I begin with an explication of "thought experiment". I then clarify the role that intuitions play in thought experiments by addressing two important issues: (1) the informativeness of thought experiments and (2) the legitimacy of the method of thought experiments in philosophy and the natural sciences. I defend a naturalistic account of intuitions that provides a plausible explanation of the informativeness of thought experiments, which, in turn, allows thought experiments to be reconstructed as arguments. I also specify criteria for distinguishing (...) bad "intuition pumps" from legitimate thought experiments. These criteria help us to avoid being seduced by the dangerous suggestive power of misleading intuitions. (shrink)
In this paper we survey some main arguments for and against epistemological contextualism. We distinguish and discuss various kinds of contextualism, such as attributer contextualism (the most influential version of which is semantic, conversational, or radical contextualism); indexicalism; proto-contextualism; Wittgensteinian contextualism; subject, inferential, or issue contextualism; epistemic contextualism; and virtue contextualism. Starting with a sketch of Dretskes Relevant Alternatives Theory and Nozicks Tracking Account of Knowledge, we reconstruct the history of various forms of contextualism and the ways contextualists try to (...) handle some notorious epistemological quandaries, especially skepticism and the lottery paradox. Then we outline the most important problems that contextualist theories face, and give overviews of their criticisms and defenses as developed in this issue. (shrink)
Conversational contextualism in epistemology is characterized by four main theses: 1. the indexicality of knowledge claims thesis; 2. the attributor contextualism thesis; 3. the conversational contextualism thesis, and 4. the main thesis of contextualism according to which a knowledge claim can be true in one context and false in another context in which more stringent standards for knowledge are operant. It is argued that these theses taken together generate problems for contextualism. In particular, it is shown that there is no (...) context in which the contextualist can truthfully claim to know her theory is true. Since these results were obtained only with principles the contextualist cannot give up—like the principle of epistemic closure and the principle that knowledge implies truth—it seems that contextualism is in need of a thoroughgoing revision if it is to become a successful epistemic theory. (shrink)
This is the introduction to a special issue of 'Science in Context' on vitalism that I edited. The contents are: 1. Guido Giglioni — “What Ever Happened to Francis Glisson? Albrecht Haller and the Fate of Eighteenth-Century Irritability” 2. Dominique Boury— “Irritability and Sensibility: Two Key Concepts in Assessing the Medical Doctrines of Haller and Bordeu” 3. Tobias Cheung — “Regulating Agents, Functional Interactions, and Stimulus-Reaction-Schemes: The Concept of “Organism” in the Organic System Theories of Stahl, Bordeu and Barthez” 4. (...) Charles T. Wolfe & Motoichi Terada — “The Animal Economy as Object and Program in Montpellier Vitalism” 5. Timo Kaitaro — “Can Matter Mark the Hours? – Eighteenth-Century Vitalist Materialism and Functional Properties” 6. Elizabeth Williams —“Of Two Lives One? Jean-Charles-Marguerite-Guillaume Grimaud and the Question of Holism in Vitalist Medicine” 7. Philippe Huneman — “Montpellier Vitalism and the Emergence of Alienism in France (1750-1800): The Case of the Passions” 8. Elke Witt —“Form – A Matter of Generation. The Relation of Generation, Form and Function in the Epigenetic Theory of C.F. Wolff” . (shrink)
The paper critically examines an objection to epistemic contextualism recently developed by Elke Brendel and Peter Baumann, according to which it is impossible for the contextualist to know consistently that his theory is true. I first present an outline of contextualism and its reaction to scepticism. Then the necessary and sufficient conditions for the knowability problem to arise are explored. Finally, it will be argued that contextualism does not fulfil these minimal conditions. It will be shown that the contrary (...) view is based on a misunderstanding of what contextualists are claiming. (shrink)
The paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of arguments of proper self-reference, arguments of self-application and arguments of iterative application. A formalization of the underlying logical structure of these arguments helps to identify the implicit premises on which these arguments rest. If the premises are plausible, the conclusions reached by these arguments must be taken seriously. In particular, all the types of argument discussed, when sound, show that certain theories that purport to be universally applicable are not tenable. The argumentative (...) power of such arguments then depends on how devastating it is for the theories in question to give up their claim of universal applicability. (shrink)
Since universal language systems are confronted with serious paradoxical consequences, a semantic approach is developed in whichpartial worlds form the ontological basis. This approach shares withsituation semantics the basic idea that statements always refer to certain partial worlds, and it agrees with the extensional and model-theoretic character ofpossible worlds semantics. Within the framework of the partial worlds conception a satisfactory solution to theLiar paradox can be formulated. In particular, one advantage of this approach over those theories that are based on (...) the totality of possible worlds semantics can be found in the fact that the so-called Strengthened Liar problem is avoided. (shrink)
This paper first explores a number of themes in the psychological system developed by the Austrian-American psychologist, Egon Brunswik, focusing on those that had a formative influence on Social Judgement Theory. We show that while perception was a recurring ground for Brunswik's empirical and theoretical work, his psychology was a psychology of cognition in the broadest sense. Next, two major themes in Social Judgement Theory functionalism and probabilism are described, and the elegant formulation known as Brunswik's Lens Model is introduced. (...) Some methodological and theoretical implications of these themes are presented. The paper concludes with Hammond's Cognitive Continuum Theory (CCT), which is a theory describing modes of cognition and how those modes are influenced by task characteristics. (shrink)
Goldman's project of a veritistic social epistemology is based on a descriptive-success account of truth and a weak notion of knowledge as mere true belief. It is argued that, contrary to Goldman's opinion, pragmatism and social constructivism are not necessarily ruled out by the descriptive-success account of truth. Furthermore, it is shown that it appears to be questionable whether Goldman has succeeded to show that there is a weak notion of knowledge. But even if such a weak notion of knowledge (...) can be defended, this notion can result in a complete separation of knowledge from epistemic value, which does not seem to be in accordance with Goldman's concept of societal knowledge. (shrink)
A satisfactory theory of knowledge in which the shortcomings of a pure externalist account are avoided and in which the Gettier problem is solved should consist in a combination of externalist and internalist components. The internalist component should guarantee that the epistemic subject has cognitive access to the justifying grounds of her belief. And the externalist component should guarantee that the justification of her belief does not depend on any false statement. Keith Lehrer's coherence theory of knowledge as undefeated justification (...) is an example of such an internalist-externalist analysis of knowledge. But nevertheless, Lehrer's account leads to unintended results. Therefore, it is argued that a satisfactory coherence theory of knowledge must also be based on a gradual notion of systematic coherence. (shrink)
It is argued that neither contextualism nor relativism can provide a satisfying semantics of knowledge ascriptions. According to contextualism, the truth conditions of knowledge ascriptions of the form “S knows that p” vary with the epistemic standards operative in the contexts of utterance. These epistemic standards are determined, in particular, by the speaker’s stakes with regard to p or the consideration of error-possibilities. It is shown that the absolute concept of utterance truth together with a knowledge rule of assertion lead (...) to certain unassertable truths in contextualism and to counterintuitive results with regard to certain cross-context knowledge ascriptions. Although utterance truth is relativized to contexts of assessment in relativist accounts of knowledge, relativism still makes inadequate semantic predictions. In particular, relativism runs into problems in cases where the context of assessment is lower than the context of utterance. It is finally argued that invariantist accounts, according to which the truth conditions of knowledge ascriptions do neither vary with the context of utterance nor the context of assessment, but are determined by objective features given in the situation in which the knowledge claim is made, are better suited for modelling the semantics of knowledge ascriptions. Besides the fact that stakes or the consideration of error-possibilities can have an influence on the belief in a proposition, they have no further bearing on the truth conditions of knowledge ascriptions. (shrink)
Sunstein advocates a more systematic approach to the study of moral decision-making, namely the heuristics-and-biases paradigm. We offer two concerns and suggest that a focus on decision processes can add value. Recent research on decision modes suggest that it is useful to distinguish between the qualitative differences in the ways in which moral decisions can be made when they are not made by reflective, consequentialist reasoning.
As a result of his studies in metalogicEssler became convincedthat an absolute fixed totality of alltruths and a final metalanguage doesnot exist. Taking this result into account,it is shown that the usualabsolute concept of omniscience isuntenable. From this it can be concludedthat definitions of knowledge whichappeal to such a concept of omnisciencelead to serious problems.
The notion of institutional entrepreneurship has become very popular in the last decade. Starting from a review of the literature on the topic, I first focus on the use of the idea of individual entrepreneurs and point out three theoretical incongruities it produces. I then discuss notions of collective entrepreneurship and institutional work to see if they can overcome these incongruities. I conclude that although they can remedy some of the problems, these notions run the risk of describing everything until (...) they describe nothing. In order to limit and enable the entrepreneurship literature to discuss agency meaningfully, I argue, it needs to develop analytical frames of agency derived either from existing sociological theories or from further developing its own brand of agency theory. (shrink)
Central in the analyses of women’s and gender studies within the history of education has been Rousseau’s (Emil oder Über die Erziehung, 12th edn. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 1762) educational novel Emile, especially Book 5, which deals with the education of Sophie, Emilie’s future spouse. Given the lasting interest in the person of Rousseau and his work, it is astonishing that there is a work by him, that has not been a focus of analysis in studies on the history of education, (...) namely, Rousseau’s Lettres élementaires sur la botanique. Linnaeus had early on espoused a classification bases on the sexuality of the plants. Their sexualizing plants was in keeping with the zeitgeist of the Enlightenment, which had also put the new order of human sexual relations on the agenda. The following article focusses on the question what importance Rousseau’s letters on botany can be accorded in this controversy over the sexuality of the plants and the relations between the sexes. (shrink)
Hebb's theory of cell assemblies is a precursor of the neural network approach used as an implicit hypothesis by most contemporary neuroscientists. Applying this model to language representation leads to demanding predictions about the organization of semantic categories. Other implications of a Hebbian approach to language representation, however, may prove problematic with respect to both neurolinguistic concepts and the results of neuroimaging studies.
C.Z. Elgins Argumente zur Unbrauchbarkeit des Wissensbegriffes für epistemologische Untersuchungen und die damit begründete Ersetzung des Wissensdurch den Verstehensbegriff werden anhand einer Analyse der Funktion von Begriffsexplikationen zur Bildung wahrer gerechtfertigter Überzeugungen zurückgewiesen. Die Verwendung grober Begriffskategorien, die mit einer Reduktion der Irrtumsmöglichkeit und somit einer leichten Bildung vieler gerechtfertigter Überzeugungen einhergeht, erweist sich nur vordergründig als epistemischer Vorteil für die Laien, da die so gewonnenen Uberzeugungen kognitiv weniger gehaltvoll sind, Experten aber neben den feineren gewöhnlich auch über die groben (...) Begriffskategorien verfügen, und selbst bei eingestandener Irrtumsmöglichkeit und dem Verzicht auf definitive Überzeugungen der Art „Dieses x ist F" erheblich mehr und Gehaltvolleres wissen als Laien, da auch ,,x ist definitiv kein F" oder ,,x ist höchstwahrscheinlich F" Wissen ausdrücken. (shrink)
The present study was designed to investigate visually handicapped students' explanations for failure when the motive to maintain or enhance self-esteem was in conflict with the motive to present a favorable social image. Subjects experienced manipulated failure in a text comprehension task and were subsequently asked to give causal and responsibility attributions in the presence of either a visually handicapped or a non-handicapped experimenter. It was expected that visually disabled participants would claim a “handicap-bonus” from the non-handicapped experimenter by explicitly (...) presenting non-defensive attributions and accounts as well as handicap-related responses, while defensive explanations should be more pronounced when faced with a blind experimenter. The data provide support for the existence of presumed social expectations as determinants of individuals' verbal self-presentations. (shrink)
Eines der medizinischen Felder, in dem die ethische Diskussion um die „wunscherfüllende Medizin“ am intensivsten geführt wird, ist die Reproduktionsmedizin, die die Erfüllung des „Kinderwunsches“ verspricht. Strittig ist besonders, ob Sterilität als Krankheit definiert wird, die eine medizinische Intervention rechtfertigt, ob sich aus der Sterilität oder Infertilität lediglich ein Abwehr- oder auch ein positives Anspruchsrecht auf medizinische Ressourcen ergibt, ob legitime Fortpflanzungsmedizin Grenzen hat. Nach einer Übersicht über Eckpunkte der nationalen und internationalen Debatte beschreiben wir im zweiten Teil Ansichten zum (...) Status ungewollter Kinderlosigkeit, zum Recht auf Fortpflanzungsmedizin und zur möglichen Legitimität ihrer Begrenzung anhand der Ergebnisse unserer vom Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) geförderten Studien. Während der letzten fünf Jahre haben wir u. a. Paare mit und ohne Sterilitätsproblematik sowie verschiedene Expertengruppen qualitativ und standardisiert befragt. Die stark divergierenden Auffassungen konfrontieren wir im dritten Abschnitt mit internationalen Standards, zum anderen mit dem „Capability-Ansatz“ und dem freiheitsfunktionalen Liberalismus von Sen und Pauer-Studer. Dies ergibt, dass die Bereitstellung verschiedener Möglichkeiten der In-vitro-Fertilisations-(IVF-)Behandlung nicht lediglich einen Wunsch auf Elternschaft erfüllt sondern als die gesollte Erfüllung eines normativen Bedürfnissanspruchs begriffen werden muss. (shrink)
Zooarchaeological evidence has often been called on to help researchers determine prehistoric relative abundances of elk (Cervus elaphus) in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Some interpret that evidence as indicating elk were abundant; others interpret it as indicating elk were rare. Wildlife biologist Charles Kay argues that prehistoric faunal remains recovered from archaeological sites support his contention that aboriginal hunters depleted elk populations throughout the Intermountain West, including the Yellowstone area. To support his contention Kay cites differences between modern and prehistoric (...) relative abundances of artiodactyls, age and sex demographics of ungulates in the prehistoric record indicating selective predation of prime-age females, and a high degree of fragmentation of artiodactyl bones indicating humans were under nutritional stress. Kay’s data on taxonomic abundances are time and space averaged and thus mask much variation in elk abundances. When these data are not lumped they suggest that elk were at some times, in some places, as abundant as they are today. Data on the age-sex demography of artiodactyl prey are ambiguous or contradict Kay’s predictions. Bone fragmentation data are variously nonexistent or ambiguous. The zooarchaeological implications of Kay’s aboriginal overkill hypothesis have not yet undergone rigorous testing. (shrink)
Definition of the problem: This article starts with a conceptual and factual discussion on the economic background of rationing in health care. The author tries to explain what rationing in health care means and how this problem can be estimated ethically. Rationing is defined as: the allocation and distribution of scarce goods in health care and of medical and nursing services under the condition that demand isgreater than supply. Arguments and conclusion: This definition gives the opportunity, to prove whether rationing (...) meets ethical criteria of justice concerning the allocation and distribution of basic goods. In order to ensure a human supply of necessary medical and nursing services, the author promotes an ethical reflection in terms of a theory of justice. (shrink)