1. 35205.621744
    A Boltzmann Brain is a hypothesized observer that comes into existence by way of an extremely low-probability quantum or thermodynamic “fluctuation” and that is capable of conscious experience (including sensory experience and apparent memories) and at least some degree of reflection about itself and its environment. Boltzmann Brains do not have histories that are anything like the ones that we seriously consider as candidates for own history; they did not come into existence on a large, stable planet, and their existence is not the result of any sort of evolutionary process or intelligent design. Rather, they are staggeringly improbable cosmic “accidents” that are (at least typically) massively deluded about their own predicament and history. It is uncontroversial that Boltzmann Brains are both metaphysically and physically possible, and yet that they are staggeringly unlikely to fluctuate into existence at any particular moment. Throughout the following, I will use the term “ordinary observer” to refer to an observer who is not a Boltzmann Brain. We naturally take ourselves to be ordinary observers, and I will not be arguing that we are in any way wrong to do so.
    Found 9 hours, 46 minutes ago on Matthew Kotzen's site
  2. 108814.62182
    Quantum entanglement has long been thought to be have deep metaphysical consequences. For example, it has been claimed to show that Humean supervenience is false or to involve a novel form of ontological holism. One way to avoid confronting the metaphysical consequences is to adopt some form of antirealism. In this paper we discuss two prominent strands in recent literature—wavefunction realism and “Super-Humeanism”—that appear quite different, but, as we see it, are instances of a more general strategy. In effect, what these attempt to do is to diffuse the puzzle of entanglement by eliminating it. These interpretative movements are advertised as equally realist, but, we claim, fail to take an appropriately realist attitude towards entanglement. What we advocate instead is a genuine metaphysics of entanglement: instead of eliminating entanglement, develop a metaphysics that accounts for and explains it.
    Found 1 day, 6 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  3. 108838.621845
    Developments in genetic engineering may soon allow biologists to clone organisms from extinct species. The process, dubbed “de-extinction,” has been publicized as a means to bring extinct species back to life. For theorists and philosophers of biology, the process also suggests a thought experiment for the ongoing “species problem”: given a species concept, would a clone be classified in the extinct species? Previous analyses have answered this question in the context of specific de-extinction technologies or particular species concepts. The thought experiment is given more comprehensive treatment here. Given the products of three de-extinction technologies, twenty-two species concepts are “tested” to see which are consistent with the idea that species may be resurrected. The ensuing discussion considers whether or not de-extinction is a conceptually coherent research program and, if so, whether or not its development may contribute to a resolution of the species problem. Ultimately, theorists must face a choice: they may revise their commitments to species concepts (if those concepts are inconsistent with de-extinction) or they may recognize de-extinction as a means to make progress in the species problem.
    Found 1 day, 6 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  4. 173256.62186
    I’ve been talking about my new paper with Jade Master: • John Baez and Jade Master, Open Petri nets. In Part 1 we saw the double category of open Petri nets; in Part 2 we saw the reachability semantics for open Petri nets as a double functor. …
    Found 2 days ago on Azimuth
  5. 302681.621875
    Philosophy has been divided into theoretical and practical since the time of Aristotle’s distinction of the sciences, and within theoretical philosophy, the enquire on nature was of major import in Ancient and Medieval times. Most of its contents later developed into modern natural science as the seeds of physics or chemistry, but its founding concepts are still worth reflecting upon. Concepts such as those of body and extension, motion and change, time and place, finiteness and infiniteness, and of nature itself have kept their philosophical gist. The Iranian philosopher Ibn Sina [Avicenna] (d. 1037 CE) organized his philosophical encyclopedia “The Healing” in four sections: Logic, mathematical, and natural sciences, and sciences of the Divine; the doctrine on the human soul was part of the natural sciences.
    Found 3 days, 12 hours ago on Wes Morriston's site
  6. 327952.621889
    In recent work, Alfredo Roque Freire and I have realized that the axiom of well-ordered replacement is equivalent to the full replacement axiom, over the Zermelo set theory with foundation. The well-ordered replacement axiom is the scheme asserting that if $I$ is well-ordered and every $i\in I$ has unique $y_i$ satisfying a property $\phi(i,y_i)$, then $\{y_i\mid i\in I\}$ is a set. …
    Found 3 days, 19 hours ago on Joel David Hamkins's blog
  7. 531504.621907
    The purpose of this chapter is to determine what is to remember something, as opposed to imagining it, perceiving it, or introspecting it. What does it take for a mental state to qualify as remembering, or having a memory of, something? The main issue to be addressed is therefore a metaphysical one. It is the issue of determining which features those mental states which qualify as memories typically enjoy, and those states which do not qualify as such typically lack. I will proceed as follows.
    Found 6 days, 3 hours ago on Jordi Fernández's site
  8. 549386.621922
    This paper advances two claims. The positive claim offers a correctness condition for perceptual experiences, one that does justice to the so-called “particularity of perception”: (T1) the perceptual content of a perceptual experience is correct iff there are perceived objects of which it is non-accidentally true.
    Found 6 days, 8 hours ago on Mark Sainsbury's site
  9. 553584.621937
    A prominent type of scientific realism holds that some important parts of our best current scientific theories are at least approximately true. According to such realists, radically distinct alternatives to these theories or theory-parts are unlikely to be approximately true. Thus one might be tempted to argue, as the prominent anti-realist Kyle Stanford recently did, that realists of this kind have little or no reason to encourage scientists to attempt to identify and develop theoretical alternatives that are radically distinct from currently accepted theories in the relevant respects. In other words, it may seem that realists should recommend that scientists be relatively conservative in their theoretical endeavors. This paper aims to show that this argument is mistaken. While realists should indeed be less optimistic of finding radically distinct alternatives to replace current theories, realists also have greater reasons to value the outcomes of such searches. Interestingly, this holds both for successful and failed attempts to identify and develop such alternatives.
    Found 6 days, 9 hours ago on Finnur Dellsén's site
  10. 560169.62195
    There is a powerful three-step argument that philosophy has made no progress. The first step maintains that a field makes genuine progress to the extent that, over time, it provides true answers to its central questions. The second step observes that the central questions of philosophy are among life’s “big questions”—concerning, inter alia, free will, personal identity, skepticism, universals, the mind-body relation, God, and morality. Step three delivers the bad news: we lack the answers to any of these questions.
    Found 6 days, 11 hours ago on John Bengson's site
  11. 570025.62197
    ​. Mathematical formalisms that are constructed for inquiry in one disciplinary context are sometimes applied to another, a phenomenon that I call ‘tool migration.’ Philosophers of science have addressed the advantages of using migrated tools. In this paper, I argue that tool migration can be epistemically risky. I then develop an analytic framework for better understanding the risks that are implicit in tool migration. My approach shows that viewing mathematical constructs as tools while also acknowledging their representational features allows for a balanced understanding of knowledge production that are aided by the research tools migrated across disciplinary boundaries.
    Found 6 days, 14 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  12. 570041.621983
    A novel approach to quantization is shown to allow for superpositions of the cosmological constant in isotropic and homogeneous mini-superspace models. Generic solutions featuring such superpositions display unitary evolution and resolution of the classical singularity. Physically well-motivated cosmological solutions are constructed. These particular solutions exhibit characteristic features of a cosmic bounce including universal phenomenology that can be rendered insensitive to Planck-scale physics in a natural manner.
    Found 6 days, 14 hours ago on PhilSci Archive
  13. 624682.621997
    Continuing with the discussion of E.S. Pearson in honor of his birthday: Egon Pearson’s Neglected Contributions to Statistics by Aris Spanos Egon Pearson (11 August 1895 – 12 June 1980), is widely known today for his contribution in recasting of Fisher’s significance testing into the Neyman-Pearson (1933) theory of hypothesis testing. …
    Found 1 week ago on D. G. Mayo's blog
  14. 636842.622012
    Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all. John Locke, Letter Concerning Toleration ([1983] 1689) Over the past few decades, much ink has been spilled in attempts to understand the relationships between religion, intolerance and conflict. And, although, some progress has been made, religion‘s precise role in intolerance and intergroup conflict remains a poorly researched scientific topic. This oversight is remarkable given that the vast majority of the world is religious (Norris & Inglehart, 2004), and hardly a day goes by without religious conflict shaping events and making international headlines (The Washington Post, May 11, 2011).
    Found 1 week ago on Peter Richerson's site
  15. 636868.622027
    Cognitive scientists have increasingly turned to cultural transmission to explain the widespread nature of religion. One key hypothesis focuses on memory, proposing that that minimally counterintuitive (MCI) content facilitates the transmission of supernatural beliefs. We propose two caveats to this hypothesis. (1) Memory effects decrease as MCI concepts become commonly used, and (2) people do not believe counterintuitive content readily; therefore additional mechanisms are required to get from memory to belief. In experiments 1–3 (n = 283), we examined the relationship between MCI, belief, and memory. We found that increased tendencies to anthropomorphize predicted poorer memory for anthropomorphic-MCI content. MCI content was found less believable than intuitive content, suggesting different mechanisms are required to explain belief. In experiment 4 (n = 70), we examined the non-content-based cultural learning mechanism of credibility-enhancing displays (CREDs) and found that it increased participants’ belief in MCI content, suggesting this type of learning can better explain the transmission of belief.
    Found 1 week ago on Peter Richerson's site
  16. 637435.622042
    I address three common empirical questions about the connection between religion and morality: (1) Do religious beliefs and practices shape moral behavior? (2) Do all religions universally concern themselves with moral behavior? (3) Is religion necessary for morality? I draw on recent empirical research on religious prosociality to reach several conclusions. First, awareness of supernatural monitoring and other mechanisms found in religions encourage prosociality towards strangers, and in that regard, religions have come to influence moral behavior. Second, religion’s connection with morality is culturally variable; this link is weak or absent in small-scale groups, and solidifies as group size and societal complexity increase over time and across societies. Third, moral sentiments that encourage prosociality evolved independently of religion, and secular institutions can serve social monitoring functions; therefore religion is not necessary for morality.
    Found 1 week ago on Peter Richerson's site
  17. 637489.622058
    Establishing whether Big Gods helped drive the cultural evolution of large-scale cooperation requires the synthesis of multiple lines of evidence. Survey data and lab-based studies suggest that belief in (or priming the concept of) a powerful moralizing god can increase individual prosocial behavior (Norenzayan, Henrich, & Slingerland,
    Found 1 week ago on Peter Richerson's site
  18. 637557.622071
    Cognitive theories of religion have postulated several cognitive biases that predispose human minds towards religious belief. However, to date, these hypotheses have not been tested simultaneously and in relation to each other, using an individual difference approach. We used a path model to assess the extent to which several interacting cognitive tendencies, namely mentalizing, mind body dualism, teleological thinking, and anthropomorphism, as well as cultural exposure to religion, predict belief in God, paranormal beliefs and belief in life’s purpose. Our model, based on two independent samples (N = 492 and N = 920) found that the previously known relationship between mentalizing and belief is mediated by individual differences in dualism, and to a lesser extent by teleological thinking. Anthropomorphism was unrelated to religious belief, but was related to paranormal belief. Cultural exposure to religion (mostly Christianity) was negatively related to anthropomorphism, and was unrelated to any of the other cognitive tendencies. These patterns were robust for both men and women, and across at least two ethnic identifications. The data were most consistent with a path model suggesting that mentalizing comes first, which leads to dualism and teleology, which in turn lead to religious, paranormal, and life’s-purpose beliefs. Alternative theoretical models were tested but did not find empirical
    Found 1 week ago on Peter Richerson's site
  19. 646900.622086
    Coincidence Analysis (CNA) is a configurational comparative method of causal data analysis that is related to Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) but, contrary to the latter, is custom-built for analyzing causal structures with multiple outcomes. So far, however, CNA has only been capable of processing dichotomous variables, which greatly limited its scope of applicability. This paper generalizes CNA for multi-value variables as well as continuous variables whose values are interpreted as membership scores in fuzzy sets. This generalization comes with a major adaptation of CNA’s algorithmic protocol, which, in an extended series of benchmark tests, is shown to give CNA an edge over QCA not only with respect to multi-outcome structures but also with respect to the analysis of non-ideal data stemming from single-outcome structures. The inferential power of multi-value and fuzzy-set CNA is made available to end users in the newest version of the R package cna.
    Found 1 week ago on Michael Baumgartner's site
  20. 661408.622113
    This will be a series of lectures on the philosophy of mathematics, given at Oxford University, Michaelmas term 2018. The lectures are mainly intended for undergraduate students preparing for exam paper 122, although all interested parties are welcome. …
    Found 1 week ago on Joel David Hamkins's blog
  21. 665650.622136
    Imagine seeming to see a box of matches on a table. Now imagine moving slightly, while trying to keep the matchbox in view. You would be startled if the box of matches were suddenly to stop looking to you like a box, instead apparently morphing into a toy car. We thus tend to betray our implicit visual expectations, by responding with sudden surprise to visual experiences that are suitably discontinuous with their immediate predecessors. The surprise illustrated there is different to the more considered surprise that we often feel in other contexts. I would be taken aback if an ordinarily reliable informant told me that an eight-year old child recently ran a marathon in just over two hours. But the surprise that I would then feel is different to the startlement illustrated in the previous paragraph. While the surprise in the earlier case is doubtless shaped by one’s experiences of the world, it seems to arise independently of the relatively sophisticated processes of learning that lead us to our beliefs about, say, age-related marathon times.
    Found 1 week ago on Dominic Gregory's site
  22. 685438.62215
    This paper contributes to the underdeveloped field of experimental philosophy of science. We examine variability in the philosophical views of scientists. Using data from Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, we analyze scientists’ responses to prompts on philosophical issues (methodology, confirmation, values, reality, reductionism, and motivation for scientific research) to assess variance in the philosophical views of physical scientists, life scientists, and social and behavioral scientists. We find six prompts about which differences arose, with several more that look promising for future research. We then evaluate the difference between the natural and social sciences and the challenge of interdisciplinary integration across scientific branches.
    Found 1 week ago on PhilSci Archive
  23. 685493.622163
    In recent years, theoretical biologists and philosophers of biology have made increasing efforts to defend organisms as biological players in their own right against overly gene-centred views of life both in developmental and evolutionary biology (in the latter case specifically in the context of the so-called Modern Synthesis). Pursuing a non-reductionist systems biological approach, these scholars emphasise the autonomous character of organisms as selforganising biological systems (e.g., Moreno & Mossio 2015, Walsh 2015, Rosslenbroich 2014), thereby referring back to the older theory of autopoiesis (Varela 1979, Maturana & Varela 1980). Organisms and their characteristic development, it is argued, cannot be understood by looking at their parts only; it is the specific interplay of the parts, their organisation, that needs to be studied as giving rise to a functioning autonomous whole. This is believed to provide new avenues also for the understanding of evolution. Evolution, on this view, turns out to be ‘enacted’ by organisms as “autonomous, purposive systems” (Walsh 2015, 217).
    Found 1 week ago on PhilSci Archive
  24. 782671.622177
    The title well represents this paper’s goals. I shall discuss certain basic issues pertaining to subjective probability and, in particular, the point at which the concept of natural predicates is necessary within the probabilistic framework. Hempel’s well-known puzzle of ravens serves as a starting point and as a concrete example. I begin by describing in §2 four solutions that have been proposed. Two of these represent fundamental approaches that concern me most: the probabilistic standard solution and what I refer to as the natural-predicates solution. The first is essentially due to various investigators, among them Hempel himself. The second has been proposed by Quine in his ‘Natural kinds’; it represents a general line rather than a single precise solution. Underlying it is some classification of properties (or, to remain safely on the linguistic level, of predicates) which derives from epistemic or pragmatic factors and is, at least prima facie, irreducible to distinctions in terms of logical structure. Goodman’s concept of entrenchment belongs here as well (his paradox is taken up in §3 and §5). Of the other two, the one referred to as a “nearly-all”-solution is based on interpreting ‘all’ (in ‘all ravens are black’) as nearly all. An analysis shows that the valid part of this argument is reducible to the standard probabilistic solution. The remaining solution is based on a modal interpretation; it is shown to belong to the natural-predicates brand. Another modality argument turns out, upon analysis, to be false.
    Found 1 week, 2 days ago on Haim Gaifman's site
  25. 782686.622191
    Some ‘naturalist’ accounts of disease employ a biostatistical account of dysfunction, whilst others use a ‘selected effect’ account. Several recent authors have argued that the biostatistical account offers the best hope for a naturalist account of disease. We show that the selected effect account survives the criticisms levelled by these authors relatively unscathed, and has significant advantages over the BST. Moreover, unlike the BST, it has a strong theoretical rationale and can provide substantive reasons to decide difficult cases. This is illustrated by showing how life-history theory clarifies the status of so-called diseases of old age. The selected effect account of function deserves a more prominent place in the philosophy of medicine than it currently occupies.
    Found 1 week, 2 days ago on Paul Griffith's site
  26. 782691.622207
    When explaining the causes of human behavior, genes are often given a special status. They are thought to relate to an intrinsic human ‘essence’, and essentialist biases have been shown to skew the way in which causation is assessed. Causal reasoning in general is subject to other pre-existing biases, including beliefs about normativity and morality. In this synthesis we show how factors which influence causal reasoning can be mapped to a framework of genetic essentialism, which reveals both the shared and unique factors underpinning biases in causal reasoning and genetic essentialism. This comparison identifies overlooked areas of research which could provide fruitful investigation, such as whether normative assessments of behaviors influence the way that genetic causes are ascribed or endorsed. We also outline the importance of distinguishing reasoning processes regarding genetic causal influences on one’s self versus others, as different cognitive processes and biases are likely to be at play.
    Found 1 week, 2 days ago on Paul Griffith's site
  27. 818219.622223
    There are many domains about which we think we are reliable. That is, we think that our beliefs about the domains are by and large true (or at least are true much more often than chance alone would predict). For some of these domains, our reliability is not very puzzling. For instance, we understand how it is that we are reliable about facts about medium-sized objects in our environment. We possess psycho-physical explanations (or explanation sketches) of how our perceptual faculties work that explain how these faculties yield true beliefs about our environment. We also possess evolutionary explanations (or explanation sketches) of how we came to possess reliable perceptual faculties. For other domains, our reliability is more puzzling.
    Found 1 week, 2 days ago on PhilPapers
  28. 845029.62229
    E.S. Pearson: 11 Aug 1895-12 June 1980. Today is Egon Pearson’s birthday. In honor of his birthday, I am posting “Statistical Concepts in Their Relation to Reality” (Pearson 1955). I’ve posted it several times over the years, but always find a new gem or two, despite its being so short. …
    Found 1 week, 2 days ago on D. G. Mayo's blog
  29. 864922.622313
    Experimentation is traditionally considered a privileged means of confirmation. However, how experiments are a better confirmatory source than other strategies is unclear, and recent discussions have identified experiments with various modeling strategies on the one hand, and with ‘natural’ experiments on the other hand. We argue that experiments aiming to test theories are best understood as controlled investigations of specimens. ‘Control’ involves repeated, fine-grained causal manipulation of focal properties. This capacity generates rich knowledge of the object investigated. ‘Specimenhood’ involves possessing relevant properties given the investigative target and the hypothesis in question. Specimens are thus representative members of a class of systems, to which a hypothesis refers. It is in virtue of both control and specimenhood that experiments provide powerful confirmatory evidence. This explains the distinctive power of experiments: although modellers exert extensive control, they do not exert this control over specimens; although natural experiments utilize specimens, control is diminished.
    Found 1 week, 3 days ago on Adrian Currie's site
  30. 864950.622333
    Reflexivity has a considerable history as an idea in the social sciences, with many specific meanings and applications, although it generally has involved a mutual interaction between at least two separate agents or groups. Complexity also has many meanings, although often these involve some higher level emergence, the idea of wholes being greater than the sum of their parts. It has been argued by some in economics especially that there may be a relationship between these two as the dynamic interactions in reflexive systems may be more likely to bring about forms of complex emergence. The ideas of John B. Davis on this will be especially considered, but those of others will be examined as well, including some of those more critical of the usefulness of these concepts. A new idea put forth in this paper is that some forms of reflexivity may be more conducive to bringing about patterns of complex emergence than others. This may involve more subtle interactions of indirect self-referencing through reflexive system such as those that underlay proofs of incompleteness. An artistic analogy can be seen in the work of M.C. Escher, with many writing about reflexivity citing his “Drawing Hands” as an example, which depicts two hands drawing each other. But this may show the sort of reflexivity that is not so associated with complexity. Rather another may do so better, Escher’s “Picture Gallery” that shows a man standing in a picture gallery and looking at a picture of a city that contains a picture gallery that turns out to be the one in which he is standing.
    Found 1 week, 3 days ago on Barkley Rosser's site