Many philosophers of science believe that empirical psychology can contribute little to the philosophical investigation of explanations. They take this to be shown by the fact that certain explanations fail to elicit any relevant psychological events (e.g., familiarity, insight, intelligibility, etc.). We report results from a study suggesting that, at least among those with extensive science training, a capacity to render an event intelligible is considered a requirement for explanation. We also investigate for whom explanations must be capable of rendering (...) events intelligible and whether or not accuracy is also viewed as a requirement. (shrink)
‘Marital faithfulness’ refers to faithful love for a spouse or lover to whom one is committed, rather than the narrower idea of sexual fidelity. The distinction is clearly marked in traditional wedding vows. A commitment to love faithfully is central: ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part… and thereto I plight [pledge] thee my troth [faithfulness]’. (...) Sexual fidelity is promised in a subordinate clause, symbolizing its supportive role in promoting love's constancy: ‘and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her/him.’. (shrink)
There are widely held premises that suicide is almost exclusively the result of mental illness and there is “strong evidence for successfully detecting and managing suicidality in healthcare”. In this context, ‘zero-suicide’ policies have emerged, and suicide risk assessment tools have become a normative component of psychiatric practice. This essay discusses how suicide evolved from a moral to a medical problem and how, in an effort to reduce suicide, a paternalistic healthcare response emerged to predict those at high risk. The (...) evidence for the premises is critiqued and shown to be problematic; and it is found that strong paternalistic interventions are being used more often than acknowledged. Using a Principles approach, the ethics of overriding autonomy in suicide prevention is considered. Ethical concerns are identified with the current approach which are potentially amplified by the use of these risk assessments. Furthermore, it is identified that the widespread use of risk assessments in health settings is equivalent to screening without regard to the ethical principles of screening. The essay concludes that this is unethical; that we should abandon the use of standardized suicide risk assessments and ‘zero-suicide’ policy; and that this may improve outcomes. (shrink)
Are people rational? This question was central to Greek thought and has been at the heart of psychology and philosophy for millennia. This book provides a radical and controversial reappraisal of conventional wisdom in the psychology of reasoning, proposing that the Western conception of the mind as a logical system is flawed at the very outset. It argues that cognition should be understood in terms of probability theory, the calculus of uncertain reasoning, rather than in terms of logic, the calculus (...) of certain reasoning. (shrink)
In response to calls for greater interdisciplinary involvement from the social sciences and humanities in the development, governance, and study of artificial intelligence systems, this paper presents one sociologist’s view on the problem of algorithmic bias and the reproduction of societal bias. Discussions of bias in AI cover much of the same conceptual terrain that sociologists studying inequality have long understood using more specific terms and theories. Concerns over reproducing societal bias should be informed by an understanding of the ways (...) that inequality is continually reproduced in society—processes that AI systems are either complicit in, or can be designed to disrupt and counter. The contrast presented here is between conservative and radical approaches to AI, with conservatism referring to dominant tendencies that reproduce and strengthen the status quo, while radical approaches work to disrupt systemic forms of inequality. The limitations of a conservative approach to racial bias are discussed through the specific example of biased criminal risk assessments and Indigenous overrepresentation in Canada’s criminal justice system. This illustrates the dangers of treating racial bias as a generalizable problem and equality as a generalizable solution, emphasizing the importance of considering inequality in context. Societal issues can no longer be out of scope for AI and machine learning, given the impact of these systems on human lives. This requires engagement with a growing body of critical AI scholarship that goes beyond biased data to analyze structured ways of perpetuating inequality, opening up the possibility for interdisciplinary engagement and radical alternatives. (shrink)
This article explores a long-running debate in evidence theory about the significance of certain puzzling cases where there is reluctance to ascribe liability despite a high probability of liability. It focuses on certain analyses of these puzzles, distinguishing between inferential, moral, and knowledge-based analyses. The article emphasizes the richness and complexity of the puzzle cases and suggests why they are difficult to resolve.
The “Cosmological Constant Problem” is widely considered a crisis in contemporary theoretical physics. Unfortunately, the search for its resolution is hampered by open disagreement about what is, strictly, the problem. This disagreement stems from the observation that the CCP is not a problem within any of our current theories, and nearly all of the details of those future theories for which the CCP could be made a problem are up for grabs. Given this state of affairs, I discuss how one (...) ought to make sense of the role of the CCP in physics and generalize some lessons from it. (shrink)
Disagreement holds the key: the possibility of agreeing or disagreeing with a state of mind makes that state of mind act logically like accepting a claim. Charles Stevenson was quite right to begin his presentation of emotivism with disagreement.—Allan Gibbard.
Part of understanding the meaning and power of algorithms means asking what new demands they might make of ethical frameworks, and how they might be held accountable to ethical standards. I develop a definition of networked information algorithms as assemblages of institutionally situated code, practices, and norms with the power to create, sustain, and signify relationships among people and data through minimally observable, semiautonomous action. Starting from Merrill’s prompt to see ethics as the study of “what we ought to do,” (...) I examine ethical dimensions of contemporary NIAs. Specifically, in an effort to sketch an empirically grounded, pragmatic ethics of algorithms, I trace an algorithmic assemblage’s power to convene constituents, suggest actions based on perceived similarity and probability, and govern the timing and timeframes of ethical action. (shrink)
According to Aristotle, humans are the rational animal. The borderline between rationality and irrationality is fundamental to many aspects of human life including the law, mental health, and language interpretation. But what is it to be rational? One answer, deeply embedded in the Western intellectual tradition since ancient Greece, is that rationality concerns reasoning according to the rules of logic – the formal theory that specifies the inferential connections that hold with certainty between propositions. Piaget viewed logical reasoning as defining (...) the end-point of cognitive development; and contemporary psychology of reasoning has focussed on comparing human reasoning against logical standards. (shrink)
Resumen Me propongo aclarar la noción de “fenómeno” de Jean-Luc Marion y su relación con la categoría de “fenómeno saturado”. Para ello discutiré las interpretaciones de algunos comentaristas que advierten tensiones entre la primera y la segunda tópica del fenómeno.I aim to clarify Jean-Luc Marion’s notion of “phenomenon” and its relationship with the category of “saturated phenomenon”. To this end I discuss the interpretations of some commentators who point out tensions between the first and the second topic of the phenomenon (...) presented. (shrink)
Markov models of evolution describe changes in the probability distribution of the trait values a population might exhibit. In consequence, they also describe how entropy and conditional entropy values evolve, and how the mutual information that characterizes the relation between an earlier and a later moment in a lineage’s history depends on how much time separates them. These models therefore provide an interesting perspective on questions that usually are considered in the foundations of physics—when and why does entropy increase and (...) at what rates do changes in entropy take place? They also throw light on an important epistemological question: are there limits on what your observations of the present can tell you about the evolutionary past? (shrink)
How can a critical analysis of entrepreneurial intention inform an appreciation of ethics in social enterprise business models? In answering this question, we consider the ethical commitments that inform entrepreneurial action and the hybrid organisations that emerge out of these commitments and actions. Ethical theory can be a useful way to reorient the field of social enterprise so that it is more critical of bureaucratic and market-driven enterprises connected to neoliberal doctrine. Social enterprise hybrid business models are therefore reframed as (...) outcomes of both ethical and entrepreneurial intentions. We challenge the dominant conceptualisation of social enterprise as a hybrid blend of mission and market by reframing hybridity in terms of the moral choice of economic system and social value orientation. We deconstruct the political foundations of charitable trading activities, co-operative and mutual enterprises and socially responsible businesses by examining the rationalities and ethical commitments that underpin them. Whilst conceptual modelling of social enterprise is not new, this paper contributes to knowledge by developing a theory of social enterprise ethics based on the moral/political choices that are made by entrepreneurs when choosing between systems of economic exchange and social value orientation, then expressing it through a legal form. (shrink)
Philosophers and psychologists have long worried that the human tendency to anthropomorphize leads us to err in our understanding of nonhuman minds. This tendency, which I call intuitive anthropomorphism, is a heuristic used by our unconscious folk psychology to understand nonhuman animals. The dominant understanding of intuitive anthropomorphism underestimates its complexity. If we want to understand and control intuitive anthropomorphism, we must treat it as a cognitive bias and look to the empirical evidence. This evidence suggests that the most common (...) control for intuitive anthropomorphism, Morgan’s Canon, should be rejected, while others are incomplete. It also suggests new approaches. (shrink)
Google Trends reveals that at the time we were writing our article on ‘The Coming Crisis of Empirical Sociology’ in 2007 almost nobody was searching the internet for ‘Big Data’. It was only towards the very end of 2010 that the term began to register, just ahead of an explosion of interest from 2011 onwards. In this commentary we take the opportunity to reflect back on the claims we made in that original paper in light of more recent discussions about (...) the social scientific implications of the inundation of digital data. Did our paper, with its emphasis on the emergence of, what we termed, ‘social transactional data’ and ‘digital byproduct data’ prefigure contemporary debates that now form the basis and rationale for this excellent new journal? Or was the paper more concerned with broader methodological, theoretical and political debates that have somehow been lost in all of the loud babble that has come to surround Big Data. Using recent work on the BBC Great British Class Survey as an example this brief paper offers a reflexive and critical reflection on what has become – much to the surprise of its authors – one of the most cited papers in the discipline of sociology in the last decade. (shrink)
This article is concerned with the relationship between body, image and affect within consumer culture. Body image is generally understood as a mental image of the body as it appears to others. It is often assumed in consumer culture that people attend to their body image in an instrumental manner, as status and social acceptability depend on how a person looks. This view is based on popular physiognomic assumptions that the body, especially the face, is a reflection of the self: (...) that a person’s inner character or personality will shine through the outer appearance. The modification and cosmetic enhancement of the body through a range of regimes and technologies can be used to construct a beautiful appearance and thereby a beautiful self. The article begins by examining body images in consumer culture and their relation to photography and moving images. This is followed by an examination of the consumer culture transformative process through a discussion of cosmetic surgery. The article then questions the over-simplistic logic that assumes that transformative techniques will automatically result in a more positive and acceptable body image. The new body and face may encourage people to look at the transformed person in a new way. But the moving body, the body without image, which communicates through proprioceptive senses and intensities of affect, can override the perception of the transformed appearance. A discussion of the affective body follows, via a closer examination of the body without image, the opening of the body to greater affect and indeterminacy. The affective body image and its potential greater visibility through new media technologies are then discussed through some examples taken from digital video art. The article concludes by examining some of the implications of these shifts within consumer culture and new media technologies. (shrink)
U.S. immigration policies and enforcement can make immigrants fearful of accessing healthcare. Although current immigration policies restrict enforcement in “sensitive locations” including healthcare facilities, there are reports of enforcement actions in such settings.
The Other Adam Smith represents the next wave of critical thinking about the still under-examined work of this paradigmatic Enlightenment thinker. Not simply another book about Adam Smith, it allows and even necessitates his inclusion in the realm of theory in the broadest sense. Moving beyond his usual economic and moral philosophical texts, Mike Hill and Warren Montag take seriously Smith's entire corpus, his writing on knowledge, affect, sociability and government, and political economy, as constituting a comprehensive—though highly contestable—system (...) of thought. We meet not just Smith the economist, but Smith the philosopher, Smith the literary critic, Smith the historian, and Smith the anthropologist. Placed in relation to key thinkers such as Hume, Lord Kames, Fielding, Hayek, Von Mises, and Agamben, this other Adam Smith, far from being localized in the history of eighteenth-century economic thought or ideas, stands at the center of the most vibrant and contentious debates of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. (shrink)
By any reasonable reckoning, Gottlob Frege's ‘On Sense and Reference’ is one of the more important philosophical papers of all time. Although Frege briefly discusses the sense-reference distinction in an earlier work, it is through ‘Sense and Reference’ that most philosophers have become familiar with it. And the distinction so thoroughly permeates contemporary philosophy of language and mind that it is almost impossible to imagine these subjects without it.The distinction between the sense and the referent of a name is introduced (...) in the second paragraph of ‘Sense and Reference.’. (shrink)
Philosophy is often divided into two traditions: analytic and continental philosophy. Characterizing the analytic-continental divide, however, is no easy task. Some philosophers explain the divide in terms of the place of argument in these traditions. This raises the following questions: Is analytic philosophy rife with arguments while continental philosophy is devoid of arguments? Or can different types of arguments be found in analytic and continental philosophy? This paper presents the results of an empirical study of a large corpus of philosophical (...) texts mined from the JSTOR database (n = 53,260) designed to find patterns of argumentation by type. Overall, the results suggest that there are no significant differences between the types of arguments advanced in analytic and continental philosophy journal articles. The findings, therefore, provide no empirical support to the hypothesis that the divide between analytic and continental philosophy has to do with the place of argument in these traditions. (shrink)
Philosophers and psychologists make many different, seemingly incompatible parsimony claims in support of competing models of cognition in nonhuman animals. This variety of parsimony claims is problematic. Firstly, it is difficult to justify each specific variety. This problem is especially salient for Morgan's Canon, perhaps the most important variety of parsimony claimed. Secondly, there is no systematic way of adjudicating between particular claims when they conflict. I argue for a view of parsimony in comparative psychology that solves these problems, based (...) on Sober's view that parsimony claims are claims that one model is more plausible given background theory. (shrink)
A recent development in the cognitive science of reasoning has been the emergence of a probabilistic approach to the behaviour observed on ostensibly logical tasks. According to this approach the errors and biases documented on these tasks occur because people import their everyday uncertain reasoning strategies into the laboratory. Consequently participants' apparently irrational behaviour is the result of comparing it with an inappropriate logical standard. In this article, we contrast the probabilistic approach with other approaches to explaining rationality, and then (...) show how it has been applied to three main areas of logical reasoning: conditional inference, Wason's selection task and syllogistic reasoning. (shrink)
Currie (2019) has introduced a novel account of creativity within the social epistemology of science. The account is intended to capture how conservatism can be detrimental to the health of inquiry within certain scientific communities, given the aims of research there. I argue that recent remarks by Rovelli (2018) put pressure on the applicability of the account. Altogether, it seems we do not yet well understand the relationship between creativity, conservatism, and the health of inquiry in science.
The dead donor rule justifies current practice in organ procurement for transplantation and states that organ donors must be dead prior to donation. The majority of organ donors are diagnosed as having suffered brain death and hence are declared dead by neurological criteria. However, a significant amount of unrest in both the philosophical and the medical literature has surfaced since this practice began forty years ago. I argue that, first, declaring death by neurological criteria is both unreliable and unjustified but (...) further, the ethical principles which themselves justify the dead donor rule are better served by abandoning that rule and instead allowing individuals who have suffered severe and irreversible brain damage to become organ donors, even though they are not yet dead and even though the removal of their organs would be the proximal cause of death. (shrink)
Sports have long played an important role in society. By exploring the evolving link between sporting behaviour and the prevailing ethics of the time this comprehensive and wide-ranging study illuminates our understanding of the wider social significance of sport. The primary aim of _Sports, Virtues and Vices_ is to situate ethics at the heart of sports via ‘virtue ethical’ considerations that can be traced back to the gymnasia of ancient Greece. The central theme running through the book is that sports (...) are effectively modern morality plays: universal practices of moral education for the masses and - when coached, officiated and played properly - a valuable vehicle for ethical development. Including a wealth of contemporary sporting examples, the book explores key ethical issues such as: How the pursuit of sporting excellence can lead to harm Doping, greed and shame Biomedical technology as a challenge to the virtue of elite athletes Defining a ‘virtue ethical account’ in sport Family vices and virtues in sport Written by one of the world's foremost sports philosophers, this book powerfully unites the fields of sports ethics and medical ethics. It is essential reading for all students and scholars with an interest in the ethics and philosophy of sport. (shrink)
Philosophical discussions of Molyneux's problem within contemporary philosophy of mind tend to characterize the problem as primarily concerned with the role innately known principles, amodal spatial concepts, and rational cognitive faculties play in our perceptual lives. Indeed, for broadly similar reasons, rationalists have generally advocated an affirmative answer, while empiricists have generally advocated a negative one, to the question Molyneux posed after presenting his famous thought experiment. This historical characterization of the dialectic, however, somewhat obscures the role Molyneux's problem has (...) played in spawning debates within the empiricist tradition. Fortunately, the differences between various empiricist accounts have been widely recognized and discussed among historians of philosophy working on the topic. The focus of the present essay is to develop an interpretation of John Locke's views on Molyneux's problem that best coheres with his other views on human understanding as well as with the predominant scientific opinion about the nature of perception during the period in which he lived. (shrink)
Perhaps the greatest impediment to a viable libertarianism is the provision of a satisfactory explanation of how actions that are undetermined by an agent's character can still be under the control of, or 'up to', the agent. The 'luck problem' has been most assiduously examined by Robert Kane who supplies a detailed account of how this problem can be resolved. Although Kane's theory is innovative, insightful, and more resourceful than most of his critics believe, it ultimately cannot account for the (...) type of control that moral responsibility and agency legitimately require. (shrink)
I challenge the dominant understanding of what it means to say two thoughts are associated. The two views that dominate the current literature treat association as a kind of mechanism that drives sequences of thought. The first, which I call reductive associationism, treats association as a kind of neural mechanism. The second treats association as a feature of the kind of psychological mechanism associative processing. Both of these views are inadequate. I argue that association should instead be seen as a (...) highly abstract filler term, standing in for causal relations between representational states in a system. Associations, so viewed, could be implemented by many different mechanisms. I outline the role that this view gives associative models as part of a top-down characterization of psychological processes of any kind and of any complexity. (shrink)
As commonly understood, professional ethics consists of shared duties and episodic dilemmas--the responsibilities incumbent on all members of specific professions joined together with the dilemmas that arise when these responsibilities conflict. Martin challenges this "consensus paradigm" as he rethinks professional ethics to include personal commitments and ideals, of which many are not mandatory. Using specific examples from a wide range of professions, including medicine, law, high school teaching, journalism, engineering, and ministry, he explores how personal commitments motivate, guide, and give (...) meaning to work. (shrink)
This essay argues for the fruitfulness of Beck’s idea of cosmopolitanism for understanding the changing political, sociological and psychological attributes of climate change. This argument is illustrated through brief examinations of how climate change is contributing to the dissolution of three modern dualisms: nature-culture, present-future and global-local. Not only does the cosmopolitan perspective help to understand the ways in which science and society are mutually constructing the phenomenon of climate change, it also offers us a way of asking ‘what can (...) climate change do for us?’ rather than ‘what can we do for climate change?’ Sociologists are needed for answering this question. (shrink)
This paper explores the distinctive features of the critical agenda associated with the ‘Social Life of Methods’. I argue that although this perspective can be associated with the increasing interest, often associated with scholars in Science and Technology Studies, to reflect on how methods can become objects of inquiry, it also needs to be rooted in the current crisis of positivist methods. I identify the challenge for positivism in terms of the decreasing ability of its procedures to effectively organize increasingly (...) ‘lively’ sources of standardized data, which can now be assembled using aesthetic registers. In developing this argument, I dispute the idea that this development is due to historical shifts linked to the way that methodological devices are playing an increasingly significant role in contemporary social life, which might be argued by writers such as Thrift or Castells. I also argue that by opening up issues of method to the aesthetic, we also recast the relationship between theory and method, pointing to the exhaustion of a certain kind of cultural theory within the social sciences. I contextualize these issues by considering how methods are implicated in the intellectual differentiation between scientific and humanities expertise. Rather than conceiving the ‘Social Life of Methods’ in terms of the rise of instrumentalist modes of governance, it is preferable to place it within the dialectic of transparency and the relationship between the implicit and explicit. These issues are addressed through introducing the papers in the special issue. (shrink)
Setting aside some complexities, Koplin and Wilkinson1 argue: 1. Moral status is uncertain if there is a non-zero chance that an entity has, or would develop, full moral status. 2. If its moral status is uncertain, then moral caution is warranted towards that entity. 3. The moral status of both non-chimeric pigs and human-pig chimaeras is uncertain. Therefore, consistency demands that moral caution is warranted towards both non-chimeric pigs and human-pig chimaeras. 4. The commonly held view is that moral caution (...) is warranted towards human-pig chimaeras, but not non-chimeric pigs. Therefore, the commonly held view is inconsistent. This is a valid argument. The authors claim that the inconsistency they expose in conclusion 2 could be resolved in favour of either commonly held view, or by revising both to equivalency. However, it is clear from conclusion 1, and the paper more generally, that the authors are arguing for moral caution to be applied to the treatment of pigs of both types. I will focus on evaluating premises 1 and 2, and the generalisability of the argument in light of this. In doing so, I will attempt to show that the argument has implausible logical implications, and that the moral caution warranted towards human-pig chimaeras of uncertain moral status does not require confidence that they lack full moral status, as the authors claim. According to premise 1, if an entity might currently have moral …. (shrink)
A number of Christian theologians and philosophers have been critical of overly moralizing approaches to the doctrine of sin, but nearly all Christian thinkers maintain that moral fault is necessary or sufficient for sin to obtain. Call this the “Moral Consensus.” I begin by clarifying the relevance of impurities to the biblical cataloguing of sins. I then present four extensional problems for the Moral Consensus on sin, based on the biblical catalogue of sins: (1) moral over-demandingness, (2) agential unfairness, (3) (...) moral repugnance, and (4) moral atrocity. Next, I survey several partial solutions to these problems, suggested by the recent philosophical literature. Then I evaluate two largely unexplored solutions: (a) genuine sin dilemmas and (b) defeasible sinfulness. I argue that (a) creates more problems than it solves and that, while (b) is well-motivated and solves or eases each of the above problems, (b) leaves many biblical ordinances about sin morally misleading, creating (5) a pedagogical problem of evil. I conclude by arguing that (5) places hefty explanatory burdens on those who would appeal to (b) to resolve the four extensional problems discussed in this paper. So Christian thinkers may need to consider a more radical separation of sin and moral fault. (shrink)