Given the rapid growth of participatory media content such as blogs, there is a need to design personalized recommender systems to recommend only useful content to users. We be- lieve that in addition to producing useful recommendations, certain insights from media research such as simplification and opinion diversity in recommendations should form the foundations of such recommender systems, so that the be- havior of the systems can be understood more closely, and modified if necessary. We propose and evaluate such a (...) sys- tem based on a Bayesian user-model. We use the underlying social network of blog authors and readers to model the pref- erence features for individual users. The initial results of our proposed solution are encouraging, and set the agenda for fu- ture research. Introduction. (shrink)
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to encourage technologists, those who design and manage technology systems, to collectivize and get closely involved in defining the priorities of their organizations, their countries, and the world, so that responsible outcomes can arise from their labour. Design/methodology/approach The author examines this problem from three viewpoints: From a design perspective about what is missing in most design practices to build information systems that undesirable outcomes still happen; from an ethics perspective about how to (...) incorporate values in building and managing information systems; and from a political economy perspective about why ensuring responsible outcomes from technology is not easy. The author describes several limitations faced by technologists in achieving this, ranging from gaps in the design methods in use currently, a piecemeal approach to following ethical principles in the design and management of technologies, influence of the organizational culture and structure and the wider political economy of technology itself. Findings The author suggests several measures to address these challenges and conclude with a call to technologists to collectivize and engage politically to influence their organizations and governments to invest in meaningful objectives for a just and equitable world, and design and manage the solutions in ethically consistent ways. Research limitations/implications It is argued that a new paradigm of information systems is needed for digital platforms, which is grounded in ethics-based guidelines that should be followed by the designers and managers of these platforms to help ensure responsible outcomes. Practical implications Having such a paradigm is especially important in today’s winner-takes-all digital platform era because these platforms are governed by only a few people; therefore, it is imperative to build guardrails to responsibly manage these platforms, and to have technologists who design and manage these platforms to play a role in their governance. Social implications Information systems have the potential to alter power relationships in society, and it is suggested that they should be designed to empower the weak. Originality/value To the best of the author’s knowledge, this is a unique perspective that draws from his personal experience as a researcher and practitioner designing technologies for social good, and examines the problem from many different viewpoints. (shrink)
Plato, Allan Bloom wrote, is "the most erotic of philosophers," and his Symposium is one of the greatest works on the nature of love ever written. This new edition brings together the English translation of the renowned Plato scholar and translator, Seth Benardete, with two illuminating commentaries on it: Benardete's "On Plato's _Symposium_" and Allan Bloom's provocative essay, "The Ladder of Love." In the _Symposium,_ Plato recounts a drinking party following an evening meal, where the guests include the poet (...) Aristophanes, the drunken Alcibiades, and, of course, the wise Socrates. The revelers give their views on the timeless topics of love and desire, all the while addressing many of the major themes of Platonic philosophy: the relationship of philosophy and poetry, the good, and the beautiful. (shrink)
When I tell you that it’s raining, I describe a way the world is—viz., rainy. I say something whose truth turns on how things are with the weather in the world. Likewise when I tell you that the weatherman thinks that it’s raining. Here the truth of what I say turns on how things are with the weatherman’s state of mind in the world. Likewise when I tell you that I think that it’s raining. Here the truth of what I (...) say turns on how things are with my state of mind in the world. (shrink)
The knowledge that for more than a century has been disseminated by universities, and mobilized by states to govern populations, first emerged in the early modern period in Europe. It subsequently became globalized through colonialism and Western global dominance; despite the historical and cultural specificity of its origins, it was claimed to have transcended these particularities such that, unlike pre-modern and non-Western knowledges, it could be assumed to be 'universal', that is, true for all times and places. Beyond Reason traverses (...) many disciplines, including debates in science studies, social history, art and music history, political science and anthropology, to demonstrate that the presuppositions underpinning and enabling modern Western knowledge are under sustained challenge, and that defences of a singular and universal Reason are no longer persuasive. Drawing upon and deriving its critical energies principally from postcolonial theory, Beyond Reason argues that modern knowledge and the social sciences are a product of Western modernity claiming a spurious universality: and that they embody a form of reasoning, rather than Reason itself. It proceeds to focus on History and Political Science for the further elaboration of its argument. If the social sciences are not explained and validated simply by the fact that they are 'true', it becomes possible to ask what they 'do'. Beyond Reason asks what representations and relations with the past and with politics the disciplines of history and political science enable, and what possibilities they foreclose. (shrink)
The ability to understand both the self and others as purposeful agents — with thoughts, beliefs, and desires — seems to be central to the emergence of cultural processes both phylo- and ontogenetically. This ability has been termed second-order intentionality or “theory of mind” and has been conceptualized as a species-specific “trait” which is genetically predetermined, naturally selected and the resident of a dedicated module within the mind. Alternatively, we see it emerging out of a more general process — symbolization. (...) The paper discusses the emergence of the symbolic function from previously existing forms of communication by analyzing the structures and functions of different kinds of signs used in human and non-human vocal communication. We reinterpret evidence from the study of non-human primate vocalizations and suggest that these vocalizations embody a semiotic type that, like all signs, is more highly developed than a signal, but is not catalogued within the basic Peircean triad of sign types . This form, the double indexical, is intermediary between indexes and symbols. We speculate on what structural and functional reorganization is required to establish a developmental continuity from signals through the various types of signs to the well-known structure of the symbol — and possibly beyond. (shrink)
Toward the middle of her evocative, deeply personal new book, Ellen Handler-Spitz reflects, “What is the purpose of keeping secrets from children? What are the effects?” Parents, she continues, often seek to protect children from challenging pasts or fearful presents. We often, too, seek to shield children from our own mistakes. “Doubtless,” she avers, “we have performed acts of which we cannot feel proud.” Keeping silent is no good. But how, she asks again, “should we talk about the past?” Professor (...) Handler-Spitz’s provocations raise important, larger questions about how we rear our children. But this is not a handbook of upbringing. It is, instead, something of a guide to the imagination. In this .. (shrink)
We investigate a basic probabilistic dynamic semantics for a fragment containing conditionals, probability operators, modals, and attitude verbs, with the aim of shedding light on the prospects for adding probabilistic structure to models of the conversational common ground.
Despite its enduring insights, Durkheim’s theory of suicide fails to account for a significant set of cases because of its overreliance on structural forces to the detriment of other possible factors. In this paper, we develop a new theoretical framework for thinking about the role of culture in vulnerability to suicide. We argue that by focusing on the cultural dynamics of excessive regulation, particularly at the meso level, a more robust sociological model for suicide could be offered that supplements structure-heavy (...) Durkheimian theory. In essence, we argue that the relevance of cultural regulation to suicide rests on the (1) degree to which culture is coherent in sociocultural places, (2) existence of directives related to prescribing or proscribing suicide, (3) degree to which these directives translate into internalized meanings affecting social psychological processes, and (4) degree to which the social space is bounded. We then illustrate how our new theory provides useful insights into three cases of suicide largely neglected within sociology: specifically, suicide clusters in high schools, suicide in the military, and suicides of “despair” among middle-aged white men. We conclude with implications for future sociological research on suicide and suicide prevention. (shrink)
Epistemic modal operators give rise to something very like, but also very unlike, Moore's paradox. I set out the puzzling phenomena, explain why a standard relational semantics for these operators cannot handle them, and recommend an alternative semantics. A pragmatics appropriate to the semantics is developed and interactions between the semantics, the pragmatics, and the definition of consequence are investigated. The semantics is then extended to probability operators. Some problems and prospects for probabilistic representations of content and context are explored.
Philosophers, psychologists, economists and other social scientists continue to debate the nature of human well-being. We argue that this debate centers around five main conceptualizations of well-being: hedonic well-being, life satisfaction, desire fulfillment, eudaimonia, and non-eudaimonic objective-list well-being. Each type of well-being is conceptually different, but are they empirically distinguishable? To address this question, we first developed and validated a measure of desire fulfillment, as no measure existed, and then examined associations between this new measure and several other well-being measures. (...) In addition, we explored associations among all five types of well-being. We found high correlations among all measures of well-being, but generally correlations did not approach unity, even when correcting for unreliability. Furthermore, correlations between well-being and related constructs (e.g., demographics, personality) depended on the type of well-being measured. We conclude that empirical findings based on one type of well-being measure may not generalize to all types of well-being. (shrink)
This paper critiques a number of standard ways of understanding the role of the metalanguage in a semantic theory for natural language, including the idea that disquotation plays a nontrivial role in any explanatory natural language semantics. It then proposes that the best way to understand the role of a semantic metalanguage involves recognizing that semantics is a model-based science. The metalanguage of semantics is language for articulating features of the theorist's model. Models are understood as mediating instruments---idealized structures used (...) to represent select aspects of the world, aspects the theorist is seeking some theoretical understanding of. The aspect of reality we are seeking some understanding of in semantics is a dimension of human linguistic competence---informally, knowledge of meaning. (shrink)
Killing civilians is worse than killing soldiers. If any moral principle commands near universal assent, this one does. Few moral principles have been more widely and more viscerally affirmed. And yet, in recent years it has faced a rising tide of dissent. Political and military leaders seeking to slip the constraints of the laws of war have cavilled and qualified. Their complaints have been unwittingly aided by philosophers who, rebuilding just war theory from its foundations, have concluded that this principle (...) is at best a useful fiction. Sparing Civilians aims to turn this tide, and to vindicate international law, and the ruptured consensus. In doing so, Seth Lazar develops new insights into the morality of harm, relevant to everyone interested in normative and applied ethics. (shrink)
By leveraging the case of Hindu sati, this paper elucidates the ways in which structure and culture condition suicidal behavior by way of social psychological and emotional dynamics. Conventionally, sati falls under Durkheim's discussion of altruistic suicides, or the self-sacrifice of underindividuated or excessively integrated peoples like widows in traditional societies. In light of the fact that Durkheim's interpretation was based on uneven data, nineteenth century Eurocentric beliefs, and a theoretical framework that can no longer resist modification and elaboration, by (...) reconsidering sati it is possible to sketch a new model that strengthens Durkheim's theory by making it more robust and generalizable. The following model is built on five principles. First, integration and regulation are not distinct causal forces, but overlapping contextual conditions. Second, to better explain the variation in suicidality across time and space, we must also pay attention to culture as it provides the underlying meanings of suicide that can increase the odds a person or class of persons become suicidal or are protected against suicidality. Third, structure still matters, but in many cases, the role power and power-differentials play must be considered. Fourth, understanding why and how people choose suicide depends on incorporating identity and status processes. Fifth, because the expression of social emotions like shame are patterned by structural and cultural conditions, to understand how suicidality is socioculturally patterned we must further explore the link between identity/status, social emotions, and structure and culture. (shrink)
Institutional differentiation has been one of the central concerns of sociology since the days of Auguste Comte. However, the overarching tendency among institutionalists such as Durkheim or Spencer has been to treat the process of differentiation from a macro, "outside in" perspective. Missing from this analysis is how institutional differentiation occurs from the "inside out, "or through the efforts and struggles of individual and corporate actors. Despite the recent efforts of the "new institutionalism" to fill in this gap, a closer (...) look at the literature will uncover the fact that (1) it has tended to conflate macro-level institutions and meso-level organizations and (2) this has led to a taken for granted approach to institutional dynamics. This article seeks to develop a general theory of institutional autonomy; autonomy is a function of the degree to which specialized corporate units are structurally and symbolically independent of other corporate units. It is argued herein that the process by which these "institutional entrepreneurs" become independent can explain how institutions become differentiated from the "inside out." Moreover, this article offers five dimensions that can be operationalized, measuring the degree to which institutions are autonomous. (shrink)
This article argues that James Seth provides illuminating contributions to our understanding of law and, more specifically, the natural law tradition. Seth defends a unique perspective through his emphasis on personalism that helps identify a distinctive and compelling account of natural law and legal moralism. The next section surveys standard positions in the natural law tradition. This is followed with an examination of Seth's approach and the article concludes with analysis of its wider importance for scholars of (...)Seth's work as well as legal philosophers more generally. (shrink)
I develop a conception of expressivism according to which it is chiefly a pragmatic thesis about some fragment of discourse, one imposing certain constraints on semantics. The first half of the paper uses credal expressivism about the language of probability as a stalking-horse for this purpose. The second half turns to the question of how one might frame an analogous form of expressivism about the language of deontic modality. Here I offer a preliminary comparison of two expressivist lines. The first, (...) expectation expressivism, looks again to Bayesian modelling for inspiration: it glosses deontically modal language as characteristically serving to express decision-theoretic expectation (expected utility). The second, plan expressivism, develops the idea (due to Gibbard 2003) that this language serves to express 'plan-laden' states of belief. In the process of comparing the views, I show how to incorporate Gibbard's modelling ideas into a compositional semantics for attitudes and modals, filling a lacuna in the account. I close with the question whether and how plan expressivism might be developed with expectation-like structure. (shrink)
This paper defends a counterexample to Modus Tollens, and uses it to draw some conclusions about the logic and semantics of indicative conditionals and probability operators in natural language. Along the way we investigate some of the interactions of these expressions with 'knows', and we call into question the thesis that all knowledge ascriptions have truth-conditions.
Inspired by Weber’s charismatic carrier groups, Eisenstadt coined the term institutional entrepreneur to capture the rare but epochal collective capable of reorienting a group’s value-orientations and transferring charisma, while making them an evolutionary force of structural and cultural change. As a corrective to Parsons’ abstract, ‘top-down’ theory of change, Eisenstadt’s theory provided historical context and agency to moments in which societies experienced qualitative transformation. The concept has become central to new institutionalism, neo-functionalism, and evolutionary-institutionalism. Drawing from the former two, a (...) more robust theory of institutional entrepreneurship from an evolutionary-institutionalist’s perspective is posited. In essence, entrepreneurs formulate institutional projects with dual logic: a collective side focused on innovation where efforts are directed towards organizational symbolic mechanisms of integration and a self-interested side directed towards resource independence, monopolization, mobility, and power-dependence. While outcomes vary based on numerous environmental factors, success leads to greater structural/symbolic independence and ability to reconfigure physical-temporal-social-symbolic space. (shrink)
This is a study in the meaning of natural language probability operators, sentential operators such as probably and likely. We ask what sort of formal structure is required to model the logic and semantics of these operators. Along the way we investigate their deep connections to indicative conditionals and epistemic modals, probe their scalar structure, observe their sensitivity to contex- tually salient contrasts, and explore some of their scopal idiosyncrasies.
this paper advances a novel account of part of what justifies killing in war, grounded in the duties we owe to our loved ones to protect them from the severe harms with which war threatens them. It discusses the foundations of associative duties, then identifies the sorts of relationships, and the specific duties that they ground, which can be relevant to the ethics of war. It explains how those associa- tive duties can justify killing in theory—in particular how they can (...) justify overrid- ing the rights to life of some of those who must be killed to win a war. It then shows how these duties can be operationalised in practice: first, showing how soldiers who fight on behalf of their community can act on reasons that apply to the members of that community; second, showing that the argument from associative duties does not prove too much—in particular, that it does not license the intentional killing of noncombatants in war. (shrink)
Here I motivate and defend a new counterexample to logical (or non-causal) versions of the direct argument for responsibility-determinism incompatibilism. Such versions purport to establish incompatibilism via an inference principle to the effect that non-responsibility transfers along relations of logical consequence, including those that hold between earlier and later states of a deterministic world. Unlike previous counterexamples, this case doesn't depend on preemptive overdetermination; nor can it be blocked with a simple modification of the inference principle. In defending this counterexample, (...) I show that van Inwagen's technical notion of being partly responsible for a state of affairs, which figures in his statement of the principle, is problematic. (shrink)
A major approach to the ethics of artificial intelligence is to use social choice, in which the AI is designed to act according to the aggregate views of society. This is found in the AI ethics of “coherent extrapolated volition” and “bottom–up ethics”. This paper shows that the normative basis of AI social choice ethics is weak due to the fact that there is no one single aggregate ethical view of society. Instead, the design of social choice AI faces three (...) sets of decisions: standing, concerning whose ethics views are included; measurement, concerning how their views are identified; and aggregation, concerning how individual views are combined to a single view that will guide AI behavior. These decisions must be made up front in the initial AI design—designers cannot “let the AI figure it out”. Each set of decisions poses difficult ethical dilemmas with major consequences for AI behavior, with some decision options yielding pathological or even catastrophic results. Furthermore, non-social choice ethics face similar issues, such as whether to count future generations or the AI itself. These issues can be more important than the question of whether or not to use social choice ethics. Attention should focus on these issues, not on social choice. (shrink)
Deontologists have been slow to address decision-making under risk and uncertainty, no doubt because the standard approaches to non-moral decision theory appear superficially similar to consequentialist moral reasoning. I identify some central tenets of simple decision theory and show that they should not put deontologists off, before showing where we should go next to develop a comprehensive deontological decision theory.
Focusing on cases which involve binding into epistemic modals with definite descriptions and quantifiers, I raise some new problems for standard approaches to all of these expressions. The difficulties are resolved in a semantic framework that is dynamic in character. I close with a new class of problems about de re readings within the scope of modals.
Contemporary just war theory is divided into two broad camps: revisionists and traditionalists. Traditionalists seek to provide moral foundations for something close to current international law, and in particular the laws of armed conflict. Although they propose improvements, they do so cautiously. Revisionists argue that international law is at best a pragmatic fiction—it lacks deeper moral foundations. In this article, I present the contemporary history of analytical just war theory, from the origins of contemporary traditionalist just war theory in Michael (...) Walzer's work to the revisionist critique of Walzer and the subsequent revival of traditionalism. I discuss central questions of methodology, as well as consider the morality of resorting to war and the morality of conduct in war. I show that although the revisionists exposed philosophical shortcomings in Walzer's arguments, their radical conclusions should prompt us not to reject the broad contemporary consensus, but instead to seek better arguments to underpin it. (shrink)
Materialist metaphysicians want to side with physics, but not to take sides within physics.If we took literally the claim of a materialist that his position is simply belief in the claim that all is matter, as currently conceived, we would be faced with an insoluble mystery. For how would such a materialist know how to retrench when his favorite scientific hypotheses fail? How did the 18th century materialist know that gravity, or forces in general, were material? How did they know (...) in the 19th century that the electromagnetic field was material, and persisted in this conviction after the aether had been sent packing?The doctrine of physicalism casts a long shadow in contemporary philosophy, configuring all kinds of philosophical issues and projects. Unsurprisingly, its proponents argue that physicalism has all the obvious features necessary for a scientific hypothesis to be in what we will call ‘good standing,’ i.e. being worthy of serious scientific investigation. In fact, many claim much more, arguing that physicalism is a well-confirmed hypothesis and possibly amongst the best of our theories. But, as our second opening passage makes clear, a persistent worry has been that physicalism, or ‘materialism’ as van Fraassen terms it, is an edifice built on sand. For many philosophers question whether the ‘physical’ can be specified at all, or at least in a manner that will produce a physicalism that would be in good standing. (shrink)
As Quine observed, the following sentence has a reading which, if true, would be of special interest to the authorities: Ralph believes that someone is a spy. This is the reading where the quantifier is naturally understood as taking wide scope relative to the attitude verb and as binding a variable within the scope of the attitude verb. This essay is interested in addressing the question what the semantic analysis of this kind of reading should look like from a Fregean (...) perspective—a perspective according to which attitude states are generally relations to structured Fregean thoughts composed of senses. The Fregean view faces a challenge of compositionality here. This essay describes the challenge and offers a response on the Fregean's behalf. (shrink)
“Nunchi” is a Korean term that indicates an expert facility in social interactions and especially the ability to interpret and utilize indirect communication with ease and alacrity. In this paper, I introduce and discuss the concept of nunchi with a focus on two main senses in which it is used: as a skill and as a burden. Then, I discuss the relation of nunchi to well-being and flourishing, both in specifically Korean cultural contexts and in social contexts more generally. Finally, (...) I argue that because of nunchi’s close relation to well-being and flourishing, that there is a strong case to be made for treating it as a virtue. (shrink)
A recent report by Persaud et al. [Persaud, N., McLeod, P. & Cowey, A. . Post-decision wagering objectively measures awareness. Nature Neuroscience 10, 257–261] addresses a fundamental issue in consciousness science: the experimental measurement of conscious content. The authors propose a novel technique, ‘post-decision wagering’, in which subjects place bets on the correctness of decisions or discriminations. In this note, I critique the authors’ claim that their method “measures awareness directly”.
Wars are large-scale conflicts between organized groups of belligerents, which involve suffering, devastation, and brutality unlike almost anything else in human experience. Whatever one’s other beliefs about morality, all should agree that the horrors of war are all but unconscionable, and that warfare can be justified only if we have some compel- ling account of what is worth fighting for, which can justify contributing, as individu- als and as groups, to this calamitous endeavour. Although this question should obviously be central (...) to both philosophical and politi- cal discussion about war, it is at the forefront of neither. In recent years, philosophical discussion of warfare has bloomed, but the debate has focused on whom we may kill, on the assumption that our aims are justified.1 Political debate, meanwhile, is more concerned with matters of prudence, international law, and public justification, than with reassessing what is worth fighting for. For wars of intervention to halt or prevent massive humanitarian crises, this gap is not so troubling. When warfare is the only means to prevent the mass killing or enslavement of the innocent, the purposes of military force are clear enough (though undoubtedly many other problems remain). The problem is more pressing, how- ever, for the justification of national defence.3 Although common-sense morality and international law view national defence as the paradigm case of justified warfare, grounding this consensus is surprisingly difficult.4 We typically believe that any state is justified in using lethal force to protect its territory against any form of uninvited military incursion by any other state. And yet we lack a good argument to explain why this should be so. In this chapter, I explain why one familiar and otherwise plausible approach to the justification of killing in war cannot adequately ground common-sense views of permissible national defence.5 Reductionists believe that justified warfare reduces to an aggregation of acts that are justified under ordinary principles of interpersonal morality.6 The standard form of reductionism focuses on the principles governing killing in ordinary life, specifically those that justify intentional killing in self- and other-defence, and unintended but foreseen (for short, collateral) killing as a lesser evil. Justified warfare, on this view, is no more than the coextension of multiple acts justified under these two principles. Reductionism is the default philosophical approach to thinking through the ethics of killing in war. It makes perfect sense to ask what principles govern permissible kill- ing in general, before applying them to the particular context of war. If it cannot deliver a plausible set of conclusions about when national defence is permitted, then we must either revise our beliefs about which conclusions count as plausible, or else face the significant challenge of developing a different theoretical model for justifying war- fare—an exceptionalist model, which views war as an exception to the regular moral landscape, to which principles apply which apply to nothing else but war.7 We must show, in other words, that there is something worth fighting for in wars of national defence, which is not engaged when we use force in any other context. The chapter proceeds as follows. Section 2.2 sets out the argument against reduc- tionism.8 Section 2.3 considers and rebuts one common response to the argument, which has often been thought sufficient grounds to disregard its conclusion. Section 2.4 then asks whether a modified reductionism would survive unscathed by the argu- ment. Finally, section 2.5 sets out some desiderata on a plausible exceptionalist alterna- tive. Section 2.6 concludes. (shrink)
This paper discusses means for promoting artificial intelligence that is designed to be safe and beneficial for society. The promotion of beneficial AI is a social challenge because it seeks to motivate AI developers to choose beneficial AI designs. Currently, the AI field is focused mainly on building AIs that are more capable, with little regard to social impacts. Two types of measures are available for encouraging the AI field to shift more toward building beneficial AI. Extrinsic measures impose constraints (...) or incentives on AI researchers to induce them to pursue beneficial AI even if they do not want to. Intrinsic measures encourage AI researchers to want to pursue beneficial AI. Prior research focuses on extrinsic measures, but intrinsic measures are at least as important. Indeed, intrinsic factors can determine the success of extrinsic measures. Efforts to promote beneficial AI must consider intrinsic factors by studying the social psychology of AI research communities. (shrink)
In this article we address Emile Durkheim's theory that norms and values become more generalized and abstract in a society as it becomes more complex and differentiated. To test Durkheim's theory we examine etiquette manuals—the common texts that define normative manners and morals in American society. We perform a deductive content analysis on past and present etiquette manuals to understand what changes have occurred regarding shifting behavioral norms and values over time. Our findings suggest that a change has occurred in (...) the presentation and language of contemporary etiquette manuals, reflecting a greater change in the normative order. We find—as Durkheim would expect—that three main shifts have occurred: a shift from specific to general expectations for behavior in social settings, a shift from demanding to more suggestive rules of behavior in social situations, and a weakening in the severity of sanctions for breaches of etiquette. (shrink)