This book is a co-publication and appears in conjunction with an exhibition organized and presented by the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, on the occasion of the centennial celebration nationwide of Singer's birth in 2004.
Isaac Newton's Scientific Method examines Newton's argument for universal gravity and his application of it to resolve the problem of deciding between geocentric and heliocentric world systems by measuring masses of the sun and planets. William L. Harper suggests that Newton's inferences from phenomena realize an ideal of empirical success that is richer than prediction. Any theory that can achieve this rich sort of empirical success must not only be able to predict the phenomena it purports to explain, but (...) also have those phenomena accurately measure the parameters which explain them. Harper explores the ways in which Newton's method aims to turn theoretical questions into ones which can be answered empirically by measurement from phenomena, and to establish that propositions inferred from phenomena are provisionally accepted as guides to further research. This methodology, guided by its rich ideal of empirical success, supports a conception of scientific progress that does not require construing it as progress toward Laplace's ideal limit of a final theory of everything, and is not threatened by the classic argument against convergent realism. Newton's method endorses the radical theoretical transformation from his theory to Einstein's. Harper argues that it is strikingly realized in the development and application of testing frameworks for relativistic theories of gravity, and very much at work in cosmology today. (shrink)
Routledge is now re-issuing this prestigious series of 204 volumes originally published between 1910 and 1965. The titles include works by key figures such asC.G. Jung, Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, Otto Rank, James Hillman, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney and Susan Isaacs. Each volume is available on its own, as part of a themed mini-set, or as part of a specially-priced 204-volume set. A brochure listing each title in the "International Library of Psychology" series is available upon request.
Isaac Levi's new book is concerned with how one can justify changing one's beliefs. The discussion is deeply informed by the belief-doubt model advocated by C. S. Peirce and John Dewey, of which the book provides a substantial analysis. Professor Levi then addresses the conceptual framework of potential changes available to an inquirer. A structural approach to propositional attitudes is proposed, which rejects the conventional view that a propositional attitude involves a relation between an agent and either a linguistic (...) entity or some other intentional object such as a proposition or set of possible worlds. The last two chapters offer an account of change in states of full belief understood as changes in commitments rather than changes in performance; one chapter deals with adding new information to a belief state, the other with giving up information. The book builds upon topics discussed in some of Levi's earlier work. It will be of particular interest to discussion theorists, epistemologists, philosophers of science, computer scientists, and cognitive psychologists. (shrink)
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) left a voluminous legacy of writings. Despite his influence on the early modern period, his correspondence, manuscripts, and publications in natural philosophy remain scattered throughout many disparate editions. In this volume, Newton's principal philosophical writings are for the first time collected in a single place. They include excerpts from the Principia and the Opticks, his famous correspondence with Boyle and with Bentley, and his equally significant correspondence with Leibniz, which is often ignored in favor of (...) Leibniz's later debate with Samuel Clarke. Newton's exchanges with Leibniz place their different understandings of natural philosophy in sharp relief. The volume also includes 'De Gravitatione', offered here in a corrected translation, which is crucial for understanding Newton's relation to his great predecessor Descartes. In a historical and philosophical introduction, Andrew Janiak examines Newton's philosophical positions and his relations to canonical figures in early modern philosophy. (shrink)
This comprehensive discussion of the problem of rational belief develops the subject on the pattern of Bayesian decision theory. The analogy with decision theory introduces philosophical issues not usually encountered in logical studies and suggests some promising new approaches to old problems."We owe Professor Levi a debt of gratitude for producing a book of such excellence. His own approach to inductive inference is not only original and profound, it also clarifies and transforms the work of his predecessors. In short, the (...) book deserves to become a classic....There is a great deal of interest in the book besides these basic matters [forumlating rules of acceptance]. Some of the most interesting chapters are those that examine the implications of such rules. The discussions of probability, generalization, and various forms of inference are brilliant and enlightening. Indeed, the problems and methods elaborated by Professor Levi in his book serve as a new foundation for the study of inductive inference."--Keith Lehrer, Nous"Levi's book is an extremely interesting report on 'tentative and speculative first steps' toward a decision-theoretic approach to inductive inference....Professor Levi is to be congratulated on his ingenious development and application of this approach...."--Richard C. Jeffrey, The Journal of Philosophy. (shrink)
Isaac Levi's new book develops further his pioneering work in formal epistemology, focusing on the problem of belief contraction, or how rationally to relinquish old beliefs. Levi offers the most penetrating analysis to date of this key question in epistemology, offering a completely new solution and explaining its relation to his earlier proposals. He mounts an argument in favor of the thesis that contracting a state of belief by giving up specific beliefs is to be evaluated in terms of (...) the value of the information lost by doing so. The rationale aims to be thoroughly decision theoretic. Levi spells out his goals and shows that certain types of recommendations are obtained if one seeks to promote these goals. He compares his approach to his earlier account of inductive expansion. The recommendations are for "mild contractions." These are formally the same as the "severe withdrawals" considered by Pagnucco and Rott. The rationale, however, is different. A critical part of the book concerns the elaboration of these differences. The results are relevant to accounts of the conditions under which it is legitimate to cease believing and to accounts of conditionals. Mild Contraction will be of great interest to all specialists in belief revision theory and to many students of formal epistemology, philosophy of science, and pragmatism. (shrink)
Isaac Levi is one of the preeminent philosophers in the areas of pragmatic rationality and epistemology. This collection of essays constitutes an important presentation of his original and influential ideas about rational choice and belief. A wide range of topics is covered, including consequentialism and sequential choice, consensus, voluntarism of belief, and the tolerance of the opinions of others. The essays elaborate on the idea that principles of rationality are norms that regulate the coherence of our beliefs and values (...) with our rational choices. The norms impose minimal constraints on deliberation and inquiry, but they also impose demands well beyond the capacities of deliberating agents. This major collection will be eagerly sought out by a wide range of philosophers in epistemology, logic, and philosophy of science, as well as economists, decision theorists, and statisticians. (shrink)
It is a commonplace that in making decisions agents often have to juggle competing values, and that no choice will maximise satisfaction of them all. However, the prevailing account of these cases assumes that there is always a single ranking of the agent's values, and therefore no unresolvable conflict between them. Isaac Levi denies this assumption, arguing that agents often must choose without having balanced their different values and that to be rational, an act does not have to be (...) optimal, only what Levi terms 'admissible'. This book explores the consequences of denying the assumption and develops a general approach to decision-making under unresolved conflict. Professor Levi discusses conflicts of value in several domains - those arising in moral dilemmas, the drawing of scientific inferences, decisions taken under uncertainty, and in social choice. In each of these he adapts his theoretical framework, showing how conflict may often be reduced though not always altogether eliminated. (shrink)
Recent empirical work suggests that emotions are responsible for anti-consequentialist intuitions. For instance, anger places value on actions of revenge and retribution, value not derived from the consequences of these actions. As a result, it contributes to the development of retributive intuitions. I argue that if anger evolved to produce these retributive intuitions because of their biological consequences, then these intuitions are not a good indicator that punishment has value apart from its consequences. This severs the evidential connection between retributive (...) intuitions and the retributive value of punishment. This argument may generalize to other deontological intuitions and theories. (shrink)
This book draws on fields as diverse as biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, psychiatry, and ethology, to form a fascinating synthesis of information on the nature of fear and of panic and anxiety disorders. Dr. Marks offers both a detailed discussion of the clinical aspects of fear-related syndromes and a broad exploration of the sources and mechanisms of fear and defensive behavior. Dealing first with normal fear, he establishes a firm, scientific basis for understanding it. He then presents a thorough analysis (...) of the development, symptoms and treatment of fear-related syndromes. Phobic and obsessive-compulsive disorders are examined in detail. The book is illustrated with examples of fear and defensive behavior in other living organisms. By drawing provocative analogies between animal and human behavior, it sheds new light on the origins of fears, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive problems, as well as on their treatment by drugs and psychological means. Clinical psychologists, ethologists, and anyone interested in the mechanisms of behavior will be fascinated by this authoritative study. The text is intriguing and informative, and the bibliography of over 2,100 entries makes it an invaluable reference. (shrink)
I show that centered propositions—also called de se propositions, and usually modeled as sets of centered worlds—pose a serious problem for various versions of Lewis's Principal Principle. The problem, put roughly, is that in scenarios like Elga's `Sleeping Beauty' case, those principles imply that rational agents ought to have obviously irrational credences. To solve the problem, I propose a centered version of the Principal Principle. My version allows centered propositions to be objectively chancy.
Typicality is routinely invoked in everyday contexts: bobcats are typically short-tailed; people are typically less than seven feet tall. Typicality is invoked in scientific contexts as well: typical gases expand; typical quantum systems exhibit probabilistic behaviour. And typicality facts like these support many explanations, both quotidian and scientific. But what is it for something to be typical? And how do typicality facts explain? In this paper, I propose a general theory of typicality. I analyse the notion of a typical property. (...) I provide a formalism for typicality explanations, and I give an account of why typicality explanations are explanatory. Along the way, I show how typicality facts explain a variety of phenomena, from everyday phenomena to the statistical mechanical behaviour of gases. Finally, I argue that typicality is not the same thing as probability. (shrink)
The lore is that standard information theory provides an analysis of information quantity, but not of information content. I argue this lore is incorrect, and there is an adequate informational semantics latent in standard theory. The roots of this notion of content can be traced to the secret parallel development of an information theory equivalent to Shannon’s by Turing at Bletchley Park, and it has been suggested independently in recent work by Skyrms and Bullinaria and Levy. This paper explicitly articulates (...) the semantics latent in information theory and defends it as an adequate theory of information content, or natural meaning. I argue that this theory suggests a new perspective on the classic misrepresentation worry for correlation-based semantics. (shrink)
For the past fifty years anxiety over naturalism has driven debates in social theory. One side sees social science as another kind of natural science, while the other rejects the possibility of objective and explanatory knowledge. _Interpretation and Social Knowledge_ suggests a different route, offering a way forward for an antinaturalist sociology that overcomes the opposition between interpretation and explanation and uses theory to build concrete, historically specific causal explanations of social phenomena.
Explanations are backed by many different relations: causation, grounding, and arguably others too. But why are these different relations capable of backing explanations? In virtue of what are they explanatory? In this paper, I propose and defend a monistic account of explanation-backing relations. On my account, there is a single relation which backs all cases of explanation, and which explains why those other relations are explanation-backing.
This paper outlines and defends a novel position in the color realism debate, namely structural realism. This position is novel in that it dissociates the veridicality of color attributions from the claim that physical objects are themselves colored. Thus, it is realist about color in both the semantic and epistemic senses, but not the ontic sense. The generality of this position is demonstrated by applying it to other “secondary qualities,” including heat, musical pitch, and odor. The basic argument proceeds by (...) analogy with the theory of measurement. I argue that perceptual experiences are analogous to numerical structures in that they are suitable for measurement, but only report measured values after they have been linked to states of a measurement device via calibration. Since the calibration of our sensory apparatus varies with context, it is inappropriate to identify specific experiences with specific properties in the world. Rather, it is structural relations between possible experiences which represent relations between possible external properties, and it is at the level of these structural relationships that veridicality is appropriately assessed. (shrink)
Recent accounts of emotional action intend to explain such actions without reference to goals. Nevertheless, these accounts fail to specify the difference between goals and other kinds of motivational states. I offer two remedies. First, I develop an account of goals based on Michael Smith’s arguments for the Humean theory of motivation. On this account, a goal is a unified representation that determines behavior selection criteria and satisfaction conditions for an action. This opens the possibility that mental processes could influence (...) behavior without such a unified representation and hence, without goals. Second, I develop a model of emotions and appetites on which behavior selection criteria can be decoupled from satisfaction conditions. If this model is correct, then in many cases, there is no unified representation that determines the behavior selection criteria and satisfaction conditions of emotional actions. In contrast with many traditional accounts of action, the model suggests the following: Whether or not a behavior constitutes an action does not depend on the agent’s grasp of the behavior’s aim. Rather, a behavior constitutes an action if it was organized by the agent, where an agent can organize actions without a coherent grasp of their aim. Some emotional actions are manifestations of this possibility. (shrink)
Why is it important for people to agree on and articulate shared reasons for just laws, rather than whatever reasons they personally find compelling? What, if any, practical role does public reason play in liberal democratic politics? We argue that the practical role of public reason can be better appreciated by examining the confluence of normative and positive political theory; the former represented here by liberal social contract theory of John Rawls and others, and the latter by rational choice or (...) game theory. Citizens in a diverse society face a practical as well as a moral problem. How can they have confidence that others will reciprocate their commitment to supporting governing principles that depart from their own ideal conceptions of truth and value in order to be reasonable to all? Citizens face a practical problem of mutual assurance that public reason helps them solve, and solve as a matter of common knowledge. The solution, on both views, requires citizens’ reciprocal commitment to basing law on a system of shared reasons. Both views place public reason at the core of liberal democratic politics in conditions of diversity, and for quite similar reasons. Our argument illustrates the complementary roles of positive and values-based analysis in constitutional design. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to give a philosophical analysis of the relationship between contingently available technology and the knowledge that it makes possible. My concern is with what specific subjects can know in practice, given their particular conditions, especially available technology, rather than what can be known “in principle” by a hypothetical entity like Laplace’s Demon. The argument has two parts. In the first, I’ll construct a novel account of epistemic possibility that incorporates two pragmatic conditions: responsibility and (...) practicability. For example, whether subjects can gain knowledge depends in some circumstances on whether they have the capability of gathering relevant evidence. In turn, the possibility of undertaking such investigative activities depends in part on factors like ethical constraints, economical realities, and available technology. In the second part of the paper, I’ll introduce “technological possibility” to analyze the set of actions made possible by available technology. To help motivate the problem and later test my proposal, I’ll focus on a specific historical case, one of the earliest uses of digital electronic computers in a scientific investigation. I conclude that the epistemic possibility of gaining access to scientific knowledge about certain subjects depends (in some cases) on the technological possibility for making responsible investigations. (shrink)
For three centuries, philosophers have mounted defenses against the melan genie with an obsessive intensity comparable to the Reaganite determination to squander American wealth on defenses against a Communist threat. And for three centuries, skeptics have argued for the futility of the expenditure of conceptual effort with no more success than critics of the Pentagon have had in stemming the flow of funds to the military and its industrial minions. My own sympathies are with the skeptics. However, their own intense (...) involvement with the obsessions of the epistemological fear mongers and their failure to address the analogue of the problem of conversion from military to civilian industry in an acceptable manner often deprive the skeptical position of the subversive force it ought to have. (shrink)
Why would God institute the practice of efficacious petitionary prayer? Why would God not simply give us what we need before we ask? I examine recently proposed solutions to this puzzle and argue that they are inadequate to explain why an omniscient and perfectly good God would act differently in response to prayer. I propose that God has reasons to not always maximize a creature’s good, even in a sinless world, and that petitionary prayer functions as a means to reward (...) those who trust God, to enable us to actively love those we cannot otherwise help, and to give the petitioner personal evidence of God’s existence and care for her, creating a virtuous cycle of increasing faith. I refine this proposal by responding to several objections involving human responsibility and the epistemology of divine action. Along the way, I offer several ways petitioners can recognize God’s having answered a prayer and how God might help us with some common obstacles to prayer. (shrink)
This paper presents new data on the representation of women who publish in 25 top philosophy journals as ranked by the Philosophical Gourmet Report for the years 2004, 2014, and 2015. It also provides a new analysis of Schwitzgebel’s 1955–2015 journal data. The paper makes four points while providing an overview of the current state of women authors in philosophy. In all years and for all journals, the percentage of female authors was extremely low, in the range of 14–16%. The (...) percentage of women authors is less than the percentage of women faculty in different ranks and at different kinds of institutions. In addition, there is great variation across individual journals, and the discrepancy between women authors and women faculty appears to be different in different subfields. Interestingly, journals which do not practice anonymous review seem to have a higher percentage of women authors than journals which practice double anonymous or triple anonymous review. This paper also argues that we need more data on academic publishing to better understand whether this can explain why there are so few full-time female faculty in philosophy, since full-time hiring and tenuring practices presumably depend on a candidate’s academic publishing. (shrink)
I propose a `stage theory’ of groups: a group is a fusion of group-stages, where a group-stage is a plurality of individuals at a world and a time. The stage theory consists of existence conditions, identity conditions, and parthood conditions for groups.