There is an increasing agreement in the cognitive sciences community that our sensations are closely related to our actions. Our actions impact our sensations from the environment and the knowledge we have of it. Cognition is grounded in sensori-motor coordination. In the perspective of implementing such a performance in artificial systems, there is a need for a model of sensori-motor coordination. We propose here such a model as based on the generation of meaningful information by a system submitted to a (...) constraint . Systems and agents have constraints to satisfy which are related to their nature (stay alive for an organism, avoid obstacle for a robot, …). We propose here to use an existing meaning generation process where a system submitted to a constraint generates a meaningful information (a meaning) when it receives an information that has a connection with the constraint . The generated meaning is precisely the connection existing between the received information and the constraint of the system. The generated meaning is used to trigger an action that will satisfy the constraint. The generated meaning links the system to its environment. A Meaning Generator System (MGS) has been introduced as a building block for higher level systems (agents). The MGS allows to link sensation and action through the satisfaction of the constraint of the system/agent. We use the MGS in a model which is based on constraint satisfaction for sensori-motor coordination in agents, be they organic or artificial. The meaning is generated by and for the agent that hosts the MGS. Such approach makes possible an addressing of the concept of autonomy through the intrinsic or artificial nature of the constraint to be satisfied (organisms with intrinsic constraints/autonomy, artificial systems with artificial constraints/autonomy). The systemic nature of the MGS also allows to position the groundings of the generated meaning as being in or out of the MGS, and correspondingly identify the constructivist and objectivist components of the generated meaning. The approach presented here makes available a sensori-motor coordination by meaning generation through constraint satisfaction with groundings of the generated meaning. (shrink)
It has been largely assumed from the start that truth, the first premise of the Tripartite theory of Knowledge, is necessary for a mental state of knowing. And this has intuitively made sense. Examples that demonstrate the logic of this premise are wide-spread and easily found. Yet, if one tries to establish the necessity of this condition for oneself, one may discover, a logical flaw in this premise. In theory truth is necessary, however, in practice it is not truth that (...) establishes knowledge. -/- We obtain knowledge using our perception or five senses. We accept the subjectivity of perspective, even though truth may or may not be established. We reject knowledge only when evidence of falsehood is obtained, if ever. -/- In practice, in the obtaining of knowledge of the conditional, those things we experience that could have been otherwise, truth is not established. The fundamental application of how we attain knowledge is in witnessing with our perception, our five senses, evidence for our conclusion. However, evidence provides support for our conclusion, by way of justification, but does not by itself provide truth. And therefore, it is not truth that is necessary for knowledge. It is the lack of evidence of falsehood in our conclusion that is the basis of our knowledge. And a lack of evidence of falsehood, is not the equal of truth. -/- The following thought experiment will demonstrate this flaw between theory and practice. (shrink)
Safety purports to explain why cases of accidentally true belief are not knowledge, addressing Gettier cases and cases of belief based on statistical evidence. However, problems arise for using safety as a condition on knowledge: safety is not necessary for knowledge and cannot always explain the Gettier cases and cases of statistical evidence it is meant to address. In this paper, I argue for a new modal condition designed to capture the non-accidental relationship between facts and evidence required for knowledge: (...) causal safety. I argue that possible errors in belief can be captured by accounting for deviations in causal relationships and that there is a natural way to characterize which causal errors are relevant in an epistemic situation. Using this, I develop a causal analogue to safety, where one’s belief in p is causally safe if it is true in all causally relevant worlds where one believes p. Causal safety, I argue, can better explain the cases safety is meant to address and can avoid the arguments raised against the necessity of safety. (shrink)
I advance a novel argument for an infallibilist theory of knowledge, according to which we know all and only those propositions that are certain for us. I argue that this theory lets us reconcile major extant theories of knowledge, in the following sense: for any of these theories, if we require that its central condition (evidential support, reliability, safety, etc.) obtains to a maximal degree, we get a theory of knowledge extensionally equivalent to infallibilism. As such, the infallibilist can affirm (...) that, when their conditions are suitably interpreted, most post-Gettier theories of knowledge offer necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge. The infallibilist can thus reconcile major theories of knowledge, and is in a better position to explain the intuitive appeal of these theories than the fallibilist who only accepts one of them, and rejects the rest. (shrink)
Best known for his groundbreaking and influential work in Buddhist philosophy, Mark Siderits is the pioneer of “fusion” or “confluence philosophy", a boldly systematic approach to doing philosophy premised on the idea that rational reconstruction of positions in one tradition in light of another can sometimes help address perennial problems and often lead to new and valuable insights. -/- Exemplifying the many virtues of the confluence approach, this collection of essays covers all core areas of Buddhist philosophy, as well as (...) topics and disputes in contemporary Western philosophy relevant to its study. They consider in particular the ways in which questions concerning personal identity figure in debates about agency, cognition, causality, ontological foundations, foundational truths, and moral cultivation. Most of these essays engage Siderits’ work directly, building on his pathbreaking ideas and interpretations. Many deal with issues that have become a common staple in philosophical engagements with traditions outside the West. Their variety and breadth bear testimony to the legacy of Siderits’ impact in shaping the contemporary conversation in Buddhist philosophy and its reverberations in mainstream philosophy, giving readers a clear sense of the remarkable scope of his work. (shrink)
Abstract-In mathematics and mathematical logic, Boolean algebra is a branch of algebra. It differs from elementary algebra in two ways. First, the values of the variables are the truth values true and false, usually denoted 1 and 0, whereas in elementary algebra the values of the variables are numbers. From Poincaré to Turing mathematics is developed at the basis of the fundamental processes.
Can epistemic luck be captured by modal conditions such as safety from error? This paper answers ‘no’. First, an old problem is cast in a new light: it is argued that the trivial satisfaction associated with necessary truths and accidentally robust propositions is a symptom of a more general disease. Namely, epistemic luck but not safety from error is hyperintensional. Second, it is argued that as a consequence the standard solution to deal with this worry, namely the invocation of content (...) variation, fails. Third, it is considered whether the condition can serve some restricted theoretical role; the hypothesis is rejected. Finally, it is tentatively suggested that epistemic luck’s hyperintensionality derives from its being an explanatory notion, and an analogy is drawn with failures of probabilstic conceptions of explanation in the philosophy of science. (shrink)
Goldman (1967) proposed that a subject s knows p if and only if p is appropriately causally connected to s’s believing p. He later on abandoned this theory (Goldman, 1976). The main objection to the theory is that the causal connection required by Goldman is compatible with certain problematic forms of luck. In this paper we argue that Goldman’s causal theory of knowledge can overcome the luck problem if causation is understood along interventionist lines. We also show that the modified (...) theory leads to the correct results in contexts involving other prominent forms of epistemic luck and compare it with other accounts on the market. (shrink)
In this article the authors identify and analyse points of agreement and disagreement between Michael Ayers and Charles Travis, starting from their views on ‘things before us’. The authors then try to spell out what separates these philosophers in matters concerning perception, knowledge and language. In spite of their both being self-professed realists, equally critical of conceptualism and representationalism, Ayers’ empiricism and Travis’ anti-empiricism lead them to different positions in these three areas. It is shown that in the case of (...) Ayers they hinge on “ordinary” objects and a KK principle (knowledge that and how we know), whereas in the case of Travis they are articulated around occasion-sensitivity and anti-psychologism. (shrink)
Abstract -/- The objective of this article is to understand, in the Phenomenology of the spirit, how the dialectical movement that occurs in consciousness takes place as soon as it is recognized as self-consciousness. For this, it is of vital importance to re-visit the first whole movement that makes consciousness, in Phenomenology, in order to understand how it is capable of recognizing itself as a self-consciousness. -/- .
Is knowledge consistent with literally any credence in the relevant proposition, including credence 0? Of course not. But is credence 0 the only credence in p that entails that you don’t know that p? Knowledge entails belief (most epistemologists think), and it’s impossible to believe that p while having credence 0 in p. Is it true that, for every value of ‘x,’ if it’s impossible to know that p while having credence x in p, this is simply because it’s impossible (...) to believe that p while having credence x in p? If so, is it possible to believe that p while having (say) credence 0.4 in p? These questions aren’t standard epistemological fare, at least in part because many epistemologists think their answers are obvious, but they have unanticipated consequences for epistemology. Let ‘improbabilism’ name the thesis that it’s possible to know that p while having a credence in p below 0.5. Improbabilism will strike many epistemologists as absurd, but careful reflection on these questions reveals that, if improbabilism is false, then all of the most plausible theories of knowledge are also false. Or so I argue in this paper. Since improbabilism is widely rejected by epistemologists (at least implicitly), this paper reveals a tension between all of the most plausible theories of knowledge and a widespread assumption in epistemology. (shrink)
Wittgenstein (W) is for me easily the most brilliant thinker on human behavior and this is his last work and crowning achievement. It belongs to his third and final period, yet it is not only his most basic work (since it shows that all behavior is an extension of innate true-only axioms and that our conscious ratiocination is but icing on unconscious machinations), but as Daniele Moyal-Sharrock has recently noted, is a radical new epistemology and the foundation for all description (...) of animal behavior, revealing how the mind works and indeed must work. The "must" is entailed by the fact that all brains share a common ancestry and common genes, and so there is only one basic way they work, that this necessarily has an axiomatic structure, that all higher animals share the same evolved psychology based on inclusive fitness, and in humans this is extended into a personality based on throat muscle contractions (language) that evolved to manipulate others (with variations that can be regarded as trivial). This book, and arguably all of W's work and all useful discussion of behavior is a development of or variation on these ideas. -/- Those wishing a comprehensive up to date framework for human behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my book ‘The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle’ 2nd ed (2019). Those interested in more of my writings may see ‘Talking Monkeys--Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet--Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 3rd ed (2019), The Logical Structure of Human Behavior (2019), and Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019) . (shrink)
Ludwig Wittgenstein is the most famous philosopher of modern times but very few understand his pioneering work and there has been a collective amnesia regarding him in recent decades. Most of the essays are new but some date as far back as 1979 and whether they give a new view of his ideas depends on one’s understanding of what he said. For me, the interpretations are not new and mostly just as confused as nearly all the other commentary on W (...) and on human behavior throughout the behavioral sciences and by the general public. As usual, nobody seems to grasp that philosophy is armchair psychology, and that W was (in my view) the greatest natural psychologist of all time. He laid out the general structure of how the mind works, which is often referred to as intentionality and is roughly equivalent to cognition or personality or thinking and willing or higher order thought (HOT). He can thus be regarded as a pioneer in evolutionary psychology, although hardly anyone but me seems to realize it. W was thus nearly 50 years ahead of his time as the first to reject (though not entirely consistently) the blank slate or cultural view of human nature, though this has gone unrecognized and he has generally been interpreted as supporting a communal consensus view of psychology—exactly the opposite of his overall thrust (e.g., see Short’s comment on p 115). -/- I provide a table of intentionality for a current frame of reference from the two systems point of view before remarking on each of the essays. -/- Those wishing a comprehensive up to date framework for human behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my book ‘The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle’ 2nd ed (2019). Those interested in more of my writings may see ‘Talking Monkeys--Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet--Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 3rd ed (2019) and Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019). (shrink)
The subject of zombies is one of the most discussed and controversial topics of philosophy of mind. In this paper I will first examine the main argument of zombies, providing a summary of the current discussion. Then I will introduce a thought experiment, an epistemic window on a metaphysical scenario. By the thought experiment I will argue that zombies are logically impossible. Further I will discuss another recent epistemic window. Finally I will provide some other logical consideration to prove that (...) intentionality is not reducible to the cognitive functional aspects of the mind and that, moreover, the subjective recognition of semantic contents is necessary in order to consider as sensical the verbal behavior of a zombie. (shrink)
Causal theories of action, perception and knowledge are each beset by problems of so-called ‘deviant’ causal chains. For each such theory, counterexamples are formed using odd or co-incidental causal chains to establish that the theory is committed to unpalatable claims about some intentional action, about a case of veridical perception or about the acquisition of genuine knowledge. In this paper I will argue that three well-known examples of a deviant causal chain have something in common: they each violate Yablos proportionality (...) constraint on causation. I will argue that this constraint provides the key to saving causal theories from deviant chains. (shrink)
Moral intuitionism, which claims that some moral seemings are justification-conferring, has become an increasingly popular account in moral epistemology. Defenses of the position have largely focused on the standard account, according to which the justification-conferring power of a moral seeming is determined by its phenomenal credentials alone. Unfortunately, the standard account is a less plausible version of moral intuitionism because it does not take etiology seriously. In this paper, I provide an outline and defense of a non-standard account of moral (...) intuitionism that I dub the “Prudent Conscience View.” According to this view, phenomenal credentials only partially determine the justification-conferring power of a moral seeming, for a seeming’s justification-conferring power is also determined by its etiology. In brief, a moral seeming is justification-conferring to the degree that the conscience that gave rise to it is functioning properly, and a person's conscience functions properly to the degree that the person is prudent. (shrink)
Among the key factors that play a crucial role in the acquisition of knowledge, Buddhist philosophers list (i) the testimony of sense experience, (ii) introspective awareness (iii) inferences drawn from these directs modes of acquaintance, and (iv) some version of coherentism, so as guarantee that truth claims remains consistent across a diverse philosophical corpus. This paper argues that when Buddhists employ reason, they do so primarily in order to advance a range of empirical and introspective claims. As a result, reasoning, (...) in particular inductive reasoning on the testimony of perception, is based on a theory of causation. (shrink)
The following thesis starts from the question «why be moral?» and adresses an action-theoretic strategy for answering this question in the positive by reference to the constitutive natur of actions. In these debates, the epistemology of action has turned into a central issue. The thesis adresses these debates and develops a novel account of the epistemology: an account that may well turn out to provide a ground for the aforementioned constitutivist strategies.
Alvin Goldman and Erik Olsson have recently proposed a novel solution to the value problem in epistemology, i.e., to the question of how to account for the apparent surplus value of knowledge over mere true belief. Their “conditional probability solution” maintains that even simple process reliabilism can account for the added value of knowledge, since forming true beliefs in a reliable way raises the objective probability that the subject will have more true belief of a similar kind in the future. (...) I argue that this proposal confronts significant internal problems and implicitly invokes higher-level epistemic conditions that run against the spirit of externalism. (shrink)
When epistemologists talk about knowledge, the discussions traditionally include only a small class of other epistemic notions: belief, justification, probability, truth. In this paper, we propose that epistemologists should include an additional epistemic notion into the mix, namely the notion of assuming or taking for granted.
The paper tries to analyze critically what is usually taken for granted – the causal relation between empirical knowledge about external world and the world which is (supposedly) known. The aim is neither to propose a new definition of knowledge nor to restate an old one but rather to take a closer look at the claim that knowledge is a true belief caused in a proper way by facts, events, etc. of the external world. This claim is a core of (...) the epistemological approach usually labeled as “causal theory of knowledge”, but there are many causal theories distinct from each other. The paper therefore sketches the causal components of D. Davidson’s epistemology and the roles they play in the process of cognizing, first. Then it exposes more details of Davidson’s approach and pushes some of them further critically. (shrink)
Perhaps no other classical philosophical tradition, East or West, offers a more complex and counter-intuitive account of mind and mental phenomena than Buddhism. While Buddhists share with other Indian philosophers the view that the domain of the mental encompasses a set of interrelated faculties and processes, they do not associate mental phenomena with the activity of a substantial, independent, and enduring self or agent. Rather, Buddhist theories of mind center on the doctrine of no-self (Pāli anatta, Skt. anātma), which postulates (...) that human beings are reducible to the physical and psychological constituents and processes which comprise them. (shrink)
John Hawthorne’s marvelous book contains a wealth of arguments and insights based on an impressive knowledge and understanding of contemporary discussion. We can address only a small aspect of the topic. In particular, we will offer our own answers to two questions about knowledge that he discusses.
According to Fred Dretske's externalist theory of knowledge a subject knows that p if and only if she believes that p and this belief is caused or causally sustained by the information that p. Another famous feature of Dretske's epistemology is his denial that knowledge is closed under known entailment. I argue that, given Dretske's construal of information, he is in fact committed to the view that both information and knowledge are closed under known entailment. Hence, if it is true (...) that, as Dretske also believes, accepting closure leads to skepticism, he must either embrace skepticism or abandon his information theory of knowledge. (shrink)
In his 1967 paper 'A Causal Theory of Knowing', Alvin Goldman sketched an account of empirical knowledge in terms of appropriate causal connections between the fact known and the knower's belief in that fact. This early causal account has been much criticized, even by Goldman himself in later years. We argue that the theory is much more defensible than either he or its other critics have recognized, that there are plausible internal and external resources available to it which save it (...) from many objections in the literature (in particular, objections raised by Harman, Pappas and Swain, Klein, Dretske, Goldman, Shope, Ackermann, Morawetz, and Collier). (shrink)
Since Edmund L. Gettier's famous paper a series of counterexamples has been raised against the traditional analysis of knowledge in terms of justified true belief. Some of these (not only Gettier-type) counterexamples can be ruled out by adding a fourth condition to the traditional account which demands a causal connection between the belief of a person and the fact the person believes. This causal connection is specified in a particular way so that counterexamples put forward against causal accounts of knowledge (...) are likewise eliminated. (shrink)
In 1967, Alvin Goldman proposed that 'X' knows that 'p' only if the fact that 'p' is causally connected with X's belief that 'p'. Brian Skyrms' alleged counterexample, the case of the fiend who beheads a person already deceased, has been widely accepted (by Robert Ackermann, Gilbert Harman, and Marshall Swain) as such. But it is not a counterexample. To see this, we must attend to two distinctions: between a death and being dead, and between causation and causal overdetermination. The (...) most visible objection to Goldman's analysis is then dissolved. a modified version of Skyrms' case fares no better. (shrink)
1 Cf. D. M. Armstrong, A Materialist Theory of Mind (London, 1968), Chapter 9; 'A Causal Theory of Knowledge' by Alvin I. Goldman, The Journal of Philosophy , Vol. LXIV, No. 12, June 22, 1967. A striking parallelism would appear to exist between 'the causal theory of knowledge' and the orthodox Stoic doctrine regarding the kataleptike phantasia . See, for example, Sextus Empiricus, Adversus Mathematicos 7.248 (reprinted in Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta , edited by H. F. A. von Arnim, Leipzig, 1921, (...) Volume I, page 18, 59C): 'An apprehensive appearance is one which has been stamped and sealed by the actual, and in accordance with the actual thing itself, in such a way that it would not be produced by what is not (the) actual' (I am indebted for the wording of this somewhat controversial translation to my colleague Mr. M. B. Wallace). See the discussion and additional ref. (shrink)