The longstanding philosophical orthodoxy on counterfactuals holds, in part, that counterfactuals with metaphysically impossible antecedents are indiscriminately vacuously true. Drawing on a number of examples from across scientific practice, I argue that science routinely treats counterpossibles as non-vacuously true and also routinely treats other counterpossibles as false. In fact, the success of many central scientific endeavors requires that counterpossibles can be non-vacuously true or false. So the philosophical orthodoxy that counterpossibles are indiscriminately vacuously true is inconsistent with scientific practice. I (...) argue that this provides a conclusive reason to reject the orthodoxy. (shrink)
We call attention to certain cases of epistemic akrasia, arguing that they support belief-credence dualism. Belief-credence dualism is the view that belief and credence are irreducible, equally fundamental attitudes. Consider the case of an agent who believes p, has low credence in p, and thus believes that they shouldn’t believe p. We argue that dualists, as opposed to belief-firsters (who say credence reduces to belief) and credence-firsters (who say belief reduces to credence) can best explain features of akratic cases, including (...) the observation that akratic beliefs seem to be held despite possessing a defeater for those beliefs, and that, in akratic cases, one can simultaneously believe and have low confidence in the very same proposition. (shrink)
Sometimes, scientific models are either intended to or plausibly interpreted as representing nonactual but possible targets. Call this “hypothetical modeling”. This paper raises two epistemological challenges concerning hypothetical modeling. To begin with, I observe that given common philosophical assumptions about the scope of objective possibility, hypothetical models are fallible with respect to what is objectively possible. There is thus a need to distinguish between accurate and inaccurate hypothetical modeling. The first epistemological challenge is that no account of the epistemology of (...) hypothetical models seems to cohere with the most characteristic function of scientific modeling in general, i.e., surrogative representation. The second epistemological challenge is a version of “reliability challenges” familiar from other areas. There is a challenge to explain how hypothetical models could be a reliable guide to what is possible, given that they are not and cannot be compared against their nonactual targets and updated accordingly. I close with some brief remarks on possible solutions to these challenges. (shrink)
Inferentialists about scientific representation hold that an apparatus’s representing a target system consists in the apparatus allowing “surrogative inferences” about the target. I argue that a serious problem for inferentialism arises from the fact that many scientific theories and models contain internal inconsistencies. Inferentialism, left unamended, implies that inconsistent scientific models have unlimited representational power, since an inconsistency permits any conclusion to be inferred. I consider a number of ways that inferentialists can respond to this challenge before suggesting my own (...) solution. I develop an analogy to exploitable glitches in a game. Even though inconsistent representational apparatuses may in some sense allow for contradictions to be generated within them, doing so violates the intended function of the apparatus’s parts and hence violates representational “gameplay.”. (shrink)
According to the growing block ontology of time, there (tenselessly and unrestrictedly) exist past and present objects and events, but no future objects or events. The growing block is made attractive not just because of the attractiveness of its ontological basis for past-tensed truths, the past’s fixity, and future’s openness, but by underlying principles about the right way to fill in this sort of ontology. I shall argue that given these underlying views about the connection between truth and ontology, growing (...) blockers incur an ontological commitment to an infinite number of temporal dimensions (“hypertime”). This commitment to hypertime generates a vicious explanatory regress. It also undermines the idea that the reality of the past is sufficient to explain why truths about the past are fixed. Both of these implications are highly unattractive; growing blockers would do well to clarify what other motivations they can offer for their view and how they can avoid these consequences. (shrink)
Counternomics—counterfactuals whose antecedents run contrary to the laws of nature—are commonplace in science but have enjoyed relatively little philosophical attention. This article discusses a puzzle about our counternomic epistemology, focusing on cases in which experimental observations are used as evidence for counternomic claims. I show that these cases resist being characterized in familiar interventionist lines, and I suggest a characterization of my own.
Model transfer is the scientific practice of taking a model which was initially applied in one particular kind of target system in some particular scientific domain and applying it to represent a novel target system in a novel scientific domain. This paper motivates a realist interpretation of empirically successful model transfers and the implications of such an interpretation for the metaphysics of science. The paper uses two examples of empirically successful model transfer, the first of which is a strikingly successful (...) recent application of the Ising model to neurobiology, the second of which is Maxwell’s “method of physical analogy”. The paper first defends the need for a realist picture regarding the transfer of model templates and the apparent discovery of physical analogies. Then, it examines further the implications of such a picture, finding it to be quite revisionary in its conception of the nature of causal processes. (shrink)
Editors Wanda Teays, John-Stewart Gordon, and Alison Dundes Renteln have assembled the works of an interdisciplinary, international team of experts in bioethics into a comprehensive, innovative and accessible book. Topics covered range from torture and lethal injection to euthanasia, sex selection, vulnerable human subjects, to health equity, safety and public health, and environmental disasters like Bhopal, Fukushima, and more.
This dissertation is meant to interpret Whitehead's basic unit of ontology in energetic terms. The actual entity is to be understood as an oscillating unit of existence that is nothing other than its oscillatory activity. There is nothing substantial underlying it: it is essentially a vibrating entity that has nothing more primary appended to it. Through such vibratory activity, it realizes itself out of its own conative drive and its deeply interrelated adventures with other entities and objects. Energizing actuality makes (...) such entities objectively stubborn, subjectively agentive, massively interrelated to others, and entirely aesthetic in constitution. There are two main ways to analyze this metaphysical energy. This is mirrored by Whitehead's twofold analysis of actuality from the genetic and coordinate perspectives, which itself is an adaptation of James's Pragmatic analysis of experience. The quantum oscillation model of atomicity perfectly matches Whitehead's genetic analysis, and thus the phases of actuality, the poles of existence, and the formation of an atomic unit, are all developed in oscillatory terms. Conversely there is the coordinate analysis, where issues of ontological rhythmicity, identity via agentive repetition, unification via cyclical patternings, and coeval concrescence among entities will be dealt with according to the principles of wave transmission. Each analysis develops important characteristics of actuality, but neither analysis on its own can capture the totality of what actuality is. For such a generic interpretation to occur, unification between the genetic and the coordinate analyses must take place. The energy thesis accomplishes this by adopting the language of energy fields. The actual entity is a field of energy that is both the center of agentive activity that defines the field, and the center of attention of other entities. Whitehead calls this ontologically agentive attention 'concern,' a term that allows Whitehead to be closely compared to Heidegger, whose existential analysis of Dasein will be used to further develop the character of actuality. The aesthetic core of Whiteheadian ontology will be developed by comparing it to Dewey's aesthetic theory of consummatory experience. Together, a fully concerned and consummatory actual entity will stand as the most generic rendering of actuality. (shrink)
This chapter examines the tragedy of gun-related intimate partner violence against women. In that guns are minimally regulated in the United States, it is a uniquely American tragedy whose full scale is hidden by a lack of exact numbers that frustrates a proper account of its extent. This chapter adopts a Nietzschean genealogical approach to uncover two myths that explain the persistence of GIPVW. The myth of masculine priority is traced to its Hellenic roots, and the myth of firearms in (...) the formation of the United States is given a deeper historical analysis. In each case there are vested interests that allow for both the proliferation of GIPVW and how intentionally little we know about the exact statistics. The chapter concludes by looking at some post-myth solutions to the problem. (shrink)