Did you know that insects could be tried for criminal acts in pre-industrial Europe, that the dead could be executed, that statues could be subjected to public humiliation, or that it was widely accepted that corpses could return to life? What made reasonable, educated men and women behave in ways that seem utterly nonsensical to us today? Strange Histories presents for the first time a serious account of some of the most extraordinary occurrences of European history. Throughout the ages, people (...) have held ideas and events have taken place which have baffled later societies. Religious disbelievers were thought deserving of death, insects were occasionally excommunicated, studying the biology of angels was a legitimate activity, and the pursuit of personal happiness was considered rather misguided as a life strategy. Using case studies from the Middle Ages and the early modern period with some from the more recent past, this book provides fascinating insights into the world-view through the ages, and shows how such goings-on fitted in quite naturally with the "common sense" of the time. Explanations of these phenomena, riveting and ultimately rational, encourage further reflection on what really shapes our beliefs. In the light of history, can we be sure of the validity of our own ideas? How many of our own beliefs might no longer "make sense" a few centuries from now? (shrink)
If an agent believes that the probability of E being true is 1/2, should she accept a bet on E at even odds or better? Yes, but only given certain conditions. This paper is about what those conditions are. In particular, we think that there is a condition that has been overlooked so far in the literature. We discovered it in response to a paper by Hitchcock (2004) in which he argues for the 1/3 answer to the Sleeping Beauty problem. (...) Hitchcock argues that this credence follows from calculating her fair betting odds, plus the assumption that Sleeping Beauty’s credences should track her fair betting odds. We will show that this last assumption is false. Sleeping Beauty’s credences should not follow her fair betting odds due to a peculiar feature of her epistemic situation. (shrink)
What if your peers tell you that you should disregard your perceptions? Worse, what if your peers tell you to disregard the testimony of your peers? How should we respond if we get evidence that seems to undermine our epistemic rules? Several philosophers have argued that some epistemic rules are indefeasible. I will argue that all epistemic rules are defeasible. The result is a kind of epistemic particularism, according to which there are no simple rules connecting descriptive and normative facts. (...) I will argue that this type of particularism is more plausible in epistemology than in ethics. The result is an unwieldy and possibly infinitely long epistemic rule — an Uber-rule. I will argue that the Uber-rule applies to all agents, but is still defeasible — one may get misleading evidence against it and rationally lower one’s credence in it. (shrink)
It is widely acknowledged that hoping is an integral part of what it is to be human. The present article strives to make sense of the myriad competing conceptions of hope that have emerged over the past half-century. Two problems with the literature are highlighted. First, discussions of hope tend to take place within rather than between disciplines. Second, hope is often taken to be an undifferentiated experience. In order to address the first problem, the article takes an interdisciplinary approach, (...) drawing on research from the fields of philosophy, anthropology, psychology, theology and politics. In order to address the second problem, the article proposes that hope be regarded as a human universal that can be experienced in different modes. A variety of theories and models of hope are discussed, including those offered by Marcel, Dauenhauer, Bloch, Moltmann, Bovens, Pettit, Snyder, Rorty and Gutiérrez. While many of these claim to have identified the characteristics of hope, it is argued that each captures something about a particular mode of hoping. The theories and models are integrated into a framework comprising five modes of hoping: patient, critical, estimative, resolute and utopian. Examining hope in this way, as a human universal that can be experienced in different modes, may help us see the varying conceptions that presently exist within the human sciences not as conflicting, nor even as competing, but rather as complementary. (shrink)
How do temporal and eternal beliefs interact? I argue that acquiring a temporal belief should have no effect on eternal beliefs for an important range of cases. Thus, I oppose the popular view that new norms of belief change must be introduced for cases where the only change is the passing of time. I defend this position from the purported counter-examples of the Prisoner and Sleeping Beauty. I distinguish two importantly different ways in which temporal beliefs can be acquired and (...) draw some general conclusions about their impact on eternal beliefs. (shrink)
Many who take a dismissive attitude towards metaphysics trace their view back to Carnap’s ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’. But the reason Carnap takes a dismissive attitude to metaphysics is a matter of controversy. I will argue that no reason is given in ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’, and this is because his reason for rejecting metaphysical debates was given in ‘Pseudo-Problems in Philosophy’. The argument there assumes verificationism, but I will argue that his argument survives the rejection of verificationism. The root (...) of his argument is the claim that metaphysical statements cannot be justified; the point is epistemic, not semantic. I will argue that this remains a powerful challenge to metaphysics that has yet to be adequately answered. (shrink)
The Protein Ontology (PRO) provides a formal, logically-based classification of specific protein classes including structured representations of protein isoforms, variants and modified forms. Initially focused on proteins found in human, mouse and Escherichia coli, PRO now includes representations of protein complexes. The PRO Consortium works in concert with the developers of other biomedical ontologies and protein knowledge bases to provide the ability to formally organize and integrate representations of precise protein forms so as to enhance accessibility to results of protein (...) research. PRO (http://pir.georgetown.edu/pro) is part of the Open Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) Foundry. (shrink)
Many epistemological problems can be solved by the objective Bayesian view that there are rationality constraints on priors, that is, inductive probabilities. But attempts to work out these constraints have run into such serious problems that many have rejected objective Bayesianism altogether. I argue that the epistemologist should borrow the metaphysician’s concept of naturalness and assign higher priors to more natural hypotheses.
Sometimes we learn what the world is like, and sometimes we learn where in the world we are. Are there any interesting differences between the two kinds of cases? The main aim of this article is to argue that learning where we are in the world brings into view the same kind of observation selection effects that operate when sampling from a population. I will first explain what observation selection effects are ( Section 1 ) and how they are relevant (...) to learning where we are in the world ( Section 2 ). I will show how measurements in the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics can be understood as learning where you are in the world via some observation selection effect ( Section 3 ). I will apply a similar argument to the Sleeping Beauty Problem ( Section 4 ) and explain what I take the significance of the analogy to be ( Section 5 ). Finally, I will defend the Restricted Principle of Indifference on which some of my arguments depend ( Section 6 ). (shrink)
This article addresses the debate over religion in the public sphere by analysing the conception of ‘religion’ in the recent work of Habermas, who claims to mediate the divide between those who defend public appeals to religion without restriction and those who place limits on such appeals. I argue that Habermas’ translation requirement and his restriction on religious reasons in the institutional public sphere rest on a conception of religion as essentially apolitical in its origin. This conception, I argue, remains (...) embedded in a standard secularization framework, despite Habermas’ claim to offer a new account of secularization. This approach betrays the complex reality of the political constitution of religion and the religious constitution of politics, as demonstrated by the current debate about marriage rights in the USA. In mischaracterizing the inherently public and political dimensions of religion, Habermas undermines the effectiveness of his normative framework. (shrink)
The fine-tuning argument can be used to support the Many Universe hypothesis. The Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy objection seeks to undercut the support for the Many Universe hypothesis. The objection is that although the evidence that there is life somewhere confirms Many Universes, the specific evidence that there is life in this universe does not. I will argue that the Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy is not committed by the fine-tuning argument. The key issue is the procedure by which the universe with life (...) is selected for observation. Once we take account of the procedure, we find that the support for the Many Universe hypothesis remains. (shrink)
Self-locating beliefs cause a problem for conditionalization. Miriam Schoenfield offers a solution: that on learning E, agents should update on the fact that they learned E. However, Schoenfield is not explicit about whether the fact that they learned E is self-locating. I will argue that if the fact that they learned E is self-locating then the original problem has not been addressed, and if the fact that they learned E is not self-locating then the theory generates implausible verdicts which Schoenfield (...) explicitly rejects. (shrink)
Should philosophers prefer simpler theories? Huemer (Philos Q 59:216–236, 2009) argues that the reasons to prefer simpler theories in science do not apply in philosophy. I will argue that Huemer is mistaken—the arguments he marshals for preferring simpler theories in science can also be applied in philosophy. Like Huemer, I will focus on the philosophy of mind and the nominalism/Platonism debate. But I want to engage with the broader issue of whether simplicity is relevant to philosophy.
Hoping is an integral part of what it is to be human, and its significance for education has been widely noted. Hope is, however, a contested category of human experience and getting to grips with its characteristics and dynamics is a difficult task. The paper argues that hope is not a singular undifferentiated experience and is best understood as a socially mediated human capacity with varying affective, cognitive and behavioural dimensions. Drawing on the philosophy, theology and psychology of hope, five (...) modes of hoping are outlined: patient, critical, sound, resolute and transformative. The key aim of the paper is to illustrate how different modes of hoping are associated with different pedagogical strategies. Phrased differently, the paper seeks to delineate a range of pedagogies of hope. The phrase ‘pedagogy of hope’ is very much associated with critical theory—one thinks instantly of, for example, Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux or bell hooks. There are many pedagogies of hope, however, and an explicitly conservative text such as William Bennett’s Book of Virtues has as strong a claim to the title as Freire’s radical and utopian ideas. A broader argument, therefore, is that there is nothing inherently radical or subversive about a pedagogy of hope. Pedagogies of hope can serve to reproduce social relations as well as to transform them. (shrink)
Formal methods are changing how epistemology is being studied and understood. A Critical Introduction to Formal Epistemology introduces the types of formal theories being used and explains how they are shaping the subject. Beginning with the basics of probability and Bayesianism, it shows how representing degrees of belief using probabilities informs central debates in epistemology. As well as discussing induction, the paradox of confirmation and the main challenges to Bayesianism, this comprehensive overview covers objective chance, peer disagreement, the concept of (...) full belief, and the traditional problems of justification and knowledge. Subjecting each position to a critical analysis, it explains the main issues in formal epistemology, and the motivations and drawbacks of each position. Written in an accessible language and supported study questions, guides to further reading and a glossary, positions are placed in an historic context to give a sense of the development of the field. As the first introductory textbook on formal epistemology, A Critical Introduction to Formal Epistemology is an invaluable resource for students and scholars of contemporary epistemology. (shrink)
What does logic tells us how about we ought to reason? If P entails Q, and I believe P, should I believe Q? I will argue that we should embed the issue in an independently motivated contextualist semantics for ‘ought’, with parameters for a standard and set of propositions. With the contextualist machinery in hand, we can defend a strong principle expressing how agents ought to reason while accommodating conflicting intuitions. I then show how our judgments about blame and guidance (...) can be handled by this machinery. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the notion of ‘reasonableness’ that is, for many, at the heart of the Philosophy for Children approach particularly and education for democratic citizenship more broadly, is constituted within the epistemology of ‘white ignorance’ and operates in such a way that it is unlikely to transgress the boundaries of white ignorance so as to view it from without. Drawing on scholarship in critical legal studies and social epistemology, I highlight how notions of reasonableness often include (...) consensus, ‘racialised common sense’ and the ‘typical’ view. In addition the promotion of particular dispositions on the grounds of ‘reasonableness’ both promotes stability and limits how one may think otherwise. Thus, P4C practices that fail to historicise, examine and challenge prevailing notions of reasonableness establish an epistemically ‘gated’ community of inquiry. (shrink)
The independence problems for functionalism stem from the worry that if functional properties are defined in terms of their causes and effects then such functional properties seem to be too intimately connected to these purported causes and effects. I distinguish three different ways the independence problems can be filled out – in terms of necessary connections, analytic connections and vacuous explanations. I argue that none of these present serious problems. Instead, they bring out some important and over-looked features of functionalism.
We give an analysis of the Monty Hall problem purely in terms of confirmation, without making any lottery assumptions about priors. Along the way, we show the Monty Hall problem is structurally identical to the Doomsday Argument.
Whilst continuing racism is often invoked as evidence of the urgent need for Philosophy for Children, there is little in the current literature that addresses the topic. Drawing on Critical Race Theory and the related field of Critical Whiteness Studies , I argue that racism is deeply ingrained culturally in society, and best understood in the context of ‘Whiteness’. Following a CRT-informed analysis of two picturebooks that have been recommended as starting points for philosophical enquiry into multiculturalism, racism and diversity (...) – ‘Elmer’ and ‘Tusk Tusk’ by David McKee, I argue that whilst the use of stories with animals is commonly regarded as offering children the comfort of distance from emotionally challenging topics, this has the effect of separating racism from its temporal and spatial realities, which limits rather than enhances opportunities for engaging philosophically with it. I argue in favour of the practice of ‘reading against the text’ and consider the epistemological and practical obstacles to this practice drawing on my own experiences discussing race with P4C practitioners in the UK. I attempt to illustrate how the selection of recommended materials, combined with commonly held principles of P4C, make for a climate where a philosophical engagement with race and racism that considers the discourse of ‘Whiteness’ is highly unlikely to occur. This leads me to posit the idea of The Gated Community of Enquiry. (shrink)
Biomedical ontologies are emerging as critical tools in genomic and proteomic research where complex data in disparate resources need to be integrated. A number of ontologies exist that describe the properties that can be attributed to proteins; for example, protein functions are described by Gene Ontology, while human diseases are described by Disease Ontology. There is, however, a gap in the current set of ontologies—one that describes the protein entities themselves and their relationships. We have designed a PRotein Ontology (PRO) (...) to facilitate protein annotation and to guide new experiments. The components of PRO extend from the classification of proteins on the basis of evolutionary relationships to the representation of the multiple protein forms of a gene (products generated by genetic variation, alternative splicing, proteolytic cleavage, and other post-translational modification). PRO will allow the specification of relationships between PRO, GO and other OBO Foundry ontologies. Here we describe the initial development of PRO, illustrated using human proteins from the TGF-beta signaling pathway. (shrink)
Secured to a table in my living room is an antique apple peeler—a cast iron 19th century mechanical contrivance that I gave my wife for her birthday some years ago. This thing is not art. At the very least, I do not believe it is art. Yet my wife and I do not use it as an apple peeler; we use it as art. Indeed, my living room is filled with things that we are using as art—some artifacts, some natural (...) objects—but my living room is not filled with art. This is not, I think, all that unusual a phenomenon. Indeed, I believe this is a widespread phenomenon occurring at the blurry line between art and non-art, especially in the home. However, exactly what it means to use a thing as art without thus believing it is art, and without it being art, is not a straightforward matter, especially given the many functions of art today, and their functional overlap with non-art. In this essay, I investigate the notion of using a thing—specifically a non-art thing, whether an artifact or otherwise—as art, and the importance of this notion both inside and outside of philosophy.. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that whether or not a computer can be built that passes the Turing test is a central question in the philosophy of mind. Then I show that the possibility of building such a computer depends on open questions in the philosophy of computer science: the physical Church-Turing thesis and the extended Church-Turing thesis. I use the link between the issues identified in philosophy of mind and philosophy of computer science to respond to a prominent argument (...) against the possibility of building a machine that passes the Turing test. Finally, I respond to objections against the proposed link between questions in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of computer science. (shrink)
Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in utopianism within educational theory. In this essay, Darren Webb explores the utopian pedagogy of Paulo Freire in the context of what one commentator has dubbed “the educational comeback of utopia.” Webb argues that Freire's significance lies in the way he embraced both “utopia as process” and “utopia as system.” This is significant because the contemporary rejuvenation of utopianism has extended only so far, embracing utopia conceived as an open‐ended process of becoming (...) but shying away from utopia conceived as the delineation of a normative vision to be struggled for and won. Webb outlines the pedagogical operation of utopia as process, cognitive‐affective orientation, and system, and he argues that Freire was right in insisting that each is constitutive of effective educational practice. (shrink)
There is a widely shared belief that the higher-level sciences can provide better explanations than lower-level sciences. But there is little agreement about exactly why this is so. It is often suggested that higher-level explanations are better because they omit details. I will argue instead that the preference for higher-level explanations is just a special case of our general preference for informative, logically strong, beliefs. I argue that our preference for informative beliefs entirely accounts for why higher-level explanations are sometimes (...) better—and sometimes worse—than lower-level explanations. The result is a step in the direction of the unity of science hypothesis. 1Introduction2Background: Is Omitting Details an Explanatory Virtue? 2.1Anti-reductionist arguments2.2Reductionist argument2.3Logical strength3Bases, Links and Logical Strength4Functionalism and Fodor’s Argument5Two Generalizations6Should the Base Really Be Maximally Strong?7Anti-reductionist Arguments Regarding the Base8Should the Antecedent of the Link Really Be Maximally Weak? (shrink)
Culture clashes -- Ontology, copyright, and artistic practice -- The myth of unoriginality -- Authorship, power, and responsibility -- Toward an ontology of authored works -- The rights of authors -- The rights of others -- Appropriation and transformation -- Afterword.
Sober and Elgin defend the claim that there are a priori causal laws in biology. Lange and Rosenberg take issue with this on Humean grounds, among others. I will argue that Sober and Elgin don’t go far enough – there are a priori causal laws in many sciences. Furthermore, I will argue that this thesis is compatible with a Humean metaphysics and an empiricist epistemology.
In Bradley, I offered an analysis of Sleeping Beauty and the Everettian interpretation of quantum mechanics. I argued that one can avoid a kind of easy confirmation of EQM by paying attention to observation selection effects, that halfers are right about Sleeping Beauty, and that thirders cannot avoid easy confirmation for the truth of EQM. Wilson agrees with my analysis of observation selection effects in EQM, but goes on to, first, defend Elga’s thirder argument on Sleeping Beauty and, second, argue (...) that the analogy I draw between Sleeping Beauty and EQM fails. I will argue that neither point succeeds. 1 Introduction2 Background3 Wilson’s Argument for ⅓ in Sleeping Beauty4 Reply: Explaining Away the Crazy5 Wilson's Argument for the Breakdown of the Analogy6 Reply: The Irrelevance of Chance7 Conclusion. (shrink)
Colin Howson (1995 ) offers a counter-example to the rule of conditionalization. I will argue that the counter-example doesn't hit its target. The problem is that Howson mis-describes the total evidence the agent has. In particular, Howson overlooks how the restriction that the agent learn 'E and nothing else' interacts with the de se evidence 'I have learnt E'.
In this article, I examine the textual underpinnings of participatory Confucian democracy and Confucian meritocracy and propose realist Confucian democracy as an alternative following a balanced reading of classic Confucianism. I argue that Confucian plebeian values do not square with the political meritocrats’ advocacy for meritocratic rule while Confucian elitist values undermine participatory democrats’ ardor for justifications of active democratic participation. A shared difficulty with both groups is that they tend to overuse one aspect of Confucianism while leaving the status (...) of other elements in limbo. The discussion of participatory democracy and meritocracy is followed by the introduction of an eclectic reading that strikes a dynamic balance between elitist and plebeian values in Confucianism, and which points to the wide gamut of realist democracy that combines democratic election with strong leadership. (shrink)
In this article, I use the example of the novel Micro, authored by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston, to tease out the relationships between an author and his work and with other authors of that work. The case presents a complication for a number of contemporary views on authorship and co-authorship, which suggest that Crichton is either not an author of the novel or an author but not a co-author—both, I suggest, are counterintuitive views. After working through the leading views (...) on the topic, I present my own view of authorship, co-authorship, and multiple authorship, centrally resting on issues of power, responsibility, and creation. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Turing’s responses to the mathematical objection are straightforward, despite recent claims to the contrary. I then go on to show that by understanding the importance of learning machines for Turing as related not to the mathematical objection, but to Lady Lovelace’s objection, we can better understand Turing’s response to Lady Lovelace’s objection. Finally, I argue that by understanding Turing’s responses to these objections more clearly, we discover a hitherto unrecognized, substantive thesis in his philosophical (...) thinking about the nature of mind. (shrink)
This article makes the political dimension of Gadamer's thought more explicit by examining the interplay of three concepts in his work: solidarity, friendship, and the other. Focusing primarily on certain post--"Truth and Method" writings, I argue that Gadamer's conception of solidarity has to do with historically contingent manifestations of bonds that reflect a civic life together of reciprocal co-perception. These bonds go beyond conscious recognition of observable similarities and differences and emerge from encounters among those who are, and remain, in (...) important ways other to each other. I make this case through an analysis of Gadamer's phenomenology of friendship and the crucial role of otherness in his accounts of both understanding and friendship. I suggest that Gadamer's political thought gives us a way of conceptualizing solidarity and otherness without making the other same or leaving the other completely other. (shrink)
This is the first book to consider the increasing importance of Jean-Luc Nancy's work, which has influenced key thinkers such as Jacques Derrida. All his major works have been translated into English, yet until now little has been made available on his place in contemporary philosophy. By showing how he situates his work in a contemporary context - the collapse of communism, the Gulf War, and the former Yugoslavia - this outstanding collection reveals how Nancy's engagement with Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, (...) Heidegger and Derrida makes him one of the key contemporary continental philosophers. Providing new perspectives on the issues of sense, art and community, these essays make it impossible to approach philosophy without reference to the work Jean-Luc Nancy. (shrink)
The paper examines the ethics of electronic monitoring for advertising purposes and the implications for Internet user privacy using as a backdrop DoubleClick Incs recent controversy over matching previously anonymous user profiles with personally identifiable information. It explores various ethical theories that are applicable to understand privacy issues in electronic monitoring. It is argued that, despite the fact that electronic monitoring always constitutes an invasion of privacy, it can still be ethically justified on both Utilitarian and Kantian grounds. From a (...) Utilitarian perspective the emphasis must be on minimizing potential harms. From a Kantian perspective the emphasis must be on giving users complete information so that they can make informed decisions as to whether they are willing to be monitored. Considering the Internet advertising industrys current actions, computer users and government regulators would be well advised, both practically and ethically, to move to a user control model in electronic monitoring. (shrink)
Jonathan Weisberg (2010 ) argues that, given that life exists, the fact that the universe is fine-tuned for life does not confirm the design hypothesis. And if the fact that life exists confirms the design hypothesis, fine-tuning is irrelevant. So either way, fine-tuning has nothing to do with it. I will defend a design argument that survives Weisberg’s critique — the fact that life exists supports the design hypothesis, but it only does so given fine-tuning.
Solving the problem of moral luck—the problem of dealing with conflicting intuitions about whether moral blameworthiness varies with luck in cases of negligence—is like repairing a dented fender in front of two kinds of critic. The one keeps telling you that there is no dent, and the other sees the dent but keeps warning you that repairing it will do more harm than good. It is time to straighten things out. As I argue elsewhere, the solution to the problem of (...) moral luck is finally revealed. Our task now is twofold: to hold a magnifying glass up to the initial problem, so that all might finally see it; and to dismiss unfounded fears about solving that problem, so that all might finally stop grinning and bearing it. (shrink)
The main argument given for relevant alternatives theories of knowledge has been that they answer scepticism about the external world. I will argue that relevant alternatives also solve two other problems that have been much discussed in recent years, a) the bootstrapping problem and b) the apparent conflict between semantic externalism and armchair self-knowledge. Furthermore, I will argue that scepticism and Mooreanism can be embedded within the relevant alternatives framework.