This paper shows that several live philosophical and scientific hypotheses – including the holographic principle and multiverse theory in quantum physics, and eternalism and mind-body dualism in philosophy – jointly imply an audacious new theory of free will. This new theory, "Libertarian Compatibilism", holds that the physical world is an eternally existing array of two-dimensional information – a vast number of possible pasts, presents, and futures – and the mind a nonphysical entity or set of properties that "read" that physical (...) information off to subjective conscious awareness (in much the same way that a song written on an ordinary compact-disc is only played when read by an outside medium, i.e. a CD-player). According to this theory, every possible physical “timeline” in the multiverse may be fully physically deterministic or physically-causally closed but each person’s consciousness still entirely free to choose, ex nihilo, outside of the physical order, which physically-closed timeline is experienced by conscious observers. Although Libertarian Compatibilism is admittedly fantastic, I show that it not only follows from several live scientific and philosophical hypotheses, I also show that it (A) is a far more explanatorily powerful model of quantum mechanics than more traditional interpretations (e.g. the Copenhagen, Everett, and Bohmian interpretations), (B) makes determinate, testable empirical predictions in quantum theory, and finally, (C) predicts and explains the very existence of a number of philosophical debates and positions in the philosophy of mind, time, personal identity, and free will. First, I show that whereas traditional interpretations of quantum mechanics are all philosophically problematic and roughly as ontologically “extravagant” as Libertarian Compatibilism – in that they all posit “unseen” processes – Libertarian Compatibilism is nearly identical in structure to the only working simulation that human beings have ever constructed capable of reproducing (and so explaining) every general feature of quantum mechanics we perceive: namely, massive-multiplayer-online-roleplaying videogames (or MMORPGs). Although I am not the first to suggest that our world is akin to a computer simulation, I show that existing MMORPGs (online simulations we have already created) actually reproduce every general feature of quantum mechanics within their simulated-world reference-frames. Second, I show that existing MMORPGs also replicate (and so explain) many philosophical problems we face in the philosophy of mind, time, personal identity, and free will – all while conforming to the Libertarian Compatibilist model of reality. -/- I conclude, as such, that as fantastic and metaphysically extravagant as Libertarian Compatibilism may initially seem, it may well be true. It explains a number of features of our reality that no other physical or metaphysical theory does. (shrink)
The subjective features of conscious mental processes--as opposed to their physical causes and effects--cannot be captured by the purified form of thought suitable for dealing with the physical world that underlies appearances." (Nagel, in Dennett, 1991, p. 372).
This paper demonstrates something that Kant notoriously claimed to be possible, but which Kant scholars today widely believe to be impossible: unification of all three formulations of the Categorical Imperative. Part 1 of this paper tells a broad-brush story of how I understand Kant’s theory of practical reason and morality, showing how the three formulations of the Categorical Imperative appear to me to be unified. Part 2 then provides clear textual support for each premise in the argument for my interpretation.
This study examined correlations between moral value judgments on a 17-item Moral Intuition Survey (MIS), and participant scores on the Short-D3 “Dark Triad” Personality Inventory—a measure of three related “dark and socially destructive” personality traits: Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy. Five hundred sixty-seven participants (302 male, 257 female, 2 transgendered; median age 28) were recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk and Yale Experiment Month web advertisements. Different responses to MIS items were initially hypothesized to be “conservative” or “liberal” in line with (...) traditional public divides. Our demographic data confirmed all of these hypothesized categorizations. We then tested two broad, exploratory hypotheses: (H1) the hypothesis that there would be “many” significant correlations between conservative MIS judgments and the Dark Triad, and (H2) the hypothesis that there would be no significant correlations between liberal MIS judgments and Machiavellianism or Psychopathy, but “some” significant correlations between liberal MIS judgments and Narcissism. Because our hypotheses were exploratory and we ran a large number of statistical tests (62 total), we utilized a Bonferroni Correction to set a very high threshold for significance (p = .0008). Our results broadly supported our two hypotheses. We found eleven significant correlations between conservative MIS judgments and the Dark Triad—all at significance level of p < .00001—but no significant correlations between the Dark Triad and liberal MIS judgments. We believe that these results raise provocative moral questions about the personality bases of moral judgments. In particular, we propose that because the Short-D3 measures three “dark and antisocial” personality traits, our results raise some prima facie worries about the moral justification of some conservative moral judgments. (shrink)
This paper defends several highly revisionary theses about human rights. Section 1 shows that the phrase ?human rights? refers to two distinct types of moral claims. Sections 2 and 3 argue that several longstanding problems in human rights theory and practice can be solved if, and only if, the concept of a ?human right? is replaced by two more exact concepts: International human rights: moral claims sufficient to warrant coercive domestic and international social protection. Domestic human rights: moral claims sufficient (...) to warrant coercive domestic social protection but only non-coercive international action. Section 3 then argues that because coercion is central to both types of human rights, and coercion is a matter of justice, the traditional view of human rights ? that they are normative entitlements prior to and independent of substantive theories of justice ? is incorrect. Human rights must instead be seen as emerging from substantive theories of domestic and international justice. Finally, Section 4 uses this reconceptualization to show that only a few very minimal claims about international human rights are presently warranted. Because international human rights are rights of international justice, but theorists of international justice disagree widely about the demands of international justice, much more research on international justice is needed ? and much greater agreement about international justice should be reached ? before anything more than a very minimal list of international human rights can be justified. (shrink)
Allen Buchanan has argued that a widely defended view of the nature of the state – the view that the state is a discretionary association for the mutual advantage of its members – must be rejected because it cannot adequately account for moral requirements of humanitarian intervention. This paper argues that Buchanan’s objection is unsuccessful,and moreover, that discretionary association theories can preserve an important distinction that Buchanan’s alternative approach to political legitimacy cannot: the distinction between “internal” legitimacy (a state’s ability (...) to morally justify itself to its own members) and “external” legitimacy (a state’s ability to morally justify itself to humanity more broadly). (shrink)
Jason Brennan argues that people are morally obligated not to vote badly, where voting badly is voting “without sufficient reason” for harmful or unjust policies or candidates. His argument is: (1) One has an obligation not to engage in collectively harmful activities when refraining from such activities does not impose significant personal costs. (2) Voting badly is to engage in a collectively harmful activity, while abstaining imposes low personal costs. (3) Therefore, one should not vote badly. This paper shows that (...) Brennan never adequately clarifies (1) and that, on every plausible clarification, (2) is false. (shrink)
In a recent study appearing in Neuroethics, I reported observing 11 significant correlations between the “Dark Triad” personality traits – Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy – and “conservative” judgments on a 17-item Moral Intuition Survey. Surprisingly, I observed no significant correlations between the Dark Triad and “liberal” judgments. In order to determine whether these results were an artifact of the particular issues I selected, I ran a follow-up study testing the Dark Triad against conservative and liberal judgments on 15 additional moral (...) issues. The new issues examined include illegal immigration, abortion, the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools, the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the war on terrorism, laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and environmentalism. 1154 participants (680 male, 472 female; median age 29), recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk, completed three surveys: a 15-item Moral Intuition Survey (MIS), the 28-item Short Dark Triad personality inventory, and a five-item demographic survey. The results strongly reinforce my earlier findings. Twenty-two significant correlations were observed between “conservative” judgments and the Dark Triad (all of which were significant past a Bonferonni-corrected significance threshold of p = .0008), compared to seven significant correlations between Dark Triad and “liberal” judgments (only one of which was significant past p = .0008). This article concludes by developing a novel research proposal for determining whether the results of my two studies are “bad news” for conservatives or liberals. (shrink)
This paper systematically extends John Rawls' original position to nonideal theory, showing how parties to a "nonideal original position" ought to prioritize four "nonideal primary goods" over Rawls' principles and priority relations, and then agree to five lexically ordered principles of nonideal theory for distributing those goods. Finally, these five principles are shown to fare very well in reflective equilibrium, cohering with a number of pretheoretic moral intuitions.
Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy today, and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop new positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism, and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This 'state of the art' collection honours one of the most rigorous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.
This dissertation defends a “non-ideal theory” of justice: a systematic theory of how to respond justly to injustice. Chapter 1 argues that contemporary political philosophy lacks a non-ideal theory of justice, and defends a variation of John Rawls’ famous original position – the Non-Ideal Original Position – as a method with which to construct such a theory. Finally, Chapter 1 uses the Non-Ideal Original Position to argue for a Fundamental Principle of Non-Ideal Theory: a principle that requires injustices to be (...) dealt with in whichever way will best satisfy the preferences of all relevant individuals, provided those individuals are all rational, adequately informed, broadly moral, and accept the correct “ideal theory” of fully just conditions. Chapter 2 then argues for the Principle of Application – an epistemic principle that represents the Fundamental Principle’s satisfaction conditions in terms of the aims of actual or hypothetical reformist groups. Chapters 3-5 then use these two principles to argue for substantive views regarding global/international justice. Chapter 3 argues that the two principles establish a higher-order human right for all other human rights to promoted and protected in accordance with the two principles of non-ideal theory. Chapter 4 argues that the two principles defeasibly require the international community to tolerate unjust societies, provided those societies respect the most basic rights of individuals. Finally, Chapter 5 argues that the two principles imply a duty of the international community to ameliorate the most severe forms of global poverty, as well as a duty to pursue “fair trade” in international economics. (shrink)
Marcus argues that moral dilemmas are real, but that they are not the result of inconsistent moral principles. Moral principles are consistent just in case there is some world where all principles are 'obeyable.' They are inconsistent just in case there is no world where all are 'obeyable.' What this logical point is meant to show is that moral dilemmas do not make moral codes inconsistent. She also discusses guilt, and argues that guilt is still appropriate even in cases (...) of conflict, even when the agent thinks the right thing to do is clear. (shrink)
Based on her earlier ground-breaking axiomatization of quantified modal logic, the papers collected here by the distinguished philosopher Ruth Barcan Marcus cover much ground in the development of her thought, spanning from 1961 to 1990. The first essay here introduces themes initially viewed as iconoclastic, such as the necessity of identity, the directly referential role of proper names as "tags", the Barcan Formula about the interplay of possibility and existence, and alternative interpretations of quantification. Marcus also addresses the (...) putative puzzles about substitutivity and about essentialism. The collection also includes influential essays on moral conflict, on belief and rationality, and on some historical figures. Many of her views have been incorporated into current theories, while others remain part of a continuing debate. (shrink)
Metaphysics and language: Quine, W. V. O. On the individuation of attributes. Körner, S. On some relations between logic and metaphysics. Marcus, R. B. Does the principle of substitutivity rest on a mistake? Van Fraassen, B. C. Platonism's pyrrhic victory. Martin, R. M. On some prepositional relations. Kearns, J. T. Sentences and propositions.--Basic and combinatorial logic: Orgass, R. J. Extended basic logic and ordinal numbers. Curry, H. B. Representation of Markov algorithms by combinators.--Implication and consistency: Anderson, A. R. Fitch (...) on consistency. Belnap, N. D., Jr. Grammatical propaedeutic. Thomason, R. H. Decidability in the logic of conditionals. Myhill, J. Levels of implication.--Deontic, epistemic, and erotetic logic: Bacon, J. Belief as relative knowledge. Wu, K. J. Believing and disbelieving. Kordig, C. R. Relativized deontic modalities. Harrah, D. A system for erotetic sentences. (shrink)
I argue that zombies are inconceivable. More precisely, I argue that the conceivability-intuition that is used to demonstrate their possibility has been misconstrued. Thought experiments alleged to feature zombies founder on the fact that, on the one hand, they _must_ involve first-person imagining, and yet, on the other hand, _cannot_. Philosophers who take themselves to have imagined zombies have unwittingly conflated imagining a creature who lacks consciousness with imagining a creature without also imagining the consciousness it may or may not (...) possess. (shrink)
Abstract: It is generally accepted that the most serious threat to the possibility of mental causation is posed by the causal self-sufficiency of physical causal processes. I argue, however, that this feature of the world, which I articulate in principle I call Completeness, in fact poses no genuine threat to mental causation. Some find Completeness threatening to mental causation because they confuse it with a stronger principle, which I call Closure. Others do not simply conflate Completeness and Closure, but (...) hold that Completeness, together with certain plausible assumptions, _entails_ Closure. I refute the most fully worked-out version of such an argument. Finally, some find Completeness all by itself threatening to mental causation. I argue that one will only find Completeness threatening if one operates with a philosophically distorted conception of mental causation. I thereby defend what I call naïve realism about mental causation. (shrink)
There has been much written in recent years about whether a pair of subjects could have visual experiences that represented the colors of objects in their environment in precisely the same way, despite differing significantly in what it was like to undergo them, differing that is, in their qualitative character. The possibility of spectrum inversion has been so much debated1 in large part because of the threat that it would pose to the more general doctrine of Intentionalism, according to which (...) the representational content of an experience fixes what it. (shrink)
Alternative readings of quantification are considered. The absence of an unequivocal translation into ordinary speech is noted. Some examples are cited which, in the opinion of the author, are a result of equivocal readings of quantification, or unnecessarily restrictive readings which obscure its primary function.
The thesis that mental states are physical states enjoys widespread popularity. After the abandonment of typeidentity theories, however, this thesis has typically been framed in terms of state tokens. I argue that token states are a philosopher’s fiction, and that debates about the identity of mental and physical state tokens thus rest on a mistake.
Numbers without Science opposes the Quine-Putnam indispensability argument, seeking to undermine the argument and reduce its profound influence. Philosophers rely on indispensability to justify mathematical knowledge using only empiricist epistemology. I argue that we need an independent account of our knowledge of mathematics. The indispensability argument, in broad form, consists of two premises. The major premise alleges that we are committed to mathematical objects if science requires them. The minor premise alleges that science in fact requires mathematical objects. The most (...) common rejection of the argument denies its minor premise by introducing scientific theories which do not refer to mathematical objects. Hartry Field has shown how we can reformulate some physical theories without mathematical commitments. I argue that Field’s preference for intrinsic explanation, which underlies his reformulation, is ill-motivated, and that his resultant fictionalism suffers unacceptable consequences. I attack the major premise instead. I argue that Quine provides a mistaken criterion for ontic commitment. Our uses of mathematics in scientific theory are instrumental and do not commit us to mathematical objects. Furthermore, even if we accept Quine’s criterion for ontic commitment, the indispensability argument justifies only an anemic version of mathematics, and does not yield traditional mathematical objects. The first two chapters of the dissertation develop these results for Quine’s indispensability argument. In the third chapter, I apply my findings to other contemporary indispensabilists, specifically the structuralists Michael Resnik and Stewart Shapiro. In the fourth chapter, I show that indispensability arguments which do not rely on Quine’s holism, like that of Putnam, are even less successful. Also in Chapter 4, I show how Putnam’s work in the philosophy of mathematics is unified around the indispensability argument. In the last chapter of the dissertation, I conclude that we need an account of mathematical knowledge which does not appeal to empirical science and which does not succumb to mysticism and speculation. Briefly, my strategy is to argue that any defensible solution to the demarcation problem of separating good scientific theories from bad ones will find mathematics to be good, if not empirical, science. (shrink)
If a woman in the audience at a presentation raises her hand, we would take this as evidence that she intends to ask a question. In normal circumstances, we would be right to say that she raises her hand because she intends to ask a question. We also expect that there could, in principle, be a causal explanation of her hand’s rising in purely physiological terms. Ordinarily, we take the existence and compatibility of both kinds of causes for granted. But (...) this can come to seem strange. When we imagine tracking the physiological process that culminates in her hand’s rising, it is hard to find a purchase for her intention. The physiological process seems not to need assistance from her intention in order to get where it’s going, chugging along as it does according to principles that appear to have very little in common with ordinary psychological ones. The presumed self-sufficiency of physiological processes can, in a similar fashion, appear to muscle psychological states quite generally out of the causal picture. (shrink)
In recent decades, a view of identity I call Sortalism has gained popularity. According to this view, if a is identical to b, then there is some sortal S such that a is the same S as b. Sortalism has typically been discussed with respect to the identity of objects. I argue that the motivations for Sortalism about object-identity apply equally well to event-identity. But Sortalism about event-identity poses a serious threat to the view that mental events are token identical (...) to physical events: A particular mental event m is identical with a particular physical event p only if there is a sortal S such that m and p are both Ss. If there is no such sortal, the doctrine of token-identity is not true. I argue here that we have no good reason for thinking that there is any such sortal. (shrink)
Two principles are central to Rational Causation. Causalism: Believing and acting for a reason are causal phenomena in the sense that there is in both domains a causal connection between ground and grounded. Equivalence: There is a necessary connection between something's being the reason why I believe or act and my taking it to favour the belief or action. Kieran Setiya argues that Causalism is false in the theoretical case and that Equivalence is false in the practical case. I reply (...) to these and other arguments. (shrink)
Philosophy of mathematics for the last half-century has been dominated in one way or another by Quine’s indispensability argument. The argument alleges that our best scientific theory quantifies over, and thus commits us to, mathematical objects. In this paper, I present new considerations which undermine the most serious challenge to Quine’s argument, Hartry Field’s reformulation of Newtonian Gravitational Theory.
Although regular polysemy [e.g. producer for product (John read Dickens) or container for contents (John drank the bottle)] has been extensively studied, there has been little work on why certain polysemy patterns are more acceptable than others. We take an empirical approach to the question, in particular evaluating an account based on rules against a gradient account of polysemy that is based on various radical pragmatic theories (Fauconnier 1985; Nunberg 1995). Under the gradient approach, possible senses become more acceptable as (...) they become more closely related to a word’s default meaning, and the apparent regularity of polysemy is an artefact of having many similarly structured concepts. Using methods for measuring conceptual structure drawn from cognitive psychology, Study 1 demonstrates that a variety of metrics along which possible senses can be related to a default meaning, including conceptual centrality, cue validity and similarity, are surprisingly poor predictors of whether shifts to those senses are acceptable. Instead, sense acceptability was better explained by rule-based approaches to polysemy (e.g. Copestake & Briscoe 1995). Study 2 replicated this finding using novel word meanings in which the relatedness of possible senses was varied. However, while individual word senses were better predicted by polysemy rules than conceptual metrics, our data suggested that rules (like producer for product) had themselves arisen to mark senses that, aggregated over many similar words, were particularly closely related. (shrink)
Rogers & McClelland's (R&M's) précis represents an important effort to address key issues in concepts and categorization, but few of the simulations deliver what is promised. We argue that the models are seriously underconstrained, importantly incomplete, and psychologically implausible; more broadly, R&M dwell too heavily on the apparent successes without comparable concern for limitations already noted in the literature.
Is the human tendency toward musicality better thought of as the product of a specific, evolved instinct or an acquired skill? Developmental and evolutionary arguments are considered, along with issues of domain-specificity. The article also considers the question of why humans might be consistently and intensely drawn to music if musicality is not in fact the product of a specifically evolved instinct.