Disappointed by the indifferent reception of his 1739 Treatise of Human Nature, particularly in view of his commitment to vividness and convincingness as epistemological criteria, Hume recast crucial arguments from his Treatise in “The Epicurean,” “The Stoic,” “The Platonist,” and “The Sceptic,” four pieces from his 1741–2 Essays Moral and Political. Locating these texts within both the dialogue and essay genres, I demonstrate how Hume continues the project of the Treatise by showing, rather than telling, his views: he blends rhetoric (...) and reasoned argument to show that they are in many cases indistinguishable; he depicts his speakers' conclusions as consequences of their personalities to show his skepticism about human freedom; and he concludes, in a moment strongly reminiscent of the famous end of Book I of the Treatise, by showing the limits of philosophy itself. (shrink)
Though each of its four constituent essays has received scholarly attention in itself, Hume?s Four Dissertations (1757) has received virtually no consideration from scholars as a unified whole. This article offers such an assessment, and argues that two crucially Humean themes link the four texts. First, they show the applicability of Hume?s theory of the passions to a wide range of questions: to the philosophy of religion, to psychology, and to aesthetics. Second, they show Hume grappling with the tension between (...) his iconoclastic religious skepticism and his valorization of tolerant and sociable exchange between thinkers with differing views. (shrink)
Cognitive science is experiencing a pragmatic turn away from the traditional representation-centered framework toward a view that focuses on understanding cognition as "enactive." This enactive view holds that cognition does not produce models of the world but rather subserves action as it is grounded in sensorimotor skills. In this volume, experts from cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology, robotics, and philosophy of mind assess the foundations and implications of a novel action-oriented view of cognition. Their contributions and supporting experimental evidence show that (...) an enactive approach to cognitive science enables strong conceptual advances, and the chapters explore key concepts for this new model of cognition. The contributors discuss the implications of an enactive approach for cognitive development; action-oriented models of cognitive processing; action-oriented understandings of consciousness and experience; and the accompanying paradigm shifts in the fields of philosophy, brain science, robotics, and psychology. ContributorsMoshe Bar, Lawrence W. Barsalov, Olaf Blanke, Jeannette Bohg, Martin V. Butz, Peter F. Dominey, Andreas K. Engel, Judith M. Ford, Karl J. Friston, Chris D. Frith, Shaun Gallagher, Antonia Hamilton, Tobias Heed, Cecilia Heyes, Elisabeth Hill, Matej Hoffmann, Jakob Hohwy, Bernhard Hommel, Atsushi Iriki, Pierre Jacob, Henrik Jörntell, Jürgen Jost, James Kilner, Günther Knoblich, Peter König, Danica Kragic, Miriam Kyselo, Alexander Maye, Marek McGann, Richard Menary, Thomas Metzinger, Ezequiel Morsella, Saskia Nagel, Kevin J. O'Regan, Pierre-Yves Oudeyer, Giovanni Pezzulo, Tony J. Prescott, Wolfgang Prinz, Friedemann Pulvermüller, Robert Rupert, Marti Sanchez-Fibla, Andrew Schwartz, Anil K. Seth, Vicky Southgate, Antonella Tramacere, John K. Tsotsos, Paul F. M. J. Verschure, Gabriella Vigliocco, Gottfried Vosgerau. (shrink)
In order to perfectly describe the world, it is not enough to speak truly. One must also use the right concepts - including the right logical concepts. One must use concepts that "carve at the joints", that give the world's "structure". There is an objectively correct way to "write the book of the world". Much of metaphysics, as traditionally conceived, is about the fundamental nature of reality; in the present terms, this is about the world's structure. Metametaphysics - inquiry into (...) the status of metaphysical questions - turns on structure. The question of whether ontological, causal, or modal questions are "substantive" is in large part a question of whether the world has ontological, causal, and modal structure - whether quantifiers, causal relations, and modal operators carve at the joints. (shrink)
In , Peter van Inwagen asked a good question. (Asking the right question is often the hardest part.) He asked: what do you have to do to some objects to get them to compose something---to bring into existence some further thing made up of those objects? Glue them together or what?1 Some said that you don’t have to do anything.2 No matter what you do to the objects, they’ll always compose something further, no matter how they are arranged. Thus we (...) learned of the fusion of the coins in our pockets and the Eiffel tower. (shrink)
Theodore Sider’s recent book, “Writing the Book of the World”, employs a primitive notion of metaphysical structure in order to make sense of substantive metaphysics. But Sider and others who employ metaphysical primitives face serious epistemological challenges. In the first section I develop a specific form of this challenge for Sider’s own proposed epistemology for structure; the second section develops a general reliability challenge for Sider’s theory; and the third and final section argues for the rejection (...) of Siderean structure in the course of answering a transcendental argument against such rejection. (shrink)
Persistence through time is like extension through space. A road has spatial parts in the subregions of the region of space it occupies; likewise, an object that exists in time has temporal parts in the various subregions of the total region of time it occupies. This view — known variously as four dimensionalism, the doctrine of temporal parts, and the theory that objects “perdure” — is opposed to “three dimensionalism”, the doctrine that things “endure”, or are “wholly present”.1 I will (...) attempt to resolve this dispute in favor of four dimensionalism by means of a novel argument based on considerations of vagueness. But before argument in this area can be productive, I believe we must become much clearer than is customary about exactly what the dispute is, for the usual ways of formulating the dispute are flawed, especially where three dimensionalism is concerned. (shrink)
Mereological nihilism says that there do not exist (in the fundamental sense) any objects with proper parts. A reason to accept it is that we can thereby eliminate 'part' from fundamental ideology. Many purported reasons to reject it - based on common sense, perception, and the possibility of gunk, for example - are weak. A more powerful reason is that composite objects seem needed for spacetime physics; but sets suffice instead.
I defend coincidentalism (the view that some pluralities have more than one mereological fusion) and restricted composition (the view that some pluralities lack mereological fusions) against recent arguments due to Theodore Sider.
In the present interview, Jacob Rogozinski elucidates the main concepts and theses he developed in his latest book dedicated to the issue of modern jihadism. On this occasion, he explains his disagreements with other philosophical (Badiou, Baudrillard, Žižek) and anthropological (Girard) accounts of Islamic terrorism. Rogozinski also explains that although jihadism betrays Islam, it nonetheless has everything to do with Islam. Eventually, he describes his own philosophical journey which led him from a phenomenological study of the ego and the (...) flesh to the study of past (witch-hunts, French Reign of Terror) and contemporary (jihadism) terror apparatuses. (shrink)
Logic begins but does not end with the study of truth and falsity. Within truth there are the modes of truth, ways of being true: necessary truth and contingent truth. When a proposition is true, we may ask whether it could have been false. If so, then it is contingently true. If not, then it is necessarily true; it must be true; it could not have been false. Falsity has modes as well: a false proposition that could not have been (...) true is impossible or necessarily false; one that could have been true is merely contingently false. The proposition that some humans are over seven feet tall is contingently true; the proposition that all humans over seven feet tall are over six feet tall is necessarily true; the proposition that some humans are over seven feet tall and under six feet tall is impossible, and the proposition that some humans are over nine feet tall is contingently false. Of these four modes of truth, let us focus on necessity, plus a fifth: possibility. A proposition is possible if it is or could have been true; hence propositions that are either necessarily true, contingently true, or contingently false are possible. Notions that are similar to the modes of truth in being concerned with what might have been are called modal. Dispositions are modal notions, for example the disposition of fragility. Relatedly, there are counterfactual conditionals, for example “if this glass were dropped, it would break.” And the notion of supervenience is modal.1 But let us focus here on necessity and possibility. Modal words are notoriously ambiguous (or at least context-sensitive2). I may reply to an invitation to give a talk in England by saying “I can’t come; I have to give a talk in California the day before”. This use of “can’t” is perfectly appropriate. But it would be equally appropriate for me to say that I could cancel my talk in California (although that would be rude) and give the talk in England instead. What I cannot do is give both talks.. (shrink)
Four- Dimensionalism defends the thesis that the material world is composed of temporal as well as spatial parts. This defense includes a novel account of persistence over time, new arguments in favour of the four-dimensional ontology, and responses to the challenges four- dimensionalism faces." "Theodore Sider pays particular attention to the philosophy of time, including a strong series of arguments against presentism, the thesis that only the present is real. Arguments offered in favour of four- dimensionalism include novel arguments (...) based on time travel, the debate between spacetime substantivalists and relationalists, and vagueness. Also included is a comprehensive discussion of the paradoxes of coinciding material objects, and a novel resolution of those paradoxes based on temporal counterpart theory. In conclusion Sider replies to prominent objections to four- dimensionalism, including discussion of the problem of the rotating homogenous disk. (shrink)
In "Sider on Existence" (Nous, 2007), David Liebesman and Matti Eklund argue that my "indeterminacy argument", according to which quantifiers are never vague, clashes with my "naturalness argument", according to which quantifiers "carve at the joints". There is, I argue, no outright inconsistency. But Liebesman and Eklund have shown that my arguments are not as independent as it may have appeared. The best defense of the indeterminacy argument is via the naturalness argument.
In (2001), (2003), and elsewhere, Ted Sider presents two arguments concerning the existential quantifier which are justly central to the recent discussion of metaontology. What we will call Sider's indeterminacy argument is an attempted reductio of the suggestion that the existential quantifier might be semantically indeterminate. What we will call Sider's naturalness argument is an argument for the claim that the semantic value of the existential quantifier is the most eligible existence-like meaning there is, à la David (...) Lewis' eligibility theory of meaning. We will argue that these arguments cannot be jointly maintained: Sider must give up at least one. Before arguing this, we will present Sider's two arguments in a bit more detail, and discuss their relationship. A few remarks on the broader significance of our conclusions are in order at the outset. One may think that since one successful argument for a given conclusion is sufficient the point that Sider's arguments cannot both work is purely academic. But we think that Sider's two arguments at bottom reflect different ways of thinking about metaphysics. Moreover, we think that it is only the naturalness argument that promises to deliver all that Sider wants when it comes to metaontology, and it is only the indeterminacy argument that promises to deliver all that Sider wants when it comes to ontology. (shrink)
Throughout an illustrious career of teaching and writing that spans five decades, philosopher Needleman has always tackled the "big questions" of life. In this collection of six feature interviews that began in the 1980s, Miller and Needleman discuss "Making Sense of Mysticism, The Secrets of Time and Love, The Meanings of Money, Searching for the Soul of America, Meeting God without Religion, " and "The Need for Philosophy.".
Medical nihilism is the view that we should have little confidence in the effectiveness of medical interventions. Jacob Stegenga argues persuasively that this is how we should see modern medicine, and suggests that medical research must be modified, clinical practice should be less aggressive, and regulatory standards should be enhanced.
A certain conception of Hell is inconsistent with God's traditional attributes. My argument is novel in focusing on considerations involving vagueness. God is in charge of the selection procedure, so the selection procedure must be just; any just procedure will have borderline cases; but according to the traditional conception, the afterlife is binary and has no borderline cases.
The Vagueness Argument for universalism only works if you think there is a good reason not to endorse nihilism. Sider's argument from the possibility of gunk is one of the more popular reasons. Further, Hawley has given an argument for the necessity of everything being either gunky or composed of mereological simples. I argue that Hawley's argument rests on the same premise as Sider's argument for the possibility of gunk. Further, I argue that that premise can be used (...) to demonstrate the possibility of simples. Once you stick it all together, you get an absurd consequence. I then survey the possible lessons we could draw from this, arguing that whichever one you take yields an interesting result. (shrink)
According to four dimensionalism, the material world is divided into momentary stages. In a four-dimensional world, which objects are the ordinary things, the things we normally name and quantify over? Aggregates of stages, according to most four-dimensionalists, but according to stage theorists (or exdurantists), ordinary objects are instead to be identified with the stages themselves. (A temporal counterpart theoretic account of de re temporal predication is then given.) This paper argues that a stage theorist is best positioned to accept David (...) Lewis's argument from temporary intrinsics for four-dimensionalism, since stage theorists are the only four-dimensionalists who attribute monadic temporary intrinsic properties to ordinary things. (shrink)
Possible worlds present a formidable challenge for the lover of desert landscapes. One cannot ignore their usefulness; they provide, as David Lewis puts it, “a philosophers’ paradise”.1 But to enter paradise possibilia must be fit into a believable ontology. Some follow Lewis and accept worlds at face value, but most prefer some other choice from the current menu. Part of Chihara’s book is a critical discussion of some of these menu options: Lewis’s modal realism, Alvin Plantinga’s abstract modal realism, Graeme (...) Forbes’s anti-realism and Gideon Rosen’s modal fictionalism. These discussions are very detailed and conversant with the literature. The discussions of Forbes and of paradox within Plantinga’s system are particularly enlightening. The rest of the book is devoted to Chihara’s positive project: developing an account of the status of model theory for non-modal logic, and then applying it to the modal case. The prize is an understanding of possible worlds semantics that requires no commitment to possible worlds at all What does the relativized notion of truth in an interpretation studied in model theory have to do with plain old truth? Chihara’s answer involves “connecting theorems” that relate truth-in to truth. A “natural-language proto-interpretation of the sentential calculus” is a function that assigns meanings of declarative sentences of English to sentence letters. Where I is an NLPI of SC and φ is a sentence letter, Chihara uses ‘[φ/I ]’ to refer to “φ with the meaning it has been assigned by I ” ; where φ is not atomic, he says. (shrink)
Sider (2011; Writing the Book of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press) argues it is not only predicates that carve reality at its joints, but expressions of any logical or grammatical category – including quantifiers, operators, and sentential connectives. Even so, he denies these expressions pick out entities in the world; instead, they only represent the world’s “structure”. I argue that this distinction is not viable, and that Sider’s ambitious programme requires an exotic ontology – and even a (...) Fregean “third realm” – of logical entities. (shrink)
We have just completed an exhausting nine-month debate on the future of the Affordable Care Act. I see this debate as having ended—as of this writing—in a draw. After months of repeal efforts, Republicans in the House barely passed in early May, with a 217-to-213 margin, the American Health Care Act, which would have significantly amended the ACA. Republicans in the Senate spent the summer trying to arrive at amendments to the AHCA that could attract fifty of their fifty-two votes, (...) but in the end, the clock ran out on their opportunity to enact an amendment without Democratic input. With this legislative failure, we appear to be in a stalemate. The Affordable Care Act remains in place as the law of the land, but the Trump administration seems committed to at best condemning the ACA to malign neglect and at worst actively undermining it at every opportunity. Given the political stalemate, the time is right to reassess the deeper issues at stake and ponder the prospects for a considered compromise on health reform. (shrink)
Ted Sider has shown that my indeterminism argument for comparativist theories of quantity also applies to Mundy's absolutist theory. This is because Mundy's theory posits only "pure" relations, i.e. relations between values of the same quantity (between masses and other masses, or distances and other distances). It is straightforward to solve the problem by positing additional mixed relations.
In “On what matters: Personal identity as a phenomenological problem”, Steven Crowell engages a number of contemporary interpretations of Husserl’s account of the person and personal identity by noting that they lack a phenomenological elucidation of the self as commitment. In this article, in response to Crowell, I aim to show that such an account of the self as commitment can be drawn from Husserl’s work by looking more closely at his descriptions from the time of Ideas and after of (...) the self as ego or I and egoic experience as attentive experience. I specifically aim to sketch the beginning of a response to three questions I take Crowell to be posing to a Husserlian account of the person and personal identity: What more than pre-reflective self-awareness can be attributed to the self on phenomenological grounds so that we can understand, phenomenologically speaking, how selves become persons? How can what characterizes the self in addition to pre-reflective self-awareness be discerned in both our commitment to truth and our feeling bound by love and other emotive commitments that cannot be fully rationally justified, which Husserl acknowledges are both sources of personal self-constitution? And, do all selves become persons? In the paper I elaborate how my answers to the first two questions turn on the self not just being self-aware but active in a particular sense. And to begin to address the third question, I suggest that while any form of wakeful conscious experience is both self-aware and active, this activity of the self makes a difference for those who are socio-historically embedded in the way we are. Specifically, on the proposed Husserlian account, selves that are socio-historically embedded become persons in and through their active relating to what they attentively experience. In concluding, I indicate how this Husserlian account might compare to Crowell’s claim that “self-identity is not mere logical identity but a normative achievement […] which makes a ‘personal’ kind of identity possible”. (shrink)
The paper provides a deeper insight into institutionally given opportunities for and limitations to reflexive, dialogue-centered, and risk-sensitive knowledge exchange between scientific experts and agro-political decision makers, especially under the conditions of a significant degree of complexity, far-reaching uncertainties and potential impacts. It focuses on the practical orientations, guiding expectations and selection criteria shaping expertise in processes of science policy consulting. In doing so, two perspectives will be discussed: first the orientation of the knowledge production process by different concepts of (...) ‘‘usable knowledge.’’ Second, the influence of specific constellations on different stages of the political process, which shape the institutional conditions for the transfer and the use of scientific knowledge within the policy consulting process. Both perspectives help to come to a closer understanding of the demanding and very heterogeneous process of science policy consulting, which - if successful - leads to the interactive production of a very special form of ‘‘orientational knowledge.’’. (shrink)
Robustness is a common platitude: hypotheses are better supported with evidence generated by multiple techniques that rely on different background assumptions. Robustness has been put to numerous epistemic tasks, including the demarcation of artifacts from real entities, countering the “experimenter’s regress,” and resolving evidential discordance. Despite the frequency of appeals to robustness, the notion itself has received scant critique. Arguments based on robustness can give incorrect conclusions. More worrying is that although robustness may be valuable in ideal evidential circumstances (i.e., (...) when evidence is concordant), often when a variety of evidence is available from multiple techniques, the evidence is discordant. †To contact the author, please write to: Jacob Stegenga, Department of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093; e‐mail: [email protected] (shrink)
Ted Sider’s book makes a beautifully presented and compellingly argued case for four dimensionalism. Most of the arguments for four dimensionalism to be found in the literature seem to me to be uncompelling. Ted’s argument from vagueness, given in the last section of chapter 4, is a notable exception. After discussing that argument I will respond to his objections in section 5 chapter 5 to my own temporary identity view.
Philosophers have committed sins while studying science, it is said – philosophy of science focused on physics to the detriment of biology, reconstructed idealizations of scientific episodes rather than attending to historical details, and focused on theories and concepts to the detriment of experiments. Recent generations of philosophers of science have tried to atone for these sins, and by the 1980s the exculpation was in full swing. Marcel Weber’s Philosophy of Experimental Biology is a zenith mea culpa for philosophy of (...) science: it carefully describes several historical examples from twentieth century biology to address both ‘old’ philosophical topics, like reductionism, inference, and realism, and ‘new’ topics, like discovery, models, and norms. Biology, experiments, history – at last, philosophy of science, free of sin. (shrink)
Formal principles governing best practices in classification and definition have for too long been neglected in the construction of biomedical ontologies, in ways which have important negative consequences for data integration and ontology alignment. We argue that the use of such principles in ontology construction can serve as a valuable tool in error-detection and also in supporting reliable manual curation. We argue also that such principles are a prerequisite for the successful application of advanced data integration techniques such as ontology-based (...) multi-database querying, automated ontology alignment and ontology-based text-mining. These theses are illustrated by means of a case study of the Gene Ontology, a project of increasing importance within the field of biomedical data integration. (shrink)