Larry Li, Bill Cannon and I ran a session on non-equilibrium thermodynamics in biology at SMB2021, the annual meeting of the Society for Mathematical Biology. You can see talk slides here! Here’s the basic idea:
Since Lotka, physical scientists have argued that living things belong to a class of complex and orderly systems that exist not despite the second law of thermodynamics, but because of it. …
Lewtas  recently articulated an argument claiming that emergent conscious causal powers are impossible. In developing his argument, Lewtas makes several assumptions about emergence, phenomenal consciousness, categorical properties, and causation. We argue that there are plausible alternatives to these assumptions. Thus, the proponent of emergent conscious causal powers can escape Lewtas’s challenge.
Solms’ unusual project of translating Freud’s “Project for a Scientific Psychology” into contemporary cognitive science terms is hard to assess. The most important theme, to my way of thinking, is Solms’ support, in present-day terms, of Freud’s insistence that emotion lies at the heart of all cognition. Taking this one idea seriously will require significant alterations to the working assumptions of many in cognitive science.
Scientists obtain a great deal of the evidence they use by collecting
and producing empirical results. Much of the standard philosophical
literature on this subject comes from 20th century logical
empiricists, their followers, and critics who embraced their issues
while objecting to some of their aims and assumptions. Discussions
about empirical evidence have tended to focus on epistemological
questions regarding its role in theory testing. This entry follows
that precedent, even though empirical evidence also plays important
and philosophically interesting roles in other areas including
scientific discovery, the development of experimental tools and
techniques, and the application of scientific theories to practical
Standard proposals of scientific anti-realism assume that the methodology of a scientific research program can be endorsed without accepting its metaphysical commitments. I argue that the distinction between competence, the rules governing one’s language faculty, and performance, linguistic behavior, precludes this. Linguistic theories aim to describe competence, not performance, and so must be able to distinguish observations reflective of the former from those reflective of the latter. This classification of data makes sense only against the background of a psychologically realistic view of linguistic theory. So the very methodology of the science commits one to its realistic interpretation.
On the basis of findings from developmental biology, some researchers have argued that evolutionary theory needs to be significantly updated. Advocates of such a “developmental update” have, among other things, suggested that we need to re-conceptualize units of selection, that we should expand our view of inheritance to include environmental as well as genetic and epigenetic factors, that we should think of organisms and their environment as involved in reciprocal causation, and that we should reevaluate the rates of evolutionary change. However, many of these same conclusions could be reached on the basis of other evidence, namely from microbiology. In this paper, I ask why microbiological evidence has not had a similarly large influence on calls to update biological theory, and argue that there is no principled reason to focus on developmental as opposed to microbiological evidence in support of these revisions to evolutionary theory. I suggest that the focus on developmental biology is more likely attributable to historical accident. I will also discuss some possible room for overlap between developmental and microbiology, despite the historical separation of these two subdisciplines.
It is commonly maintained that neuroplastic mechanisms in the brain provide empirical support for the hypothesis of multiple realizability. We show in various case studies that neuroplasticity stems from preexisting mechanisms and processes inherent in the neural (or biochemical) structure of the brain. We argue that not only does neuroplasticity fail to provide empirical evidence of multiple realization, its inability to do so strengthens the mind-body identity theory. Finally, we argue that a recently proposed identity theory called Flat Physicalism can be enlisted to explain the current state of the mind-body problem more adequately.
Herbert A. Simon (1955) established behavioral economics based on bounded rationality. People are unable to fully optimize due to costs of information being too high for most people and their inability to compute such behavior for mathematical and logical limits, arguing that most people follow heuristic rules of thumb to achieve an aspirational level they hold. Most firms seek a level of profit acceptable to owners rather than a possible maximum profits level. He labeled this approach to be satisficing (Simon, 1956), noting this word is in the Oxford English Dictionary from a Northumbrian dialect, basically meaning “satisfy.” But he redefined it to describe how people behave using bounded rationality.
Physicalism demands an explication of what it means for something to be physical. But the most popular way of providing one—viz., characterizing the physical in terms of the postulates of a scientifically derived physical theory—is met with serious trouble. Proponents of physicalism can either appeal to current physical theory or to some future physical theory (preferably an ideal and complete one). Neither option is promising: currentism almost assuredly renders physicalism false and futurism appears to render it indeterminate or trivial. The purpose of this essay is to argue that attempts to characterize the mental encounter a similar dilemma: currentism with respect to the mental is likely to be inadequate or contain falsehoods and futurism leaves too many significant questions about the nature of mentality unanswered. This new dilemma, we show, threatens both sides of the current debate surrounding the metaphysical status of the mind.
Angell’s logic of analytic containment AC has been shown to be characterized by a 9-valued matrix NC by Ferguson, and by a 16-valued matrix by Fine. We show that the former is the image of a surjective homomorphism from the latter, i.e., an epimorphic image. The epimorphism was found with the help of MUltlog, which also provides a tableau calculus for NC extended by quantifiers that generalize conjunction and disjunction.
Kant’s engagement with Newton’s notion of ‘absolute space’ is fascinating, complex and spans over both the pre-Critical and the Critical period. The received view has it that in the pre-Critical period Kant shifted from an originally Leibnizian view of space (still visible in Physical Monadology, 1756/1992, and New Doctrine of Motion and Rest, 1758/2012) to a proper Newtonian view of absolute space via the incongruent counterparts argument in Directions in Space (1768/1992), for then abandoning absolute space in the Inaugural Dissertation (1770/1992). Indeed, the same argument from incongruent counterparts was later employed in the Prolegomena (1783) as an argument for space as “the form of outer intuition of […] sensibility” (Prol, 4:286).
Smartphone use plays an increasingly important role in our daily lives. Philosophical research that has used first-wave or second-wave theories of extended cognition in order to understand our engagement with digital technologies has focused on the contribution of these technologies to the completion of specific cognitive tasks (e.g., remembering, reasoning, problem-solving, navigation). However, in a considerable number of cases, everyday smartphone use is either task-unrelated or task-free. In psychological research, these cases have been captured by notions such as absent-minded smartphone use (Marty- Dugas et al., 2018) or smartphone-related inattentiveness (Liebherr et al., 2020). Given the prevalence of these cases, we develop a conceptual framework that can accommodate the functional and phenomenological characteristics of task-unrelated or task-free smartphone use. To this end, we will integrate research on second-wave extended cognition with mind-wandering research and introduce the concept of ‘extended mind-wandering’. Elaborating the family resemblances approach to mind-wandering (Seli, Kane, Smallwood, et al., 2018), we will argue that task-unrelated or task-free smartphone use shares many characteristics with mind-wandering. We will suggest that an empirically informed conceptual analysis of cases of extended mind-wandering can enrich current work on digitally extended cognition by specifying the influence of the attention economy on our cognitive dynamics.
People’s attitudes towards social norms play a crucial role in understanding group behavior. Norm psychology accounts focus on processes of norm internalization that influence people’s norm following attitudes but pay considerably less attention to social identity and group identification processes. Social identity theory studies group identity but works with a relatively thin and instrumental notion of social norms. We argue that to best understand both sets of phenomena, it is important to integrate the insights of both approaches. We highlight tensions between the two approaches and conflicting observations, and sketch the contours of an integrated account. We conclude with some observations on how a twofold account may contribute to studying the evolution of human groups and understanding behavior and social norms in complex societies.
Molinists hold that there are contingently true counterfactuals about what agents would do if put in specific circumstances, that God knows these prior to creation, and that God uses this knowledge in choosing how to create. In this essay we critique Molinism, arguing that if these theses were true, agents would not be free. Consider Eve’s sinning upon being tempted by a serpent. We argue that if Molinism is true, then there is some set of facts that fully explains both Eve’s action and everything else Eve does that influences that action; and that if this is the case, Eve does not act freely. The first premise of this argument follows from the explanatory relations the Molinist is committed to, and the second premise follows from libertarian intuitions about free will.
Until recently, discussion of virtues in the philosophy of mathematics has been fleeting and fragmentary at best. But in the last few years this has begun to change. As virtue theory has grown ever more influential, not just in ethics where virtues may seem most at home, but particularly in epistemology and the philosophy of science, some philosophers have sought to push virtues out into unexpected areas, including mathematics and its philosophy. But there are some mathematicians already there, ready to meet them, who have explicitly invoked virtues in discussing what is necessary for a mathematician to succeed.
Nicod Criterion (NC): A claim of form “All Fs are Gs” is confirmed by any sentence of the form “i is F and i is G” where “i” is a name of some particular object. Equivalence Condition (EC): Whatever confirms (disconfirms) one of two equivalent sentences also confirms (disconfirms) the other.2
Substrate independence and mindbody functionalism claim that thinking does not depend on any particular kind of physical implementation. But realworld information processing depends on energy and energy depends on material substrates. Biological evidence for these claims comes from ecology and neuroscience, while computational evidence comes from neuromorphic computing and deep learning. Attention to energy requirements undermines the use of substrate independence to support claims about the feasibility of artificial intelligence, the moral standing of robots, the possibility that we may be living in a computer simulation, the plausibility of transferring minds into computers, and the autonomy of psychology from neuroscience.
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The other night Dana and I watched “The Internet’s Own Boy,” the 2014 documentary about the life and work of Aaron Swartz, which I’d somehow missed when it came out. …
I was watching Biogen’s stock (BIIB) climb over 100 points yesterday because its Alzheimer’s drug, aducanumab [brand name: Aduhelm], received surprising FDA approval? I hadn’t been following the drug at all (it’s enough to try and track some Covid treatments/vaccines). …
Legal probabilism is a research program that relies on probability
theory to analyze, model and improve the evaluation of evidence and
the process of decision-making in trial proceedings. While the
expression “legal probabilism” seems to have been coined
by Haack (2014b), the underlying idea can be traced back to the early
days of probability theory (see, for example, Bernoulli 1713). Another
term that is sometimes encountered in the literature is “trial
by mathematics” coined by Tribe (1971). Legal probabilism
remains a minority view among legal scholars, but attained greater
popularity in the second half of the twentieth century in conjunction
with the law and economics movement (Becker 1968; Calabresi 1961;
The vast literature on negative treatment of outgroups and favoritism toward ingroups provides many local insights but is largely fragmented, lacking an overarching framework that might provide a unified overview and guide conceptual integration. As a result, it remains unclear where different local perspectives conflict, how they may reinforce one another, and where they leave gaps in our knowledge of the phenomena. Our aim is to start constructing a framework to help remedy this situation. We first identify a few key ideas for creating a theoretical roadmap for this complex territory, namely the principles of etiological functionalism and the dual inheritance theory of human evolution. We show how a “molecular” approach to emotions fits into this picture, and use it to illuminate emotions that shape intergroup relations. Finally, we weave the pieces together into the beginnings of a systematic taxonomy of the emotions involved in social interactions, both hostile and friendly. While it is but a start, we have developed the argument in a way that illustrates how the foundational principles of our proposed framework can be extended to accommodate further cases.
On the basis of a wide range of historical examples various features of axioms are discussed in relation to their use in mathematical practice. A very general framework for this discussion is provided, and it is argued that axioms can play many roles in mathematics and that viewing them as self-evident truths does not do justice to the ways in which mathematicians employ axioms. Possible origins of axioms and criteria for choosing axioms are also examined. The distinctions introduced aim at clarifying discussions in philosophy of mathematics and contributing towards a more refined view of mathematical practice.
The design of good notation is a cause that was dear to Charles Babbage’s heart throughout his career. He was convinced of the “immense power of signs” (1864, 364), both to rigorously express complex ideas and to facilitate the discovery of new ones. As a young man, he promoted the Leibnizian notation for the calculus in England, and later he developed a Mechanical Notation for designing his computational engines. In addition, he reflected on the principles that underlie the design of good mathematical notations. In this paper, we discuss these reflections, which can be found somewhat scattered in Babbage’s writings, for the first time in a systematic way. Babbage’s desiderata for mathematical notations are presented as ten guidelines pertinent to notational design and its application to both individual symbols and complex expressions. To illustrate the applicability of these guidelines in non-mathematical domains, some aspects of his Mechanical Notation are also discussed.
One day, quite some time ago, I happened on a photograph of Napoleon's youngest brother, Jerome, taken in 1852. And I realized then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since: ‘I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor.’ Sometimes I would mention this amazement, but since no one seemed to share it, nor even to understand it (life consists of these little touches of solitude), I forgot about it.
This paper explores a middle way between realism and eliminativism about grounding. Grounding-talk is intelligible and useful, but it fails to pick out grounding relations that exist or obtain in reality. Instead, grounding-talk allows us to convey facts about what metaphysically explains what, and about the worldly dependence relations that give rise to those explanations.
Mathematical pluralism can take one of three forms: (1) every consistent mathematical theory is about its own domain of individuals and relations; (2) every mathematical theory, consistent or inconsistent, is about its own (possibly uninteresting) domain of individuals and relations; and (3) many of the principal philosophies of mathematics is based upon some insight or truth about the nature of mathematics that can be preserved. (1) includes the multiverse approach to set theory. (2) helps us to understand the significance of the distinguished non-logical individual and relation terms of even inconsistent theories. (3) is a metaphilosophical form of mathematical pluralism and hasn’t been discussed in the literature. In what follows, I show how the analysis of theoretical mathematics in object theory exhibits all three forms of mathematical pluralism.
We argue that inductive analysis (based on formal learning theory and the use of suitable machine learning reconstructions) and operational (citation metrics-based) assessment of the scientific process can be justifiably and fruitfully brought together, whereby the citation metrics used in the operational analysis can effectively track the inductive dynamics and measure the research efficiency. We specify the conditions for the use of such inductive streamlining, demonstrate it in the cases of high energy physics experimentation and phylogenetic research, and propose a test of the method’s applicability.
Extrapolation of causal claims from study populations to other populations of interest is a problematic issue. The standard approach in experimental research, which prioritises randomized controlled trials and statistical evidence, is not devoid of difficulties. Granted that, it has been defended that evidence of mechanisms is indispensable for causal extrapolation. We argue, contrarily, that this sort of evidence is not indispensable. Nonetheless, we also think that occasionally it may be helpful. In order to clarify its relevance, we introduce a distinction between a positive and a negative role of evidence of mechanisms. Our conclusion is that the former is highly questionable, but the latter may be a trustworthy resource for causal extrapolation. KEYWORDS: Extrapolation; evidence of mechanisms; statistical evidence; mechanism; causality; evidence; external validity; randomized controlled trial.
The predominant view in the contemporary philosophies of the life sciences is that the most fundamental and viable kinds of explanations are mechanistic. In fact, some philosophers of the life science have claimed that the only genuine explanations in the life sciences are mechanistic. We believe this to be an unnecessarily restrictive position, both descriptively and normatively. Descriptively, much actual scientific research in the life sciences is not readily cast as mechanistic. There are many natural phenomena that benefit from the application of multiple explanatory strategies, even at the same scale of investigation. Thus, normatively speaking, research in the life sciences ought to begin from a pluralistic position concerning explanatory style. We defend this claim by means of the application of both mechanistic and dynamical explanatory strategies to bird flocking.
An argument is presented that if a theory of quantum gravity is physically discrete at the Planck scale and the theory recovers General Relativity as an approximation, then, at the current stage of our knowledge, causal sets must arise within the theory, even if they are not its basis. We show in particular that an apparent alternative to causal sets, viz. a certain sort of discrete Lorentzian simplicial complex, cannot recover General Relativistic spacetimes in the appropriately unique way. For it cannot discriminate between Minkowski spacetime and a spacetime with a certain sort of gravitational wave burst.