Philosophical Progress and blog posts found on 24 September 20212021-09-24T23:59:00Z2021-09-24T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-09-24://<b>: <a href="">Metaphysical Fundamentality as a Fundamental Problem for CS Peirce and Zhu Xi</a></b> (doc, 9438 words)<br /> <div>(180): While the American pragmatist CS Peirce and the twelfth-century Confucian thinker Zhu Xi (朱朱) lived and worked in radically different contexts, there are nevertheless striking parallels in their view of knowledge and inquiry. Both reject the strict separation of theoretical and practical knowledge, conceiving of theoretical inquiry in a way that closely parallels practical reasoning, and they appeal to the fundamental nature of reality in order to draw conclusions about the way in which inquiry can be a component of the path towards moral perfection. Yet they prominently diverge in their account not only of the fundamental nature of reality, but also in their account of the way in which we have epistemic access to it. These connections between metaphysical fundamentality or structure and epistemology, I propose, have the potential to illuminate current discussions about fundamentality in metaphysics. Contemporary approaches that appeal either to grounding relations or to joint-carving ideology in characterizing metaphysical structure, I propose, implicitly rest on distinct sets of epistemological presuppositions that resemble the respective views of Zhu Xi or Peirce.</div><br /> <b>Alexander W. Kocurek: <a href="">Counterpossibles</a></b> (pdf, 12804 words)<br /> <div>A <i>counterpossible</i> is a counterfactual with an impossible antecedent. Counterpossibles present a puzzle for standard theories of counterfactuals, which predict that all counterpossibles are semantically vacuous. Moreover, counterpossibles play an important role in many debates within metaphysics and epistemology, including debates over grounding, causation, modality, mathematics, science, and even God. In this article, we will explore various positions on counterpossibles as well as their potential philosophical consequences.</div><br /> <b>Alexander W. Kocurek: <a href="">Logic Talk</a></b> (pdf, 13725 words)<br /> <div>Sentences about logic are often used to show that certain embedding expressions (attitude verbs, conditionals, etc.) are hyperintensional. Yet it is not clear how to regiment “logic talk” in the object language so that it can be compositionally embedded under such expressions. In this paper, I develop a formal system called <i>hyperlogic</i> that is designed to do just that. I provide a hyperintensional semantics for hyperlogic that doesn’t appeal to logically impossible worlds, as traditionally understood, but instead uses a shiftable parameter that determines the interpretation of the logical connectives. I argue this semantics compares favorably to the more common impossible worlds semantics, which faces difficulties interpreting propositionally quantified logic talk.</div><br /> <b>Corey Dyck, Brigitte Sassen: <a href="">18th Century German Philosophy Prior to Kant</a></b> (html, 16276 words)<br /> <div>Kant undoubtedly casts a long shadow in the history of eighteenth century German philosophy. Not only did he initiate a revolution in philosophy, but in the course of doing so he thoroughly exposed the metaphysical systems of his predecessors as rationalistic castles in the air. This latter, negative part of his project was in fact so successful that the pre-Kantian period of German philosophy is widely viewed, even today, as a period of benighted dogmatism. During this time, German philosophy, such as it was, is thought to be preoccupied with the sort of dry scholasticism and hidebound metaphysics that had long since been superseded in Britain and France, a circumstance reflected in the fact that nearly all intellectuals of note were university professors—male, of course, as women could not attend university—who published lengthy academic tomes (and even lectured) in Latin rather than the vernacular.</div><br /> <b>J. Adam Carter: <a href="">Reply to Critics: Collective (Telic) Virtue Epistemology</a></b> (doc, 1312 words)<br /> <div>Thanks to Jeroen de Ridder and S. Kate Devitt for their very helpful comments on my chapter “Collective (Telic) Virtue Epistemology.” They've both given me a lot to think about, and — while I can’t engage with all of their rich remarks in this brief space — I will focus on one core criticism from each and offer some thoughts in response.</div><br /> <b>J. Adam Carter: <a href="">Reply to Watson on the Social Virtue of Questioning</a></b> (doc, 1093 words)<br /> <div>Lani Watson’s “The Social Virtue of Questioning: A Genealogical Account” offers a thoughtful and, on the whole, very plausible picture of questioning’s place in social epistemology, where it is often overlooked. On Watson’s view, questioning is best theorised about as an <i>epistemic practice</i>; it is socially established, activity-based, and aimed at the epistemic end of eliciting information. This picture of questioning as an (epistemically aimed) practice is supported in part by a kind of a Craigean (1991) genealogical strategy, one that is used, additionally, to support what is arguably the key thesis in Watson’s paper, which is that questioning is an indispensable form of social and epistemic cohesion, one which helps substantially to form, sustain and grow our epistemic communities. It is in this respect that the practice of questioning is meant to be understood as a <i>social</i> epistemic virtue.</div><br /> <b>J. Adam Carter: <a href="">Reply to Gardiner on Virtues of Attention</a></b> (doc, 1659 words)<br /> <div>Georgi Gardiner’s “Virtues of Attention” sets out to do three main things: to (i) motivate the importance of attention for epistemological theorizing; to (ii) argue that the normativity of attention is illuminated by virtue epistemology; and to (iii) highlight how the virtues of proper attention are plausibly conceived of as collective and institutional virtues, and not merely as individual virtues.</div><br /> <b>Jörg Brendle, Benedikt Lowe: <a href="">Eventually different functions and inaccessible cardinals</a></b> (pdf, 6731 words)<br /> <div>In this paper, we are considering the Baire property of the eventually different topology as a regularity property for sets of reals and investigate the logical strength of the statements “Every ∆ set has the Baire property in the eventually different topology” and “Every Σ set has the Baire property in the eventually different topology”. The latter statement turns out to be equivalent to “<i>ω</i>1 is inaccessible by reals”.</div><br /> <b>M. Giulia Napolitano, Kevin Reuter: <a href="">What is a Conspiracy Theory?</a></b> (pdf, 13432 words)<br /> <div>In much of the current academic and public discussion, conspiracy theories are portrayed as a negative phenomenon, linked to misinformation, mistrust in experts and institutions, and political propaganda. Rather surprisingly, however, philosophers working on this topic have been reluctant to incorporate a negatively evaluative aspect when either analyzing or engineering the concept <i>conspiracy theory</i>. In this paper, we present empirical data on the nature of the concept <i>conspiracy theory</i> from five studies designed to test the existence, prevalence and exact form of an evaluative dimension to the ordinary concept <i>conspiracy theory</i>. These results reveal that, while there is a descriptive concept of <i>conspiracy theory</i>, the predominant use of <i>conspiracy theory</i> is deeply evaluative, encoding information about epistemic deficiency and often also derogatory and disparaging information. On the basis of these results, we present a new strategy for engineering <i>conspiracy theory</i> to promote theoretical investigations and institutional discussions of this phenomenon. We argue for engineering <i>conspiracy theory</i> to encode an epistemic evaluation, and to introduce a descriptive expression—such as ‘conspiratorial explanation’—to refer to the purely descriptive concept <i>conspiracy theory</i>.</div><br /> <b>Shawn Tinghao Wang: <a href="">The Communication Argument and the Pluralist Challenge</a></b> (pdf, 10187 words)<br /> <div>Various theorists have endorsed the “communication argument”: communicative capacities are necessary for morally responsible agency because blame <i>aims at</i> a distinctive kind of moral communication. I contend that existing versions of the argument, including those defended by Gary Watson and Coleen Macnamara, face a “pluralist challenge”: they do not seem to sit well with the plausible view that blame has multiple aims. I then examine three possible rejoinders to the challenge, suggesting that a context-specific function-based approach constitutes the most promising modification of the communication argument. <b>Keywords:</b> Blame; moral responsibility; communicative theory of responsibility; function of blame.</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Being subject to a Dutch Book</a></b> (html, 164 words)<br /> <div>I’ve periodically wondered why doing poorly when faced with a Dutch Book is supposed to be a sign of irrationality, but it’s not a sign of irrationality that rational people do poorly when faced with someone who hits all and only rational people on the head with a baseball bat. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Philosophy, et cetera: <a href="">Agency as a Force for Good</a></b> (html, 433 words)<br /> <div>One fundamental reason for favouring consequentialism is the basic teleological intuition that the primary purpose of agency is to realize preferable outcomes. If you have a choice between a better state of affairs and a worse one, it's very natural to think that the better state of affairs would be the better option to choose.A slightly different way to put it is that if it would be good for something to happen, then it would be good to choose for it to happen. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Scott Aaronson's blog: <a href="">Was Scientific American Sokal’d?</a></b> (html, 674 words)<br /> <div>« My ACM TechTalk on quantum supremadvantage Was Scientific American Sokal’d? Here’s yesterday’s clickbait offering from Scientific American, the once-legendary home of Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Games column: Why the Term ‘JEDI’ Is Problematic for Describing Programs That Promote Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion The sad thing is, I see few signs that this essay was meant as a Sokal-style parody, although in many ways it’s written as one. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 23 September 20212021-09-23T23:59:00Z2021-09-23T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-09-23://<b>Alex Silk: <a href="">Meaningless Suffering</a></b> (pdf, 8527 words)<br /> <div>Nietzsche characterizes the Third Essay of <i>On the Genealogy of Morality</i> as “offer[ing] the answer to the question whence the ascetic ideal […] derives its tremendous <i>power</i> although it is the <i>harmful</i> ideal <i>par excellence</i>” (EH GM). What draws people to ideals of self-denial and self-punishment? In short, I will argue, according to Nietzsche, the same as what draws many to physical self-harm: to stop feeling like you’re going to burst out of your skin. “The ascetic ideal,” in Nietzsche’s sense, is an ideal of categorically denying certain desires (instincts, impulses, etc.). What distinguishes this type of ideal is a certain “valuation[al]” (GM III:11) stance — a stance of condemnation (demonization, mistrust) of certain of one’s desires, and correspondingly of oneself for having them or “giving in” to them (cf. III:8, 10). Perhaps one feels a pang of guilt at the first glimpse of ill-will or unforgiveness in oneself. Or one is moved in confession to include simply that one “felt lust,” jealousy, anger. Merely having the desire is treated as problematic, something to feel bad about, reason for punishment.</div><br /> <b>Alex Silk: <a href="">Conditional predicates</a></b> (pdf, 5191 words)<br /> <div>Yet we know from syntax and crosslinguistic work that conditionals can also be formed with ‘if’-clauses that modify the verb (‘V if S’), as in (2), or a noun (‘N if S’), as in (4). Tests such as the VP-ellipsis and Condition C data in (3), and the coordination and island data in (5), confirm that the ‘if’-clause is a constituent of the verb phrase and noun phrase, respectively, rather than scoping over the rest of the sentence (e.g., Lasersohn 1996, Bhatt &amp; Pancheva 2006).</div><br /> <b>Dale Dorsey: <a href="">On Distinctively Normative Norms</a></b> (pdf, 10219 words)<br /> <div>Philippa Foot famously distinguishes between two senses in which a particular norm, request, or demand can be ``categorical&#34;. In the first sense, a categorical demand is one that applies to a person regardless of his or her aims or interests.1 In this sense, demands of morality are categorical. But so are the demands of etiquette, club rules, rules of feudal obedience, and so on.2 The second sense is the extent to which the demands in question don’t just apply to someone, but generate normative reasons for action.3 In this second sense one might say that demands of morality, unlike ancillary domains, are categorical: moral demands are <i>normative</i>.</div><br /> <b>Gregory Wheeler: <a href="">Discounting Desirable Gambles</a></b> (pdf, 8343 words)<br /> <div>The desirable gambles framework offers the most comprehensive foundations for the theory of lower previsions, which in turn affords the most general account of imprecise probabilities. Nevertheless, for all its generality, the theory of lower previsions rests on the notion of linear utility. This commitment to linearity is clearest in the coherence axioms for sets of desirable gambles. This paper considers two routes to relaxing this commitment. The first preserves the additive structure of the desirable gambles framework and the machinery for coherent inference but detaches the interpretation of desirability from the multiplicative scale invariance axiom. The second strays from the additive combination axiom to accommodate repeated gambles that return rewards by a non-stationary processes that is not necessarily additive. Unlike the first approach, which is a conservative amendment to the desirable gambles framework, the second is a radical departure. Yet, common to both is a method for describing rewards called discounted utility.</div><br /> <b>Richard Pettigrew: <a href="">Nudging for changing selves</a></b> (pdf, 10474 words)<br /> <div>When is it legitimate for a government to ‘nudge’ its citizens, in the sense described by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (2008)? In their original work on the topic, Thaler and Sunstein developed the ‘as judged by themselves’ (or AJBT) test to answer this question (Thaler &amp; Sunstein, 2008, 5). In a recent paper, L. A. Paul and Sunstein (ms) raised a concern about this test: it often seems to give the wrong answer in cases in which we are nudged to make a decision that leads to what Paul calls a personally trans-formative experience, that is, one that results in our values changing (Paul, 2014). In those cases, the nudgee will judge the nudge to be legitimate after it has taken place, but only because their values have changed as a result of the nudge. In this paper, I take up the challenge of finding an alternative test. I draw on my aggregate utility account of how to choose in the face of what Edna Ullmann-Margalit (2006) calls big decisions, that is, decisions that lead to these personally transformative experiences (Pettigrew, 2019, Chapters 6 and 7).</div><br /> <b>D. G. Mayo's blog: <a href="">The Booster Wars: A prepost</a></b> (html, 2038 words)<br /> <div>. We’re always reading about how the pandemic has created a new emphasis on preprints, so it stands to reason that non-reviewed preposts would now have a place in blogs. Maybe then I’ll “publish” some of the half-baked posts languishing on draft on &hellip;</div><br /> <b>wo's weblog: <a href="">Dynamic Causal Decision Theory (EDC, ch.s 7 and 8)</a></b> (html, 4219 words)<br /> <div>Dynamic Causal Decision Theory (EDC, ch.s 7 and 8) Posted on Thursday, 23 Sep 2021. Pages 201–211 and 226–233 of Evidence, Decision and Causality present two great puzzles showing that CDT appears to invalidate some attractive principles of dynamic rationality. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 22 September 20212021-09-22T23:59:00Z2021-09-22T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-09-22://<b> Eddy Keming Chen: <a href="">Descriptive Understanding and Prediction in COVID-19 Modelling</a></b> (doc, 13934 words)<br /> <div>COVID-19 has substantially affected our lives during 2020. Since its beginning, several epidemiological models have been developed to investigate the specific dynamics of the disease. Early COVID-19 epidemiological models were purely statistical, based on a curve-fitting approach, and did not include causal knowledge about the disease. Yet, these models had <i>predictive capacity</i>; thus they were used to ground important political decisions, in virtue of the understanding of the dynamics of the pandemic that they offered. This raises a philosophical question about how purely statistical models can yield understanding, and if so, what the relationship between prediction and understanding in these models is. Drawing on the model that was developed by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, we argue that early epidemiological models yielded a modality of understanding that we call <i>descriptive understanding</i>, which contrasts with the so-called <i>explanatory understanding</i> which is assumed to be the only form of scientific understanding.</div><br /> <b>Eugen Fischer, Justin Sytsma: <a href="">The challenge and art of examining conceivability intuitions: Response to Comments</a></b> (pdf, 8225 words)<br /> <div>In Fischer and Sytsma (2021) we put forward a bold hypothesis: the zombie argument against materialism is built on zombie intuitions – intuitions that are ‘killed’ (cancelled) by the context provided but kept cognitively alive by linguistic salience bias. We then provided evidence from corpus studies as well as surveys and experiments with typicality, plausibility, and agreement ratings to support this hypothesis. The four commentators have provided helpful and thought-provoking objections, in particular to our main experiment, that point to new hypotheses. Here, we’ll respond to the principal points our commentators raise, focusing on the new hypotheses and how they might be tested. We briefly summarise the target article in Sect.1, with a focus on the aspects targeted by commentators. Sect.2 discusses the primary objections Chalmers and Liu raised, namely, to the experimental materials we used, and spells out the competing hypotheses their objections motivate. Sect.3 reports a follow-up study that examined these hypotheses. In Sect.4, we turn to further concerns about the main experiment’s materials and procedure, raised by Frankish and Machery. In conversation with these two commentators, the final Sect.5 brings out the need for empirical investigation of laypeople’s intuitions about philosophical zombies (and other ‘problem intuitions’ motivating the ‘hard problem of consciousness’) and highlights what is new and important about our ambitious ‘aetiological strategy’ that seeks to develop and assess debunking explanations of intuitions.</div><br /> <b>Melissa Jacquart, Modified Gravity: <a href="">ΛCDM and MOND: A Debate about Models or Theory?</a></b> (pdf, 11306 words)<br /> <div>The debate between ΛCDM and MOND is often cast in terms of competing gravitational theories. However, recent philosophical discussion suggests that the ΛCDM–MOND debate demonstrates the challenges of multiscale modeling in the context of cosmological scales. I extend this discussion and explore what happens when the debate is thought to be about modeling rather than about theory, offering a model-focused interpretation of the ΛCDM–MOND debate. This analysis shows how a model-focused interpretation of the debate provides a better understanding of challenges associated with extension to a different scale or domain, which are tied to commitments about explanatory fit.</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Consciousness of one's choices</a></b> (html, 166 words)<br /> <div>Here is a plausible thesis: Consciousness of one’s choice is necessary for moral responsibility. I go back and forth on (1). Here is a closely related thesis that is false: Knowledge of one’s choice is necessary for moral responsibility. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Against digital phenomenology</a></b> (html, 338 words)<br /> <div>Suppose a digital computer can have phenomenal states in virtue of its computational states. Now, in a digital computer, many possible physical states can realize one computational state. Typically, removing a single atom from a computer will not change the computational state, so both the physical state with the atom and the one without the atom realize the same computational state, and in particular they both have the same precise phenomenal state. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Functionalism and pain-likeness</a></b> (html, 219 words)<br /> <div>Say that a functional property F is pain-like provided that a human is in pain if and only if the human has F. Assuming functionalism, there is a functional property F0 which is pain. Property F0 will be pain-like, but it won’t be the only pain-like property. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Philosophy, et cetera: <a href="">Companies, Cities, and Carbon</a></b> (html, 337 words)<br /> <div>This is terrible journalism:While [donating $1 billion to protect forests] is certainly notable, Bezos’s commitment to protecting the environment serves as a stark reminder that much of his legacy and largely untaxed fortune was built by companies that have staggering carbon footprints. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 21 September 20212021-09-21T23:59:00Z2021-09-21T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-09-21://<b>: <a href="">When do Gibbsian Phase Averages and Boltzmannian Equilibrium Values Agree?</a></b> (pdf, 29803 words)<br /> <div>This paper aims to shed light on the relation between Boltzmannian statistical mechanics and Gibbsian statistical mechanics by studying the Mechanical Averaging Principle, which says that, under certain conditions, Boltzmannian equilibrium values and Gibbsian phase averages are approximately equal. What are these conditions? We identify three conditions each of which is individually sufficient (but not necessary) for Boltzmannian equilibrium values to be approximately equal to Gibbsian phase averages: the Khinchin condition, and two conditions that result from two new theorems, the Average Equivalence Theorem and the Cancelling Out Theorem. These conditions are not trivially satisfied, and there are core models of statistical mechanics, the six-vertex model and the Ising model, in which they fail.</div><br /> <b>Carlo Rovelli: <a href="">The Relational Interpretation</a></b> (pdf, 7143 words)<br /> <div>The relational interpretation (or RQM, for Relational Quantum Mechanics) solves the measurement problem by considering an ontology of sparse relative facts. Facts are realized in interactions between any two physical systems and are relative to these systems. RQM’s technical core is the realisation that quantum transition amplitudes determine physical probabilities only when their arguments are facts relative to the same system. The relativity of facts can be neglected in the approximation where decoherence hides interference, thus making facts approximately stable.</div><br /> <b>Esteban Céspedes: <a href="">A positivist criticism of positivist growth theory</a></b> (pdf, 10566 words)<br /> <div>The notion of growth is one of the most studied notions within economic theory and, traditionally, it is accounted for on the basis of a positivist thesis according to which assumptions are not relevant, as long as economic models have acceptable predictive power. Following this view, it does not matter whether assumptions are realistic or not. Arguments against this principle may involve a defense of the realistic assumptions over highly idealized or false ones. This article aims in a different direction. Instead of demanding more realism, we can accept the spirit of the mentioned thesis, but, instead, criticize the circularity that may arise by combining different assumptions that are necessary for the explanation of economic growth in mainstream economics. Such a circularity is a key aspect of the well-known problem of providing microfoundations for macroeconomic properties. It is here suggested that the notion of emergence could be appropriate to arrive at a better understanding of growth, clarifying the issues related to circularity, but without totally rejecting the usefulness of unrealistic assumptions.</div><br /> <b>Guendalina Righetti, Daniele Porello, Nicolas Troquard, Oliver Kutz, Maria M. Hedblom, Pietro Galliani: <a href="">Asymmetric Hybrids: Dialogues for Computational Concept Combination</a></b> (pdf, 7594 words)<br /> <div>When people combine concepts these are often characterised as “hybrid”, “impossible”, or “humorous”. However, when simply considering them in terms of extensional logic, the novel concepts understood as a conjunctive concept will often lack meaning having an empty extension (consider “a tooth that is a chair”, “a pet flower”, etc.). Still, people use different strategies to produce new non-empty concepts: additive or integrative combination of features, alignment of features, instantiation, etc. All these strategies involve the ability to deal with conflicting attributes and the creation of new (combinations of) properties. We here consider in particular the case where a Head concept has superior ‘asymmetric’ control over steering the resulting concept combination (or hybridisation) with a Modifier concept. Specifically, we propose a dialogical approach to concept combination and discuss an implementation based on axiom weakening, which models the cognitive and logical mechanics of this asymmetric form of hybridisation.</div><br /> <b>Hugh Desmond, Philippe Huneman: <a href="">The Integrated Information Theory of Agency</a></b> (pdf, 1344 words)<br /> <div>We propose that measures of information integration can be more straightforwardly interpreted as measures of agency rather than of consciousness. This may be useful to the goals of consciousness research, given how agency and consciousness are “duals” in many (though not all) respects.</div><br /> <b>John Marenbon: <a href="">Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius</a></b> (html, 10177 words)<br /> <div>Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (born: circa 475–7 C.E., died: 526? C.E.) has long been recognized as one of the most important intermediaries between ancient philosophy and the Latin Middle Ages and, through his <i>Consolation of Philosophy</i>, as a talented literary writer, with a gift for making philosophical ideas dramatic and accessible to a wider public. He had previously translated Aristotle’s logical works into Latin, written commentaries on them as well as logical textbooks, and used his logical training to contribute to the theological discussions of the time. All these writings, which would be enormously influential in the Middle Ages, drew extensively on the thinking of Greek Neoplatonists such as Porphyry and Iamblichus.</div><br /> <b>Kristin Primus: <a href="">Spinoza’s Monism I: Ruling Out Eternal- Durational Causation</a></b> (pdf, 11945 words)<br /> <div>In this essay, I suggest that Spinoza acknowledges a distinction between formal reality that is infinite and timelessly eternal and formal reality that is non-infinite (i. e., finite or indefinite) and non-eternal (i. e., enduring). I also argue that if, in Spinoza’s system, only intelligible causation is genuine causation, then infinite, timelessly eternal formal reality cannot cause non-infinite, non-eternal formal reality. A denial of eternal-durational causation generates a puzzle, however: if <i>no</i> enduring thing – not even the sempiternal, indefinite individual composed of all finite, enduring things – is caused by the infinite, eternal substance, then how can Spinoza consistently hold that the one infinite, eternal substance is the cause of <i>all</i> things and that <i>all</i> things are modes of that substance? At the end of this essay, I sketch how Spinoza could deny eternal-durational causation while still holding that an infinite, eternal God is the cause of all things and that all things are modes. I develop the interpretation more in the companion essay.1</div><br /> <b>Kristin Primus: <a href="">Spinoza’s Monism II: A Proposal</a></b> (pdf, 12993 words)<br /> <div>An old question in Spinoza scholarship is how finite, non-eternal things transitively caused by other finite, non-eternal things (i. e., the entities described in propositions like <i>E</i>1p28) are caused by the infinite, eternal substance, given that what follows either directly or indirectly from the divine nature is infinite and eternal (<i>E</i>1p21–23). In “Spinoza’s Monism I,”1 I pointed out that most commentators answer this question by invoking entities that are indefinite and sempiternal, but argued that perhaps we should not be so quick to assume that in Spinoza’s system, an infinite and eternal substance could cause such indefinite, sempiternal entities. But if such eternal-durational causation is denied, then it seems harder to see how Spinoza’s system could be coherent: if Spinoza holds that the infinite, eternal substance cannot cause <i>anything</i> that is not infinite and not eternal, then how can he also hold that <i>all</i> things are modes immanently caused by substance (<i>E</i>1p15, <i>E</i>1p18, <i>E</i>1p25)? In this essay, I explain how Spinoza’s system could be understood in light of a denial of eternal-durational causation. On the interpretation I offer, God is the cause of all things and all things are modes because the <i>essences</i> of <i>all</i> things follow from the divine nature and <i>all</i> essences enjoy infinite, eternal reality as modes immanently caused by the infinite, eternal substance. The same non-substantial essences can also be conceived as enjoying non-infinite, non-eternal reality, but so conceived, they are enduring, finite (or sempiternal, indefinite) entities that cannot be conceived as modes caused by and inhering in the one infinite, eternal substance. I conclude by pointing out that if we take this interpretive route, we do have to understand Spinoza as committed to acosmism, or a denial of the reality of the world – at least the world of enduring, finite things.</div><br /> <b>Lee Elkin: <a href="">The Precautionary Principle and Expert Disagreement</a></b> (pdf, 4641 words)<br /> <div>The Precautionary Principle is typically construed as a conservative decision rule aimed at preventing harm. But Martin Peterson (JME 33: 5–10, 2007; The ethics of technology: A geometric analysis of five moral principles, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2017) has argued that the principle is better understood as an epistemic rule, guiding decision-makers in forming beliefs rather than choosing among possible acts. On the epistemic view, he claims there is a principle concerning expert disagreement underlying precautionary-based reasoning called the ecumenical principle: all expert views should be considered in a precautionary appraisal, not just those that are the most prominent or influential. In articulating the doxastic commitments of decision-makers under this constraint, Peterson precludes any probabilistic rule that might result in combining expert opinions. For combined or consensus probabilities are likely to provide decision-makers with information that is more precise than warranted. Contra Peterson, I argue that upon adopting a broader conception of probability, there is a probabilistic rule, under which expert opinions are combined, that is immune to his criticism and better represents the ecumenical principle.</div><br /> <b>Martin Calamari: <a href="">The Process Metaphysics of Loop Quantum Gravity</a></b> (pdf, 5503 words)<br /> <div>Dupre and Nicholson (2018) defend the metaphysical thesis that the ‘living world’ is not composed of things or substances, as traditionally believed, but of processes. They advocate a process – as opposed to a substance – metaphysics and ontology, which results to be more empirically adequate to what contemporary biology suggests.</div><br /> <b>Richard Oxenberg: <a href="">Worship: A Meditation</a></b> (pdf, 1413 words)<br /> <div>I remember the night I first discovered the meaning of the word worship. That morning I had been to church and had gotten into a brief discussion with the Pastor about what he kept calling the 'worthiness of God.' I remember thinking that this phrase seemed odd to me and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Oh, I had heard it used before. It was the sort of thing one nodded one's head to and then went on one's way. Like talk about the 'glory' of God. I was never sure what that meant either, and given all the violent things God was sometimes said to do for the sake of his 'glory' I wasn't sure I cared to know. But now I began wondering about this phrase. Worthy? Was God worthy? Worthy of what?</div><br /> <b>The Brains Blog: <a href="">Symposium on Fischer & Sytsma’s “Zombie Intuitions”</a></b> (html, 641 words)<br /> <div>We’re pleased to introduce our latest symposium discussing “Zombie intuitions”, by Eugen Fischer (University of East Anglia) and Justin Sytsma (Victoria University of Wellington), with commentaries by David Chalmers (NYU), Keith Frankish (Sheffield), Michelle Liu (Hertfordshire), and Edouard Machery (Pittsburgh). &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">Fading knowledge of qualia</a></b> (html, 294 words)<br /> <div>I am one of those people who do not have vivid memories of pains. Suppose I stub my toe. While the toe is hurting, I know what the toe’s hurting feels like. After it stops hurting, for a while I still know what that felt like. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>The Splintered Mind: <a href="">The Full Rights Dilemma for Future Robots</a></b> (html, 1256 words)<br /> <div>Since the science of consciousness is hard, it's possible that we will create conscious robots (or AI systems generally) before we know that they are conscious. Then we'll need to decide what to do with those robots -- what kind of rights, if any, to give them. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 20 September 20212021-09-20T23:59:00Z2021-09-20T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-09-20://<b>: <a href="">The evolutionary origin of selfhood in normative emotions</a></b> (pdf, 6451 words)<br /> <div>Normativity is a fundamental feature of selfhood. In the Modern, Enlightenment tradition, being a self is having the capacity to be autonomous, that is, to be responsible for one's own actions and beliefs. To be a self, an organism must be capable of freely following cognitive, behavioural and linguistic norms. It must be able to justify its positions by giving reasons to others -- and to itself. These capacities are contrasted not only with mechanical causation in the physical world, but with the heteronomous status of slaves, of individuals controlled by hypnosis or evil neurosurgeons, or of those manipulated by propaganda or advertising. Thoughts and actions are only mine in so far as I, as an independent individual, take responsibility for them. Only by such deliberative and conscious activity can I take ownership of them. Descartes' rejection of received opinion and Kant's insistence that a Subject must be self-regulating exemplify this Modern tradition.</div><br /> <b> Vamsi Makineni: <a href="'Biodiversity'%20as%20a%20Primarily%20Normative%20and%20Inseparable%20Thick%20Concept%20(2021)%20(1).docx">‘Biodiversity’ as a Primarily Normative and Inseparable Thick Concept</a></b> (doc, 6656 words)<br /> <div>In this paper, I expand on Sarkar’s (2019) view that the term ‘biodiversity’ should be understood primarily as a normative concept with a descriptive component molded to the evaluation; hence, ‘biodiversity’ is a thick term. The idea of inseparability is advocated for by using Bernard William’s example of thick terms as context-oriented whilst taking issue with McDowell’s “anti-disentangling” argument and other contemporary arguments for separability. Compared to other papers in the area of environmental pragmatism, this paper argues that conservation scientists will achieve greater success in conservation efforts by framing ‘biodiversity’ as a primarily normative concept to the value system of the local community.</div><br /> <b>Andrea Lavazza, Sergei Levin, Mirko Farina: <a href="">Dealing with Criminal Behavior: the Inaccuracy of the Quarantine Analogy</a></b> (pdf, 10292 words)<br /> <div>Pereboom and Caruso propose the quarantine model as an alternative to existing models of criminal justice. They appeal to the established public health practice of quarantining people, which is believed to be effective and morally justified, to explain why -in criminal justice- it is also morally acceptable to detain wrongdoers, without assuming the existence of a retrospective moral responsibility. Wrongdoers in their model are treated as carriers of dangerous diseases and as such should be preventively detained (or rehabilitated) until they no longer pose a threat to society. Our main concern in this paper is that Pereboom and Caruso adopt an idiosyncratic meaning of quarantine regulations. We highlight a set of important disanalogies between their quarantine model and the quarantine regulations currently adopted in public health policies. More specifically, we argue that the similarities that Pereboom and Caruso propose to substantiate their analogy are not consistent—despite what they claim—with the regulations underlying quarantine as an epidemiological process. We also notice that certain quarantine procedures adopted in public health systems are inadequate to deal with criminal behaviors. On these grounds, we conclude that Pereboom and Caruso should not appeal to the quarantine analogy to substantiate their view, unless they address the issues and criticism we raise in this paper.</div><br /> <b>Dale Dorsey, Jayhawk Boulevard: <a href="">The Focus of Interpersonal Morality</a></b> (pdf, 9369 words)<br /> <div>Any theory of what we owe to each other (whether such a theory is just part of morality or the whole shebang ) must answer a number of questions. In particular, any such theory must address (at least) the following issues, which I label: Scope: Who matters, morally speaking? Everyone? Some subset of people? Weight : How much do those who matter matter? Does everyone matter equally? Are people who bear relationships to the agent morally more important? Focus: What about people matters? Their well-being? Their ends? Their autonomous agency? Stance: How do we act best to take the people who matter into consideration? Do we promote their (well-being/ends/agency)? Do we honor or preserve (same)? Some other action or set of actions?</div><br /> <b>Dilip Ninan: <a href="">An Expressivist Theory of Taste Predicates</a></b> (pdf, 12001 words)<br /> <div>Simple taste predications come with an acquaintance requirement : they require the speaker to have had a certain kind of first-hand experience with the object of predication. For example, if I told you that the creme caramel is delicious, you would ordinarily assume that I have actually tasted the creme caramel and am not simply relying on the testimony of others. The present essay argues in favor of a ‘lightweight’ expressivist account of the acquaintance requirement. This account consists of a recursive semantics and an account of assertion; it is compatible with a number of different accounts of truth and content, including contextualism, relativism, and purer forms of expressivism. The principal argument in favor of this account is that it correctly predicts a wide range of data concerning how the acquaintance requirement interacts with Boolean connectives, generalized quantifiers, epistemic modals, and attitude verbs.</div><br /> <b>Dilip Ninan: <a href="">Relativism and Two Kinds of Branching Time</a></b> (pdf, 12459 words)<br /> <div>This essay examines the case for relativism about future contingents in light of a distinction between two ways of interpreting the ‘branching time’ framework. Focussing on MacFarlane (2014), we break the argument for relativism down into two steps. The first step is an argument for something MacFarlane calls the Non-Determination Thesis, which is essentially the view that there is no unique actual future. The second step is an argument from the Non-Determination Thesis to relativism. I first argue that first step of this argument fails. But despite that result, the second step is still of interest, since many philosophers have maintained something like the Non-Determination Thesis on alternative grounds. I then argue that whether the second step of the argument succeeds depends on how the Non-Determination Thesis is motivated, and how the ‘branching time’ framework is interpreted in light of that motivation. If the branches in an intended branching time model are ersatz possible worlds, then the argument for relativism might go through; but if, instead, the branches are concrete parts of a ‘branching multiverse’, then the argument for relativism turns out to make implausible assumptions about the nature of personal identity over time. That argument can thus be rejected by rejecting those assumptions. One upshot of this is that the case for relativism about future contingents is much weaker than has been appreciated; a broader lesson is that philosophers who invoke the branching time framework need to pay close attention to different ways of interpreting it.</div><br /> <b>Georgi Gardiner: <a href="">Banal Skepticism and the Errors of Doubt: On Ephecticism about Rape Accusations</a></b> (pdf, 10982 words)<br /> <div>Ephecticism is the tendency towards suspension of belief. Epistemology often focuses on the error of believing when one ought to doubt. The converse error—doubting when one ought to believe— is relatively underexplored. This essay examines the errors of undue doubt. I draw on the relevant alternatives framework to diagnose and remedy undue doubts about rape accusations. Doubters tend to invoke standards for belief that are too demanding, for example, and underestimate how farfetched uneliminated error possibilities are. They mistake seeing how incriminating evidence is compatible with innocence for a reason to withhold judgement. Rape accusations help illuminate the causes and normativity of doubt. I propose a novel kind of epistemic injustice, for example, wherein patterns of unwarranted attention to farfetched error possibilities can cause those error possibilities to become relevant. Widespread unreasonable doubt thus renders doubt reasonable and makes it harder to know rape accusations. Finally, I emphasise that doubt is often a conservative force and I argue that the relevant alternatives framework helps defend against pernicious doubt-mongers.</div><br /> <b>Jonathan Cohen, Elliott Sober: <a href="">Interpolating decisions</a></b> (pdf, 6427 words)<br /> <div><b></b>Decision theory requires agents to assign probabilities to states of the world and utilities to the possible outcomes of different actions. When agents commit to having the probabilities and/or utilities in a decision problem defined by objective features of the world, they may find themselves unable to decide which actions maximize expected utility. Decision theory has long recognized that work-around strategies are available in special cases; this is where dominance reasoning, minimax, and maximin play a role. Here we describe a different work around, wherein a rational decision about one decision problem can be reached by “interpolating” information from another problem that the agent believes has already been rationally solved.</div><br /> <b>Richard Oxenberg: <a href="">Thinking about Thinking: A Brief Introduction to Logic</a></b> (pdf, 5349 words)<br /> <div>Our course this semester will call upon us to apply our critical reasoning to pressing ethical and political questions of our day. The English word ‘critical’ is originally derived from the Greek word ‘<i>Kritikos</i>,’ which means to discern or decide. Critical thinking, then, is a process of making sound decisions or judgments about the matter thought about. Not every critical examination involves matters of truth. An art critic might be more concerned to judge the beauty, or more generally, artistic merit, of the art piece under examination than its ‘truth’ per se. In philosophy, however, we are mostly concerned with truth claims. We can define critical thinking in a philosophical context, then, as the practice of trying to make sound judgments about claims concerning what is true and false.</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">A posteriori necessities</a></b> (html, 197 words)<br /> <div>The usual examples of a posteriori necessities are identities between kinds and objects under two descriptions, at least one of which involves a contingent mode of presentation, such as water (presented as “the stuff in this pond”, say) and H2O. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Alexander Pruss's Blog: <a href="">A defense of probabilistic inconsistency</a></b> (html, 718 words)<br /> <div>Evidence E is misleading with regard to a hypothesis H provided that Bayesian update on E changes one’s credence in H in the direction opposed to truth. It is known that pretty much any evidence is misleading with regard to some hypothesis or other. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>Peter Smith's blog: <a href="">The revised Study Guide — second-order logic</a></b> (html, 139 words)<br /> <div>What to cover in the Guide straight after standard classical FOL? Theories expressed in first-order languages with a first-order logic turn out to have their limitations — that’s a theme that will recur when we look at model theory, theories of arithmetic, and set theory. &hellip;</div><br /> <b>wo's weblog: <a href="">Preference Reflection (EDC, ch.7, part 2)</a></b> (html, 2058 words)<br /> <div>Preference Reflection (EDC, ch.7, part 2) Posted on Monday, 20 Sep 2021. Why should you take both boxes in Newcomb's Problem? The simplest argument is that you are then guaranteed to get $1000 more than what you would get if you took one box. &hellip;</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 19 September 20212021-09-19T23:59:00Z2021-09-19T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-09-19://<b>Felix Bräuer: <a href="">Assertion: The Constitutive Rule Account and the Engagement Condition Objection</a></b> (pdf, 9937 words)<br /> <div>Many philosophers, following Williamson (The Philosophical Review 105(4): 489–523, 1996), Williamson (Knowledge and its Limits, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000), subscribe to the <i>constitutive rule account of assertion</i> (CRAA). They hold that the activity of asserting is constituted by a single constitutive rule of assertion. However, in recent work, Maitra (in: Brown &amp; Cappelen (ed). Assertion: new philosophical essays, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011), Johnson (Acta Analytica 33(1): 51–67, 2018), and Kelp and Simion (Synthese 197(1): 125–137, 2020a), Kelp and Simion (in: Goldberg (ed) The Oxford Handbook of Assertion, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2020b) aim to show that, for all the most popular versions of the constitutive rule of assertion proposed in the literature, asserting is not an activity constituted by a single constitutive rule and that therefore CRAA is very likely false. To reach this conclusion, they all present a version of what can be dubbed the <i>engagement condition objection</i>. That is, they each propose a necessary condition on engaging in rule-constituted activities. Then they argue that, for all the most popular versions of the constitutive rule of assertion proposed in the literature, one can make assertions without satisfying this condition. In response, I present a counterexample that shows that the proposed engagement conditions lead to counterintuitive results, and I propose an alternative that better captures our intuitions. Then I argue that this alternative engagement condition is compatible with all the most popular versions of the constitutive rule of assertion.</div><br /> <b>Thomas Bolander, Nina Gierasimczuk: <a href="">Learning to Act and Observe in Partially Observable Domains</a></b> (pdf, 24555 words)<br /> <div>We consider a learning agent in a partially observable environment, with which the agent has never interacted before, and about which it learns both what it can observe and how its actions affect the environment. The agent can learn about this domain from experience gathered by taking actions in the domain and observing their results. We present learning algorithms capable of learning as much as possible (in a well-defined sense) both about what is directly observable and about what actions do in the domain, given the learner’s observational constraints. We differentiate the level of domain knowledge attained by each algorithm, and characterize the type of observations required to reach it. The algorithms use dynamic epistemic logic (DEL) to represent the learned domain information symbolically. Our work continues that of Bolander and Gierasimczuk (2015), which developed DEL-based learning algorithms based to learn domain information in fully observable domains.</div><br /> Articles and blog posts found on 18 September 20212021-09-18T23:59:00Z2021-09-18T23:59:00ZPhilosophical,2021-09-18://<b>Abhishek Majhi: <a href=",%20Philosophy%20and%20Physics%20-%20a%20critical%20commentary%20on%20the%20dilemma%20of%20categories.pdf">Logic, Philosophy and Physics: a critical commentary on the dilemma of categories</a></b> (pdf, 8405 words)<br /> <div>I provide a critical commentary regarding the attitude of the logician and the philosopher towards the physicist and physics. The commentary is intended to showcase how a general change in attitude towards making scientific inquiries can be beneficial for science as a whole. However, such a change can come at the cost of looking beyond the categories of the disciplines of logic, philosophy and physics. It is through self-inquiry that such a change is possible, along with the realization of the essence of the middle that is otherwise excluded by choice. The logician, who generally holds a reverential attitude towards the physicist, can then actively contribute to the betterment of physics by improving the language through which the physicist expresses his experience. The philosopher, who otherwise chooses to follow the advancement of physics and gets stuck in the trap of sophistication of language, can then be of guidance to the physicist on intellectual grounds by having the physicist’s experience himself. In course of this commentary, I provide a glimpse of how a truthful conversion of verbal statements to physico-mathematical expressions unravels the hitherto unrealized connection between Heisenberg uncertainty relation and Cauchy’s definition of derivative that is used in physics. The commentary can be an essential reading if the reader is willing to look beyond the categories of logic, philosophy and physics by being ‘nobody’.</div><br /> <b>Daniel Linford: <a href="">Neo-Lorentzian Relativity and the Beginning of the Universe</a></b> (pdf, 22302 words)<br /> <div>Many physicists have thought that absolute time became otiose with the introduction of Special Relativity. William Lane Craig disagrees. Craig argues that although relativity is empirically adequate within a domain of application, relativity is literally false and should be supplanted by a Neo-Lorentzian alternative that allows for absolute time. Meanwhile, Craig and co-author James Sinclair have argued that physical cosmology supports the conclusion that physical reality began to exist at a finite time in the past. However, on their view, the beginning of physical reality requires the objective passage of absolute time, so that the beginning of physical reality stands or falls with Craig’s Neo-Lorentzian metaphysics. Here, I raise doubts about whether, given Craig’s NeoLorentzian metaphysics, physical cosmology could adequately support a beginning of physical reality within the finite past. Craig and Sinclair’s conception of the beginning of the universe requires a past boundary to the universe. A past boundary to the universe cannot be directly observed and so must be inferred from the observed matter-energy distribution in conjunction with auxilary hypotheses drawn from a substantive physical theory. Craig’s brand of Neo Lorentzianism has not been sufficiently well specified so as to infer either that there is a past boundary or that the boundary is located in the finite past. Consequently, Neo Lorentzianism implicitly introduces a form of skepticism that removes the ability that we might have otherwise had to infer a beginning of the universe. Furthermore, in analyzing traditional big bang models, I develop criteria that Neo-Lorentzians should deploy in thinking about the direction and duration of time in cosmological models generally. For my last task, I apply the same criteria to bounce cosmologies and show that Craig and Sinclair have been wrong to interpret bounce cosmologies as including a beginning of physical reality.</div><br /> <b>Miguel Egler: <a href="">The Problem of Intuitive Presence</a></b> (pdf, 10014 words)<br /> <div>The historically-influential perceptual analogy states that intuitions and perceptual experiences are alike in many important respects. Phenomenalists defend a particular reading of this analogy according to which intuitions and perceptual experiences share a common <i>phenomenal character</i>. Call this the 'phenomenalist thesis'. The phenomenalist thesis has proven highly influential in recent years. However, insufficient attention has been given to the challenges it raises for theories of intuition. In this paper, I first develop one such challenge. I argue that if we take the idea that intuitions and perceptual experiences have a common phenomenal character seriously, then a version of the familiar problem of perceptual presence arises for intuitions. I call this the 'problem of <i>intuitive</i> presence'. In the second part of the paper I sketch a novel enactivist solution to this problem.</div><br /> <b>Milena Ivanova: <a href="">Scientific Progress and Aesthetic Values</a></b> (doc, 8001 words)<br /> <div>Aesthetic values have featured in scientific practice for centuries, shaping what theories and experiments are pursued, what explanations are considered satisfactory and whether theories are trusted. How do such values enter in the different levels of scientific practice and should they influence our epistemic attitudes? In this chapter I explore these questions and how throughout scientific progress the questions we ask about the role of aesthetic values might change. I start this chapter with an overview of the traditional philosophical distinction between context of discovery and context of justification, showing how aesthetic values were taken to be relevant to scientific discovery and not scientific evaluation, which was regarded value-free. I then proceed with an exploration of different levels of scientific activities, from designing experiments and reconstructing fossils to evaluating data. In this discussion we will see that the traditional distinction between context of discovery and justification seems to break down, as aesthetic values shape all levels of scientific activity. I then turn our attention to the epistemological question: can beauty play an epistemic role, is it to be trusted, or is it a suspect value that might bias scientific inquiry? I explore how we could justify the epistemic import of aesthetic values and present some concerns as well. In the last section I ask whether we should expect the questions surrounding aesthetic values in scientific practice to change with scientific progress, as we enter the era of post-empirical physics, big data science, and make more and more discoveries using AI.</div><br /> <b>Reginald Mary Chua: <a href="">Aquinas, Analogy and the Trinity</a></b> (pdf, 10714 words)<br /> <div>In this paper I argue that Aquinas’ account of analogy provides resources for resolving the prima facie conflict between his claims that (1) the divine relations constituting the persons are “one and the same” with the divine essence; (2) the divine persons are really distinct, (3) the divine essence is absolutely simple. Specifically, I argue that Aquinas adopts an analogical understanding of the concepts of being and unity, and that these concepts are implicit in his formulation of claims about substance and relation in the Trinity. I then show how Aquinas appeals to key structural features of analogical concepts, notably, the <i>simpliciter/secundum quid</i> characterization, to resolve apparent conflicts between the unity of substance and distinction of relations in the Trinity.</div><br /> <b>Stefan Roski: <a href="">In defence of explanatory realism</a></b> (pdf, 11673 words)<br /> <div>Explanatory realism is the view that explanations work by providing information about relations of productive determination such as causation or grounding. The view has gained considerable popularity in the last decades, especially in the context of metaphysical debates about non-causal explanation. What makes the view particularly attractive is that it fits nicely with the idea that not all explanations are causal whilst avoiding an implausible pluralism about explanation. Another attractive feature of the view is that it allows explanation to be a partially epistemic, context-dependent phenomenon. In spite of its attractiveness, explanatory realism has recently been subject to criticism. In particular, Taylor (Philos Stud 175(1):197–219, 2018). has presented four types of explanation that the view allegedly cannot account for. This paper defends explanatory realism against Taylor’s challenges. We will show that Taylor’s counterexamples are either explanations that turn out to provide information about entities standing in productive determination relations or that they are not genuine explanations in the first place.</div><br />