Animal welfare scientists face an acute version of the problem of inductive risk, since they must choose whether or not to affirm attributions of mental states to animals in advisory contexts, knowing that their decisions hold significant consequences for animal welfare. In such contexts, the burden of proof should be sensitive to the moral consequences of error, but a framework for setting appropriate burdens of proof is lacking. Through reflection on two cases—the case of pain, and the case of cognitive enrichment—I arrive at a tentative general framework based on the principle of expected welfare maximization. I then discuss the limitations of this framework and the important questions it leaves open.
Not long ago, psychologists commonly regarded emotions as disruptions of organized and rational thought and action (Leeper 1948). A functionalist approach, fostered by an adaptationist conception of evolution by natural selection, has in the past few decades led to a very different consensus. Other things being equal, our more enduring capacities must be good for something— though not necessarily for someone: some genes, perhaps, of which organisms are but vehicles (Dawkins 1976); or perhaps for a population or a species as a whole (Gould 2002). That consensus is not, however, committed to the uniformity or universality of our emotional repertoire. The extent to which our emotional potential is malleable remains an open question.
Blame is a central part of our moral practice. As such, it has rightly captured the attention of moral philosophers. There is a large and growing literature on when someone is to blame for a moral transgression and what it is to blame them for it. Its aim has been to secure a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for blameworthiness and blame, respectively.
The following line of thought is commonly found in analytic philosophy of mind: the reason calcluators, for instance, are not minds is that the symbols they manipulate in order to solve mathematical problems to not mean anything to them (the calculators). …
Monism about being (monism for short) says that everything enjoys the same way of being. So monism implies, for example, that if there are pure sets and if there are mountains, then pure sets exist in just the way that mountains do. Monism can be contrasted with pluralism about being (pluralism for short). Pluralism says that some entities enjoy one way of being but others enjoy another way, or other ways, of being. This paper argues that we should reject pluralism, and endorse monism. In what follows, I shall assume that monists take the existential quantifier, ∃, to capture (what they say is) the one and only way of being (cf., e.g., van Inwagen, 1998, 237-241). That is, I shall assume that monists take the existential quantifier to range over all and only those entities that enjoy (what they say is) the one and only way of being. And I shall assume that pluralists take various existential-like quantifiers—∃1, ∃2, etc.— to capture (what they say are) the various ways of being (cf., e.g., McDaniel, 2009; Turner, 2010). I shall use these sorts of quantifiers in this paper’s arguments because they deliver concision and precision.
BOOK LAUNCH - BUY NOW! I am pleased to announce that Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications (MIT Press, 2017), edited by myself and Neil McArthur, is now available for purchase. You can buy the hardcopy/ebook via Amazon in the US. …
Although Moritz Schlick (1882–1936) made a lasting mark in the
philosophical memory by his role as the nominal leader of the Vienna
Circle of Logical Positivists, his most lasting contribution includes
a broad range of philosophical achievements. Indeed, Schlick’s
reputation was established well before the Circle went public. In
1917, he published Space and Time in Contemporary Physics, a
philosophical introduction to the new physics of Relativity which was
highly acclaimed by Einstein himself as well as many others. The
following year, the first edition of his influential General
Theory of Knowledge appeared and, in 1922, he was appointed to
the prestigious chair of Naturphilosophie at the University
A physicalist research program is to identify physical state types that underlie mental state types. Here is an overly naive physicalist-friendly theory of pain:
Pain is what occurs in the triggering of a damage-detector state that is linked to aversive behavior. …
One standard objection against classical act consequentialism is that it cannot justify partiality to our loved ones. Classical act consequentialism claims that agents are always required to bring about the impersonally best outcome, or, to put it in more technical terms, that an agent is required to do what she has most reason to do, and that the strength of a reason for action is a function of the value that the action would bring about. The more value an action would realize, the stronger the reason to perform that action, and the action that maximizes value is therefore always supported by the strongest reasons. And classical act consequentialism understands value as agent-neutral value: the goodness of an outcome does not depend on the point of view or the identity of the agent. Agents are therefore not permitted to attach special significance to their own personal relationships when they deliberate about what to do. Of course, relationships might be impersonally valuable, and a world with loving relationships might be better than a world without such relationships. If that is true (and it is plausible to assume that it is), then agents must take the value of relationships into account when they deliberate about what to do. But on an agent-neutral understanding of value, this just means that they are required to regard their own relationships as just as valuable as the relationships of other people. The fact that some relationship is mine bears no special significance.1
Many of us are tempted by the thought that the future is open, whereas the past is not. The future might unfold one way, or it might unfold another; but the past, having occurred, is now settled. In previous work we presented an account of what openness consists in: roughly, that the openness of the future is a matter of it being metaphysically indeterminate how things will turn out to be. We were previously concerned merely with presenting the view and exploring its consequences; we did not attempt to argue for it over rival accounts. That is what we will aim to do in this paper.
Transformative Experience is a rich, insightful, compelling book. LA Paul persuasively argues that our standard way of thinking about major life choices (and some minor ones too) is inadequate, because it fails to take into account the subjective phenomenal values of lived experiences. When deciding whether to do something, we need to assess how good the outcome will be for us. But Paul argues that in many such cases, we simply don’t have enough information to do this. And that’s because we don’t have information about the subjective phenomenal value of the experience we’re considering - that is, we don’t know what it’s like (for us) to have that experience. This means our decision is inherently under-informed. We can’t decide how to assign values to possible outcomes (undergoing the experience or failing to undergo the experience) because we don’t have a complete picture of what those values really are.
Matti Eklund (this volume) raises interesting and important issues for our account of metaphysical indeterminacy. Eklund’s criticisms are wide-ranging, and we’ll be unable to address them comprehensively. Instead, we’ll focus our reply on a few key points, taking the opportunity to remark on the background methodology and assumptions that inform our view and, where appropriate, indicating how these may differ from Eklund’s. We begin our account of metaphysical indeterminacy by defending the intelligibility of indeterminacy. Eklund finds this defence unpersuasive, so it seems fitting to begin our reply by addressing these criticisms. We’ll then move on to discuss Eklund’s remarks on vagueness and indeterminacy. We’ll close by briefly addressing the role of classical logic in our approach to indeterminacy.
Attempts to ‘naturalize’ phenomenology challenge both traditional phenomenology and traditional approaches to cognitive science. They challenge Edmund Husserl’s rejection of naturalism and his attempt to establish phenomenology as a foundational transcendental discipline, and they challenge efforts to explain cognition through mainstream science. While appearing to be a retreat from the bold claims made for phenomenology, it is really its triumph. Naturalized phenomenology is spearheading a successful challenge to the heritage of Cartesian dualism. This converges with the reaction against Cartesian thought within science itself. Descartes divided the universe between res cogitans, thinking substances, and res extensa, the mechanical world. The latter won with Newton and we have, in most of objective science since, literally lost our mind, hence our humanity. Despite Darwin, biologists remain children of Newton, and dream of a grand theory that is epistemologically complete and would allow lawful entailment of the evolution of the biosphere. This dream is no longer tenable. We now have to recognize that science and scientists are within and part of the world we are striving to comprehend, as proponents of endophysics have argued, and that physics, biology and mathematics have to be reconceived accordingly. Interpreting quantum mechanics from this perspective is shown to both illuminate conscious experience and reveal new paths for its further development. In biology we must now justify the use of the word “function”. As we shall see, we cannot prestate the ever new biological functions that arise and constitute the very phase space of evolution. Hence, we cannot mathematize the detailed becoming of the biosphere, nor write differential equations for functional variables we do not know ahead of time, nor integrate those equations, so no laws “entail” evolution. The dream of a grand theory fails. In place of entailing laws, a post-entailing law explanatory framework is proposed in which Actuals arise in evolution that constitute new boundary conditions that are enabling constraints that create new, typically unprestatable, Adjacent Possible opportunities for further evolution, in which new Actuals arise, in a persistent becoming. Evolution flows into a typically unprestatable succession of Adjacent Possibles. Given the concept of function, the concept of functional closure of an organism making a living in its world, becomes central. Implications for patterns in evolution include historical reconstruction, and statistical laws such as the distribution of extinction events, or species per genus, and the use of formal cause, not efficient cause, laws.
In this article, I argue against Kearns and Star’s reasons-as-evidence view, which identifies normative reasons to � with evidence that one ought to �. I provide a new counterexample to their view, the student case, which involves an inference to the best explanation from means to end or, more generally, from a derivative to a more foundational “ought” proposition. It shows that evidence that one ought to act a certain way is not in all cases a reason so to act. I present a diagnosis of the problem that is brought out by the counterexample
My topic is a certain view about mental images: namely, the ‘Multiple Use Thesis’. On this view, at least some mental image-types, individuated in terms of the sum total of their representational content, are potentially multifunctional: a given mental image-type, individuated as indicated, can serve in a variety of imaginative-event-types. As such, the presence of an image is insufficient to individuate the content of those imagination-events in which it may feature. This picture is argued for, or (more usually) just assumed to be true, by Christopher Peacocke, Michael Martin, Paul Noordhof, Bernard Williams, Alan White, and Tyler Burge. It is also presupposed by more recent authors on imagination such as Amy Kind, Peter Kung and Neil Van Leeuwen. I reject various arguments for the Multiple Use Thesis, and conclude that instead we should endorse SINGLE: a single image-type, individuated in terms of the sum total of its intrinsic representational content, can serve in only one imagination event-type, whose content coincides exactly with its own, and is wholly determined by it. Plausibility aside, the interest of this thesis is also in its iconoclasm, as well as the challenge it poses for the diverse theories that rest on the truth of the Multiple Use Thesis.
According to philosophers who ground your anticipation of future experiences in psychological continuity and connectedness, it is rational to anticipate the experiences of someone other than yourself, such as a self that is the product of fission or of replication. In this article, I concur that it is rational to anticipate the experiences of the product of fission while denying the rationality of anticipating the experiences of a replica. In defending my position, I offer the following explanation of why you have good reason to anticipate the experiences of your post-fission successor but not your replica: in the former case, you become (i.e., substantially change into) somebody else, whereas, in the latter case, you are merely replaced by somebody else.
Why use a tool that infers from a single (arbitrary) P-value that pertains to a statistical hypothesis H0 to a research claim H*? Why use an incompatible hybrid (of Fisher and N-P)? Why apply a method that uses error probabilities, the sampling distribution, researcher “intentions” and violates the likelihood principle (LP)? …
Recent work in cognitive and computational neuroscience depicts human brains as devices that minimize prediction error signals: signals that encode the difference between actual and expected sensory stimulations. This raises a series of puzzles whose common theme concerns a potential misfit between this bedrock informationtheoretic vision and familiar facts about the attractions of the unexpected. We humans often seem to actively seek out surprising events, deliberately harvesting novel and exciting streams of sensory stimulation. Conversely, we often experience some wellexpected sensations as unpleasant and to-be-avoided. In this paper, I explore several core and variant forms of this puzzle, using them to display multiple interacting elements that together deliver a satisfying solution. That solution requires us to go beyond the discussion of simple information-theoretic imperatives (such as 'minimize long-term prediction error') and to recognize the essential role of species-specific prestructuring, epistemic foraging, and cultural practices in shaping the restless, curious, novelty-seeking human mind.
Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau all look to empirical accounts of human behavior from their own time, from history, and from travelers’ accounts of foreign lands – as opposed to natural law theory – to ground their theories of human nature. Thus, they are all naturalists of a sort; for them political philosophy must be constrained by the type of beings we are; for them there’s no use in creating a system of justice that could not be instantiated here on this earth with its inhabitants.
A central debate in early modern philosophy, between empiricism and rationalism, turned on the question which of two cognitive faculties— sensibility or understanding— should be accorded logical priority in an account of the epistemic credentials of knowledge. As against both the empiricist and the rationalist, Kant wants to argue that the terms of their debate rest on a shared common assumption: namely that the capacities here in question— qua cognitive capacities— are self- standingly intelligible. The paper terms this assumption the Layer- Cake Conception of Human Mindedness and focuses on Kant’s argument against the empiricist version of the assumption, in particular, as that argument is developed in the B version of the Transcendental Deduction in the Critique of Pure Reason. The paper seeks to show how a proper understanding of the structure of the B Deduction reveals its aim to be one of making sense of each of these two capacities (sensibility and understanding) in the light of the other. For the front of the argument that is directed against the empiricist, this means coming to see how a reading of the text that is informed by the layer- cake conception (and which therefore takes the Transcendental Aesthetic to furnish us with the full story about the nature of our faculty for sensory apprehension) is mistaken. For the front of the argument which is directed against the rationalist, this requires coming to see how a mere inversion of the central claim of such a reading would be equally wrong. It would require seeing how a discursive faculty of
One of the main topics Kant is concerned with in the Critique of Pure Reason is the relation between thought and perception, or, in Kant’s own terminology, between understanding and sensibility. Kant regards these as the two fundamental cognitive powers, and he takes it to be among his most important achievements in the Critique to have correctly determined the nature of these powers as well as their relation to each other. Indeed, he claims that it is this achievement which enabled him to advance over the philosophical positions of his most prominent predecessors, on both the Empiricist and the Rationalist side. Yet exactly how the relation between understanding and sensibility ought to be conceived, according to Kant, is unclear. On the one hand, he claims that understanding and sensibility are distinct, and indeed heterogeneous, capacities. This claim is crucial to his critique of both Empiricism and Rationalism. On the other hand, he is concerned to show that intuitions, the acts of sensibility, themselves involve the understanding. This claim is no less crucial: Kant’s justification of the possibility of synthetic a priori knowledge demands it. How are these two claims to be reconciled? The aim of this dissertation is to propose an answer to this question by developing a new interpretation of Kant’s conception of the understanding, the capacity of thought.
One of the main topics Kant is concerned with in the Critique of Pure Reason is the relation between thought and perception, or, in Kant’s own terminology, between understanding and sensibility. Kant regards these as the two fundamental cognitive powers, and he takes it to be among his most important achievements in the Critique to have correctly determined the nature of these powers as well as the relation they bear to each other. Indeed, he claims that it is this achievement which enabled him to advance over the philosophical positions of his most prominent predecessors, on both the Empiricist and the Rationalist side. Yet exactly how the relation between understanding and sensibility ought to be conceived, according to Kant, is unclear. On the one hand, he claims that understanding and sensibility are distinct, and indeed heterogeneous, capacities. This claim is crucial to his critique of both Empiricism and Rationalism. On the other hand, he is concerned to show that intuitions, the acts of sensibility, themselves involve the understanding. This claim is no less crucial: Kant’s justification of the possibility of synthetic a priori knowledge demands it. How are these two claims to be reconciled? The aim of this dissertation is to propose an answer to this question by developing a new interpretation of Kant’s conception of the understanding, the capacity of thought.
Excuses are commonplace. They are part and parcel of our ordinary practice of holding each other morally responsible. But excuses are also curious. They have normative force. Whether someone has an excuse for something they have done matters for how it is rational to respond to their action. For example, an excuses can make it rational to forgo blame, to revise judgments of blameworthiness, and to feel compassion and pity instead of anger and resentment.
The paper is an exploration in the field of Aquinas’s metaphysics of form. The overall aim is to see how certain features that Thomas attributes to form, as form, fit together and present themselves at various levels and in various modes: substantial and accidental, material and immaterial, cognitive and physical, intentional and real, and created and divine. Particular attention is given to two essential properties of form, perfection and determinacy, and to how these relate to a characteristic that Thomas ascribes to forms considered absolutely or just in themselves; namely, their being, in one way or another, common to many and even somehow infinite. The paper concludes with a conjecture about the community of substantial form in a bodily substance.
In September, 2016, I replied to an earlier draft of Oaklander’s Critique of my view of time for Manuscrito. Now he has published an extremely complex 50-page expanded version. There is no way that a reply in a journal could cover all the topics Oaklander discusses. So, I will stick mainly to my own view to which Oaklander was responding. My reply is in two parts. In the first, directed at Oaklander’s earlier draft, I say what I want to do in philosophy in general, and in the philosophy of time in particular. In the second part, I mention some places where he (apparently) misunderstands my view.
Empirical studies of the social lives of non-human primates, cetaceans, and other social animals have prompted scientists and philosophers to debate the question of whether morality and moral cognition exists in non-human animals. Some researchers have argued that morality does exist in several animal species, others that these species may possess various evolutionary building blocks or precursors to morality, but not quite the genuine article, while some have argued that nothing remotely resembling morality can be found in any non-human species. However, these different positions on animal morality generally appear to be motivated more by different conceptions of how the term “morality” is to be defined than on empirical disagreements about animal social behaviour and psychology. After delving deeper into the goals and methodologies of various of the protagonists, I argue that, despite appearances, there are actually two importantly distinct debates over animal morality going on, corresponding to two quite different ways of thinking about what it is to define “morality”, “moral cognition”, and associated notions. Several apparent skirmishes in the literature are thus cases of researchers simply talking past each other. I then focus on what I take to be the core debate over animal morality, which is concerned with understanding the nature and phylogenetic distribution of morality conceived as a psychological natural kind. I argue that this debate is in fact largely terminological and non-substantive. Finally, I reflect on how this core debate might best be re-framed.
Objectual understanding—viz., the sort of understanding one has when one understands a subject matter or body of information—is often thought to be factive, in a way that (for example) mere coherent delusions are not. In short, understanding a subject matter demands we have at least some true beliefs about the subject matter in question¹. That being said, it is ubiquitous to claim that we understand some false subject matters or theories. For example, most high-school students have some understanding of Ptolemy’s earth-centred view of the universe, even though the Ptolemaic view is premised on a false conception of what revolves around what. One very natural way to reconcile the kind of factivity demanded of understanding with the datum that we can plausibly count as understanding false theories, models or subject matters is to point out a relevant fact about the way we regard ourselves as understanding (for instance) the Ptolemaic view: we understand it as false, which is to say, we see how the view holds together while at the same time appreciating that the view does not accurately represent what it purports to.
When reading literature, we might have an emotional connection with the author, or at least what appears to be such, even when that literature is a work of fiction. But it is unclear how a work of fictional literature could supply the resources for such an experience. It is, after all, a work of fiction, not a report of the author’s experience, as with memoir or autobiography. The task of this paper is twofold: first, to explain the nature and value of this emotional experience; second, to argue that a fictional literary work can supply the resources for such an experience.
In recent work, Amie Thomasson has sought to develop a new approach to the philosophy of the categories which is metaphysically neutral between traditional realist and conceptualist approaches, and which has its roots in the ‘correlationalist’ approach to categories put forward in Husserl’s writings in the 1900s–1910s and systematically charted over the past few decades by David Woodruff Smith in his studies of Husserl’s philosophy. Here the author aims to provide a recontextualization and critical assessment of correlationalism in a Husserlian vein. To this end, the author presents, first, the reasons why, later in his life, Husserl himself found his earlier treatment of categories philosophically naive, and why he increasingly advocated for a more genetic-teleological account. The author then draws upon arguments made a century earlier by Schelling and Hegel, in criticism of Fichte, to point up what might remain philosophically unsatisfying about even the post-correlationalist genetic position of the later Husserl, in light of the pronounced trend in Husserl’s own development, on the questions of reason and spirit, toward absolute idealism.
We argue that, to be trustworthy, Computational Intelligence (CI) has to do what it is entrusted to do for permissible reasons and to be able to give rationalizing explanations of its behavior which are accurate and graspable. We support this claim by drawing parallels with trustworthy human persons, and we show what difference this makes in a hypothetical CI hiring system. Finally, we point out two challenges for trustworthy CI and sketch a mechanism which could be used to generate sufficiently accurate as well as graspable rationalizing explanations for CI behavior.