1. I don’t like sports, but it is a sports metaphor that comes to mind: if my team were out of the playoffs, I’d be rooting for Ross. Unlike Ross, I think that The Block Universe Theory of Time is true, but like Ross I’ve argued that the best alternative, the theory it should be squaring off against in the World Series of The Philosophy of Time, is The Moving Spotlight Theory. I came to Ross’s book, therefore, curious about how his argument for this claim was going to go. Parts of the book really opened my eyes. I’m thinking especially of Ross’s discussion of the argument that the presentist can, while the moving spotlight theorist cannot, accept the claim that they know that they are present; and his discussion of the relationship between what one might call “ordinary modal talk” and the metaphysics of modality in a certain version (Phillip Bricker’s) of Modal Realism. Other parts of the book left me a bit confused. In this piece I’m going to say something about (some of) those bits.
Amartya Sen has recently levelled a series of what he alleges to be quite serious but very general objections against Rawls, Rawlsian fellow travellers, and other social contract accounts of justice. In The Idea of Justice, published in 2009, Sen specifically charges his target philosophical views with what he calls transcendentalism and procedural parochialism, and with being mistakenly narrowly focused on institutions. He also thinks that there is a basic incoherence—arising from a version of Derek Parfit’s Identity Problem—internal to the Rawlsian theoretical apparatus. Sen would have political philosophy pursue inter-societal comparisons of relative justice more directly and in the manner of social choice theory. Yet the positive argument that he develops in support of this method is quite thin. That aside, Sen’s polemical strategy of inflicting death by a thousand cuts is ineffective against the Rawlsian paradigm. For, as I show herein, none of these criticisms has the force we might be led to expect.
In this article, I outline various ways in which artifacts are interwoven with autobiographical memory systems and conceptualize what this implies for the self. I first sketch the narrative approach to the self, arguing that who we are as persons is essentially our (unfolding) life story, which, in turn, determines our present beliefs and desires, but also directs our future goals and actions. I then argue that our autobiographical memory is partly anchored in our embodied interactions with an ecology of artifacts in our environment. Lifelogs, photos, videos, journals, diaries, souvenirs, jewelry, books, works of art, and many other meaningful objects trigger and sometimes constitute emotionally laden autobiographical memories. Autobiographical memory is thus distributed across embodied agents and various environmental structures. To defend this claim, I draw on and integrate distributed cognition theory and empirical research in human-technology interaction. Based on this, I conclude that the self is neither defined by psychological states realized by the brain nor by biological states realized by the organism, but should be seen as a distributed and relational construct.
According to Huemer (2016)’s theory of inferential seemings, one’s having inferential justification requires one to entertain a seeming or appearance that represents a proposition as being true or probable given another proposition.
In the discipline of international relations there are contending
general theories or theoretical perspectives. Realism, also known as
political realism, is a view of international politics that stresses
its competitive and conflictual side. It is usually contrasted with
idealism or liberalism, which tends to emphasize cooperation. Realists
consider the principal actors in the international arena to be states,
which are concerned with their own security, act in pursuit of their
own national interests, and struggle for power. The negative side of
the realists’ emphasis on power and self-interest is often their
skepticism regarding the relevance of ethical norms to relations among
This paper argues for a version of metalinguistic descriptivism, the Mill-Frege view, comparing it to a currently popular alternative, predicativism. The Mill-Frege view combines tenets of Fregean views with features of the theory of direct reference. According to it, proper names have metalinguistic senses, known by competent speakers on the basis of their competence, which figure in ancillary presuppositions. In support of the view the paper argues that the name-bearing relation – which predicativists cite to account for the properties that they take names to express – depends on acts of naming with a semantic significance. Acts of naming create particular words specifically designed for referential use, which they perform whether or not the language has other words articulated with the same sound or orthography. Like other forms of metalinguistic descriptivism, the Mill-Frege view affords reponses to Kripke’s semantic and epistemic arguments against descriptivism. The view is prima facie more complex than predicativism; but the additional complexity is independently attested in natural languages and well motivated. Finally, the Mill-Frege proposal deals well with Kripke’s modal argument, and accounts for modal intuitions about names, both issues that pose serious trouble to predicativism.
Springer have just published an exceptional volume that should quite certainly be in any university library that has any kind of logic collection. From the blurb of Saved from The Cellar: “Attempts at locating [Gentzen’s] lost manuscripts failed at the time [immediately after his death], but several decades later, two slim folders of shorthand notes were found. …
Following up on my posts PostBQP Postscripts and More Wrong Things I Said In Papers, it felt like time for another post in which I publicly flog myself for mistakes in my research papers. [Warning: The rest of this post is kinda, sorta technical. …
David Hartley (1705–57) is the author of Observations on
Man, his Frame, his Duty, and his Expectations (1749)—a
wide-ranging synthesis of neurology, moral psychology, and
spirituality (i.e., our “frame,” “duty,” and
“expectations”). The Observations gained
dedicated advocates in Britain, America, and Continental Europe, who
appreciated it both for its science and its spirituality. As science,
the work grounds consciousness in neuro-physiology, mind in brain. On
this basis, the central concept of “association,” much
discussed by other British philosophers and psychologists, receives
distinctive treatment: the term first names the physiological
process that generates “ideas,” and then the psychological
processes by which perceptions, thoughts, and emotions either link and
fuse or break apart.
“Africana philosophy” is the name for an emergent and
still developing field of ideas and idea-spaces, intellectual
endeavors, discourses, and discursive networks within and beyond
academic philosophy that was recognized as such by national and
international organizations of professional philosophers, including the
American Philosophical Association, starting in the 1980s. Thus, the
name does not refer to a particular philosophy, philosophical system,
method, or tradition. Rather, Africana philosophy is a
third-order, metaphilosophical, umbrella-concept used to bring
organizing oversight to various efforts of
philosophizing—that is, activities of reflective,
critical thinking and articulation and aesthetic
expression—engaged in by persons and peoples African and of
African descent who were and are indigenous residents of continental
Africa and residents of the many African Diasporas worldwide.
In the Blue Book, Wittgenstein raises the question of whether it is possible for a machine to think. He writes: There is an objection to saying that thinking is some such thing as the activity of the hand. Thinking, one wants to say, is part of our ‘private experience’. It is not material, but an event in private consciousness. This objection is expressed in the question: “Could a machine think?” I shall talk about this at a later point, and now only refer you to an analogous question: “Can a machine have toothache?” You will certainly be inclined to say: “A machine can’t have toothache”. All I will do now is to draw your attention to the use which you have made of the word “can” and to ask you: “Did you mean to say that all our past experience has shown that a machine never had toothache?” The impossibility of which you speak is a logical one. (1958, 16)
In what follows, the intersection of two concepts in the foundations of general relativity are investigated: (1) Malament-Hogarth spacetimes which allow for a type of “supertask” in which a future infinite timelike curve is contained in the past of a spacetime event and (2) “machine” spacetimes which bring about various properties from initial conditions (e.g. “time machines” are spacetimes which bring about a particular type of unusual causal structure). After introducing a quite general characterization of machine spacetimes, we consider various definitions of “Malament-Hogarth machines” and show their existence. The upshot of our work is this: there a clear sense in which general relativity allows for a type of machine which can bring about a spacetime structure suitable for the implementation of supertasks. We close by outlining a program for future work on the subject.
One of the things I’ve learned from the St Petersburg Paradox and Pascal’s Wager is that we are rationally required to have attitudes to risk that significantly discount tiny chances of benefits, rather than to maximize expected utility. …
I argue that bodybuilding should not qualify as a sport, given that at the competition stage it lacks an essential feature of sports, namely, skillful activity. Based on the classic distinction between Leib (the lived body) and Körper (the objective body) in phenomenology, I argue that bodybuilding competition's sole purpose is to present the Körper, whereas sports are about manifestations of Leib. I consider several objections to this analysis, after which I conclude that bodybuilding is an endeavor closer to both beauty competitions and classical sculpture rather than to any other known sports.
. ONE YEAR AGO: …and growing more relevant all the time. Rather than leak any of my new book*, I reblog some earlier posts, even if they’re a bit scruffy. This was first blogged here (with a slightly different title). …
I raise objections to the intellectualist analysis of knowing-how on the basis of certain features of ‘learning to’ ascriptions. I start by observing that ‘learning to’ ascriptions can only have a first-personal reading. Since embedded questions make the generic reading available, this suggests that ‘learning to’ ascriptions are not embedded question configurations. Then I locate an ambiguity in ‘learning to’ ascriptions. They can be used to ascribe either the acquisition of practical knowledge, or the acquisition of a behavioural disposition—a habit—of some value. Once this ambiguity is taken into account, it can be shown that the embedded infinitival in practical learning ascriptions cannot be negated, by contrast to embedded question configurations. This suggests that the semantic value of the infinitival is not propositional. Hence the intellectualist analysis fails to extend to learning ascriptions, and cannot accommodate the systematic relationships between knowledge and learning. The two points above regarding ‘learning to’ ascriptions extend to ascriptions of practical knowledge in certain languages.
Lorenzo Valla (c. 1406–1457) was one of the most important humanists
of his time. In his Elegantiae linguae Latinae, an advanced
handbook of Latin language and style, he gave the humanist program
some of its most trenchant and combative formulations, bringing the
study of Latin to an unprecedented level. He made numerous
contributions to classical scholarship. But he also used his vast
knowledge of the classical languages and their literatures as a tool
to criticize a wide range of ideas, theories, and established
practices. He famously exposed the Donation of Constantine—an
important document justifying the papacy’s claims to temporal
rule—as a forgery.
Individuals should be designed by natural selection to maximize their fitness. This idea can be used as a basis to formulate optimality models [...]. (Davies et al. 2012: 81) Yet there is a long history of scepticism about this idea in population genetics. As A. W. F. Edwards puts it: [A] naive description of evolution [by natural selection] as a process that tends to increase fitness is misleading in general, and hill-climbing metaphors are too crude to encompass the complexities of Mendelian segregation and other biological phenomena. (Edwards 2007: 353) Is there any way to reconcile the adaptationist’s image of natural selection as an engine of optimality with the more complex image of its dynamics we get from population genetics? This has long been an important strand in the controversy surrounding adaptationism. Yet debate here has been hampered by a tendency to conflate various different ways of thinking about maximization and what it entails. In this article I distinguish, at a deliberately coarse grain of analysis, four varieties of maximization principle. I then discuss the logical relations between these varieties, arguing that, although they may seem similar at face value, none entails any of the others. I then turn briefly to the status of each variety, arguing that, while each type of maximization principle faces serious problems, the problems are subtly different for each type.
The aim of this contribution is to provide a rather general answer to Hume’s problem, the well-known problem of induction. To this end, it is very useful to apply his differentiation between “relations of ideas” and “matters of fact”, and to reconsider earlier approaches. In so doing, we consider the problem formally (chap. 3), as well as empirically (chap. 4). Next, received attempts to solve the problem are discussed (chap. 5). The basic structure of inductive problems is exposed in chap. 6. Our final conclusions are to the positive, i.e., Hume’s problem can be dealt with - solved - in a constructive way (chap. 7). More specifically, bounded generalisations can be justified, and the key to the solution is the concept of information.
Should we prefer to give one person half a million minutes (i.e. one year) more life, or to give a million people one minute more each? If iterated a million times over (once for each person in the million), the latter repeated choice is clearly better for all (by half a million minutes). …
The sequent calculus LBCK is obtained by deleting the contraction rule and the introduction rules of the connectives of meet, join and negation from the sequent calculus for the Intuitionistic Propositional logic, LJ. In this paper we show that the Gentzen system GBCK, naturally associated with LBCK , is equivalent to the Hilbert-style logic BCK, in the sense that GBCK and BCK are interpretable one another, the interpretations being essentially inverse in each other. This result is a strengthening of the one obtained by H. Ono and Y. Komori , which concerned only the derivable sequents of LBCK and the theorems of BCK. We obtain, as a corollary of this result, that the quasivariety of BCK- algebras is the equivalent quasivariety semantics of GBCK in the sense of .
On Monday May 1st Joe LeDoux and I presented our paper at the NYU philosophy of mind discussion group. This was the second time that I have presented there (the first was with Hakwan (back in 2011!)). …
A number of ‘no-proposition’ approaches to the liar paradox find themselves implicitly committed to a moderate disquotational principle: the principle that if an utterance of the sentence ‘P ’ says anything at all, it says that P (with suitable restrictions). I show that this principle alone is responsible for the revenge paradoxes that plague this view. I instead propose a view in which there are several closely related language-world relations playing the ‘semantic expressing’ role, none of which is more central to semantic theorizing than any other. I use this thesis about language and the negative result about disquotation to motivate the view that people do say things with utterances of paradoxical sentences, although they do not say the proposition you’d always expect, as articulated with a disquotational principle. Consider a self-referential utterance, u, of the sentence ‘u is not true’. According to one widespread and appealing intuition when one makes a semantically paradoxical utterance such as u one simply does not succeed in saying anything. Call this the no proposition theory.
Take an arbitrarily short duration -- I'll speak of 'nanoseconds' for familiarity and convenience, but you could use an even smaller measure of time. Could removing a mere (arbitrary) nanosecond from your life plausibly make your life any worse on the whole? …
This essay examines the philosophical significance of Ω-logic in Zermelo- Fraenkel set theory with choice (ZFC). The dual isomorphism between algebra and coalgebra permits Boolean-valued algebraic models of ZFC to be interpreted as coalgebras. The modal profile of Ω-logical validity can then be countenanced within a coalgebraic logic, and Ω-logical validity can be defined via deterministic automata. I argue that the philosophical significance of the foregoing is two-fold. First, because the epistemic and modal profiles of Ω-logical validity correspond to those of second-order logical consequence, Ω-logical validity is genuinely logical, and thus vindicates a neo-logicist conception of mathematical truth in the set-theoretic multiverse. Second, the foregoing provides a modal-computational account of the interpretation of mathematical vocabulary, adducing in favor of a realist conception of the cumulative hierarchy of sets.
In her rich, historically informed and empirically sophisticated book Outside Color, Chirimuuta does nothing less than defend a novel theory of color, a position that we might call “externalist adverbialism”. My plan is as follows. First I will address Chirimuuta’s objections to the standard views. Then I will raise a few questions about her own view.
Perhaps the strongest argument for scientific realism, the no-‐‑miracles-‐‑argument, has been said to commit the so-‐‑called base rate fallacy. The apparent elusiveness of the base rate of true theories has even been said to undermine the rationality of the entire realism debate. In this paper, I confront this challenge by arguing, on the basis of the Kuhnian picture of theory choice, that a theory is likely to be true if it possesses multiple theoretical virtues and is embraced by numerous scientists, even when the base rate converges to zero.
The year that Ludwig Wittgenstein was born in Vienna, 1889, nearby developments already underway portended two major changes of the coming century: the advent of controlled heavier-than-air flight and the mass production of musical sound recordings. Before they brought about major social changes, though, these innovations appeared in Europe in the form of children’s toys. Both a rubber-band-powered model helicopter-like toy employing an ingenious solution to the problem of control, and a working toy gramophone with which music could be reproduced from hard discs, appeared in Europe in time for Ludwig’s childhood. And, both innovations reappear in his work as an adult. The relationship between the advent of heavier-than-air flight and Wittgenstein’s claim in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus that a proposition is a picture or model is a topic in its own right, and I discuss it in separate works. In this essay, I consider the way Wittgenstein employed the development of sound recordings in discussing logical form in the Tractatus.
After a sustained period in which the enterprise of metaphysics was negatively regarded, metaphysical topics have for some time been back in favour with analytic philosophers. The highpoint of analytic philosophy’s anti-metaphysical period had been in the 1930s and 40s when the logical positivists used a verificationalist criterion for meaningfulness (a claim is meaningful only if it can be either empirically verified or disconfirmed) to dismiss traditional “metaphysical” discourse as meaningless. However, the verificationalist criterion soon came to be regarded as self-defeating: clearly it was not itself capable of empirical verification or disconfirmation. Another turn taken by analytic philosophy around the same time would continue this anti-metaphysical impulse without relying upon the positivists’ self-refuting principle, “ordinary language” philosophers shifting the criteria for meaningfulness more to the “ordinary” uses of language. While in comparison to the 30s and 40s, the very early years of analytic philosophy had seemed comparatively “metaphysical”, the seeds for the ultimate rejection of metaphysics are not difficult to discern there.
An increasing number of moral realists and anti-realists have recently attempted to support their views by appeal to science. Arguments of this kind (such as evolutionary debunking arguments or arguments from moral disagreement) are typically criticized on the object-level. In addition, however, one occasionally also comes across a more sweeping metatheoretical skepticism. Scientific contributions to the question of the existence of objective moral truths, it is claimed, are impossible in principle; most prominently, because (1) such arguments impermissibly derive normative from descriptive propositions, (2) such arguments beg the question against non-naturalist moral realism, (3) science cannot inform conceptual accounts of moral judgements, and (4) the conceptual is logically prior to the empirical. My main aim in this paper is to clarify and critically assess these four objections. Moreover, based on this assessment, I will formulate four general requirements that science-based arguments in favor of moral realism and anti-realism should meet. It will turn out that these arguments are limited in several ways, and that some existing arguments have been unsound. Yet it is still possible in principle for the empirical sciences to contribute to the moral realism/anti-realism debate.