Luck, Value, and Commitment comprises eleven new essays which engage with, or take their point of departure from, the influential work in moral and political philosophy of Bernard Williams (1929-2003).
Hempel and Giere contend that the existence of provisos poses grave difficulties for any regularity account of physical law. However, Hempel and Giere rely upon a mistaken conception of the way in which statements acquire their content. By correcting this mistake, I remove the problem Hempel and Giere identify but reveal a different problem that provisos pose for a regularity account — indeed, for any account of physical law according to which the state of affairs described by a law-statement presupposes (...) a Humean regularity. These considerations suggest a normative analysis of law-statements. On this view, law-statements are not distinguished from accidental generalizations by the kind of Humean regularities they describe because a law-statement need not describe any Humean regularity. Rather, a law-statement says that in certain contexts, one ought to regard the assertion of a given type of claim, if made with justification, as a proper way to justify a claim of a certain other kind. (shrink)
This paper argues that in at least some cases, one proof of a given theorem is deeper than another by virtue of supplying a deeper explanation of the theorem — that is, a deeper account of why the theorem holds. There are cases of scientific depth that also involve a common abstract structure explaining a similarity between two otherwise unrelated phenomena, making their similarity no coincidence and purchasing depth by answering why questions that separate, dissimilar explanations of the two phenomena (...) cannot correctly answer. The connections between explanation, depth, unification, power, and coincidence in mathematics and science are compared. (shrink)
Counterfactuals all the way down? Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9437-9 Authors Jim Woodward, History and Philosophy of Science, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA Barry Loewer, Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA John W. Carroll, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8103, USA Marc Lange, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#3125—Caldwell Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3125, USA Journal Metascience Online (...) ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796 Journal Volume Volume 20 Journal Issue Volume 20, Number 1. (shrink)
Unlike explanation in science, explanation in mathematics has received relatively scant attention from philosophers. Whereas there are canonical examples of scientific explanations, there are few examples that have become widely accepted as exhibiting the distinction between mathematical proofs that explain why some mathematical theorem holds and proofs that merely prove that the theorem holds without revealing the reason why it holds. This essay offers some examples of proofs that mathematicians have considered explanatory, and it argues that these examples suggest a (...) particular account of explanation in mathematics. The essay compares its account to Steiner's and Kitcher's. Among the topics that arise are proofs that exploit symmetries, mathematical coincidences, brute-force proofs, simplicity in mathematics, merely clever proofs, and proofs that unify what other proofs treat as separate cases. (shrink)
Ulrike Heuer argues that there can be a reason for a person to perform an action that this person cannot perform, as long as this person can take efficient steps towards performing this action. In this reply, I first argue that Heuer's examples fail to undermine my claim that there cannot be a reason for a person to perform an action if it is impossible that this person will perform this action. I then argue that, on a plausible (...) interpretation of what 'efficient steps' are, Heuer's claim is consistent with my claim. I end by showing that Heuer fails to undermine the arguments I gave for my claim. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that a person can have a reason to do what she cannot do. In a nutshell, the argument is that a person can have derivate reasons relating to an action that she has a non-derivative reason to perform. There are clear examples of derivative reasons that a person has in cases where she cannot do what she (non-derivatively) has reason to do. She couldn’t have those derivative reasons, unless she also had the non-derivative reason to (...) do what she cannot do. I discuss a number of objections to this view, in particular two: (1) The objection that if there were reasons to do what one cannot do, many of those would be ‘crazy reasons’, and (2) the worry that if there were such reasons, then agents would have reasons to engage in futile deliberations and tryings. I develop an explanation of ‘crazy reasons’ that shows that not all reasons to do the impossible are crazy and only those that are need to be filtered out, and, regarding the second objecting, I show that the reasons for trying as well as for taking the means to doing something—instrumental reasons in a broad sense—are different from the reasons for performing the action in the first place. They are affected by impossibility, and we can explain why that is so. The view I argue for is that a person may have a reason to do what she cannot do, but she does not have a reason to try to do so or to take means to realizing the impossible. (shrink)
Marc Lange objects to scientific essentialists that they can give no better account of the counterfactual invariance of laws than Humeans. While conceding this point succeeds ad hominem against some essentialists, I show that it does not undermine essentialism in general. Moreover, Lange's alternative account of the relation between laws and counterfactuals is - with minor modification - compatible with essentialism.
According to what is now the standard account in the history of psychology, in the 1880s William James and the Danish physician Carl Georg Lange independently developed a strikingly new theory, commonly referred to as the ‘James–Lange’ theory of emotion. In this paper it is argued that this standard account is highly misleading. Lange's views on affect in his Om Sindsbevægelser were more cautious than James allowed, and not open to criticisms that have often been levelled against the theory of (...) emotion that James claimed he shared with Lange. In fact, Lange argued for distinctions that James did not mention in his discussion of Lange's work. Even with regard to the primary emotions, the two thinkers’ explanatory models diverged significantly. The contrast between James and Lange on affect is especially striking in their respective discussions of topics in aesthetics, as is established with reference to Lange's little-known Bidrag til Nydelsernes fysiologi som grundlag for en rationel æstetik. (shrink)
Many of the things we do in the course of a day we don't do intentionally: blushing, sneezing, breathing, blinking, smiling—to name but a few. But we also do act intentionally, and often when we do we act for reasons. Whether we always act for reasons when we act intentionally is controversial. But at least the converse is generally accepted: when we act for reasons we always act intentionally. Necessarily, it seems. In this paper, I argue that acting intentionally is (...) not in all cases acting for a reason. Instead, intentional agency involves a specific kind of control. Having this kind of control makes it possible to modify one's action in the light of reasons. Intentional agency opens the possibility of acting in the light of reasons. I also explain why when we act with an intention we act for reasons. In the second part of the paper, I draw on these results to show that the dominant view of reasons to intend and the rationality of intentions should be rejected. (shrink)
It is an assumption common to many theories of rationality that all practical reasons are based on a person's given desires. I shall call any approach to practical reasons which accepts this assumption a "Humean approach". In spite of many criticisms, the Humean approach has numerous followers who take it to be the natural and inevitable view of practical reason. I will develop an argument against the Humean view aiming to explain its appeal, as well as to expose its mistake. (...) I focus on just one argument in favour of the Humean approach, which I believe can be constructed as the background idea of many Humean accounts: the argument from motivation. (shrink)
Is the wrongness of an action a reason not to perform it? Of course it is, you may answer. That an action is wrong both explains and justifies not doing it. Yet, there are doubts. Thinking that wrongness is a reason is confused, so an argument by Jonathan Dancy. There can’t be such a reason if ‘ϕ-ing is wrong’ is verdictive, and an all things considered judgment about what (not) to do in a certain situation. Such judgments are based on (...) all the relevant reasons for and against ϕ-ing. If that ϕ-ing is wrong, while being an all things considered verdict, would itself be a reason, it would upset the balance of reasons: it would be a further reason which has not yet been considered in reaching the verdict. Hence, the judgment wasn’t ‘all things considered' after all. I show that the argument against wrongness being a reason is unsuccessful, because its main assumption is false. Is main assumption is that a consideration which necessarily does not affect the balance of reasons is not a reason. I also argue that there can be no deontic buck-passing account. (shrink)
In his article , Gerald Lang formulates the buck-passing account of value so as to resolve the Wrong Kind of Reason Problem. I argue against his formulation of buck-passing. Specifically, I argue that his formulation of buck-passing is not compatible with consequentialism (whether direct or indirect), and so it should be rejected.
Adaptation to novel visuomotor transformations for example when navigating a cursor on a computer monitor by using a computer mouse, can be explicit or implicit. Explicit adjustments are made when people are informed about the occurrence and the type of a novel visuomotor transformation and intentionally modify their movements. Implicit adjustments, in contrast, are made without reportable knowledge of a novel visuomotor transformation and without a change intention. The relation of implicit adjustments to explicit adjustments needs further clarification. Here we (...) show that these two types of adjustment occur at the same time and remain functionally independent. The size of total adjustment turned out to be the sum of explicit and implicit adjustments measured in isolation, even when both processes produce opposite outcomes. In perspective our results demonstrate that automatic, implicit processes of motor control are not superseded by intentional, explicit ones, but only superposed. (shrink)
I wish to first thank the two respondents for seriously engaging with my arguments. Their responses suggest that they are both individuals of good conscience who are deeply committed to the quest for truth and to human welfare.Their responses also highlight the deep empirical disagreements that lie at the heart of the circumcision debate. Given such empirical disagreements, what can philosophers contribute? I wish to reply to my critics in a way that highlights four types of contributions that philosophers can (...) make.First, philosophers can provide conceptual clarity. For example, I argue in my paper that appeals to the rights of bodily integrity and self-determination in the context of the circumcision debate entails a misunderstanding of the nature of these rights. This supports the position of both of my respondents that the empirical details are morally relevant in this debate.David Lang criticises my use of the minor cleft lip operation example in making this argument. He points out that in the cleft lip case , there is a restoration of ‘the normal appearance of the body in its natural state’. Thus, the cleft lip operation does not constitute a violation of bodily integrity, properly understood.1Yet, Lang does not explain the moral significance of ‘the …. (shrink)
Suppose that unobtanium-346 is a rare radioactive isotope. Consider: (1) Every Un346 atom, at its creation, decays within 7 microseconds (µs). (50%) Every Un346 atom, at its creation, has a 50% chance of decaying within 7µs. (1) and (50%) can be true together, but (1) and (50%) cannot together be laws of nature. Indeed, (50%)'s mere (non-vacuous) truth logically precludes (1)'s lawhood. A satisfactory analysis of chance and lawhood should nicely account for this relation. I shall argue first that David (...) Lewis's Humean picture accounts for this relation only by inserting this relation ‘by hand’. Next, I shall argue that this relation between law and chance also threatens a radically non-Humean picture of laws and chances. Finally, I shall offer an account of natural law that nicely explains the relation between chancy facts and deterministic laws. This explanation is not ad hoc because it derives the relation from the very same features of lawhood that account for the laws' special relation to counterfactuals and explain how the laws (unlike the accidents) possess a variety of necessity. The reason that a chancy fact such as (50%) keeps (1) from being a law, without keeping (1) from being true, is ultimately that a chancy fact constrains the subjunctive facts and (1)'s lawhood, unlike (1)'s truth, depends upon the subjunctive facts. (shrink)
Marc Lange’s new book on laws offers a restatement and development of the account he proposed in Natural Laws and Scientific Practice (Oxford University Press, 2000), henceforth NLSP, and the new material is helpfully summarized in the preface. Laws and Lawmakers presents the key idea from NLSP in a rather more reader-friendly manner – this idea being roughly that the difference between laws and accidents is that laws, unlike accidents, form a ‘stable’ set, i.e. a logically closed set of truths (...) such that they would all still hold under any counterfactual supposition consistent with the set. So, for example, the natural laws all still hold under counterfactual suppositions such as ‘had this match been struck …’, ‘had Bill Gates wanted to build a gold cube one mile across’ and so on; thus this set is stable. But the set of laws plus the accidental claim ‘there is no gold cube one mile across’ fails to hold under such counterfactual suppositions because had Bill Gates wanted to build a gold cube one mile across, such a cube might well have come into existence; thus this set is not stable. While the basic outline and defence of this idea is provided in Chapter 1, those wishing to delve into the intricate …. (shrink)
One Rawlsian response to G. A. Cohen’s criticisms of justice as fairness which Cohen canvasses, and then dismisses, is the 'Freedom Objection'. It comes in two versions. The 'First Version' asserts that there is an unresolved trilemma among the three principles of equality, Pareto-optimality, and freedom of occupational choice, while the 'Second Version' imputes to Rawls’s theory a concern to protect occupational freedom over equality of condition. This article is mainly concerned with advancing three claims. First, the 'ethical solution' Cohen (...) advances against the First Version of the Freedom Objection does not grant a fair hearing to the Freedom Objection. Second, the distinction Cohen presses between the legal and moral right of occupational choice in his response to the Second Version cannot save him from worries about Stalinist coercion. Third, Cohen’s response to the First Version of the Freedom Objection is actually in tension with his response to the Second Version of the Freedom Objection. (shrink)
This paper explores the decision-making and coordination mechanism of pricing and collection rate in a closed-loop supply chain with capacity constraint in recycling channels, which consists of one manufacturer and one retailer. On the basis of game theory, the equilibriums of decisions and profits in the centralized and decentralized scenarios are obtained and compared. Through the performance analysis of a different scenario, a higher saving production cost and lower competition intensity trigger the members to engage in remanufacturing. Furthermore, we try (...) to propose a two-part tariff contract through bargaining to coordinate supply chain and achieve a Pareto improvement. The results show that when the capacity constraints in recycling channels exceed a threshold, the decisions and profit will change. Additionally, for closed-loop supply chain, the selling price is more susceptible to the influence of capacity constraint in recycling channel than the members’ profit. (shrink)
Does smoke cause fire or does fire cause smoke? James Woodward’s “Flagpoles anyone? Causal and explanatory asymmetries” argues that various statistical independence relations not only help us to uncover the directions of causal and explanatory relations in our world, but also are the worldly basis of causal and explanatory directions. We raise questions about Woodward’s envisioned epistemology, but our primary focus is on his metaphysics. We argue that any alleged connection between statistical (in)dependence and causal/explanatory direction is contingent, at best. (...) The directions of causal/explanatory relations in our world seem not to depend on the statistical (in)dependence relations in our world (conceived of either as frequency patterns or as relations among chances). Thus, we doubt that statistical (in)dependence relations are the worldly basis of causal and explanatory directions. (shrink)
Roche and Sober have offered a new argument for the view that a hypothesis H is not confirmed by its capacity to explain some observation O. Their argument purports to work by showing that O screens H off from the fact that H would explain O. This paper offers several objections to this argument. Firstly, the screening-off test cannot identify whatever evidential contribution Hs explanatoriness may make. Secondly, that H would explain O may be logically necessary, eluding the screening-off test. (...) Thirdly, the test cannot detect an important difference that Hs explanatoriness often makes to Hs confirmation. (shrink)
Certain scientific explanations of physical facts have recently been characterized as distinctively mathematical –that is, as mathematical in a different way from ordinary explanations that employ mathematics. This article identifies what it is that makes some scientific explanations distinctively mathematical and how such explanations work. These explanations are non-causal, but this does not mean that they fail to cite the explanandum’s causes, that they abstract away from detailed causal histories, or that they cite no natural laws. Rather, in these explanations, (...) the facts doing the explaining are modally stronger than ordinary causal laws or are understood in the why question’s context to be constitutive of the physical arrangement at issue. A distinctively mathematical explanation works by showing the explanandum to be more necessary than ordinary causal laws could render it. Distinctively mathematical explanations thus supply a kind of understanding that causal explanations cannot. 1 Introduction2 Some Distinctively Mathematical Scientific Explanations3 Are Distinctively Mathematical Explanations Set Apart by their Failure to Cite Causes? 4 Distinctively Mathematical Explanations do not Exploit Causal Powers5 How these Distinctively Mathematical Explanations Work6 Conclusion. (shrink)
Humean accounts of natural lawhood have often been criticized as unable to account for the laws’ characteristic explanatory power in science. Loewer has replied that these criticisms fail to distinguish grounding explanations from scientific explanations. Lange has replied by arguing that grounding explanations and scientific explanations are linked by a transitivity principle, which can be used to argue that Humean accounts of natural law violate the prohibition on self-explanation. Lange’s argument has been sharply criticized by Hicks and van Elswyk, Marshall, (...) and Miller. This paper shows how Lange’s argument can withstand these criticisms once the transitivity principle and the prohibition on self-explanation are properly refined. The transitivity principle should be refined to accommodate contrasts in the explanans and explanandum. The prohibition on self-explanation should be refined so that it precludes a given fact p from helping to explain why some other fact q helps to explain why p. In this way, the transitivity principle avoids having counterintuitive consequences in cases involving macrostates having multiple possible microrealizations. The transitivity principle is perfectly compatible with the irreducibility of macroexplanations to microexplanations and with the diversity of the relations that can underwrite scientific explanations. (shrink)
Not all scientific explanations work by describing causal connections between events or the world's overall causal structure. In addition, mathematicians regard some proofs as explaining why the theorems being proved do in fact hold. This book proposes new philosophical accounts of many kinds of non-causal explanations in science and mathematics.
Lange (2000) famously argues that although Jeffrey Conditionalization is non-commutative over evidence, it’s not defective in virtue of this feature. Since reversing the order of the evidence in a sequence of updates that don’t commute does not reverse the order of the experiences that underwrite these revisions, the conditions required to generate commutativity failure at the level of experience will fail to hold in cases where we get commutativity failure at the level of evidence. If our interest in commutativity is, (...) fundamentally, an interest in the order-invariance of information, an updating sequence that does not violate such a principle at the more fundamental level of experiential information should not be deemed defective. This paper claims that Lange’s argument fails as a general defense of the Jeffrey framework. Lange’s argument entails that the inputs to the Jeffrey framework differ from those of classical Bayesian Conditionalization in a way that makes them defective. Therefore, either the Jeffrey framework is defective in virtue of not commuting its inputs, or else it is defective in virtue of commuting the wrong kinds of ones. (shrink)
Symmetry principles are commonly said to explain conservation laws—and were so employed even by Lagrange and Hamilton, long before Noether's theorem. But within a Hamiltonian framework, the conservation laws likewise entail the symmetries. Why, then, are symmetries explanatorily prior to conservation laws? I explain how the relation between ordinary (i.e., first-order) laws and the facts they govern (a relation involving counterfactuals) may be reproduced one level higher: as a relation between symmetries and the ordinary laws they govern. In that event, (...) symmetries are meta-laws; they are not mere byproducts of the dynamical and force laws. Symmetries then explain conservation laws whereas conservation laws lack the modal status to explain symmetries. I elaborate the variety of natural necessity that meta-laws would possess. Proposed metaphysical accounts of natural law should aim to accommodate the distinction between meta-laws and mere byproducts of the laws just as they must accommodate the distinction between laws and accidents. (shrink)
Scientific realism is the view that one can be justified in believing, of some theory about unobservable entities, that the entities it posits are real and accurately described by the theory, in the same sense as one can be justified in believing that the theory’s empirical predictions are accurate, and that so to believe is what it means for a scientist to “accept” that theory, because the goal of science is to describe reality, even its unobservable features. The first part (...) is an epistemic claim, whereas the second concerns the rational reconstruction of scientific practice. Together they suggest that evidence justifying scientific acceptance of a theory justifies belief that the unobservable entities it posits are real and as the theory purports them to be. Anti-realism denies ; it holds that claims about unobservables are either unjustified or justified in a different sense from predictions of observations. It also denies ; it maintains that in her scientific work, as rationally reconstructed, a scientist who accepts a claim about unobservables believes that it yields accurate predictions of observables, not that it describes unobservables. (shrink)
It is often presumed that the laws of nature have special significance for scientific reasoning. But the laws' distinctive roles have proven notoriously difficult to identify--leading some philosophers to question if they hold such roles at all. This study offers original accounts of the roles that natural laws play in connection with counterfactual conditionals, inductive projections, and scientific explanations, and of what the laws must be in order for them to be capable of playing these roles. Particular attention is given (...) to laws of special sciences, levels of scientific explanation, natural kinds, ceteris-paribus clauses, and physically necessary non-laws. (shrink)
It has often been argued that Humean accounts of natural law cannot account for the role played by laws in scientific explanations. Loewer (Philosophical Studies 2012) has offered a new reply to this argument on behalf of Humean accounts—a reply that distinguishes between grounding (which Loewer portrays as underwriting a kind of metaphysical explanation) and scientific explanation. I will argue that Loewer’s reply fails because it cannot accommodate the relation between metaphysical and scientific explanation. This relation also resolves a puzzle (...) about scientific explanation that Hempel and Oppenheim (Philosophy of Science 15:135–75, 1948) encountered. (shrink)
Machine learning has become a key component of contemporary information systems. Unlike prior information systems explicitly programmed in formal languages, ML systems infer rules from data. This paper shows what this difference means for the critical analysis of socio-technical systems based on machine learning. To provide a foundation for future critical analysis of machine learning-based systems, we engage with how the term is framed and constructed in self-education resources. For this, we analyze machine learning tutorials, an important information source for (...) self-learners and a key tool for the formation of the practices of the machine learning community. Our analysis identifies canonical examples of machine learning as well as important misconceptions and problematic framings. Our results show that machine learning is presented as being universally applicable and that the application of machine learning without special expertise is actively encouraged. Explanations of machine learning algorithms are missing or strongly limited. Meanwhile, the importance of data is vastly understated. This has implications for the manifestation of social inequalities through machine learning-based systems. (shrink)