1. 1212.400216
    . What’s would I say is the most important takeaway from last week’s NISS “statistics debate” if you’re using (or contemplating using) Bayes factors (BFs)–of the sort Jim Berger recommends– as replacements for P-values? …
    Found 20 minutes ago on D. G. Mayo's blog
  2. 6775.40033
    In this short survey article, I discuss Bell’s theorem and some strategies that attempt to avoid the conclusion of non-locality. I focus on two that intersect with the philosophy of probability: (1) quantum probabilities and (2) super-determinism. The issues they raised not only apply to a wide class of no-go theorems about quantum mechanics but are also of general philosophical interest.
    Found 1 hour, 52 minutes ago on PhilSci Archive
  3. 7061.400377
    The propensity nature of evolutionary fitness has long been appreciated and is nowadays amply discussed (Abrams, 2009, 2012; Ariew and Ernst, 2009; Ariew and Lewontin, 2004; Beatty and Finsen, 1989; Brandon, 1978; Drouet and Merlin, 2015; Mills and Beatty, 1979; Millstein, 2003, 2016; Pence and Ramsey, 2013; Sober, 1984, 2001, 2013, 2019; Walsh, 2010; Walsh, Ariew, Mahen, 2016; etc). The discussion has, however, on occasion followed long standing conflations in the philosophy of probability between propensities, probabilities, and frequencies. In this article, I apply a more recent conception of propensities in modelling practice (the ‘complex nexus of chance’, CNC) to some key issues, regarding whether and how fitness is explanatory, and how it ought to be represented mathematically. The ensuing complex nexus of fitness (CNF) emphasises the distinction between biological propensities and the probability distributions over offspring numbers that they give rise to; and how critical it is to distinguish the possession conditions of the underlying dispositional (physical and biological) properties from those of their probabilistic manifestations.
    Found 1 hour, 57 minutes ago on PhilSci Archive
  4. 35745.400429
    David Hilbert was promoting formalized mathematics, in which every real number with its infinite series of digits is a completed individual object. On the other side the Dutch mathematician, Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer, was defending the view that each point on the line should be represented as a never-ending process that develops in time, a view known as intuitionistic mathematics (Box 1).
    Found 9 hours, 55 minutes ago on PhilSci Archive
  5. 109696.400472
    Can young children such as 3-year-olds represent the world objectively? Some prominent developmental psychologists (Perner, Tomasello) assume so. I argue that this view is susceptible to a prima facie powerful objection: to represent objectively, one must be able to represent not only features of the entities represented but also features of objectification itself, which 3-year-olds can’t do yet. Drawing on Tyler Burge’s work on perceptual constancy, I provide a response to this objection and motivate a distinction between three different kinds of objectivity. This distinction helps advance current research on both objectivity and teleological action explanations in young children.
    Found 1 day, 6 hours ago on PhilPapers
  6. 180486.400505
    We explore the contribution made by oscillatory, synchronous neural activity to representation in the brain. We closely examine six prominent examples of brain function in which neural oscillations play a central role, and identify two levels of involvement that these oscillations take in the emergence of representations: enabling (when oscillations help to establish a communication channel between sender and receiver, or are causally involved in triggering a representation) and properly representational (when oscillations are a constitutive part of the representation). We show that even an idealized informational sender-receiver account of representation makes the representational status of oscillations a non-trivial matter, which depends on rather minute empirical details.
    Found 2 days, 2 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  7. 180697.400548
    Do scientific theories limit human knowledge? In other words, are there physical variables hidden by essence forever? We argue for negative answers and illustrate our point on chaotic classical dynamical systems. We emphasize parallels with quantum theory and conclude that the common real numbers are, de facto, the hidden variables of classical physics. Consequently, real numbers should not be considered as “physically real” and classical mechanics, like quantum physics, is indeterministic.
    Found 2 days, 2 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  8. 180774.40058
    Propensities are presented as a generalization of classical determinism. They describe a physical reality intermediary between Laplacian determinism and pure randomness, such as in quantum mechanics. They are characterized by the fact that their values are determined by the collection of all actual properties. It is argued that they do not satisfy Kolmogorov axioms; other axioms are proposed.
    Found 2 days, 2 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  9. 191852.40061
    (150 words): Moral, social, political, and other “nonepistemic” values can lead to bias in science, from prioritizing certain topics over others to the rationalization of questionable research practices. Such values might seem particularly common or powerful in the social sciences, given their subject matter. However, I argue first that the well-documented phenomenon of motivated reasoning provides a useful framework for understanding when values guide scientific inquiry (in pernicious or productive ways). Second, this analysis reveals a parity thesis: values influence the social and natural sciences about equally, particularly because both are so prominently affected by desires for social credit and status, including recognition and career advancement. Ultimately, bias in natural and social science is both natural and social— that is, a part of human nature and considerably motivated by a concern for social status (and its maintenance). Whether the pervasive influence of values is inimical to the sciences is a separate question.
    Found 2 days, 5 hours ago on Josh May's site
  10. 223253.400629
    What is a natural kind? This old yet lasting philosophical question has recently received new competing answers (e.g., Chakravartty, 2007; Magnus, 2014; Khalidi, 2013; Slater, 2015; Ereshef-sky & Reydon, 2015). We show that the main ingredients of an encompassing and coherent account of natural kinds are actually on the table, but in need of the right articulation. It is by adopting a non-reductionist, naturalistic and non-conceptualist approach that, in this paper, we elaborate a new synthesis of all these ingredients. Our resulting proposition is a multiple-compartment theory of natural kinds that defines them in purely ontological terms, clearly distinguishes and relates ontological and epistemological issues —more precisely, two grains of ontological descriptions and two grains of explanatory success of natural kinds—, and which sheds light on why natural kinds play an epistemic role both within science and in everyday life.
    Found 2 days, 14 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  11. 223313.400644
    After the rise of Darwin’s theory of evolution it seemed that the much-feared ghost of traditional essentialism had disappeared from biology. However, developments of the last century in analytic metaphysics (Kripke, Putnam, Wiggins) appear to have resurrected the Aristotelian monster in various forms. The aim of this paper is to investigate the revival of the essentialist doctrine as applied to biological species, namely the thesis that organisms belong to a particular natural kind in virtue of possessing certain essential properties, and examine to what extent these new biological essentialisms are sustainable. For this purpose, I intend to analyze these proposals in both their forms, relational essentialism (Okasha, LaPorte) and intrinsic essentialism (Devitt), and confront them with their main anti-essentialist criticisms.
    Found 2 days, 14 hours ago on PhilPapers
  12. 225534.400658
    How should governments decide between alternative taxation schemes, environmental protection regulations, infrastructure plans, climate change policies, healthcare systems, and other policies? One kind of consideration that should bear on such decisions is their effects on people’s well-being. The most rigorous methodology for evaluating such effects is the “social welfare function” (SWF) approach originating in the work of Abram Bergson and Paul Samuelson and further developed by Kenneth Arrow, Amartya Sen, and other economists.
    Found 2 days, 14 hours ago on PhilPapers
  13. 315997.400672
    The vocabulary of human languages has been argued to support efficient communication by optimizing the trade-off between complexity and informativeness (Kemp & Regier 2012). The argument has been based on cross-linguistic analyses of vocabulary in semantic domains of content words such as kinship, color, and number terms. The present work extends this analysis to a category of function words: indefinite pronouns (e.g. someone, anyone, no-one, cf. Haspelmath 2001). We build on previous work to establish the meaning space and featural make-up for indefinite pronouns, and show that indefinite pronoun systems across languages optimize the complexity/informativeness trade-off. This demonstrates that pressures for efficient communication shape both content and function word categories, thus tying in with the conclusions of recent work on quantifiers by Steinert-Threlkeld (2019). Furthermore, we argue that the trade-off may explain some of the universal properties of indefinite pronouns, thus reducing the explanatory load for linguistic theories.
    Found 3 days, 15 hours ago on Jakub Szymanik's site
  14. 325039.400686
    . How did I respond to those 7 burning questions at last week’s (“P-Value”) Statistics Debate? Here’s a fairly close transcript of my (a) general answer, and (b) final remark, for each question–without the in-between responses to Jim and David. …
    Found 3 days, 18 hours ago on D. G. Mayo's blog
  15. 454879.400701
    The TL;DR summary of what follows is that we should quantify the conventionality of a regularity (David-Lewis-style) as follows: A regularity R in the behaviour of population P in a recurring situation S, is a convention of depth x, breadth y and degree z when there is a recurring situation T that refines S, and in each instance of T there is a subpopulation K of P, such that it’s true and common knowledge among K in that instance that:(A) BEHAVIOUR CONDITION: everyone in K conforms to R (B) EXPECTATION CONDITION: everyone in K expects everyone else in K to conform to R (C) SPECIAL PREFERENCE CONDITION: everyone in K prefers that they conform to R conditionally on everyone else in K conforming to R. where x (depth) is the fraction of S-situations which are T, y (breadth) is the fraction of all Ps involved who are Ks in this instance, and z is the degree to which (A-C) obtaining resembles a coordination equilibrium that solves a coordination problem among the Ks. …
    Found 5 days, 6 hours ago on Robbie Williams's blog
  16. 470298.400714
    Theories are indispensable to organize immunological data into coherent, explanatory, and predictive frameworks. Here we propose to combine different models to develop a unifying theory of immunity, which situates immunology in the wider context of physiology. We believe that the immune system will be increasingly understood as a central component of a network of partner physiological systems that connect to maintain homeostasis.
    Found 5 days, 10 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  17. 470413.400732
    The main objective of immunology is to establish why and when an immune response occurs, that is, to determine a criterion of immunogenicity. According to the consensus view, the proper criterion of immunogenicity lies in the discrimination between self and nonself. Here we challenge this consensus by suggesting a simpler and more comprehensive criterion, the criterion of continuity. Moreover, we show that this criterion may be considered as an interpretation of the immune ‘‘self.’’ We conclude that immunologists can continue to speak of the self, provided that they admit that the selfnonself discrimination is not an adequate criterion of immunogenicity.
    Found 5 days, 10 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  18. 545318.400747
    Sharing, downloading, and reusing software is common-place, some of which is carried out legally with open source software. When it is not legal, it is unclear how many infringements have taken place: does an infringement count for the artefact as a whole or for each source file of a computer program? To answer this question, it must first be established whether a computer program should be considered as an integral whole, a collection, or a mere set of distinct files, and why. We argue that a program is a functional whole, availing of, and combining, arguments from mereology, granularity, modularity, unity, and function to substantiate the claim. The argumentation and answer contributes to the ontology of software artefacts, may assist industry in litigation cases, and demonstrates that the notion of unifying relation is operationalisable.
    Found 6 days, 7 hours ago on C. Maria Keet's site
  19. 545324.400761
    Debate about the epistemic prowess of historical science has focused on local underdetermination problems generated by a lack of historical data; the prevalence of information loss over geological time, and the capacities of scientists to mitigate it. Drawing on Leonelli’s recent distinction between ‘phenomena-time’ and ‘data-time’ I argue that factors like data generation, curation and management significantly complexifies and undermines this: underdetermination is a bad way of framing the challenges historical scientists face. In doing so, I identify circumstances of ‘epistemic scarcity’ where underdetermination problems are particularly salient, and discuss cases where ‘legacy data’—data generated using differing technologies and systems of practice—are drawn upon to overcome underdetermination. This suggests that one source of overcoming underdetermination is our knowledge of science’s past. Further, data-time makes agnostic positions about the epistemic fortunes of scientists working under epistemic scarcity more plausible. But agnosticism seems to leave philosophers without much normative grip. So, I sketch an alternative approach: focusing on the strategies scientists adopt to maximize their epistemic power in light of the resources available to them.
    Found 6 days, 7 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  20. 545333.400777
    Which domains of biology do philosophers of biology primarily study? The fact that philosophy of biology has been dominated by an interest for evolutionary biology is widely admitted, but it has not been strictly demonstrated. Here I analyse the topics of all the papers published in Biology & Philosophy, just as the journal celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. I then compare the distribution of biological topics in Biology & Philosophy with that of the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA, focusing on the recent period 2003-2015. This comparison reveals a significant mismatch between the distributions of these topics. I examine plausible explanations for that mismatch. Finally, I argue that many biological topics underrepresented in philosophy of biology raise important philosophical issues and should therefore play a more central role in future philosophy of biology.
    Found 6 days, 7 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  21. 545349.400793
    Noether’s first theorem does not establish a one-way explanatory arrow from symmetries to conservation laws, but such an arrow is widely assumed in discussions of the theorem in the physics and philosophy literature. It is argued here that there are pragmatic reasons for privileging symmetries, even if they do not strictly justify explanatory priority. To this end, some practical factors are adduced as to why Noether’s direct theorem seems to be more well-known and exploited than its converse, with special attention being given to the sometimes overlooked nature of Noether’s converse result and to its strengthened version due to Luis Martinez Alonso in 1979 and Peter Olver in 1986.
    Found 6 days, 7 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  22. 545352.400808
    It is usual to identify initial conditions of classical dynamical systems with mathematical real numbers. However, almost all real numbers contain an infinite amount of information. I argue that a finite volume of space can’t contain more than a finite amount of information, hence that the mathematical real numbers are not physically relevant. Moreover, a better terminology for the so-called real numbers is “random numbers”, as their series of bits are truly random. I propose an alternative classical mechanics, which is empirically equivalent to classical mechanics, but uses only finite-information numbers. This alternative classical mechanics is non-deterministic, despite the use of deterministic equations, in a way similar to quantum theory. Interestingly, both alternative classical mechanics and quantum theories can be supplemented by additional variables in such a way that the supplemented theory is deterministic. Most physicists straightforwardly supplement classical theory with real numbers to which they attribute physical existence, while most physicists reject Bohmian mechanics as supplemented quantum theory, arguing that Bohmian positions have no physical reality.
    Found 6 days, 7 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  23. 545369.400822
    Studies on Platonic ‘Theoria motus abstracti’ are often focused on dynamics rather than kinematics, in particular on psychic self-motion. This state of affairs is, of course, far from being a bland academic accident: according to Plato, dynamics is the higher science while kinematics is lower on the ‘scientific’ spectrum . Furthermore, when scholars investigate Platonic abstract kinematics, in front of them there is a very limited set of texts . Among them, one of the most interesting undoubtedly remains a passage of Parmenides in which Plato challenges the puzzle of the ‘instant of change’, namely the famous text about the ‘sudden’ (τὸ ἐξαίφνης).
    Found 6 days, 7 hours ago on PhilPapers
  24. 545389.400835
    Biologists like to think of themselves as properly scientific behaviourists, explaining and predicting the ways that proteins, organelles, cells, plants, animals and whole biota behave under various conditions, thanks to the smaller parts of which they are composed. ey identify causal mechanisms that reliably execute various functions such as copying DNA, attacking antigens, photosynthesising, discerning temperature gradients, capturing prey, finding their way back to their nests and so forth, but they don’t think that this acknowledgment of functions implicates them in any discredited teleology or imputation of reasons and purposes or understanding to the cells and other parts of the mechanisms they investigate.
    Found 6 days, 7 hours ago on Daniel Dennett's site
  25. 545406.400849
    There are two traditions of thinking about idealization offering almost opposite views on their functioning and epistemic status. While one tradition views idealizations as epistemic deficiencies, the other one highlights the epistemic benefits of idealization. Both of these accounts agree in that idealizations are deliberate misrepresentations. In this article, we approach idealization from the artifactual account of models, comparing it to the traditional accounts of idealization as misrepresentation, and exemplifying it through the case of the Hodgkin and Huxley model of nerve impulse. From the artifactual perspective, the epistemic benefits and deficiencies introduced by idealization frequently come in a package due to the way idealization draws together different resources in model construction. Accordingly, idealization tends to be holistic in that it is not often easily attributable to just some specific parts of the model. We argue that the artifactual approach lends a unifying view into idealization in that it is able to recover several basic philosophical insights motivating both the deficiency and epistemic benefit accounts, being simultaneously detached from the idea of distortion by misrepresentation.
    Found 6 days, 7 hours ago on Tarja Knuuttila's site
  26. 586572.400865
    This thematic section of Biological Theory is focused on development; it raises the problem of the temporal and spatial boundaries of development. From a temporal point of view, when does development start and stop? From a spatial point of view, what is it exactly that ‘‘develops,’’ and is it possible to delineate clearly the developing entity? This section explores the possible answers to these questions, and thus sheds light on the definition of development itself.
    Found 6 days, 18 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  27. 586679.400881
    Epidemiological explanation often has a “black box” character, meaning the intermediate steps between cause and effect are unknown. Filling in black boxes is thought to improve causal inferences by making them intelligible. I argue that adding information about intermediate causes to a black box explanation is an unreliable guide to pragmatic intelligibility because it may mislead us about the stability of a cause. I diagnose a problem that I call wishful intelligibility, which occurs when scientists misjudge the limitations of certain features of an explanation. Wishful intelligibility gives us a new reason to prefer black box explanations in some contexts.
    Found 6 days, 18 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  28. 586873.400895
    Since the 1950s, the common view of development has been internalist: development is seen as the result of the unfolding of potentialities already present in the egg cell. In this paper I show that this view is incorrect, because of the crucial influence of the environment on development. I focus on a fascinating example, that of the role played by symbioses in development, especially bacterial symbioses, a phenomenon found in virtually all organisms (plants, invertebrates, vertebrates). I claim that we must consequently modify our conception of the boundaries of the developing entity, and I show how immunology can help us in accomplishing this task. I conclude that the developing entity encompasses many elements traditionally seen as “foreign”, while I reject the idea that there is no possible distinction between the organism and its environment.
    Found 6 days, 19 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  29. 601477.400909
    Compatibilist defenses of moral responsibility provide conditions under which an action can be blameworthy or praiseworthy even if that action is determined. It is often thought, however, that there are certain sorts of causal factors that should mitigate praise and blame attributions, notwithstanding that those conditions for responsibility are met. In other words, even for the compatibilist, there are certain causes that might lead one to act that would render typical punishments or rewards unfair, and require a different sort of moral response. A paradigmatic case is that of addiction, insofar as addicts may be seen, by the compatibilist, as lacking freedom in two senses: the usual one of existing in a determined universe, and an extraordinary one, resulting from their compulsive prioritization of using over all else. Often in the philosophical literature, as well as in popular media, the character of the addict is portrayed as compelled or “seduced” by their addiction, even as they are, in some sense, choosing when they act on it (Cummins 2014; Grim 2007, 191). The paradigm of addiction is therefore useful for philosophers interested in thinking about free will and moral responsibility, but worried about the possible scope of mitigating causal histories (Berofsky 2005, Kane 2020, Levy 2011, Shatz 1988, Yaffe 2011). The compulsive prioritization of using over other desires is taken to indicate a difference in kind between the addict and the rest of us, and gives grounds for delineating exceptional cases from typical ones when it comes to assigning desert.
    Found 6 days, 23 hours ago on Justin Clarke-Doane's site
  30. 636437.400923
    (1700 words; 8 minute read.) What rational polarization looks like. ​It’s September 21, 2020. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just died. Republicans are moving to fill her seat; Democrats are crying foul.​Fox News publishes an op-ed by Ted Cruz arguing that the Senate has a duty to fill her seat before the election. …
    Found 1 week ago on Kevin Dorst's blog