When can macroscopic data about a system be used to set parameters in a microfoundational simulation? We examine the epistemic viability of tweaking parameter values to generate a better fit between the outcome of a simulation and the available observational data. We restrict our focus to microfoundational simulations—those simulations that attempt to replicate the macrobehavior of a target system by modeling interactions between microentities. We argue that tweaking can be effective but that there are two central risks. First, tweaking risks (...) overfitting the simulation to the data and thus compromising predictive accuracy; and second, it risks compromising the microfoundationality of the simulation. We evaluate standard responses to tweaking and propose strategies to guard against these risks. (shrink)
This fascinating collection on artifacts brings together seven papers by philosophers with nine by psychologists, biologists, and an archaeologist. The psychological papers include two excellent discussions of empirical work on the mental representation of artifact concepts – an assessment by Malt and Sloman of a large variety of studies on the conflicting ways we classify artifacts and extend our applications of artifact categories to new cases, and a review by Mahon and Caramazza of data from semantically impaired patients and from (...) neuroimaging on concepts of living kinds versus artifact kinds. Following these are three papers on the development of artifact concepts in children, including a short but provocative piece by Keil, Greif, and Kerner arguing that there is a mismatch between the patterns of development for our concepts of artifacts and the patterns of representation we end up developing. The final part of the book includes authoritative papers on artifact use by insects, birds, and mammals, by primates, and by Australopithecines and Neanderthals. (shrink)
In a recent article, Harold Noonan argues that application conditions and criteria of identity are not distinct from one another. This seems to threaten the standard approach to distinguishing sortals from adjectival terms. I propose that his observation, while correct, does not have this consequence. I present a simple scheme for distinguishing sortals from adjectival terms. I also propose an amended version of the standard canonical form of criteria of identity.
Agent-based modeling is starting to crack problems that have resisted treatment by analytical methods. Many of these are in the physical and biological sciences, such as the growth of viruses in organisms, flocking and migration patterns, and models of neural interaction. In the social sciences, agent-based models have had success in such areas as modeling epidemics, traffic patterns, and the dynamics of battlefields. And in recent years, the methodology has begun to be applied to economics, simulating such phenomena as energy (...) markets and the design of auctions. (shrink)
Many theorists have regarded genealogy as an important technique for social criticism. But it has been unclear how genealogy can go beyond the accomplishments of other, more mundane, critical methods. I propose a new approach to understanding the critical potential of history. I argue that theorists have been misled by the assumption that if a claim is deserving of criticism, it is because the claim is false. Turning to the criticism of concepts rather than criticism of claims, I expand on (...) the distinction between "descriptive semantics" and "foundational semantics" to show that genealogy can be uniquely qualified to explore the foundations of concepts, and hence to criticize concepts that are problematic in nonobvious ways. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to discuss a metaphysical framework within which to understand “standard linguistic entities” (SLEs), such as words, sentences, phonemes, and other entities routinely employed in linguistic theory. In doing so, I aim to defuse certain kinds of skepticism, challenge convention-based accounts of SLEs, and present a series of distinctions for better understanding what the various accounts of SLEs do and do not accomplish.
The thesis of methodological individualism in social science is commonly divided into two different claims—explanatory individualism and ontological individualism. Ontological individualism is the thesis that facts about individuals exhaustively determine social facts. Initially taken to be a claim about the identity of groups with sets of individuals or their properties, ontological individualism has more recently been understood as a global supervenience claim. While explanatory individualism has remained controversial, ontological individualism thus understood is almost universally accepted. In this paper I argue (...) that ontological individualism is false. Only if the thesis is weakened to the point that it is equivalent to physicalism can it be true, but then it fails to be a thesis about the determination of social facts by facts about individual persons. Even when individualistic facts are expanded to include people’s local environments and practices, I shall argue, those still underdetermine the social facts that obtain. If true, this has implications for explanation as well as ontology. I first consider arguments against the local supervenience of social facts on facts about individuals, correcting some flaws in existing arguments and affirming that local supervenience fails for a broad set of social properties. I subsequently apply a similar approach to defeat a particularly weak form of global supervenience, and consider potential responses. Finally, I explore why it is that people have taken ontological individualism to be true. (shrink)
Chomsky and others have denied the relevance of external linguistic entities, such as E-languages, to linguistic explanation, and have questioned their coherence altogether. I discuss a new approach to understanding the nature of linguistic entities, focusing in particular on making sense of the varieties of kinds of “words” that are employed in linguistic theorizing. This treatment of linguistic entities in general is applied to constructing an understanding of external linguistic entities.
What are the conditions for fixing the reference of a proper name? Debate on this point has recently been rekindled by Scott Soames, Robin Jeshion, and others. In this paper, I sketch a new pragmatic approach to the justification of reference-fixing procedures, in opposition to accounts that insist on an invariant set of conditions for fixing reference across environments and linguistic communities. Comparing reference to other relations whose instances are introduced through "initiation" procedures, I outline a picture in which the (...) procedures that are successful for fixing the reference of proper names depend in part on regularities in the actual environment. (shrink)
Models treating the simple properties of social groups have a common shortcoming. Typically, they focus on the local properties of group members and the features of the world with which group members interact. I consider economic models of bureaucratic corruption, to show that (a) simple properties of groups are often constituted by the properties of the wider population, and (b) even sophisticated models are commonly inadequate to account for many simple social properties. Adequate models and social policies must treat certain (...) factors that are not local to individual members of the group, even if those factors are not causally connected to those individuals. Key Words: individualism corruption supervenience model cause. (shrink)
Ruth Millikan is one of the most interesting and influential philosophers alive. Her work is also hard to penetrate. In this review, I try to present and assess her work on the nature of language, which is collected in this anthology. I also criticize her analysis of “natural convention” as well as her discussion of illocutionary acts.