Standpoint epistemology is committed to a cluster of views that pay special attention to the role of social identity in knowledge acquisition. Of particular interest here is the situated knowledge thesis. This thesis holds that for certain propositions p, whether an epistemic agent is in a position to know that p depends on some non-epistemic facts related to the epistemic agent’s social identity. In this paper, I examine two possible ways to interpret this thesis. My first goal here is to (...) clarify existing interpretations of this thesis that appear in the literature but that are undeveloped and often mistakenly conflated. In so doing, I aim to make clear the different versions of standpoint epistemology that one might accept and defend. -/- This project is of significance, I argue, because standpoint epistemology provides helpful tools for understanding a phenomenon of interest as of late - epistemic oppression. My second goal is to provide an analysis that makes clear how each of the readings I put forth can be used to illuminate forms of epistemic oppression. (shrink)
Standpoint epistemology is committed to a cluster of views that pays special attention to the role of social identity in knowledge‐acquisition. Of particular interest here is the situated knowledge thesis. This thesis holds that for certain propositions p, whether an epistemic agent is in a position to know that p depends on some nonepistemic facts related to the epistemic agent's social identity. In this article, I examine two possible ways to interpret this thesis. My first goal here is to clarify (...) existing interpretations of this thesis that appear in the literature but that are undeveloped and often mistakenly conflated. In so doing, I aim to make clear the different versions of standpoint epistemology that one might accept and defend. This project is of significance, I argue, because standpoint epistemology provides helpful tools for understanding a phenomenon of recent interest: epistemic oppression. My second goal is to provide an analysis that makes clear how each of the readings I put forth can be used to illuminate forms of epistemic oppression. (shrink)
Standpoint epistemology, the view that social identity is relevant to knowledge-acquisition, has been consigned to the margins of mainstream philosophy. In part, this is because the principles of standpoint epistemology are taken to be in opposition to those which guide traditional epistemology. One goal of this paper is to tease out the characterization of traditional epistemology that is at odds with standpoint epistemology. The characterization of traditional epistemology that I put forth is one which endorses the thesis of intellectualism, the (...) view that knowledge does not depend on non-epistemic features. I then suggest that two further components – the atomistic view of knowers and aperspectivalism – can be usefully interpreted as supporting features of intellectualism. A further goal of this paper is to show that we ought to resist this characterization of traditional epistemology. I use pragmatic encroachment as a dialectical tool to motivate the denial of intellectualism, and consequently, the denial of both supporting components. I then attempt to show how it is possible to have a view, similar to pragmatic encroachment, that takes social identity, rather than stakes, to be the feature that makes a difference to what a person is in a position to know. (shrink)
Research on individuals at clinical high risk for psychological and physical disorders has grown exponentially in recent years, with a variety of new screening tools and early intervention techniques being implemented. One recent example is Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome, a diagnosis for individuals who are at clinical high risk for psychosis, which was recently included in Section III of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Given the focus on prevention at early stages, at-risk individuals will continue to be a (...) topic of significance not only in psychosis research but also in other illnesses. This document provides a comprehensive summary of the ethical dilemmas that clinicians or researchers may encounter in this domain, and possible actions consistent with the current Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists. We use clinical high risk for psychosis and the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists as a way to illuminate these ethical issues; however, application to other jurisdictions and disciplines, as well as other high-risk populations, is also of relevance. (shrink)
A prominent approach to scientific explanation and modeling claims that for a model to provide an explanation it must accurately represent at least some of the actual causes in the event's causal history. In this paper, I argue that many optimality explanations present a serious challenge to this causal approach. I contend that many optimality models provide highly idealized equilibrium explanations that do not accurately represent the causes of their target system. Furthermore, in many contexts, it is in virtue of (...) their independence of causes that optimality models are able to provide a better explanation than competing causal models. Consequently, our account of explanation and modeling must expand beyond the causal approach. (shrink)
In her book, Down Girl, Manne proposes to uncover the “logic” of misogyny, bringing clarity to a notion that she describes as both “loaded” and simultaneously “politically marginal.” Manne is aware that full insight into the “logic” of misogyny will require not just a “what” but a “why.” Though Manne finds herself largely devoted to the former task, the latter is in the not-too-distant periphery. -/- Manne proposes to understand misogyny, as a general framework, in terms of what it does (...) to women. Misogyny, she writes, is a system that polices and enforces the patriarchal social order (33). That’s the “what.” As for the “why,” Manne suggests that misogyny is what women experience because they fail to live up to the moral standards set out for women by that social order. I find Manne’s analysis insightful, interesting, and well argued. And yet, I find her account incomplete. While I remain fully convinced by her analysis of what misogyny is, I am less persuaded by her analysis of why misogyny is. For a full analysis of the “logic” of misogyny, one needs to understand how the patriarchy manifests in men an interest in participating in its enforcement. Or so I hope to motivate here. I aim to draw a line from the patriarchy to toxic masculinity to misogyny so that we have a clearer picture as to why men are invested in this system. I thus hope to offer here an analysis that is underdeveloped in Manne’s book, but is equally worthy of attention if we want fully to understand the complex machinations underlying misogyny. (shrink)
In this paper, I first argue against various attempts to justify idealizations in scientific models that explain by showing that they are harmless and isolable distortions of irrelevant features. In response, I propose a view in which idealized models are characterized as providing holistically distorted representations of their target system. I then suggest an alternative way that idealized modeling can be justified by appealing to universality.
Many accounts of scientific modelling assume that models can be decomposed into the contributions made by their accurate and inaccurate parts. These accounts then argue that the inaccurate parts of the model can be justified by distorting only what is irrelevant. In this paper, I argue that this decompositional strategy requires three assumptions that are not typically met by our best scientific models. In response, I propose an alternative view in which idealized models are characterized as holistically distorted representations that (...) are justified by allowing for the application of various modelling techniques. (shrink)
Within the last decade, burgeoning interest in the intersection of epistemology and social issues has generated a new set of research questions. These questions range from the relevance of social identity, to peer disagreement, to debates on the significance of moral considerations to epistemic evaluations, to discussions of our epistemic practices and how those practices exclude certain agents and certain bodies of knowledge. Central in this new and emerging body of work is the realization that epistemology has more to do (...) than simply answer questions about what knowledge consists in; it must also acknowledge that our answers to these questions might be influenced by features we have previously failed to make space for. It is in this respect that we are witnessing a renewed interest in a theoretical approach long consigned to the margins of epistemology – that of standpoint epistemology. (shrink)
Recently philosophers of science have begun to pay more attention to the use of highly idealized mathematical models in scientific theorizing. An important example of this kind of highly idealized modeling is the widespread use of optimality models within evolutionary biology. One way to understand the explanations provided by these models is as a censored causal explanation: an explanation that omits certain causal factors in order to focus on a modular subset of the causal processes that led to the explanandum. (...) In this paper, I first argue that the censored causal model approach fails to establish a permanent explanatory role for optimality models in biology and mischaracterizes the explanatory virtues of biological optimality modeling. In addition, I argue that many biological optimality explanations cannot be characterized as censored causal explanations. In response, I propose an alternative approach that analyzes optimality models’ reliance on synchronically representing a system’s constraints and tradeoffs as well as their employment of various kinds of idealization in order to provide equilibrium explanations. (shrink)
Anthony Collins (1676-1729) maintains that consciousness might be a material process or result from material processes. On the one hand, Collins accepts Locke’s view that from consciousness, i.e., the activity of thinking, we acquire no knowledge about the nature of the thinking substance. On the other, he takes seriously Samuel Clarke’s challenge that the thinking substance must be suitably unified because consciousness is unified. In this paper, I argue that, throughout his correspondence with Clarke, Collins maintains that (...) consciousness signifies actual thinking and does not refer to the capacity of thinking. His main materialist thesis is that the powers of parts of material systems can bring about unified powers and that the power of thinking may be such a power. Collins attempts to satisfy the unity requirement by arguing that a unity correspondence can obtain between consciousness and the power of thinking that is realized in a material composite. (shrink)
This paper analyzes two ways idealized biological models produce factive scientific understanding. I then argue that models can provide factive scientific understanding of a phenomenon without providing an accurate representation of the features of their real-world target system. My analysis of these cases also suggests that the debate over scientific realism needs to investigate the factive scientific understanding produced by scientists’ use of idealized models rather than the accuracy of scientific models themselves.
Our ability to dismantle white supremacy is compromised by the fact that we don’t fully appreciate what, precisely, white supremacy is. In this chapter, I suggest understanding white supremacy as an epistemological system – an epistemic frame that serves as the foundation for how we understand and interact with the world. The difficulty in dismantling an epistemological system lies in its resilience – a system’s capacity to resist change to its underlying structure while, at the same time, offering the appearance (...) of large-scale reform. Using white supremacy as a case study, here I explore what features enable this resilience. An analysis of white supremacy that presents it as more than a tool of social and political oppression, but as an epistemic system that makes this oppression possible, allows us to better understand, and eventually overthrow, such systems. (shrink)
Intersectionality has attracted substantial scholarly attention in the 1990s. Rather than examining gender, race, class, and nation as distinctive social hierarchies, intersectionality examines how they mutually construct one another. I explore how the traditional family ideal functions as a privileged exemplar of intersectionality in the United States. Each of its six dimensions demonstrates specific connections between family as a gendered system of social organization, racial ideas and practices, and constructions of U.S. national identity.
In contrast to earlier views that argued for a particular kind of concept, several recent accounts have proposed that there are multiple distinct kinds of concepts, or that there is a plurality of concepts for each category. In this paper, I argue for a novel account of concepts as pluralistic hybrids. According to this view, concepts are pluralistic because there are several concepts for the same category whose use is heavily determined by context. In addition, concepts are hybrids because they (...) typically link together several different kinds of information that are used in the same cognitive processes. This alternative view accounts for the available empirical data, allows for greater cognitive flexibility than Machery's recent account, and overcomes several objections to traditional hybrid views. (shrink)
A plausible thought about vagueness is that it involves semantic incompleteness. To say that a predicate is vague is to say (at the very least) that its extension is incompletely specified. Where there is incomplete specification of extension there is indeterminacy, an indeterminacy between various ways in which the specification of the predicate might be completed or sharpened. In this paper we show that this idea is bound to founder by presenting an argument to the effect that there are vague (...) predicates which cannot be sharpened in such a way as to meet certain basic constraints (of penumbral connection and public accessibility) that must be imposed on the very notion of a sharpening. (shrink)
An important work in the debate between materialists and dualists, the public correspondence between Anthony Collins and Samuel Clarke provided the framework for arguments over consciousness and personal identity in eighteenth-century Britain. In Clarke's view, mind and consciousness are so unified that they cannot be compounded into wholes or divided into parts, so mind and consciousness must be distinct from matter. Collins, by contrast, was a perceptive advocate of a materialist account of mind, who defended the possibility that (...) thinking and consciousness are emergent properties of the brain. Appendices include philosophical writings that influenced, and responded to, the correspondence. (shrink)
The most popular uniting theme in feminist peace literature grounds women's peace work in mothering. I argue if maternal arguments do not address the variety of relationships different races and classes of mothers have to institutional violence and/or the military, then the resulting peace politics can only draw incomplete conclusions about the relationships between maternal work/thinking and peace. To illustrate this I compare two models of mothering: Sara Ruddick's decription of "maternal practice" and Patricia Hill Collins's account of racial-ethnic (...) women's "motherwork.". (shrink)
“Seeing is believing!”, or so the old adage goes. Roughly, the idea expressed by the adage is this: one needs to see x before one is willing to believe that x exists. In this chapter, I examine the extent to which it is more apt to say that believing is seeing. Expanding on the work of feminist epistemologists and critical race scholars, I consider a number of cases in which one needs to believe that x exists before one can see (...) x. I then consider how reframing the relationship between seeing and believing can deepen our understanding of a wide range of social phenomena, ranging from police brutality to sexual harassment. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue that rather than exclusively focusing on trying to determine if an idealized model fits a particular account of scientific explanation, philosophers of science should also work on directly analyzing various explanatory schemas that reveal the steps and justification involved in scientists’ use of highly idealized models to formulate explanations. We develop our alternative methodology by analyzing historically important cases of idealized statistical modeling that use a three-step explanatory schema involving idealization, mathematical operation, and explanatory interpretation.
Catherine Elgin has recently argued that a nonfactive conception of understanding is required to accommodate the epistemic successes of science that make essential use of idealizations and models. In this paper, I argue that the fact that our best scientific models and theories are pervasively inaccurate representations can be made compatible with a more nuanced form of scientific realism that I call Understanding Realism. According to this view, science aims at factive scientific understanding of natural phenomena. I contend that this (...) factive scientific understanding is provided by grasping a set of true modal information about the phenomenon of interest. Furthermore, contrary to Elgin’s view, I argue that the facticity of this kind of scientific understanding can be separated from the inaccuracy of the models and theories used to produce it. (shrink)
As the ball flew towards us I leapt to my left to catch it. But it was you, reacting more rapidly than I, who caught the ball just in front of the point at which my hand was poised. Fortunate for us that you took the catch. The ball was headed on a course which, unimpeded, would have taken it through the glass window of a nearby building. Your catch prevented the window from being broken.
Collins (The Blackwell companion to natural theology, 2009) presents an argument he calls the ‘core fine-tuning argument’. In this paper, I show that Collins’ argument is flawed in at least two ways. First, the structure, depending on likelihoods, fails to establish anything about the posterior probability of God’s existence given fine-tuning. As an argument for God’s existence, this is a serious failing. Second, his analysis of what is appropriately restricted background knowledge, combined with the credences of a specially (...) chosen ‘alien’, do not allow him to establish the premise \( \Pr (LPU \mid NSU~ \& ~k') \ll 1\). (shrink)
A standard objection to socioeconomic human rights is that they are not claimable as human rights: their correlative duties are not owed to each human, independently of specific institutional arrangements, in an enforceable manner. I consider recent responses to this ‘claimability objection,’ and argue that none succeeds. There are no human rights to socioeconomic goods. But all is not lost: there are, I suggest, human rights to ‘socioeconomic consideration’. I propose a detailed structure for these rights and their correlative duties, (...) while remaining neutral on substantive moral debates. I argue that socioeconomic-consideration human rights are satisfactorily claimable and sufficiently practical. (shrink)
This article discusses minimal model explanations, which we argue are distinct from various causal, mechanical, difference-making, and so on, strategies prominent in the philosophical literature. We contend that what accounts for the explanatory power of these models is not that they have certain features in common with real systems. Rather, the models are explanatory because of a story about why a class of systems will all display the same large-scale behavior because the details that distinguish them are irrelevant. This story (...) explains patterns across extremely diverse systems and shows how minimal models can be used to understand real systems. (shrink)
cis is presented of Randall Collins's book, The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. It presents a sociological theory of intellectual networks that connect thinkers in chains of masters and pupils, colleagues and rivals, and of the internalized conversations that constitute the social processes of thinking. The theory is used to analyze long-term developments of the intellectual communities of philosophers in ancient Greece, ancient and medieval China and India, medieval and modern Japan, medieval Islam and Judaism, (...) medieval Christendom, and modern Europe through the early 20th century. (shrink)
Harry Collins interprets Hubert Dreyfus’s philosophy of embodiment as a criticism of all possible forms of artificial intelligence. I argue that this characterization is inaccurate and predicated upon a misunderstanding of the relevance of phenomenology for empirical scientific research.
Biologists and economists use models to study complex systems. This similarity between these disciplines has led to an interesting development: the borrowing of various components of model-based theorizing between the two domains. A major recent example of this strategy is economists’ utilization of the resources of evolutionary biology in order to construct models of economic systems. This general strategy has come to be called evolutionary economics and has been a source of much debate among economists. Although philosophers have developed literatures (...) on the nature of models and modeling, the unique issues surrounding this kind of interdisciplinary model building have yet to be independently investigated. In this paper, we utilize evolutionary economics as a case study in the investigation of more general issues concerning interdisciplinary modeling. We begin by critiquing the distinctions currently used within the evolutionary economics literature and propose an alternative carving of the conceptual terrain. We then argue that the three types of evolutionary economics we distinguish capture distinctions that will be important whenever resources of model-based theorizing are borrowed across distinct scientific domains. Our analysis of these model-building strategies identifies several of the unique methodological and philosophical issues that confront interdisciplinary modeling. (shrink)
Can room be found in between the matter and void of a Newtonian universe for an immaterial and immortal soul? Can followers of Locke with his agnosticism about the nature of substances claim to know that some of them are immaterial? Samuel Clarke, well versed in Locke's thought and a defender both of Newtonian science and Christian orthodoxy, believed he could do both and attempted to prove his case by means of some hard-boiled reductionism. Anthony Collins, a deist whose (...) only lapse from materialism concerned God himself, rejected Clarke's argument. In this paper I discuss their controversy' in order to bring out the state of debate about material systems and consciousness among people influenced by Locke and Newton in the early eighteenth century, and I also assess Clarke's reductionist premise, as he himself frequently invites "the impartial reader" to do. (shrink)
The established view regarding ‘brain death’ in medicine and medical ethics is that patients determined to be dead by neurological criteria are dead in terms of a biological conception of death, not a philosophical conception of personhood, a social construction or a legal fiction. Although such individuals show apparent signs of being alive, in reality they are dead, though this reality is masked by the intervention of medical technology. In this article, we argue that an appeal to the distinction between (...) appearance and reality fails in defending the view that the ‘brain dead’ are dead. Specifically, this view relies on an inaccurate and overly simplistic account of the role of medical technology in the physiology of a ‘brain dead’ patient. We conclude by offering an explanation of why the conventional view on ‘brain death’, though mistaken, continues to be endorsed in light of its connection to organ transplantation and the dead donor rule. (shrink)
Concepts are the constituents of thoughts. Therefore, concepts are vital to any theory of cognition. However, despite their widely accepted importance, there is little consensus about the nature and origin of concepts. Thanks to the work of Lawrence Barsalou, Jesse Prinz and others concept empiricism has been gaining momentum within the philosophy and psychology literature. Concept empiricism maintains that all concepts are copies, or combinations of copies, of perceptual representations—that is, all concepts are couched in the codes of perceptual representation (...) systems. It is widely agreed that any satisfactory theory of concepts must account for how concepts semantically compose (the compositionality requirement) and explain how their intentional content is determined (the content determination requirement). In this paper, I argue that concept empiricism has serious problems satisfying these two requirements. Therefore, although stored perceptual representations may facilitate some traditionally conceptual tasks, concepts should not be identified with copies of perceptual representations. (shrink)
Legally defining “death” in terms of brain death unacceptably obscures a value judgment that not all reasonable people would accept. This is disingenuous, and it results in serious moral flaws in the medical practices surrounding organ donation. Public policy that relies on the whole-brain concept of death is therefore morally flawed and in need of revision.
The controversy over brain death and the dead donor rule continues unabated, with some of the same key points and positions starting to see repetition in the literature. One might wonder whether some of the participants are talking past each other, not all debating the same issue, even though they are using the same words (e.g., “death”). One reason for this is the complexity of the debate: It’s not merely about the nature of human life and death. Interwoven into this (...) debate are deep philosophical issues on realism, the normative/descriptive distinction, the relation of thought and language to the world, the mind–body problem, personhood, moral status, and the ethics of killing. There are also social and legal .. (shrink)
The correspondence between Samuel Clarke and Anthony Collins of 1706–8, while not well known, is a spectacularly good debate between a dualist and a materialist over the possibility of giving a materialist account of consciousness and personal identity. This article puts the Clarke Collins Correspondence in a broader context in which it can be better appreciated, noting that it is really a debate between John Locke and Anthony Collins on one hand, and Samuel Clarke and Joseph Butler (...) on the other. Anthony Collins argues on behalf of John Locke's claim that it would be as easy for God to superadd the power of thinking to matter as for him to connect a soul to a body. Locke did not believe that matter could naturally produce thought or consciousness, but it was in God's power to make matter think. To defend Locke's claim Collins must defend the claim that there are emergent properties in the world – properties of a whole that are not possessed by the parts. Collins also defends a materialist version of Locke's account of personal identity against a variety of charges. Because the topics of debate in the correspondence are of such great interest to us, it deserves to be rescued from the neglect into which it fell and from which intellectual historians and philosophers have only recently and partially removed it. (shrink)
This fascinating study in the sociology of science explores the way scientists conduct, and draw conclusions from, their experiments. The book is organized around three case studies: replication of the TEA-laser, detecting gravitational rotation, and some experiments in the paranormal. "In his superb book, Collins shows why the quest for certainty is disappointed. He shows that standards of replication are, of course, social, and that there is consequently no outside standard, no Archimedean point beyond society from which we can (...) lever the intellects of our fellows. "- -Donald M. McCloskey, Journal of Economic Psychology "Collins is one of the genuine innovators of the sociology of scientific knowledge.... Changing Order is a rich and entertaining book. "- - Isis "The book gives a vivid sense of the contingent nature of research and is generally a good read. "- -Augustine Brannigan, Nature "This provocative book is a review of [Collins's] work, and an attempt to explain how scientists fit experimental results into pictures of the world.... A promising start for new explorations of our image of science, too often presented as infallibly authoritative. "- -Jon Turney, New Scientist. (shrink)