of Scott Soames (2010, 2015)—and argues that Fregean act-type theories are either better equipped to deal with them or avoid them altogether. The first problem concerns “complex singular terms”, like ‘2+2’, and the second one is King’s objection from “proliferating propositions”.</div><br /> <b>Catherine Rioux: <a href="">Hope: Conceptual and normative issues</a></b> (pdf, 7270 words)<br /> <div>Our hopes are multifarious, ranging from the mundane or the prosaic to the life‐shaping or the profound: we hope that it won't rain tomorrow, hope for success in our personal endeavors, hope to be cured from life‐threatening diseases, and hope that we will somehow overcome the climate crisis. At bottom, is there anything that sets apart our “deepest” hopes from more superficial ones? Or do all hopes, including even the kind we “invest” in other people, in fact share the same underlying nature? Since hope is often portrayed as both valuable and dangerous, questions about its nature take on special significance. We are indeed often told to “never give up hope”; that “there is always room for hope,” while also being warned against the possibility of entraining “false hopes,” somehow divorced from reality and potentially leading to disastrous outcomes. But without knowing what hope <i>is</i>, how can we aspire to hope well? And what does “hoping well” even mean?</div><br /> <b>Manolo Martínez: <a href="">Imperative Transparency</a></b> (pdf, 6604 words)<br /> <div>I respond to an objection recently formulated by Barlassina and Hayward against first-order imperativism about pain, according to which it cannot account for the self-directed motivational force of pain. I am going to agree with them: it cannot. This is because pain does not have self-directed motivational force. I will argue that the alternative view (that pain is about dealing with extramental, bodily threats; not about dealing with itself) makes better sense of introspection, and of empirical research on pain avoidance. Also, a naturalistic theory of body-involving commands falls straightforwardly off our most prominent naturalistic metasemantic accounts, while the token-reflexive contents that would underlie self-directed motivation are more problematic.</div><br /> <b>Sean M. Carroll: <a href="">The Quantum Field Theory on Which the Everyday World Supervenes</a></b> (pdf, 8811 words)<br /> <div>Effective Field Theory (EFT) is the successful paradigm underlying modern theoretical physics, including the “Core Theory” of the Standard Model of particle physics plus Einstein’s general relativity. I will argue that EFT grants us a unique insight: each EFT model comes with a built-in specification of its domain of applicability. Hence, once a model is tested within some domain (of energies and interaction strengths), we can be confident that it will continue to be accurate within that domain. Currently, the Core Theory has been tested in regimes that include all of the energy scales relevant to the physics of everyday life (biology, chemistry, technology, etc.). Therefore, we have reason to be confident that the laws of physics underlying the phenomena of everyday life are completely known.</div><br /> <b>Simon Allzen: <a href="">Scientific Realism and Dark Matter: Conflicts In Theory Confirmation</a></b> (pdf, 12594 words)<br /> <div>Scientific realism is in part characterized by its epistemic commitment to unobservables posited in science. To support such epistemic commitments, some realists have argued that explanatory or theoretical virtues that operates in tandem with inference to the best explanation can constitute theory confirmation. I argue that there is a tension in the realist epistemology between the idea that such virtues constitute theory confirmation and the idea that empirical discovery or detection of scientific objects constitute significant theory confirmation. In particular, I argue that the application of the realist framework in certain scientific contexts yields a realist judgment towards undiscovered objects. Given such a judgement, the potential empirical discovery or detection of such objects would provide no additional epistemic warrant. The resulting picture is that the realist epistemology suggests that science in principle does not need to detect or discover its hypothesized objects in order to conclusively confirm their existence. In order to avoid this situation, I argue that realists should incorporate degrees of belief and a program of meta-empirical confirmation theory into their overall framework.</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">Daniel Weiskopf, What Decoding Can’t Do</a></b> (html, 822 words)<br /> <div>Daniel Weiskopf (Georgia State University) is the author of this third post in this book symposium for the edited volume Neural Mechanisms: New Challenges in Philosophy of Neuroscience (Springer 2021).Neuroimaging has seen major advances in experimental design and data analysis in recent decades. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">I can jump 100 feet up in the air</a></b> (html, 591 words)<br /> <div>Consider a possible world w1 which is just like the actual world, except in one respect. In w1, in exactly a minute, I jump up with all my strength. And then consider a possible world w2 which is just like w1, but where moments after I leave the ground, a quantum fluctuation causes 99% of the earth’s mass to quantum tunnel far away. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Azimuth: <a href="">Categories of Nets (Part 2)</a></b> (html, 1635 words)<br /> <div>guest post by Michael Shulman Now that John gave an overview of the Petri nets paper that he and I have just written with Jade and Fabrizio, I want to dive a bit more into what we accomplish. The genesis of this paper was a paper written by Fabrizio and several other folks entitled Computational Petri Nets: Adjunctions Considered Harmful, which of course sounds to a category theorist like a challenge. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 19 January 20212021-01-19T23:59:00Z2021-01-19T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-01-19://<b>: <a href="">Chapter 8: Proportionality</a></b> (doc, 18851 words)<br /> <div><i>Face: Normative Theory and Descriptive Psychology</i>. (OUP). As the title suggests, the book is about the interplay between normative ideas about causal reasoning and empirical results due to psychologists and others about how people in fact reason and judge. The chapter accordingly has some discussion of empirical results concerning whether people judge in accord with proportionality type considerations in their causal judgments as well as some suggestions about possible experiments. But much of the chapter is more normative and analytical, exploring various ways of formulating proportionality requirements and their rationales. I’m posting it in advance of the publication of <i>CHF</i> because there seems to be considerable current interest in the topic of proportionality. The published version of this chapter may differ slightly from this version so please cite the former if possible.</div><br /> <b>Aaron Wells: <a href="">Du Châtelet on the Need for Mathematics in Physics</a></b> (pdf, 5032 words)<br /> <div><b></b>There is a tension in Emilie Du Châtelet’s thought on mathematics. The objects of mathematics are ideal or fictional entities; nevertheless, mathematics is presented as indispensable for an account of the physical world. After outlining Du Châtelet’s position, and showing how she departs from Christian Wolff’s pessimism about Newtonian mathematical physics, I show that the tension in her position is only apparent. Du Châtelet has a worked-out defense of the explanatory and epistemic need for mathematical objects, consistent with their metaphysical non-fundamentality. I conclude by sketching how Du Châtelet’s conception of mathematical indispensability differs interestingly from many contemporary approaches.</div><br /> <b>Arianna Falbo: <a href="">Slurs, Neutral Counterparts, and What You Could Have Said</a></b> (pdf, 8664 words)<br /> <div>Recent pragmatic accounts of slurs argue that the offensiveness of slurs is generated by a speaker's free choice to use a slur opposed to a more appropriate and semantically equivalent neutral counterpart. I argue that the theoretical role of neutral counterparts on such views is overstated. I consider two recent pragmatic analyses, Bolinger (2017) and Nunberg (2018), which rely heavily upon the <i>optionality</i> of slurs, namely, that a speaker exercises a deliberate lexical choice to use a slur when they could have easily used a neutral counterpart instead. Against such views, I argue that across a range of different offensive uses of slurs, a speaker's choice to use a slur opposed to a neutral counterpart plays little to no role in accounting for why the slur generates offence. Such cases cast serious doubt upon the explanatory depth of these pragmatic analyses, and raise more general concerns for views which draw upon the relationship between a slur and its neutral counterpart. The main upshot is this: theorists should exercise caution in assuming that neutral counterparts play any fundamental or systemic role in explaining why slurs are offensive.</div><br /> <b>Danilo Fraga Dantas: <a href="">How to (Blind)Spot the Truth: an investigation on actual epistemic value</a></b> (pdf, 16746 words)<br /> <div>This paper is about the alethic aspect of epistemic rationality. The most common approaches to this aspect are either normative (what a reasoner ought to/may believe?) or evaluative (how rational is a reasoner?), where the evaluative approaches are usually comparative (one reasoner is assessed compared to another). These approaches often present problems with blindspots. For example, ought a reasoner to believe a currently true blindspot? Is she permitted to? Consequently, these approaches often fail in describing a situation of alethic maximality, where a reasoner fulfills all the alethic norms and could be used as a standard of rationality (as they are, in fact, used in some of these approaches). I propose a function α, which accepts a set of beliefs as input and returns a numeric alethic value. Then I use this function to define a notion of alethic maximality that is satisfiable by finite reasoners (reasoners with cognitive limitations) and does not present problems with blindspots. Function α may also be used in alethic norms and evaluation methods (comparative and non-comparative) that may be applied to finite reasoners and do not present problems with blindspots. A result of this investigation is that the project of providing purely alethic norms is defective. The use of function α also sheds light on important epistemological issues, such as the lottery and the preface paradoxes, and the principles of clutter avoidance and reflection. Keywords: Epistemic Utility Theory; Blindspots; Bounded Rationality; Computational Epistemology.</div><br /> <b>Ibo Van de Poel, Michael Klenk: <a href="">COVID‑19, uncertainty, and moral experiments</a></b> (pdf, 2291 words)<br /> <div>Pandemics like COVID-19 confront us with decisions about life and death that come with great uncertainty, factual as well as moral. How should policy makers deal with such uncertainty? We suggest that rather than to deliberate until they have found the right course of action, they better do moral experiments that generate relevant experiences to enable more reliable moral evaluations and rational decisions.</div><br /> <b>Mehdi Aminrazavi: <a href="">Mysticism in Arabic and Islamic Philosophy</a></b> (html, 7991 words)<br /> <div>Mysticism in the Islamic context has traditionally been intertwined with the notion of <i>Ḥikmah</i>, which is at once both wisdom and philosophy (Nasr 1996). The source of mysticism and the mystical elements in Islam are to be traced to the Qur’an and the Islamic doctrine itself. Some of the Qur’anic verses have been viewed by the mystics and philosopher-mystics of Islam as allegorical and esoteric hints for those who can see them. “God is the Outward and the Inward” (Qu’ran 57:3), “he for whom wisdom is given, he truly has received abundant good” (Qu’ran 2:269), and the famous light verses God is the Light of the heavens and the earth, the likeness of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp, the lamp is a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star kindled from a blessed tree, an olive that is neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil well-night would shine, even if no fire touched it; light upon lights; God guides to His light whom He will.</div><br /> <b>Nick Huggett, Christian Wuthrich: <a href="">Chapter 1: Introduction: The emergence of spacetime</a></b> (pdf, 15108 words)<br /> <div>Let’s look into the business of black hole formation more carefully to explain why physics needs an account of quantum gravity. First, the RHIC was built to probe how matter behaves under intense temperatures and pressures—in effect recreating in a tiny region the state of the universe within the first second of its existence, when quarks and gluons flowed in a plasma rather than binding to form particles. The predictions tested here are largely those of quantum chromodynamics, the quantum theory of the strong force binding nucleons and their constituents. That is, the collisions between heavy nuclei such as gold in the RHIC are governed by the laws of quantum mechanics (QM).</div><br /> <b>Nicola Angius, Giuseppe Primiero, Raymond Turner: <a href="">The Philosophy of Computer Science</a></b> (html, 20975 words)<br /> <div>The philosophy of computer science is concerned with the ontological and methodological issues arising from within the academic discipline of computer science, as well as from the practice of software development and its commercial and industrial deployment. More specifically, the philosophy of computer science considers the ontology and epistemology of computational systems, focusing on problems associated with specification, programming, implementation, verification and testing of those systems. The complex nature of computer programs, an essential part of its scope, ensures that many of the conceptual questions raised by the philosophy of computer science have related ones in the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of empirical sciences, and the philosophy of technology.</div><br /> <b>Peter Eardley: <a href="">Medieval Theories of Conscience</a></b> (html, 12502 words)<br /> <div>[Editor’s Note: The following new entry by Peter Eardley replaces the former entry on this topic by the previous author.] The question of what role the human mind plays in moral behaviour—or the study of moral psychology—has been a fruitful area of research in medieval philosophy since at least the early to mid-1990s. Since then scholars have done much to illuminate medieval contributions to such perennial topics as the freedom of the will, the problem of moral weakness, and what role, if any, the emotions and the moral virtues play in the achievement of happiness (e.g., Kent 1995, Saarinen 1994, Dumont 2000, Eardley 2006, Hoffmann 2007, and Osborne 2014).</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">Mazviita Chirimuuta, Your Brain Is Like a Computer: Function, Analogy, Simplification</a></b> (html, 830 words)<br /> <div>Science is a project of domestication in which the wild forces of nature are tamed and set to work for human advantage. We need not dwell on the Baconian ideology expressed in the metaphors of “taming” and “setting to work”, and in the very opposition of the human and the natural that is here presupposed. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Sheep in sheep's clothing</a></b> (html, 365 words)<br /> <div>Suppose you know the following facts. In County X, about 40% of sheep wear sheep costumes. There is also the occasional trickster who puts a sheep costume on a dog, but that’s really rare: so rare that 99.9% of animals that look like sheep are sheep, most of them being ordinary sheep but a large minority being sheep dressed up as sheep. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>The Philosopher's Beard: <a href="">Ideas Are Cheap; Arguments Are Expensive</a></b> (html, 2431 words)<br /> <div>It is very pleasant to entertain a new idea, a new notion or concept to think about and to look at the world with. Indeed, it can have the exciting and intoxicating feel of discovering hidden treasure. &hellip;</div><br />