Are virtual objects real? I will claim that the question sets us up for the wrong type of conclusion: Chalmers argues that a virtual calculator is a real calculator when it is “organizationally invariant” with its non-virtual counterpart—when it performs calculation. However, virtual reality and games are defined by the fact that they always selectively implement their source material. Even the most detailed virtual car will still have an infinite range of details which are missing. This means that even the (...) most detailed virtual object will still have fictional aspects. Rather than argue that virtual objects are, or aren’t, real, it is preferable to think of overlaps and continuities between the fictional and the real, where even the most painstakingly detailed virtual reality implementation of a non-virtual object is still art: a human process of selection and interpretation. Virtual reality should therefore not be philosophically understood just as a technological implementation on a trajectory to perfection, but as a cultural artifact which derives its value in part from its simplification and difference from its source material. (shrink)
I reply to seven commentaries on “The Virtual and the Real”. In response to Claus Beisbart, JesperJuul, Peter Ludlow, and Neil McDonnell and Nathan Wildman, I clarify and develop my view that virtual are digital objects, with special attention to the nature of digital objects and data structures. In response to Alyssa Ney and Eric Schwitzgebel, I clarify and defend my spatial functionalism, with special attention to the connections between space and consciousness. In response to Marc Silcox, (...) I clarify and develop my view of the value of virtual worlds, with special attention to the case where we experience these worlds as virtual. (shrink)
Some theorists claim that games are “transmedial”, meaning that the same game can be played in different media. It is unclear, however, what are the limits of transmedial games. Are all games in-principle transmedial, or only some? One suggestion offered by JesperJuul is that, if games are understood as sets of rules, then a game is transmedial if its rules can be either implemented or adapted into some new media. I argue against this view on the grounds (...) that the rules of many games are dependent on the game’s media such that they cannot be adapted to a new medium. As such the games-as-rules view of transmediality is not restrictive enough. To add the necessary restriction, I suggest that games are transmedial, not only when they contain the same rules, but also when it requires the same set of skills to play each. I further argue that a skill-set view of transmediality is better able to account for many common intuitions about games. (shrink)
In June 2016, David Chalmers delivered the Petrus Hispanus Lectures at the LanCog research group, University of Lisbon, on the subject of objects, properties, and perception in virtual reality environments. The paper resulting from these lectures was subsequently published in Disputatio as “The Virtual and the Real”. In it, Chalmers defends virtual realism, according to which virtual objects are bona fide digital objects with virtual counterparts of perceptible properties such as colour and shape, and perception in virtual reality environments is (...) typically veridical rather than illusory. This special issue collects responses to Chalmers due to Claus Beisbart, JesperJuul, Peter Ludlow, Neil McDonnell and Nathan Wildman, Alyssa Ney, Eric Schwitzgebel, and Marc Silcox; together with a detailed response by Chalmers to each paper. You can read the target article under discussion in this Special Issue here: https://doi.org/10.1515/disp-2017-0009. (shrink)
A popular form of virtue epistemology—defended by such figures as Ernest Sosa, Linda Zagzebski and John Greco—holds that knowledge can be exclusively understood in virtue-theoretic terms. In particular, it holds that there isn't any need for an additional epistemic condition to deal with the problem posed by knowledge-undermining epistemic luck. It is argued that the sustainability of such a proposal is called into question by the possibility of epistemic twin earth cases. In particular, it is argued that such cases demonstrate (...) the need for virtue-theoretic accounts of knowledge to appeal to an independent epistemic condition which excludes knowledge-undermining epistemic luck. (shrink)
Semantic externalism is the view that the meanings of referring terms, and the contents of beliefs that are expressed by those terms, are not fully determined by factors internal to the speaker but are instead bound up with the environment. The debate about semantic externalism is one of the most important but difficult topics in philosophy of mind and language, and has consequences for our understanding of the role of social institutions and the physical environment in constituting language and the (...) mind. In this long-needed book, Jesper Kallestrup provides an invaluable map of the problem. Beginning with a thorough introduction to the theories of descriptivism and referentialism and the work of Frege and Kripke, Kallestrup moves on to analyse Putnam’s Twin Earth argument, Burge’s arthritis argument and Davidson’s Swampman argument. He also discusses how semantic externalism is at the heart of important topics such as indexical thoughts, epistemological skepticism, self-knowledge, and mental causation. Including chapter summaries, a glossary of terms, and an annotated guide to further reading, _Semantic Externalism_ an ideal guide for students studying philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
According to robust virtue epistemology, knowledge is a cognitive achievement, where this means that the agent's cognitive success is because of her cognitive ability. One type of objection to robust virtue epistemology that has been put forward in the contemporary literature is that this view has problems dealing with certain kinds of testimonial knowledge, and thus that it is in tension with standard views in the epistemology of testimony. We build on this critique to argue that insofar as agents epistemically (...) depend on third-party members of their epistemic community as many social epistemologists contend, then there will be cases where two agents differ epistemically despite being virtue-theoretic duplicates. This means that robust virtue epistemology, at least insofar as it is understood along standard lines such that it endorses epistemic individualism, is also in tension with a central commitment of contemporary social epistemology. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim's causal exclusion argument says that if all physical effects have sufficient physical causes, and no physical effects are caused twice over by distinct physical and mental causes, there cannot be any irreducible mental causes. In addition, Kim has argued that the nonreductive physicalist must give up completeness, and embrace the possibility of downward causation. This paper argues first that this extra argument relies on a principle of property individuation, which the nonreductive physicalist need not accept, and second that (...) once we get clear on overdetermination, there is a way to reject the exclusion principle upon which the causal exclusion argument depends, but third that this should not lead to the belief that mental causation is easily accounted for in terms of counterfactual dependencies. (shrink)
It is sometimes argued that autonomous decision-making requires that the decision-maker’s desires are authentic, i.e., “genuine,” “truly her own,” “not out of character,” or similar. In this article, it is argued that a method to reliably determine the authenticity (or inauthenticity) of a desire cannot be developed. A taxonomy of characteristics displayed by different theories of authenticity is introduced and applied to evaluate such theories categorically, in contrast to the prior approach of treating them individually. The conclusion is drawn that, (...) in practice, the authenticity of desires cannot be reliably determined. It is suggested that authenticity should therefore not be employed in informed consent practices in healthcare. (shrink)
The present article focuses on the issue of ignoring conversational partners in favor of one’s phone, or what has also become known as phubbing. Prior research has shown that this behavior is associated with a host of negative interpersonal consequences. Since phubbing by definition entails adverse effects, however, it is interesting to explore why people continue to engage in this hurtful behavior: Are they unaware that phubbing is hurtful to others? Or do they simply not care? Building on interviews with (...) students in a Danish business college, the article reveals a pronounced discrepancy in young people’s relationship to phubbing: While they emphatically denounce phubbing as both annoying and disrespectful, they readily admit to phubbing others. In other words, they often act against their own moral convictions. Importantly, participants describe this discrepancy as a result of an unintentional inclination to divert attentional engagement. On the basis of these results, the article develops the notion of digital akrasia, which can be defined as a tendency to become swept up by ones digital devices in spite of better intentions. It is proposed that this phenomenon may be the result of bad technohabits. Further implications are discussed. (shrink)
Based on the conception of life and semiosis as co-extensive an attempt is given to classify cognitive and communicative potentials of species according to the plasticity and articulatory sophistication they exhibit. A clear distinction is drawn between semiosis and perception, where perception is seen as a high-level activity, an integrated product of a multitude of semiotic interactions inside or between bodies. Previous attempts at finding progressive trends in evolution that might justify a scaling of species from primitive to advanced levels (...) have not met with much success, but when evolution is considered in the light of semiosis such a scaling immediately catches the eye. The main purpose of this paper is to suggest a scaling of this progression in semiotic freedom into a series of distinct steps. The elleven steps suggested are: 1) molecular recognition, 2) prokaryote-eukaryote transformation, 3) division of labor in multicellular organisms, 4) from irritability to phenotypic plasticity, 5) sense perception, 6) behavioral choice, 7) active information gathering, 8) collaboration, deception, 9) learning and social intelligence, 10) sentience, 11) consciousness. In light of this, the paper finally discusses the conceptual framework for biosemiotic evolution. The evolution of biosemiotic capabilities does not take the form of an ongoing composition of simple signs into composite wholes. Rather, it takes the shape of the increasing subdivision and control of a primitive, holophrastic perception-action circuit already committed to “proto-propositions” reliably guiding action already in the most primitive species. (shrink)
A sign is something that refers to something else. Signs, whether of natural or cultural origin, act by provoking a receptive system, human or nonhuman, to form an interpretant (a movement or a brain activity) that somehow relates the system to this "something else." Semiotics sees meaning as connected to the formation of interpretants. In a biosemiotic understanding living systems are basically engaged in semiotic interactions, that is, interpretative processes, and organic evolution exhibits an inherent tendency toward an increase in (...) semiotic freedom. Mammals generally are equipped with more semiotic freedom than are their reptilian ancestor species, and fishes are more semiotically sophisticated than are invertebrates. The evolutionary trend toward the production of life forms with an increasing interpretative capacity or semiotic freedom implies that the production of meaning has become an essential survival parameter in later stages of evolution. (shrink)
Introduction: Semiotic ScaffoldingA central idea in biosemiotic writings has been the idea of growth in semiotic freedom as a persistent trend in evolution . By semiotic freedom we mean the capacity of species or organisms to derive useful information by help of semiosis or, in other words, by processes of interpretation in the widest sense of this term. While even bacteria have a certain very limited ability to interpret cues in the medium this ability obviously becomes more developed in more (...) complex organisms, and is typically most developed in big-brained animals that are late arrivals at the evolutionary scene. The evolution of a richer semiotic capacity is of course only one among many strategies available in the evolutionary game. Yet, this particular strategy potentially ignites a self-perpetuating evolutionary dynamics, since each step taken by a species along this route potentially opens new agendas for further change:the more capable some species ar .. (shrink)
Most bodies in this world do not have brains and the minority of animal species that do have brained bodies are descendents from species with more distributed or decentralized nervous systems. Thus, bodies were here first, and only relatively late in evolution did the bodies of a few species grow supplementary organs, brains, sophisticated enough to support a psychological life. Psychological life therefore from the beginning was embedded in and served as a tool for corporeal life. This paper discusses the (...) semiotically controlled dynamics of bodily existence that has allowed the evolution of these seemingly ‘unnatural’ mental and even linguistic kinds of species. It is shown how the skin, on the one hand, makes us belong in the world, and on the other hand, is part of the huge landscape of membranes across which the semiotic self incessantly must be reconstituted. The discussion moves on to the intracellular world of signal transduction through which the activity of single cells are put to service for bodily needs. The paper further considers the mechanisms behind homeostasis and the semiotics of the psycho-neuro-endocrine integration in the body. The concept of semiotic emergence is introduced and a holistic marker hypothesis for why some animals may have an experiential life is suggested. (shrink)
This book gives an analysis of Hertz's posthumously published Principles of Mechanics in its philosophical, physical and mathematical context. In a period of heated debates about the true foundation of physical sciences, Hertz's book was conceived and highly regarded as an original and rigorous foundation for a mechanistic research program. Insisting that a law-like account of nature would require hypothetical unobservables, Hertz viewed physical theories as images of the world rather than the true design behind the phenomena. This paved the (...) way for the modern conception of a model. Rejecting the concept of force as a coherent basic notion of physics he built his mechanics on hidden masses and rigid connections, and formulated it as a new differential geometric language.Recently many philosophers have studied Hertz's image theory and historians of physics have discussed his forceless mechanics. The present book shows how these aspects, as well as the hitherto overlooked mathematical aspects, form an integrated whole which is closely connected to the mechanistic world view of the time and which is a natural continuation of Hertz's earlier research on electromagnetism. Therefore it is also a case study of the strong interactions between philosophy, physics and mathematics. Moreover, the book presents an analysis of the genesis of many of the central elements of Hertz's mechanics based on his manuscripts and drafts. Hertz's research program was cut short by the advent of relativity theory but its image theory influenced many philosophers as well as some physicists and mathematicians and its geometric form had a lasting influence on advanced expositions of mechanics. (shrink)
Our aim is to provide a topography of the relevant philosophical terrain with regard to the possible ways in which knowledge can be conceived of as extended. We begin by charting the different types of internalist and externalist proposals within epistemology, and we critically examine the different formulations of the epistemic internalism/externalism debate they lead to. Next, we turn to the internalism/externalism distinction within philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In light of the above dividing lines, we then examine first (...) the extent to which content externalism is compatible with epistemic externalism; second, whether active externalism entails epistemic externalism; and third whether there are varieties of epistemic externalism that are better suited to accommodate active externalism. Finally, we examine whether the combination of epistemic and cognitive externalism is necessary for epistemology and we comment on the potential ramifications of this move for social epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
According to Sosa, knowledge is apt belief, where a belief is apt when accurate because adroit. Sosa :465–475, 2010; Judgment and agency, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2015) adds to his triple-A analysis of knowledge, a triple-S analysis of competence, where a complete competence combines its seat, shape and situation. Much of Sosa’s influential work assumes that epistemic agents are individuals who acquire knowledge when they hit the truth through exercising their own individual skills in appropriate shapes and situations. This paper (...) explores an extension of Sosa’s framework to a social setting in which groups constitute epistemic agents over and above their individual members. The claim is that groups can be ascribed knowledge in virtue of hitting the truth through exercising their competences in appropriate shapes and situations. While knowledge at the collective level may diverge from knowledge at the individual level, the competences of groups are nothing over and above the combined competences of their members. The ensuing view thus has implications for the debate over reduction and supervenience in collective epistemology. (shrink)
Philosophers unacquainted with the workings of actual scientific practice are prone to imagine that our best scientific theories deliver univocal representations of the physical world that we can use to calibrate our metaphysics and epistemology. Those few philosophers who are also scientists, like Heinrich Hertz, tend to contest this assumption. As Jesper Lützen relates in his scholarly and engaging book, Hertz's Principles of Mechanics contributed to a lively debate about the content of classical mechanics and what, if anything, this (...) highly successful scientific theory told us about the physical world. Lützen provides an in-depth reconstruction of how Hertz reacted to the foundational problems within the physics of his day and then used these problems to motivate his influential philosophical reflections on the nature of science and scientific theorizing. While giving a thorough portrait of how Hertz brought together science and philosophy, Lützen himself offers an excellent example of the benefits of combining philosophy, the history of science, and the history of mathematics. Lützen convincingly argues that Hertz's most influential innovation was in bringing geometrical concepts to bear on mechanics in a novel and productive fashion. In his preface he motivates his book by noting that most of the work on Hertz's philosophy of science fails to engage with what Hertz does after the Introduction of his Principles. The bulk of Lützen's book, then, concerns the physical and mathematical content of Hertz's image of mechanics. This places certain demands on the reader who is otherwise unacquainted with analytic mechanics, but is sure to repay those who are willing to work carefully through the more technical details of Lützen's reconstruction.1Hertz is well known for his conception of scientific theories as images [Bilder] and for the fact that his preferred image of mechanics takes only space, …. (shrink)
In recent years, we have witnessed the rise of a contemporary approach to cognitive psychology known as 4E cognition. According to this ‘extracranial’ view of cognition, the mind is not ensconced in the head, but dynamically intertwined with a host of different entities, social as well as technological. The purpose of the present article is to raise a concern about 4E cognition. The concern is not about whether the mind is in fact extended, but about how this condition is currently (...) portrayed in the 4E literature. It is argued that 4E scholars tend to paint an overly idealized picture of human–technology relations in which all entities are presumed to cooperate and collaborate. The article first describes the basic tenets of extended cognition and distributed cognition, two of the most thingly approaches in this new wave of cognitive psychology. It then proceeds to discuss the twin notions of cognition and representation and argues that it may be time to leave these concepts behind. Finally, it sketches out the so-called ‘dogma of harmony’ in the 4E literature and argues for the importance of making analytical room for conflictual human–technology relations. Two examples of such conflictual relations are provided: bad habits and deskilling. (shrink)
This obituary about Jesper Hoffmeyer, thinker, scholar, science communicator, biochemist, biosemiotician, and saxophonist, gives a sketch of his intellectual biography, and provides a bibliography of the books he authored or edited.
The notion of authenticity, i.e., being “genuine,” “real,” or “true to oneself,” is sometimes held as critical to a person’s autonomy, so that inauthenticity prevents the person from making autonomous decisions or leading an autonomous life. It has been pointed out that authenticity is difficult to observe in others. Therefore, judgments of inauthenticity have been found inadequate to underpin paternalistic interventions, among other things. This article delineates what justifies judgments of inauthenticity. It is argued that for persons who wish to (...) live according to the prevailing social and moral standards and desires that are seriously undesirable according to those standards, it is justified to judge that a desire is inauthentic to the extent that it is due to causal factors that are alien to the person and to the extent that it deviates from the person’s practical identity. The article contributes to a tradition of thinking about authenticity which is known mainly from Frankfurt and Dworkin, and bridges the gap between theoretical ideals of authenticity and real authenticity-related problems in practical biomedical settings. (shrink)
Recent studies have shown that pharmacological treatment may have an impact on aggressive and impulsive behavior. Assuming that these results are correct, would it be morally acceptable to instigate violent criminals to accept pharmacological rehabilitation by offering this treatment in return for early release from prison? This paper examines three different reasons for being skeptical with regard to this sort of practice. The first reason concerns the acceptability of the treatment itself. The second reason concerns the ethical legitimacy of making (...) offers under coercive conditions. The third relates to the acceptability of the fact that those criminals who accepted the treatment would be exempted from the punishment they rightly deserved. It is argued that none of these reasons succeeds in rejecting this sort of offer. (shrink)
The belief in a world governed by natural law has meant that our ideas of good thinking have increasingly turned toward formalizable schemes, suitable to support ideas of consistency, accuracy, and disembodied clarity. The idea that thinking might be a bodily thing hasn't been much appreciated among philosophers of this tradition. Yet, we shall pursue this line of thought in this paper. It is suggested that knowledge is not something we have but something created in the very moment of use. (...) The same goes for other essential concepts such as for instance causality. Causality is seen as a human bodily experience. Causality is an experience, and from this fact follows that the Newtonian world must be turned upside down. The laws of gravity are not something "out-there" but something "in-here". (shrink)
Neuroplasticity is a core feature of the brain throughout the entire life of the individual. And when injury to the adult brain destroys part of the circuitry mediating behaviour and/or conscious experience, neuroplasticity is required to bring about the highest possible degree of post-traumatic functional recovery. But is the brain able to recreate the lost circuitry? Scrutiny of the impressive plasticity seen during development and in the adult brain reveals many similarities -- but also some crucial differences. And studies of (...) the mechanisms of functional recovery demonstrate that even an apparently 'full recovery' of the surface phenomena of behaviour and/or conscious representations is accomplished without a recreation of the lost circuitry. Instead, the post-traumatic process utilizes mechanisms, which have evolved to mediate problem solving in the intact brain. The newly developed REF model suggests how such dynamic reorganizations occur in the intact and injured brain. (shrink)
This obituary about Jesper Hoffmeyer, thinker, scholar, science communicator, biochemist, biosemiotician, and saxophonist, gives a sketch of his intellectual biography, and provides a bibliography of the books he authored or edited.
The threshold from unicellularity to multicellularity has been crossed only in three major living domains in evolution with any lasting success. The hard problem was to create a multicellular self. Such a self is vulnerable to breakdown due to the unavoidable appearance of mutant anarchistic cells, and stringent semiotic scaffoldings had to emerge to prevent this. While a unicellular self may go on to live practically forever, the multicellular self most often must run through an individuation process ending in the (...) death of the individual. Due to basic differences in cells of plants, fungi and animals this individuation process poses very different challenges in the three kingdoms of plants, fungi and animals, and the solutions found to these differences are discussed. In the same time as multicellularity ushered life into the epoch of mortality it logically also led to the appearance of fertilization and thereby the need for a whole new set of elaborate semiotic scaffoldings. Multicellularity also opened the door to the formation symbiotic relations where cells with different genomes might collaborate or at least coexist inside the same body. All in all multicellularity led to an enormous diversification both of morphology space and the space of sensomotoric elaborations. New means for scaffolding of this expansion and diversification of possible life forms into functional patterns called for a corresponding growth in the space of semiotic tools and initiated a growth in semiotic freedom, that has continued to our days. (shrink)
Students often multitask with technologies such as computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones during class. Unfortunately, numerous empirical studies firmly establish a significant drop in academic performance caused by this media multitasking. In this paper it is argued that cognitive studies may have clarified the negative consequences of this activity, yet they struggle to address the processes involved in it. A cognitive characterization of attention as a mental phenomenon neglects the interaction between bodies and technologies, and it is suggested that a (...) postphenomenological understanding is necessary to account for the materiality of practice. Notions of embodied habits and technical mediation are introduced, and an example of a postphenomenological account of media multitasking is introduced. It is argued that this approach enables researchers to investigate media multitasking as it occurs in everyday educational practice. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to contribute to the formulation of a non-excluding concept of solidarity which is of relevance to contemporary society. The assumption is that in the present individualized and culturally diverse society there is an urgent need for a new form of solidarity to create social cohesion. The central theme is that contemporary solidarity is about recognition and a fair distribution of chances for recognition. This ideal may function as a normative standard for critical research and (...) as a guideline for people in their moral struggles. What ultimately needs to be done is not a purely theoretical question but something which must be settled by a judgement that constitutes a battlefield where conflicting values and perceptions of reality confront each other. (shrink)
Many theorists have expressed the view that current or future applications of neurotechnology may prompt serious ethical problems in terms of privacy. This article concerns the question as to whether involuntary neurotechnological mind reading can plausibly be held to violate a person’s moral right to mental privacy. It is argued that it is difficult to specify what a violation of a right to mental privacy amounts to in a way that is consistent with the fact that we usually regard natural (...) mind reading as morally unproblematic. (shrink)
Over the past decade the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) as a means of crime prevention has reached unprecedented levels. Though critics of this development do not speak with one voice and have pointed to a number of different problems in the use of CCTV, one argument has played a dominant role in the debate, namely, that CCTV constitutes an unacceptable violation of people’s right to privacy. The purpose of this paper is to examine this argument critically. It is (...) suggested that the argument is hard to sustain. (shrink)
This volume contains work by the very best young scholars working in Applied Ethics, gathering a range of new perspectives and thoughts on highly relevant topics, such as the environment, animals, computers, freedom of speech, human enhancement, war and poverty. For researchers and students working in or around this fascinating area of the discipline, the volume will provide a unique snapshot of where the cutting-edge work in the field is currently engaged and where it's headed.
Much has been written about recidivist punishments, particularly within the area of criminology. However there is a notorious lack of penal philosophical reflection on this issue. This book attempts to fill that gap by presenting the philosopher’s view on this matter as a way of furthering the debate on recidivist punishments.
Lei Zhong (2012. Counterfactuals, regularity and the autonomy approach. Analysis 72: 75–85) argues that non-reductive physicalists cannot establish the autonomy of mental causation by adopting a counterfactual theory of causation since such a theory supports a so-called downward causation argument which rules out mental-to-mental causation. We respond that non-reductive physicalists can consistently resist Zhong's downward causation argument as it equivocates between two familiar notions of a physical realizer.