In the first two editions of the Principia, Newton makes two pronouncements about the scope of natural philosophy that appear to be in tension with one another. In the first (1687) edition Preface to the Reader, Newton writes, “the basic problem of [natural] philosophy seems to be to discover the forces of nature from the phenomena of motions and then to demonstrate the other phenomena from these forces” (Janiak 60). …
In a paper on Double Effect, I offer this kind of an example. Jim has sneaked into a zoo on a mission to kill the first mammal he sees at the zoo, because a very rich eccentric has informed him that he’d give a very large sum of money to famine relief if Jim did that. …
Prior used our emotions to argue that tensed language cannot be translated by tenseless language. However, it is widely accepted that Mellor and Mac- Beath have shown that our emotions do not imply the existence of tensed facts. I criticise this orthodoxy. There is a natural and plausible view of the appropriateness of emotions which in combination with Prior’s argument implies the existence of tensed facts. The Mellor/MacBeath position does nothing to upset this natural view and therefore is not sufficient to block one drawing conclusions for the metaphysics of time from the nature of our emotions.
This paper aims to provide modal foundations for mathematical platonism. I examine Hale and Wright’s (2009) objections to the merits and need, in the defense of mathematical platonism and its epistemology, of the thesis of Necessitism. In response to Hale and Wright’s objections to the role of epistemic and metaphysical modalities in providing justification for both the truth of abstraction principles and the success of mathematical predicate reference, I examine the Necessitist commitments of the abundant conception of properties endorsed by Hale and Wright and examined in Hale (2013a); examine cardinality issues which arise depending on whether Necessitism is accepted at first- and higher-order; and demonstrate how a multi-dimensional intensional approach to the epistemology of mathematics, augmented with Necessitism, is consistent with Hale and Wright’s notion of there being epistemic entitlement rationally to trust that abstraction principles are true. Epistemic and metaphysical modality may thus be shown to play a constitutive role in vindicating the reality of mathematical objects and truth, and in explaining our possible knowledge thereof.
We report two experiments exploring the perception of how contemporary philosophy is often conducted. We find that (1) participants associate philosophy with the practice of conducting thought experiments and collating intuitions about them, and (2) that this form of inquiry is viewed much less favourably than the typical form of inquiry in psychology: research conducted by teams using controlled experiments and observation. We also found (3) an effect whereby relying on intuition is viewed more favorably in the context of team inquiry than in individual inquiry and (4) that greater prior exposure to philosophy lowered one’s opinion of inquiry driven by intuitions and thought experiments. Finally with respect to participant gender, we found that (5) women favored observation over intuition more than men did, and (6) tended to view a question pursued by a research team as more important than men viewed it.
For a man so revered, so attentively studied, so plentifully adorned with silverware, Pep Guardiola cuts a remarkably dour figure. Constantly anxious and frequently frustrated on the sidelines, he gives the impression of a tortured soul in a quixotic quest for footballing perfection, bored by the accolades routinely showered upon him by his peers and painfully aware of the dispiriting gap between his teams’ concrete performances and the Platonic Idea of football.
This essay argues that both the normative worth and practicality of conservatism depend on how much there is to enjoy and value in actual historical circumstances. I use examples from Russian history in the Tsarist period to show that if they live in times of great hardship, or under arbitrary political rule, political actors and thinkers with conservative sympathies (such as respect for tradition, and predilection for slow, gradual improvements) will face painful moral dilemmas, and perhaps even be justified in renouncing conservative behaviors altogether. For this reason, the Russian example helps us to better understand why being conservative can sometimes be impossible.
In this article I assess Rossian Intuitionism, which is the view that the Rossian Principles of Duty are self-evident. I begin by motivating and clarifying a version of the view—Rossian Conceptual Intuitionism—that hasn’t been adequately considered by Rossians. After defending it against a series of significant objections, I show that enthusiasm for Rossian Conceptual Intuitionism should be muted. Specifically, I argue that we lack sufficient reason for thinking that the Rossian Principles are self-evident, and that insisting that they are self-evident (perhaps in an attenuated sense) may commit Rossians to radically expanding the scope of self-evidence.
John Searle has argued that functions owe their existence to the value that we put into life and survival. In this paper, I will provide a critique of Searle’s argument concerning the ontology of functions. I rely on a standard analysis of functional predicates as relating not only a biological entity (e.g., the heart), an activity that constitutes the function of this entity (e.g., pumping blood) and a type of system but also a goal state (e.g., survival or evolutionary fitness). A functional attribution without specification of such a goal state has no truth-value. But if completed with a goal state, functional attributions understood as four-place relations attain a truth-value. The truth conditions of all attributions of function involve a dependence claim of the goal state on the function bearer's activity. The nature of this dependence may differ; I consider five different possibilities: causality, mechanistic constitution, mereology, supervenience and metaphysical grounding. If these dependency relations are objective, Searle’s central ontological thesis fails. What he ought to have said is that our valuing survival or other goal states may be the reason why biology seeks functional knowledge, but this has nothing to do with ontology. I will show further that Searle also raised an interesting challenge concerning the relationship of functional and causal truths, but it does not threaten the objectivity of functions either. At best, it could show that functional vocabulary is eliminable. However, I will show that functional vocabulary is not so eliminable.
What if your brain could talk to you? ’That’s a silly question’, I hear you say, ‘My brain already talks to me.’
To the best of our current knowledge, the mind is the brain, and the mind is always talking. …
Creativity is the production of things that are novel and valuable (whether physical artefacts, actions, or ideas). Humans are unique in the extent of their creativity, which plays a central role in innovation and problem solving, as well as in the arts. But what are the cognitive sources of novelty? More particularly, what are the cognitive sources of stochasticity in creative production? I will argue that they belong to two broad categories. One is associative, enabling the selection of goal-relevant ideas that have become activated by happenstance in an unrelated context. The other relies on selection processes that leverage stochastic fluctuations in neural activity. While the components appealed to in these accounts are well established, the ways in which I combine them together are new.
The idea of justice occupies centre stage both in ethics, and in
legal and political philosophy. We apply it to individual
actions, to laws, and to public policies, and we think in each case
that if they are unjust this is a strong, maybe even conclusive, reason
to reject them. Classically, justice was counted as one of the
four cardinal virtues (and sometimes as the most important of the
four); in modern times John Rawls famously described it as ‘the
first virtue of social institutions’ (Rawls 1971, p.3; Rawls,
1999, p.3). We might debate which of these realms of practical
philosophy has first claim on justice: is it first and foremost a
property of the law, for example, and only derivatively a property of
individuals and other institutions?
Loop quantum gravity has formalized a robust scheme in resolving classical singularities in a variety of symmetry-reduced models of gravity. In this essay, we demonstrate that the same quantum correction which is crucial for singularity resolution is also responsible for the phenomenon of signature change in these models, whereby one effectively transitions from a ‘fuzzy’ Euclidean space to a Lorentzian space-time in deep quantum regimes. As long as one uses a quantization scheme which respects covariance, holonomy corrections from loop quantum gravity generically leads to non-singular signature change, thereby giving an emergent notion of time in the theory. Robustness of this mechanism is established by comparison across large class of midisuperspace models and allowing for diverse quantization ambiguities. Conceptual and mathematical consequences of such an underlying quantum-deformed space-time are briefly discussed.
Harvey Brown’s Physical Relativity defends a view, the dynamical perspective, on the nature of spacetime that goes beyond the familiar dichotomy of substantivalist/relationist views. A full defense of this view requires attention to the way that our use of spacetime concepts connect with the physical world. Reflection on such matters, I argue, reveals that the dynamical perspective affords the only possible view about the ontological status of spacetime, in that putative rivals fail to express anything, either true or false. I conclude with remarks aimed at clarifying what is and isn’t in dispute with regards to the explanatory priority of spacetime and dynamics, at countering an objection raised by John Norton to views of this sort, and at clarifying the relation between background and effective spacetime structure.
One of the problems for the traditional ‘Rationalists and Empiricists’ story of early modern philosophy is that it is surprisingly difficult to define ‘rationalism’ and ’empiricism’ appropriately (see here for a previous discussion). …
Sometimes theists are accused of anthropomorphism in their concept of God. But it is important to note that theists hold that God is the entity least like humans. Rocks are closer to us in intellectual capacity than God is. …
I think one of the most powerful objections to divine command theory is MacIntyre’s question as to which divine attributes make it be the case that the obligatory is what God commands. It’s not God’s creating us: for imagine a naturalistic universe where a crazy scientist creates people—surely the crazy scientist’s commands do not constitute obligations. …
I argue that Emilie du Châtelet’s metaphysics of corporeal substance in the 1740s was a species of realism. This result challenges the ruling consensus, which takes her to have been decisively influenced by Leibniz, an idealist. In addition, I argue that du Châtelet’s ontology of body is a mixture of realism and idealism, likewise non-Leibnizian. This too questions the scholarly consensus; and opens the way for a long due and careful reassessment of her overall doctrine. I suggest that her view is best understood as dualism, a two-substance metaphysics that puts du Châtelet relatively close to Christian Wolff.
In his paper, ‘Regarding the ‘Hole Argument”, Weatherall suggests that models of general relativity related by a hole diffeomorphism must be regarded as being physically equivalent. At a later stage in the paper, however, he also argues that there is a sense in which two such models may be regarded as being empirically distinct—a fortiori physically distinct. We attempt to delineate the logic behind these two prima facie contradictory claims. We argue that the latter sense rests upon a misunderstanding of the import of shift arguments in the foundations of spacetime theories.
Jonathan Greig (LMU Munich) posted the picture above to Twitter the other day, crediting Laura Castelli with finding it. It’s from a 14th Century illuminated manuscript by Thomas Le Myésier, Breviculum ex artibus Raimundi Lulli electum, and depicts Aristotle, Averroes, and Ramon Llull leading an army charging the Tower of Falsehood. …
One of the key ideas in my new book The Philosophical Parent is that we see children as self-like because they "come from us"—in one of several senses. I can't state this as any kind of a universal truth, but it tends to be true, and I think it's with good reason that we see children this way. …
According to Michael Friedman’s theory of explanation, a law X explains laws Y1 2, ... , Yn precisely when X unifies the Y’s, where unification is understood in terms of reducing the number of independently acceptable laws. Philip Kitcher criticized Friedman’s theory but did not analyze the concept of independent acceptability. Here we show that Kitcher’s objection can be met by modifying an element in Friedman’s account. In addition, we argue that there are serious objections to the use that Friedman makes of the concept of independent acceptability.
It’s often unclear what we ought to do. Much of the time this is because it’s unclear what ma%ers. Suppose, for instance, that we’re poultry farmers wondering whether we ought to put our chickens in cages or let them roam free. We know that we’ll make more profit if we put them in cages but also that they’ll suffer more if we do. Still, if we want to know what we ought to do, we need to know whether minimizing the suffering of our chickens is something that ma%ers, and, if so, how much it ma%ers in comparison to our maximizing profits.
There are good reasons to believe that the classical structure of space-time, as it appears in general relativity, breaks down at small length scales of the order of the Planck scale . This poses a problem in particular for any theory of quantum gravity, which should extend to such short length scales. Assuming that the classical concept of space-time (described as a manifold) is no longer viable as a fundamental concept in such a theory, one needs to explain how it emerges as an approximate concept in the appropriate (long distance) limit.
This paper attempts to reconcile critics and defenders of inclusive fitness by constructing a synthesis that does justice to the insights of both. I argue that criticisms of the regression-based version of Hamilton’s rule, although they undermine its use for predictive purposes, do not undermine its use as an organizing framework for social evolution research. I argue that the assumptions underlying the concept of inclusive fitness, conceived as a causal property of an individual organism, are unlikely to be exactly true in real populations, but they are approximately true given a specific type of weak selection that Hamilton took, on independent grounds, to be responsible for the cumulative assembly of complex adaptation. Finally, I reflect on the uses and limitations of “design thinking” in social evolution research.
In a series of recent papers, two of which appeared in this journal, a group of philosophers, physicists, and climate scientists have argued that something they call the ‘hawkmoth effect’ poses insurmountable difficulties for those who would use nonlinear models, including climate simulation models, to make quantitative predictions or to produce ‘decision-relevant probabilites.’ Such a claim, if it were true, would undermine much of climate science, among other things. Here, we examine the two lines of argument the group has used to support their claims. The first comes from a set of results in dynamical systems theory associated with the concept of ‘structural stability.’ The second relies on a mathematical demonstration of their own, using the logistic equation, that they present using a hypothetical scenario involving two apprentices of Laplace’s omniscient demon. We prove two theorems that are relevant to their claims, and conclude that both of these lines of argument fail. There is nothing out there that comes close to matching the characteristics this group attributes to the ‘hawkmoth effect.’
A fellow philosopher just sent me this very interesting quote from an article in a reputable medical journal:
[I]f it was conclusively shown that the sole or principal mode of action [of the IUD] was to prevent the embryo from implanting, then this method, as in the case with emergency contraception, would be considered by the Roman Catholic church as causing an early abortion. …
Suppose that a contraceptive has the following properties:
Fewer than 1% of users have a pregnancy annually. At least 5% of users annually experience a cycle where the contraceptive fails to prevent fertilization but does prevent implantation. …
A counterpossible conditional is a counterfactual with an impossible antecedent. Common sense delivers the view that some such conditionals are true, and some are false. In recent publications, Timothy Williamson has defended the view that all are true. In this paper we defend the common sense view against Williamson’s objections.
On a very intuitive way of thinking, if it is already determined that some event will happen, then there is no non-trivial chance (no chance between 0 and 1) of it failing to happen, and if it is already determined that some event will not happen, then there is no non-trivial chance of it happening. On this way of thinking, it does not make sense to claim both that it is already determined that Always Dreaming will win this year’s Kentucky Derby and that the chance of Classic Empire winning instead is 1/2.