What is to be a human person? Since the cognitive revolution half a century ago, the analytic philosophy of mind has interpreted the question as the mind-body problem: how are mental states that have cognitive or semantic content related to their concomitant brain states or causal neural processes? Let me call this the vertical problem. Functionalism seems to offer the most convincing account of this relationship: the mind is not the brain; the mind is what the brain does.
The literature on epistemic responsibility has traditionally focused on justified belief formation and actions that lead to it. Similarly, accounts of collective epistemic responsibility have addressed the issue of collective belief formation and associated actions. However, cases in which we face an epistemic harm that could be prevented only by a collective action, requiring an effort of an unorganized group, have been left out of these discussions. Examples of collectively preventable epistemic harms include a premature abandonment of a promising research program within a given scientific domain, or the prevalence of pernicious biases in a certain field of study. In this paper we propose an account of collective epistemic responsibility, which fills this gap. Building on Hindriks’ (2018) account of collective moral responsibility, we introduce the Epistemic Duty to Join Forces. Our theory provides an account of the responsibilities of scientists to prevent epistemic harms during inquiry. It also suggests fruitful applications to other discussions, such as those concerning epistemic injustice and epistemically pernicious groups.
You're a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Of course you are! How could you not be? (Okay, if you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out here.) And if you're a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, you love Uncle Iroh. …
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Messiah: Al is a good man. He leads a fulfilling life. Those around him appreciate him and treat him with respect. Shortly before his death, he makes an unsettling discovery. Unbeknownst to him, those in his community believe he is a Messiah: someone chosen by God, with innate virtue, and deserving of unconditional respect. As it happens, Al really is a good man, worthy of respect. But if, counterfactually, his behaviour and personality were disagreeable, those around him would continue to be positively disposed towards him. They all interpret Al’s behaviour through the lens of the “Messiah-script,” without seeing him for who he really is.
We present an empirically supported theoretical and methodological framework for quantifying the system-level properties of person-plus-tool interactions in order to answer the question: “Are person-plus-tool-systems extended cognitive systems?” Nineteen participants provided perceptual judgments regarding their ability to pass through apertures of various widths while using visual information, blindfolded wielding a rod, or blindfolded wielding an Enactive Torch—a vibrotactile sensory-substitution device for detecting distance. Monofractal, multifractal, and recurrence quantification analyses were conducted to assess features of person-plus-tool movement dynamics. Trials where people utilized the rod or Enactive Torch demonstrated stable “self-similarity,” or indices of healthy and adaptive single systems, regardless of aperture width, trial order, features of the participants’ judgments, and participant characteristics. Enactive Torch trials exhibited a somewhat greater range of dynamic fluctuations than the rod trials, as well as less movement recurrence, suggesting that the Enactive Torch allowed for more exploratory movements. Findings provide support for the notion that person-plus-tool systems can be classified as extended cognitive systems and a framework for quantifying system-level properties of these systems. Implications concerning future research on extended cognition are discussed.
Koreans have been key players in Asian intellectual history and have
historically been great propagators of intercultural adaptation. The
“Three Teachings” of China, in the form of Buddhism,
Confucianism, and Daoism (sometimes written “Taoism”), had
all made their way into Korea by the fifth century CE, blending with
the pre-existing institutions and culture there. Korean Confucians had
used Confucian ideas, especially those advocating hierarchy and moral
leadership, to bolster a powerful state bureaucracy in order to
provide society with a rigidly structured and organised modus
In recent years, theories of social understanding have moved away from arguing that just one epistemic strategy, such as theory-based inference or simulation constitutes our ability of social understanding. Empirical observations speak against any monistic view and have given rise to pluralistic accounts arguing that humans rely on a large variety of epistemic strategies in social understanding. We agree with this promising pluralist approach, but highlight two open questions: what is the residual role of mindreading, i.e. the indirect attribution of mental states to others within this framework, and how do different strategies of social understanding relate to each other? In a first step, we aim to clarify the arguments that might be considered in evaluating the role that epistemic strategies play in a pluralistic framework. On this basis, we argue that mindreading constitutes a core epiststrategy in human social life that opens new central spheres of social understanding. In a second step, we provide an account of the relation between different epistemic strategies which integrates and demarks the important role of mindreading for social understanding.
“The poorest he that is in England has a life to live as the greatest he” (ThomasRainsborough, spokesman for the Levellers at the Putnam Debates)What does it mean to say that everyone is equal? It does not mean that everyone has (or should have) the same amount of nice things, money, or happiness. …
An important question confronting feminist philosophers is why women are sometimes complicit in their own subordination. The dominant view holds that complicity is best understood in terms of adaptive preferences. This view assumes that agents will naturally gravitate away from subordination and towards flourishing as long as they do not have things imposed on them that disrupt this trajectory. However, there is reason to believe that ‘impositions’ do not explain all of the ways in which complicity can arise. This paper defends a phenomenological account of complicity, which offers an alternative explanation.
The law of contracts, at least in its orthodox expression, concerns
voluntary, or chosen, legal obligations. When Brody accepts
Susan’s offer to sell him a canoe for a set price, the
parties’ choices alter their legal rights and duties. Their
success at changing the legal landscape depends on a background system
of rules that specify when and how contractual acts have legal
effects, rules that give the offer and acceptance of a
bargain-exchange a central role in generating obligations. Contract
law conceived as a body of rules empowering individuals to shape their
own rights and responsibilities presents an object of philosophical
It is a common thought that authoritative law is necessary because we disagree about justice. This idea often rests on law’s purported instrumental value, on its ability to get us, imperfect and biased agents, closest to a just society: we do best, from the perspective of justice independently defined, by having clear legal rules to follow and rights to respect. In The Doctrine of Right, Kant rejects such an instrumental conception of law and instead defends the more controversial claim that, absent authoritative law, there will often be no answer to be had about what justice (or, for Kant, right) requires of us in our interactions with one another. On this view, in a situation without authoritative law—in a state of nature—a person is unable coherently to pursue the aim of acting rightly. Authoritative law is required for Kant, then, not because a person, in obeying the law, is thereby more likely to do what right demands; rather, it is required because without it, there will often be no sense to be made of this question of what right demands.
GPT-3 is a computer program trained on a huge database of internet text and designed to produce language outputs that look human. Given the right prompts, it can produce strikingly humanlike outputs, as I've discussed in previous posts here and here. …
Discussion of cognitive scaffolding is dominated by attention to ways that external structure can support cognitive activity or augment an agent’s cognitive capacities. We call instances where the interests of the user are served benign and argue for the possibility of hostile scaffolding. This is scaffolding which depends on the same capacities of an agent to rely on external structure, but that undermines or exploits that agent while serving the interests of another. We offer one defence of hostile scaffolding by developing an account of a neglected complementarity between extended phenotype thinking and extended functionalism. We support this with a second defence, an account of design features of electronic gambling machines and casino management systems that show how they exemplify hostile scaffolding.
Legal positivists maintain that the legality of a rule is fundamentally determined by social facts. Yet for much of legal history, ordinary officials used legal terminology in ways that seem inconsistent with positivism. Judges regularly cited, analyzed, and predicated their decisions on the ‘laws of justice’ which they claimed had universal legal import. This practice, though well-documented by historians, has received surprisingly little philosophical attention; I argue that it invites explanation from positivists. After taxonomizing the positivist’s explanatory options, I suggest that the most viable option appeals to conceptual change: classical Romans, early modern Europeans, founding-era Americans were not using ‘law’ (or ‘lex’ or ‘jus’) to refer to the subject matter of contemporary legal philosophy. But the strategy is costly. It renders positivism’s truth surprisingly parochial. And it supplies new reasons for doubting positivist accounts of contemporary practices, including the treatment of moral principles in modern adjudication.
‘Mathematical psychics’ was the name of the approach and the book by Edgeworth for a burgeoning scientific approach, also pioneered by Pareto, for that part of psychology on which economics rests. The nature of the subject of this approach raises the prospect that this approach can also be of interest to practitioners of other sciences related to psychology, which is why an attempt is made here to give an overview of the contents of this approach and some results already achieved with it in economics. In addition, some problems outside economics, narrowly construed, are indicated, for the solution of which one might also make fruitful use of mathematical psychology.
One of the currently most discussed themes in the philosophy of action is whether there is some kind of collective intention that explains what groups do independent of what the individuals who make up the group intend and do. One of the main obstacles to solve this problem is that on the one hand collective intentionality is no simple summation, aggregate, or distributive pattern of individual intentionality (the Irreducibility Claim), while on the other hand collective intentionality is in the heads of the participating individuals, so to speak, and so it is owned by each of the separate individuals who make up the group (the Individual Ownership Claim). The claims are contradictory and until now no satisfactory solution how to reconcile them has been found. In this article I argue that the constitution view, like the one developed by Lynne R. Baker, can provide a way to sidestep the contradiction. Just as a statue as such is constituted by the marble it is made of but has characteristics that are different from the marble (a statue has a head and legs, while the marble hasn’t; while the marble is stony and the statue as such isn’t), I argue that a group is constituted by its members and that a group on the one hand and its members on the other hand have different characteristics. This is possible because group and members are on different levels. Then there is no longer a contradiction between the Irreducibility Claim and the Individual Ownership Claim, for the former claim concerns the group level and the latter claim concerns the level of the group members. This explains that a group can have intentions that are no simple summation, aggregate, or distributive patterns of the intentions of its members and that group intentions can be different from if not contradictory to what the individual members taken together intend.
Testimony from victims of gendered violence is often wrongly disbelieved. This paper explores a way to address this problem by developing a phenomenological approach to testimony. Guided by the concept of ‘disclosedness’, a tripartite analysis of testimony as an affective, embodied, communicative act is developed. Affect indicates how scepticism may arise through the social moods that often attune agents to victims’ testimony. The embodiment of meaning suggests testimony should not be approached as an assertion, but as a process of ‘articulating an understanding’. This account is deepened in the discussion of testimony as a communicative act. It is argued that testimony must be considered as a relational whole, and thus our aim in receiving victims’ testimony should be to honour the relational conditions under which the truth of testimony can be heard. Approaching testimony as the collaborative process of enabling an understanding to be articulated can enhance our conception of gendered violence, whilst also better serving the victims of gendered violence by helping to overcome the lack of trust and excessive scepticism with which victims’ testimony is often met.
This article presents two related challenges to the idea that, to ensure policy evaluation is comprehensive, all costs and benefits should be aggregated into a single, equity-weighted wellbeing metric. The first is to point out how, even allowing for equity-weighting, the use of a single metric limits the extent to which we can take distributional concerns into account. The second challenge starts from the observation that in this and many other ways, aggregating diverse effects into a single metric of evaluation necessarily involves settling many moral questions that reasonable people disagree about. This raises serious questions as to what role such a method of policy evaluation can and should play in informing policy-making in liberal democracies. Ultimately, to ensure comprehensiveness of policy evaluation in a wider sense, namely, that all the diverse effects that reasonable people might think matter are kept score of, we need multiple metrics as inputs to public deliberation.
The many definitions of sophistry at the beginning of Plato’s Sophist have puzzled scholars just as much as they puzzled the dialogue’s main speakers: the Visitor from Elea and Theaetetus. The aim of this paper is to give an account of that puzzlement. This puzzlement, it is argued, stems not from a logical or epis temological problem, but from the metaphysical problem that, given the multi plicity of accounts, the interlocutors do not know what the sophist essentially is. It transpires that, in order to properly account for this puzzle, one must jettison the traditional view of Plato’s method of division, on which divisions must be exclusive and mark out relations of essential predication. It is then shown on independent grounds that, although Platonic division in the Sophist must express predication relations and be transitive, it need not be dichotomous, exclusive, or express relations of essential predication. Once the requirements of exclusivity and essential predication are dropped, it is possible to make sense of the reasons that the Visitor from Elea and Theaetetus are puzzled. Moreover, with this in hand, it is possible to see Plato making an important methodological point in the dialogue: division on its own without any norms does not necessarily lead to the discovery of essences.
Adolescents are routinely treated differently from adults, even when they possess agential capacities that are not dissimilar. Some instances of differential treatment rely on the assumption that responsible adults or institutions are better placed to direct an adolescent’s life. In this article we attempt to make philosophical sense of one notable case of differential treatment of adolescents: the concurrent consents doctrine in the law of England and Wales (and other jurisdictions).1 Our discussion of this doctrine may shed light on the justification for treating adolescents differently from (and paternalistically compared to) adults in medical and other domains.
The Animal Breeding Research Organisation (ABRO) was formed as a result of the recommendations of a joint Committee of the Agricultural Improvement Council and the Agricultural Research Council, set up in 1943, to consider the directions which research in animal genetics and breeding in Great Britain should take to advance scientific knowledge and assist animal production in the farming industry.
The important ‘no-envy’ fairness criterion has typically been attributed to Foley (1967) and sometimes to Tinbergen (1946, 1953). We reveal that Jan Tinbergen introduced ‘no-envy’ as a fairness criterion in his article “Mathematiese Psychologie” published in 1930 in the Dutch journal Mens en Maatschappij and translated as “Mathematical Psychology” in 2021 in the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics. Our article accompanies the translation: we introduce Tinbergen’s 1930 formulation of the ‘no-envy’ criterion, compare it to other formulations, and comment on its significance for the fairness literature in philosophy and economics.
Many projects in contemporary philosophy facts plays an indispensable role in the activity of is treacherously easy for graduate students to be lured into devoting their careers to them, so advice is proffered on how to avoid this trap.
On J586, a planet peopled by sentient vegetation, seven blobs of color, stacked high like scoops of ice cream, float in a test tube-like container. The super-powered guardian of J586 sits opposite the hovering cyan and magenta patches and tentatively addresses something that looks more like a traffic light than an organism. The guardian slowly asks these blobs about who and what they are. Remarkably, the blobs explain that they have been exiled from their homeworld and express their deep regret for the chaos they have just wrought on J586.
Democracy is in trouble, and it is democracy’s own fault—that is Robert Talisse’s intriguing contention is his recent book, Overdoing Democracy: Why We Must Put Politics in its Place (2019). What gets democracy into trouble, according to Talisse, is the idea that a democratic form of government is intrinsically valuable, which in turn entails a deliberative conception of democracy that, in combination with the social-psychological fact of social sorting, leads to rampant polarization. According to Talisse, we therefore need to put democracy in its place by resisting the expansive view of the scope of democracy and making room for non-political spaces of interaction, in which we can form civic friendships. However, in what follows, I argue that what Talisse has actually provided is an excellent reason for rejecting rather than merely mitigating the detrimental effects of the idea that democracy is intrinsically valuable. Specifically, we ought to stop fetishizing democracy and instead embrace an instrumentalist view of democracy as a social practice that is instituted and maintained for purposes external to itself. Once we do this, democracy no longer needs saving from itself.
Ted Gioia associated the “aesthetics of imperfection” with improvised music. In an earlier article, I extended it to all musical performance. This article reconceives my discussion, offering more precise analyses: (1) The aesthetics of imperfection is now argued to involve open, spontaneous response to contingencies of performance or production, reacting positively to idiosyncratic instruments; apparent failings in performance, and so on. Perfectionists, in contrast, prefer a planning model, not readily modified in face of contingencies. (2) Imperfection is not toleration of errors and imperfections, as Gioia assumes, but a positive aesthetic, as in Japanese wabi-sabi. Imperfections can become new styles or kinds of perfection—and so true imperfectionism is a constant striving for new contingencies to respond to. (3) A subtler, more complex relation between composition and improvisation is proposed, in which both have broad and narrow senses. Composition involves (a) works, usually desk produced and notated; or more generally, (b) putting things together in an aesthetically rewarding form. Thus, improvisation is a (broad sense) compositional method. (4) Improvisation and composition are interdependent; both involve structure and spontaneity. (5) Imperfectionism is an aesthetics of performance—of compositions as well as improvisations. Improvisation is no risker, or prone to mistakes, than performance of compositions.
[Note: I wrote this about a year ago. This was before several excellent books came out on this topic, e.g. here and here. I have only read the first of these but I have not updated what I wrote in light of it. …
Relational egalitarian accounts of justice have become widely accepted in recent years, and proponents have played a central role in a broader critical reaction to accounts of justice that focus primarily on distributive matters. According to relational egalitarians, the fundamental value that grounds requirements of justice is egalitarian social relationships. Justice, for relational egalitarians, then, is at bottom about the terms on which individuals relate to each other. Most uncontroversially, on relational egalitarian views, justice requires that individuals do
« Q2B 2021
Scott Aaronson, when reached for comment, said…
About IBM’s new 127-qubit superconducting chip: As I told New Scientist, I look forward to seeing the actual details! As far as I could see, the marketing materials that IBM released yesterday take a lot of words to say absolutely nothing about what, to experts, is the single most important piece of information: namely, what are the gate fidelities? …