I find very persuasive arguments like this:
If theory T is true, then whether I exist now depends on some future events. Facts about what exists now do not depend on future events. So, theory T is not true. …
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The problem with Uber
I just spent a wonderful and exhausting five days in the Bay Area: meeting friends, holding the first-ever combined SlateStarCodex/Shtetl-Optimized meetup, touring quantum computing startups PsiCorp and Rigetti Computing, meeting with Silicon Valley folks about quantum computing, and giving a public lecture for the Simons Institute in Berkeley. …
Introduced into the philosophical lexicon during the Eighteenth
Century, the term ‘aesthetic’ has come to be used to
designate, among other things, a kind of object, a kind of judgment, a
kind of attitude, a kind of experience, and a kind of value. For the
most part, aesthetic theories have divided over
questions particular to one or another of these designations:
whether artworks are necessarily aesthetic objects; how to square the
allegedly perceptual basis of aesthetic judgments with the fact that
we give reasons in support of them; how best to capture the elusive
contrast between an aesthetic attitude and a practical one; whether to
define aesthetic experience according to its phenomenological or
representational content; how best to understand the relation between
aesthetic value and aesthetic experience.
The topic of this paper is the notion of the first person (singular), namely the notion me. Let us begin by distinguishing it from a different notion which is often confused with it, namely the notion self. The notion me applies to me and me alone absolutely, whereas the notion self applies to me relative to me, applies to you relative to you, applies to Jill relative to Jill, applies to Jack relative to Jack, and so on. Everyone is the self relative to her/him; for every x, x is the self to x. But only I am me, period. Of course, you may assert correctly, “Only I am me.” But the content of your assertion when you say this does not deal in the notion me; for your word “me” does not express the notion me. Only my word “me” does. It is not even that your word “me” expresses the notion me to you. To you your word “me” expresses a certain notion, which you call “the notion me.” But what you call “the notion me” is not the notion me, any more than the person you call “me” is me.
A well-known problem, noticed by Meirav, is that it is difficult to distinguish hope from despair. Both the hoper and the despairer are unsure about an outcome and they both have a positive attitude towards it. …
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.
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). …
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.
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.
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 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.
The German Idealist tradition after Kant has much of interest to say on key questions in the philosophy of mind, though this is not always easy to draw out, given their dense prose and often unelaborated or even merely implicit allusions to their predecessors or to one another. Here I aim to highlight and clarify an important line of thought that emerges in the wake of Kant’s ‘critique’ of our powers of ‘cognition’ (Erkenntnis).
Some theoreticians argue that nonlocality has a role in interpreting quantum phenomena. Others suggest that quantum nonlocality may be interpreted as a holis- tic, nonseparable relational issue.
In this brief paper, we argue about the conceptual relationship between the role of observer in quantum mechanics and the von Neumann Chain.
The work done in the philosophy of modeling by Vaihinger (1876), Craik (1943), Rosenblueth and Wiener (1945), Apostel (1960), Minsky (1965), Klaus (1966) and Stachowiak (1973) is still almost completely neglected in the mainstream literature. However, this work seems to contain original ideas worth to be discussed. For example, the idea that diverse functions of models can be better structured as follows: in fact, models perform only a single function – they are replacing their target systems, but for different purposes. Another example: the idea that all of cognition is cognition in models or by means of models. Even perception, reflexes and instincts (animal and human) can be best analyzed as modeling. The paper presents an analysis of the above-mentioned work.
Why do we think in moral and evaluative terms (i.e., have moral and evaluative beliefs)? According to some philosophers, it is just because such thinking conferred a fitness advantage on our ancestors (i.e., helped them to survive and reproduce) and we have inherited this disposition. It is not because the things that we morally or evaluatively believe are ever true and we are apprehending or otherwise responding to these truths.1
Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer have argued that our intuitions about Nozick’s experience machine are untrustworthy because they are distorted by biases and irrelevant factors. De Brigard and Weijers recently conducted empirical studies regarding people’s intuitions about versions of the experience machine to test which of our intuitions are not distorted by such biases and irrelevant factors. They claim their results show that our intuitions about the experience machine do not undermine hedonism (section I). I argue, on the basis of further empirical studies, that De Brigard and Weijers fail to establish that our intuitions about the experience machine do not undermine hedonism (section II).
The following is a guest post by Fiona Macpherson and Umut Baysan, Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience (www.gla.ac.uk/cspe/), University of Glasgow.The Illusions Index (www.illusionsindex.org/) is a fully searchable interactive curated collection of illusions. …
The essay introduces the problem of aesthetic unreliability, the variety of ways in which it is difficult to grasp our aesthetic experience and the consequent confusion and unreliability of what we take as our taste.
Neuroscientists commonly assume that the brain generates representations of a scene in various non-retinotopic 3D coordinate frames, for example in ‘egocentric’ and ‘allocentric’ frames. Although neurons in early visual cortex might be described as representing a scene in an eye-centred frame, using 2 dimensions of visual direction and one of binocular disparity, there is no convincing evidence of similarly organized cortical areas using non-retinotopic 3D coordinate frames nor of any systematic transfer of information from one frame to another. We propose that perception and action in a 3D world could be achieved without generating ego- or allocentric 3D coordinate frames. Instead, we suggest that the fundamental operation the brain carries out is to compare a long state vector with a matrix of weights (essentially, a long look-up table) to choose an output (often, but not necessarily, a motor output). The processes involved in perception of a 3D scene and action within it depend, we suggest, on successive iterations of this basic operation. Advantages of this proposal include the fact that it relies on computationally well-defined operations corresponding to well-established neural processes.
I'm working on a paper, "Kant Meets Cyberpunk", in which I'll argue that if we are living in a simulation -- that is, if we are conscious AIs living in an artificial computational environment -- then there's no particularly good reason to think that the computer that is running our simulation is a material computer. …
In his book Objective Becoming (Skow 2015), Bradford Skow has offered a rich and systematic treatment of the passage of time. We learn much about what objective passage could and could not amount to from engaging with his careful work.
I wrote the following dialogue as an antidote to the dogmatism I felt myself falling into when trying to write a paper about a priori propositions. The characters A and B are present-day analytic philosophers. …
Étienne Bonnot, Abbé de Condillac, was the chief
exponent of a radically empiricist account of the workings of the mind
that has since come to be referred to as “sensationism.”
Whereas John Locke’s empiricism followed upon a rejection of
innate principles and innate ideas, Condillac went further and
rejected innate abilities as well. On his version of empiricism,
experience not only provides us with “ideas” or the raw
materials for knowledge, it also teaches us how to focus attention,
remember, imagine, abstract, judge, and reason. It forms our desires
and teaches us what to will. Moreover, it provides us with the best
lessons in the performance of these operations, so that a study of how
we originally learn to perform them also tells us how those operations
ought to be performed.
There is variation in how people perceive colors and other secondary qualities. The challenge of perceptual variation is to say whose perceptions are accurate. A natural and influential response is that, whenever there’s variation in two people’s perceptions, at most one of their perceptions is accurate. I will argue that this leads to an unacceptable kind of ignorance.
There is variation in how people perceive colors and other secondary qualities. The challenge of perceptual variation is to say whose perceptions are accurate. According to Sextus, Protagoras’s response is that all of our perceptions might be accurate. As this response is traditionally developed, it is difficult to explain color illusion and color constancy. I will argue that this difficulty is due to a widespread assumption that I call perceptual atomism. I will conclude that, if we want to develop Protagoras’s response, we need to give up perceptual atomism. I will end with a brief sketch of my preferred alternative, perceptual structuralism.
Disjunctivists (Hinton 1973, Snowdon 1990, Martin 2002, 2006) often motivate their approach to perceptual experience by appealing in part to the claim that in cases of veridical perception the subject is directly in contact with the perceivedobject. When I perceive a table, for example, there is no table-like sense-impression that stands as an intermediary between the table and me. Nor am I relatedto the table as I am to a deer when I see its footprint in the snow. I do not experience the table by experiencing something else over andabove the table andits facing surface. I see the facing surface of the table directly. This, of course, is the view of naïve realism. Andit seems as gooda starting point as any for further theorizing about the nature of perception. Some disjunctivists have suggested that to do proper justice to the above thought, we needto suppose that the objects we perceive are components of the contents of our perceptual experiences in veridical cases. This supposition is supported further by the simple observation that if I see an object, it must look some way to me. But if an object looks some way to me, then intuitively it must be experienced as being some way. Andhow can the object be experiencedas being some way unless the object itself figures in the content of the experience, assuming that experience is representational at all?
Causal overdetermination worries arise in a number of domains, but most notably in the philosophy of mind. In discussions of such worries, alleged examples of causal overdetermination are uniformly Viewed as primafozm problematic. While all alleged cases of overdetermination might (or might not) be problematic, I aim to show that they are so for different reasons. Examples of causal overdetermination neatly diVide into three varieties, corresponding to the connections between the mechanisms and the properties of the causes. Future debates over overdetermination, and mental causation in particular, should pay heed to this distinction.
In the early-to-mid 19305, Wittgenstein investigated solipsism via the philosophy of language. In this paper, I want to reopen Wittgenstein’s ‘grammatical’ examination of solipsism. Wittgenstein begins by considering the thesis that only I can feel my pains. Whilst this thesis may tempt us towards solipsism, Wittgenstein points out that this temptation rests on a grammatical confusion concerning the phrase ‘my pains’. In $1, I unpack and vindicate his thinking. Wittgenstein then moves from his discussion of ‘my pains’ to his famous suggestion that the word ‘I’ has two distinct uses: a subject-use and an object-use. The purpose of Wittgenstein’s suggestion has, however, been widely misunderstood. I unpack it in $2, explaining how the subject-use connects with a phenomenological language, and so again tempts us into solipsism. In §§3—4, I consider various stages of Wittgenstein’s engagement with this kind of solipsism, culminating in a rebuttal of solipsism (and of subject-uses of ‘1’) via reflections on private languages.