1. 2367.019396
    I’ve been thinking about Petri nets a lot. Around 2010, I got excited about using them to describe chemical reactions, population dynamics and more, using ideas taken from quantum physics. Then I started working with my student Blake Pollard on ‘open’ Petri nets, which you can glue together to form larger Petri nets. …
    Found 39 minutes ago on Azimuth
  2. 120386.019486
    The Enigma of Reason opens up with a double enigma. Many scholars throughout history have thought of reason as a cognitive silver bullet, which would allow humans to innovate, to overcome their cognitive and emotional failings, to solve a wide variety of problems, and to better understand the world around them. The first enigma, then, is why only humans would be endowed with such a superpower? Why wouldn’t such a capacity, with its multiple advantages, have evolved in many other organisms? The second enigma stems from the mismatch between this lofty view of reason, and reality: experience and experiments have shown time and again that human reason is as flawed, biased, and prone to mistakes as the rest of our cognition.
    Found 1 day, 9 hours ago on Dan Sperber's site
  3. 175461.01952
    According to one influential theory, the standard of proof for criminal trials should be interpreted in probabilistic terms. On this view, a proposition P is proved to the criminal standard just in case the probability of P, given the presented evidence, is above some high threshold – typically 90% or 95% (see, for instance, Cullison, 1969, section IIIA, McCauliff, 1982, Shauer and Zeckhauser, 1996, section III, Hedden and Colyvan, 2019). While this has an obvious appeal, the criminal standard of proof is closely associated, in legal doctrine, in jury instructions, and in the popular imagination, with the idea of proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ . And this phrase doesn’t obviously indicate a probability threshold, which would be more naturally conveyed with the words ‘to a high probability’ or some such. In fact, the idea that something has been proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ suggests a rather different way of thinking about uncertainty – that doubts can be divided into two categories, the reasonable and the unreasonable, and that all doubts of the former kind have been answered. Some theorists insist that the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ phrasing is deeply unclear – and no help when it comes to understanding the criminal standard of proof (Laudan, 2006, chap. 2). While I agree that it would be a mistake to fixate on these words too closely, their meaning is hardly opaque – it is natural, in many contexts, to distinguish between doubts that are serious and demand attention and doubts that are speculative or frivolous.
    Found 2 days ago on PhilPapers
  4. 186047.019538
    This paper explores three ways in which physics may involve counterpossible reasoning. The first way arises when evaluating false theories: to say what the world would be like if the theory were true, we need to evaluate counterfactuals with physically impossible antecedents. The second way relates to the role of counterfactuals in characterizing causal structure: to say what causes what in physics, we need to make reference to physically impossible scenarios. The third way is novel: to model metaphysical dependence in physics, we need to consider counterfactual consequences of metaphysical impossibilities. Physics accordingly bears substantial and surprising counterpossible commitments.
    Found 2 days, 3 hours ago on Alastair Wilson's site
  5. 229814.019551
    Computer simulations serve myriad purposes in science: from experimental design in high-energy physics, to predicting tomorrow’s weather in meteorology, to exploring and evaluating candidate molecules in drug research. But is simulation also a tool for observing the world? Can we measure the world via computer simulation? It might seem not. Yet, in the geosciences, there are now ‘observational’ datasets composed entirely of simulation output. And in various fields, especially chemistry and engineering, one finds software designed to enable ‘virtual measurements’ of quantities of interest.
    Found 2 days, 15 hours ago on Wendy Parker's site
  6. 229828.019565
    While ‘most’ and ‘more than half’ are generally assumed to be truth-conditionally equivalent, the former is usually interpreted as conveying greater proportions than the latter. Previous work has attempted to explain this difference in terms of pragmatic strengthening or variation in meanings. In this paper, we propose a novel explanation that keeps the truth-conditions equivalence. We argue that the difference in typical sets between the two expressions emerges as a result of two previously independently motivated mechanisms. First, the two expressions have different sets of pragmatic alternatives. Second, listeners tend to minimize the expected distance between their representation of the world and the speaker’s observation. We support this explanation with a computational model of usage in the Rational Speech Act framework. Moreover, we report the results of a quantifier production experiment. We find that the difference in typical proportions associated with the two expressions can be explained by our account.
    Found 2 days, 15 hours ago on Jakub Szymanik's site
  7. 229851.019589
    Mental representations are a means to explain behavior. This, at least, is the idea on which cognitive (behavioral) science is built: that there are certain kinds of behavior, namely minimally flexible behavior, which cannot be explained by appealing to stimulus-response patterns. Flexible behavior is understood as behavior that can differ even in response to one and the same type of stimulus or that can be elicited without the relevant stimulus being present. Since this implies that there is no simple one-to-one relation between stimulus and behavior, flexible behavior is not explainable by simple stimulus-response patterns. Thus, some inner processes of the behaving system (of a minimal complexity) are assumed to have an influence on what kind of behavior is selected given a specific stimulus. These inner processes (or states) are then taken to stand for something else (features, properties, objects, etc.) and are hence called “mental representations”. They are presupposed for two main reasons, 1. to account for flexible reactions to one and the same stimulus and 2. to account for behavior triggered when the relevant entities are not present. The latter case is highlighted by J.
    Found 2 days, 15 hours ago on Albert Newen's site
  8. 229857.019607
    Partisanship continues to divide Americans. Using data from the American National Election Studies (ANES), we find that partisans not only feel more negatively about the opposing party, but also that this negativity has become more consistent and has a greater impact on their political participation. We find that while partisan animus began to rise in the 1980s, it has grown dramatically over the past two decades. As partisan affect has intensified, it is also more structured; ingroup favoritism is increasingly associated with outgroup animus. Finally, hostility toward the opposing party has eclipsed positive affect for ones’ own party as a motive for political participation.
    Found 2 days, 15 hours ago on Robert Talisse's site
  9. 229862.019621
    Herbert Simon (1983, pp. 34– 35) distinguished three “visions of rationality”: (1) the “Olympian model,” which “serves, perhaps, as a model of the mind of God, but certainly not as a model of the mind of man;” (2) the “behavioral” model, which “postulates that human rationality is very limited, very much bounded by the situation and by human computational powers;” and (3) the “intuitive model,” which “is in fact a component of the behavioral theory.” Bounded rationality, with its intuitive component, is to be explained, Simon adds, in an evolutionary perspective. Our joint work on reasoning and in particular our book The Enigma of Reason (Mercier & Sperber, 2017) describes mechanisms of intuitive inference in general and the mechanism of reason in a way that is quite consistent with Simon’s defense of a “bounded rationality” approach to human reason. Like other evolutionary psychologists (in particular, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, see Tooby & Cosmides, 1992) and like Gerd Gigerenzer’s ‘adaptive toolbox’ approach (Gigerenzer, 2007; Gigerenzer, Todd, & ABC Research Group, 1999), we don’t see bounded rationality as an inferior version of Olympian rationality, nor do we think that human or other animal inferences should be measured against abstract rationality criteria. Our distinct contribution is to argue that there is an evolved mechanism that can reasonably be called “reason,” the function of which is to address problems of coordination and communication by producing and evaluating reasons used as justifications or as arguments in communicative interactions.
    Found 2 days, 15 hours ago on Dan Sperber's site
  10. 233548.019636
    This essay proposes a new interpretation of a central, and yet overlooked, argument Leibniz offers against Descartes’s power-free ontology of the corporeal world. Appealing to considerations about the successiveness of motion, Leibniz attempts to show that the reality of motion requires force. It is often assumed that the argument is driven by concerns inspired by Zeno. Against such a reading, this essay contends that Leibniz’s argument is instead best understood against the background of an Aristotelian view of the priority of real being over time. The essay also shows how this alternative interpretation can help to shed new light on the difference between Leibnizian forces and Aristotelian powers, as well as on Leibniz’s famous claim that accounting for force leads us beyond the mechanistic corporeal realm.
    Found 2 days, 16 hours ago on PhilPapers
  11. 235692.019654
    We are very thankful to our colleagues who have provided such thoughtful and constructive discussions of our book, The Enigma of Reason. Since these commentaries each raise a different set of issues, we respond to them one by one.
    Found 2 days, 17 hours ago on Dan Sperber's site
  12. 260881.01967
    Several months before the publication of “Dennett and Taylor’s Alleged Refutation of the Consequence Argument,” Johan Gustafsson was kind enough to send us an advance copy of that article, and the resulting correspondence was, in our opinion, quite entertaining and instructive.
    Found 3 days ago on Daniel Dennett's site
  13. 441615.019684
    Assume presentism. Then Aristotle’s definition of change as the actuality of a potentiality seems to have a serious logical problem. For consider a precise statement of that definition: There is change just in case there is a potentiality P and an actuality A and A is the actuality of P. Given presentism, quantification has to be over present items. …
    Found 5 days, 2 hours ago on Alexander Pruss's Blog
  14. 638293.019698
    Dynamic Belief Update (DBU) is a model checking problem in Dynamic Epistemic Logic (DEL) concerning the effect of applying a number of epistemic actions on an initial epistemic model. It can also be considered as a plan verification problem in epistemic planning. The problem is known to be PSPACE-hard. To better understand the source of complexity of the problem, previous research has investigated the complexity of 128 parameterized versions of the problem with parameters such as number of agents and size of actions. The complexity of many parameter combinations has been determined, but previous research left a few combinations as open problems. In this paper, we solve most of the remaining open problems by proving all of them to be fixed-parameter intractable. Only two parameter combinations are still left as open problem for future research.
    Found 1 week ago on Thomas Bolander's site
  15. 638431.019712
    Neuroscientists have located brain activity that prepares or encodes action plans before agents are aware of intending to act. On the basis of these findings and broader agency research, activity in these regions has been proposed as the neural realizers of practical intention. My aim in this paper is to evaluate the case for taking these neural states to be neural representations of intention. I draw on work in philosophy of action on the role and nature of practical intentions to construct a framework of the functional profile of intentions fit for empirical investigation. With this framework, I turn to the broader empirical neuroscience literature on agency to assess these proposed neural representations of intention. I argue that while these neural states in some respects satisfy the functions of intention in planning agency prospective of action, their fit with the role of intention in action execution is not well supported. I close by offering a sketch of which experimental task features could aid in the search for the neural realizer of intention in action.
    Found 1 week ago on PhilSci Archive
  16. 638435.019726
    ​: The free energy principle (FEP) portends to provide a unifying principle for the biological and cognitive sciences. It states that for a system to maintain non-equilibrium steady-state with its environment it must minimise its (information-theoretic) free energy. Under the FEP, to minimise free energy is equivalent to engaging in approximate Bayesian inference. According to the FEP, therefore, inference is at the explanatory base of biology and cognition. In this paper, we discuss a specific challenge to this inferential formulation of adaptive self-organisation. We call it the ​universal ethology challenge​: it states that the FEP cannot unify biology and cognition, for life itself (or adaptive self-organisation) does not require inferential routines to select adaptive solutions to environmental pressures (as mandated by the FEP). We show that it is possible to overcome the universal ethology challenge by providing a cautious and exploratory treatment of inference under the FEP. We conclude that there are good reasons for thinking that the FEP can unify biology and cognition under the notion of approximate Bayesian inference, even if further challenges must be addressed to properly draw such a conclusion.
    Found 1 week ago on PhilSci Archive
  17. 638467.019741
    Were governments justified in imposing lockdowns to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic? We argue that a convincing answer to this question is to date wanting, by critically analyzing the factual basis of a recent paper, “How Government Leaders Violated Their Epistemic Duties During the SARS-CoV-2 Crisis” (Winsberg et al. 2020). In their paper, Winsberg et al. argue that government leaders did not, at the beginning of the pandemic, meet the epistemic requirements necessitated to impose lockdowns. We focus on Winsberg et al.’s contentions that knowledge about COVID-19 resultant projections were inadequate; that epidemiologists were biased in their estimates of relevant figures; that there was insufficient evidence supporting the efficacy of lockdowns; and that lockdowns cause more harm than good. We argue that none of these claims are sufficiently supported by evidence, thus impairing their case against lockdowns, and leaving open the question of whether lockdowns were justified.
    Found 1 week ago on PhilPapers
  18. 638537.019754
    I show how the two great Humean ways of understanding laws of nature, projectivism and systems theory, have unwittingly reprised developments in metaethics over the past century. This demonstration helps us explain and understand trends in both literatures. It also allows work on laws to “leapfrog” over the birth of many new positions, the nomic counterparts of new theories in metaethics. However, like leap-frogging from (say) agriculture to the internet age, it’s hardly clear that we’ve landed in a good place. My reactionary advice is to return to Hume and work on the central insights that motivated Humeanism about modality in the first place. When updated with contemporary insights, there we will find an attractive naturalistic theory of laws, or so I’ll argue, and along the way we’ll see how projectivism and systems theory both get something right about this overall theory.
    Found 1 week ago on PhilSci Archive
  19. 666729.019768
    If one had to identify the biggest change within the philosophical tradition in the 21st century, it would certainly be the rapid rise of experimental philosophy to address differences in intuitions about concepts. Yet, it is within the philosophy of medicine that one particular conceptual debate has overshadowed all others: the long-standing dispute between so-called ‘naturalists’ and ‘normativists’ about the concepts of health and disease. It is, therefore, surprising that the philosophy of medicine has, so far, not drawn on the tools of XPhi. I shall use this opportunity to defend and advocate the use of empirical methods to inform and advance this and other debates within the philosophy of medicine.
    Found 1 week ago on PhilSci Archive
  20. 666778.019782
    It is an honor and a pleasure to contribute to this festschrift for George Ellis. I first became interested in the topic of downward causation as a result of conversations that I had many years ago with Roger Sperry when I was a postdoc at Caltech. I’ve always thought that there was something right in the basic idea but it has only been recently, partly as a consequence of reading work by Ellis (and others such as Denis Noble) as well as some philosophical criticisms of downward causation that struck me as misguided that I have thought that I might have something to say on this subject. The ideas that follow reflect the influence of Ellis and Noble as well as some recent developments in machine learning and computer science concerning forming macro-variables from more fine-grained realizing micro-variables (e.g.
    Found 1 week ago on PhilSci Archive
  21. 666886.019799
    For Jerry Fodor, Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature is “the foundational document of cognitive science” whose significance transcends mere historical interest: it is a source of theoretical inspiration in cognitive psychology. Here I am going to argue that those reading Hume along Fodor’s lines rely on a problematic, albeit inspiring, construction of Hume’s science of mind. My strategy in this paper is to contrast Fodor’s understanding of the Humean mind (consonant with the widely received view of Hume in both cognitive science and much of Hume scholarship) with an alternative understanding that I propose. I thereby intend to show that the received view of Hume’s science of mind can be fruitfully revised while critically engaging with Fodor’s contemporary appropriation. Consequently, I use this occasion to put forward a rather unorthodox interpretation of Hume’s theory in dialogue with Fodor as my guide.
    Found 1 week ago on PhilSci Archive
  22. 666984.019812
    Programs in quantum gravity often claim that time emerges from fundamentally timeless physics. In the semiclassical time program time arises only after approximations are taken. Here we ask what justifies taking these approximations and show that time seems to sneak in when answering this question. This raises the worry that the approach is either unjustified or circular in deriving time from no–time.
    Found 1 week ago on PhilSci Archive
  23. 674975.019826
    something’s not revealed A little over a year ago, the board of the American Statistical Association (ASA) appointed a new Task Force on Statistical Significance and Replicability (under then president, Karen Kafadar), to provide it with recommendations. …
    Found 1 week ago on D. G. Mayo's blog
  24. 829104.019851
    In my talk I shall try to present some of the key features of an intricate collection of ideas in biology, physics and chemistry that seem to me to have revolutionary implications for philosophy of science (including biology), philosophy of mind and philosophy of mathematics, including implications concerning the nature of consciousness, especially spatial consciousness, in many intelligent species. Number competences will not be discussed, except to note that many researchers in psychology and neuroscience who try to investigate innateness of number competences don’t understand that a full grasp of natural numbers depends on understanding the necessary transitivity of one-to-one correspondence, which does not develop until age 5 or 6 as Piaget discovered many years ago (Piaget, 1952). Spatial consciousness formed the basis of ancient human mathematical consciousness in topology and geometry centuries before Euclid, and even longer before the development of logic-based formal foundations for (some) mathematics.
    Found 1 week, 2 days ago on Aaron Sloman's site
  25. 840214.019867
    ​: The free energy principle (FEP) purports to provide a single principle for the organizational dynamics of living systems, including their cognitive profiles. It states that for a system to maintain non-equilibrium steady-state with its environment it must minimise its free energy. It is said to be entirely scale-free, applying to anything from particles to organisms, and interactive machines, spanning from the abiotic to the biotic. Because the FEP is so general in its application, it is for this reason that one might wonder in what sense this framework captures anything specific to biological characteristics, if details at all. We take steps to correct for this here. We do so by taking up a distinct challenge that the FEP must overcome if it is to be of interest to those working in the biological sciences. We call this ​the pebble challenge​: it states that the FEP cannot capture the organisational principles specific to biology, for its formalisms apply equally well to pebbles. We progress in solving the pebble challenge by articulating how the notion of ‘autonomy as precarious operational closure’ from the enactive literature can be unpacked within the FEP. This enables the FEP to delineate between the abiotic and the biotic; avoiding the pebble challenge that keeps it out of touch with the living systems we encounter in the world and is of interest to the sciences of life and mind.
    Found 1 week, 2 days ago on PhilSci Archive
  26. 840433.019883
    Dynamical models of cognition have played a central role in recent cognitive science. In this paper, we consider a common strategy by which dynamical models describe their target systems neither as purely static or purely dynamic, but rather using a hybrid approach. This hybridity reveals why dynamical models should not be understood as providing unstructured descriptions of a system’s dynamics, and is important for understanding the relationship between dynamical and non-dynamical representations of a system.
    Found 1 week, 2 days ago on PhilSci Archive
  27. 840514.019899
    The dynamics of general relativity is encoded in a set of ten differential equations, the so-called Einstein field equations. It is usually believed that Einstein’s equations represent a physical law describing the coupling of spacetime with material fields. However, just six of these equations actually describe the coupling mechanism: the remaining four represent a set of differential relations known as Bianchi identities. The paper discusses the physical role that the Bianchi identities play in general relativity, and investigates whether these identities –qua part of a physical law– highlight some kind of a posteriori necessity in a Kripkean sense. The inquiry shows that general relativistic physics has an interesting bearing on the debate about the metaphysics of the laws of nature.
    Found 1 week, 2 days ago on PhilSci Archive
  28. 1017862.019958
    Philosophers commonly make claims about words or the concepts they are taken to express. Often the focus is on “ordinary” words (or concepts), although philosophers have also been concerned with technical terms. Sometimes engagement with concepts is the purpose of the research, as when a philosopher offers a conceptual analysis. Sometimes it serves as background, with philosophers laying out a concept in order to argue that it should be revised. And sometimes it is more instrumental, with conceptual issues arising while philosophers pursue non-conceptual questions.
    Found 1 week, 4 days ago on Justin Sytsma's site
  29. 1036794.019997
    time, the law is normative for all reasoners. That is, the Stoics don’t draw a distinction that is characteristic of later philosophy, between the laws of physics and the laws that hold for human action. The very same law shapes the movements of the cosmos and governs our actions. The Stoics’ conception of the law contributes to the age-old debate about nomos and phusis, law and nature. There is only one nature, the thought goes, and thus there is only one law. That there is only one nature means that there is only one natural way to live. It also, and more fundamentally, means that there is only one world. The world, rather than some particular state, is where reasoners are to lead lawful lives.
    Found 1 week, 4 days ago on Katja Maria Vogt's site
  30. 1055136.020032
    Individuals of many animal species are said to have a personality. It has been shown that some individuals are bolder than other individuals of the same species, or more sociable or more aggressive. In this paper, we analyse what it means to say that an animal has a personality. We clarify what an animal personality is, that is, its ontology, and how different personality concepts relate to each other, and we examine how personality traits are identified in biological practice. Our analysis shows that biologists often study specific personality traits, such as boldness, sociability or aggressiveness, rather than personalities in general. We claim that personality traits are best understood as dispositions and that they are operationally defined in terms of certain sets of behaviours, which are studied in specific experimental set-ups. Furthermore, we develop an integrative philosophical account that specifies and formalises three criteria for identifying personality traits, which are used in biological practice. For an individual animal to have a personality trait it must, first, behave differently than others (Individual Differences). Second, these behavioural differences must be stable over a certain time (Temporal Stability), and third, they must be consistent in different contexts (Contextual Consistency).
    Found 1 week, 5 days ago on PhilSci Archive