To determine whether fish welfare matters morally, we need to know what characteristics or capacities beings need to have in order to be morally considerable, and whether fish have such characteristics. In this paper I discuss a group of theories, Kantian practical reasoning theories, in which agency (or practical rationality) is traditionally thought to be a necessary condition for moral considerability. An individual must have quite sophisticated capacities to be a (moral) agent in such theories: she must be able to (...) act on rational principles. It seems unlikely that nonhuman animals such as fish have such capacities. I argue, however, that on the basis of certain Kantian arguments, moral agents have reason to accept duties to nonrational animals if they are agents in a much less demanding sense: if they are motivated to pursue the objects of their desires. If fish have this capacity, their welfare matters morally. (shrink)
We have earlier shown by construction that a proposition can have a welldefined nonzero probability, even if it is justified by an infinite probabilistic regress. We thought this to be an adequate rebuttal of foundationalist claims that probabilistic regresses must lead either to an indeterminate, or to a determinate but zero probability. In a comment, Frederik Herzberg has argued that our counterexamples are of a special kind, being what he calls ‘solvable’. In the present reaction we investigate what Herzberg means (...) by solvability. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of making solvability a sine qua non , and we ventilate our misgivings about Herzberg’s suggestion that the notion of solvability might help the foundationalist. (shrink)
For moral realists moral judgments will be a kind of factual judgment that involves the basically reliable apprehension of an objective moral reality. I argue that factual judgments display at least some degree of conceptual sensitivity to error, while moral judgments do not. Therefore moral judgments are not a kind of factual judgment.
Abstract: The symmetry argument is an objection to the 'deprivation approach'– the account of badness favored by nearly all philosophers who take death to be bad for the one who dies. Frederik Kaufman's recent response to the symmetry argument is a development of Thomas Nagel's suggestion that we could not have come into existence substantially earlier than we in fact did. In this paper, I aim to show that Kaufman's suggestion fails. I also consider several possible modifications of his theory, (...) and argue that they are unsuccessful as well. (shrink)
It is a well-known fact that Ernst Cassirer was inspired by his colleague, the biologist Jakob von Uexkiill at the university of Hamburg. This paper claims this inspiration was double—affecting both Cassirer's philosophical anthropology and Cassirer's epistemology of biology, but in two rather different ways. Thus, the paper intends to shed light on a corner of the history of the development of German thought of the interwar period. It may also have an actual interest because both Cassirer and Uexkiill enjoy, (...) for the time being and each in their way, a renaissance, e.g. in the recent field of biosemiotics. (shrink)
Genic selectionists (Williams 1966; Dawkins 1976) defend the view that genes are the (unique) units of selection and that all evolutionary events can be adequately represented at the genic level. Pluralistic genic selectionists (Sterelny and Kitcher 1988; Waters 1991; Dawkins 1982) defend the weaker view that in many cases there are multiple equally adequate accounts of evolutionary events, but that always among the set of equally adequate representations will be one at the genic level. We describe a range of cases (...) all involving stable equilibria actively maintained by selection. In these cases genotypic models correctly show that selection is active at the equilibrium point. In contrast, the genic models have selection disappearing at equilibrium. For deterministic models this difference makes no difference. However, once drift is added in, the two sets of models diverge in their predicted evolutionary trajectories. Thus, contrary to received wisdom on this matter, the two sets of models are not empirically equivalent. Moreover, the genic models get the facts wrong. (shrink)
Theses on the semiotic study of life as presented here provide a collectively formulated set of statements on what biology needs to be focused on in order to describe life as a process based on semiosis, or sign action. An aim of the biosemiotic approach is to explain how life evolves through all varieties of forms of communication and signification (including cellular adaptive behavior, animal communication, and human intellect) and to provide tools for grounding sign theories. We introduce the concept (...) of semiotic threshold zone and analyze the concepts of semiosis, function, umwelt, and the like as the basic concepts for theoretical biology. (shrink)
This note employs the recently established consistency theorem for infinite regresses of probabilistic justification (Herzberg in Stud Log 94(3):331–345, 2010) to address some of the better-known objections to epistemological infinitism. In addition, another proof for that consistency theorem is given; the new derivation no longer employs nonstandard analysis, but utilises the Daniell–Kolmogorov theorem.
A basic form of iconicity in literature is the correspondence between basic conceptual schemata in literary semantics on the one hand and in factual treatments on the other. The semantics of a subject like espionage is argued to be dependent on the ontology of the field in question, with reference to the English philosopher Barry Smith’s “fallibilistic apriorism”. This article outlines such an ontology, on the basis of A. J. Greimas’s semiotics and Carl Schmitt’s philosophy of state, claiming that the (...) semantics of espionage involves politology and narratology on an equal footing. The spy’s “positional” character is analyzed on this basis. A structural difference between police and military espionage is outlined with reference to Georges Dumézil’s theory of the three functions in Indo-European thought. A number of ontological socalled “insecurities” inherent in espionage and its literary representation are outlined. Finally, some hypotheses are stated concerning the connection between espionage and literature, and some central allegorical objects — love, theology — of the spy novel are sketched, and a conclusion on the iconicity of literature is made. (shrink)
This article is an investigation of parallel themes in Heinrich Hertz's philosophy science and Kant's theory of schemata, symbols and regulative ideas. It is argued that Hertz's "pictures" bears close similarities to Kantian "schemata", that is, they are rules linking concepts to intuitions and provide them with their meaning. Kant's distinction between symbols and schemata is discussed and related to Hertz's three pictures of mechanics. It is argued that Hertz considered his own picture of mechanics (the "hidden mass" picture) as (...) symbolic in a different way than the force and energy pictures. In the final part of the article it is described how Harald Høffding soon after the publication of Hertz's Principles of Mechanics developed a general theory of analogical reasoning, relying on the ideas of Hertz and Kant. (shrink)
According to the “deprivation approach,” a person’s death is bad for her to the extent that it deprives her of goods. This approach faces the Lucretian problem that prenatal non-existence deprives us of goods just as much as death does, but does not seem bad at all. The two most prominent responses to this challenge—one of which is provided by Frederik Kaufman (inspired by Thomas Nagel) and the other by Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer—claim that prenatal non-existence is relevantly (...) different from death. This paper criticizes these responses. (shrink)
Lucretius famously argued that if we think death is bad because it deprives us of time we could have had by living longer than we do, then when we are born must be bad too, since we could have been born earlier than we were, and so be deprived of that time as well. John Martin Fischer thinks Lucretius’s symmetry argument fails because we have a bias toward the future. I argue that Fischer’s approach does not answer Lucretius. In contrast (...) to Fischer, I think that we can show an objective difference between the time before our birth and the time after our death, which means that we are justified in adopting different attitudes towards them. I revise a point made by Thomas Nagel that while we might live longer than we do, we cannot exist earlier than we did and remain the same people throughout. (shrink)
Lucretius claimed we should be as indifferent to the time of our death as we are toward the time of our birth. Thomas Nagel, Frederik Kaufman, and Christopher Belshaw have each rejected Lucretius' claim. Their arguments depend upon an appeal to a psychological notion of the self. This appeal, I contend, is problematic. I present four reasons for thinking that their response to Lucretius is inadequate.
In a recent paper, Jeanne Peijnenburg and David Atkinson [ Studia Logica , 89(3):333-341 (2008)] have challenged the foundationalist rejection of infinitism by giving an example of an infinite, yet explicitly solvable regress of probabilistic justification. So far, however, there has been no criterion for the consistency of infinite probabilistic regresses, and in particular, foundationalists might still question the consistency of the solvable regress proposed by Peijnenburg and Atkinson.
In this paper we argue that an existing theory of concepts called dynamic frame theory, although not developed with that purpose in mind, allows for the precise formulation of a number of problems associated with induction from a single instance. A key role is played by the distinction we introduce between complete and incomplete dynamic frames, for incomplete frames seem to be very elegant candidates for the format of the background knowledge used in induction from a single instance. Furthermore, we (...) show how dynamic frame theory provides the terminology to discuss the justification and the fallibility of incomplete frames. In the Appendix, we give a formal account of incomplete frames and the way these lead to induction from a single instance. (shrink)
This paper presents eight (previously unpublished) adaptive logics for belief revision, each of which define a belief revision operation in the sense of the AGM framework. All these revision operations are shown to satisfy the six basic AGM postulates for belief revision, and Parikh's axiom of Relevance. Using one of these logics as an example, we show how their proof theory gives a more dynamic flavor to belief revision than existing approaches. It is argued that this turns belief revision (that (...) obeys Relevance) into a more natural undertaking, where analytic steps are performed only as soon as they turn out to be necessary in order to uphold certain beliefs. (shrink)
The rejection of an infinitesimal solution to the zero-fit problem by A. Elga () does not seem to appreciate the opportunities provided by the use of internal finitely-additive probability measures. Indeed, internal laws of probability can be used to find a satisfactory infinitesimal answer to many zero-fit problems, not only to the one suggested by Elga, but also to the Markov chain (that is, discrete and memory-less) models of reality. Moreover, the generalization of likelihoods that Elga has in mind is (...) not as hopeless as it appears to be in his article. In fact, for many practically important examples, through the use of likelihoods one can succeed in circumventing the zero-fit problem. 1 The Zero-fit Problem on Infinite State Spaces 2 Elga's Critique of the Infinitesimal Approach to the Zero-fit Problem 3 Two Examples for Infinitesimal Solutions to the Zero-fit Problem 4 Mathematical Modelling in Nonstandard Universes? 5 Are Nonstandard Models Unnatural? 6 Likelihoods and Densities A Internal Probability Measures and the Loeb Measure Construction B The (Countable) Coin Tossing Sequence Revisited C Solution to the Zero-fit Problem for a Finite-state Model without Memory D An Additional Note on ‘Integrating over Densities’ E Well-defined Continuous Versions of Density Functions. (shrink)
This paper formally explores the common ground between mild versions of epistemological coherentism and infinitism; it proposes—and argues for—a hybrid, coherentist–infinitist account of epistemic justification. First, the epistemological regress argument and its relation to the classical taxonomy regarding epistemic justification—of foundationalism, infinitism and coherentism—is reviewed. We then recall recent results proving that an influential argument against infinite regresses of justification, which alleges their incoherence on account of probabilistic inconsistency, cannot be maintained. Furthermore, we prove that the Principle of Inferential Justification (...) has rather unwelcome consequences—formally resembling the Sorites paradox—as soon as it is iterated and combined with a natural Bayesian perspective on probabilistic inferences. We conclude that strong versions of foundationalism and infinitism should be abandoned. Positively, we provide a rough sketch for a graded formal coherence notion, according to which infinite regresses of epistemic justification will often have more than a minimal degree of coherence. (shrink)
Environmental philosophers are often concerned to show that non-sentient things, such as plants or ecosystems, have interests and therefore are appropriate objects of moral concern. They deny that mentality is a necessary condition for having interests. Yet they also deny that they are committed to recognizing interests in things like machines. I argue that either machines have interests (and hence moral standing) too or mentality is a necessary condition for inclusion within the purview of morality. I go on to argue (...) that the aspect of mentality necessary for having interests is more complicated than mere sentience. (shrink)
On the basis of the Suppes–Sneed structuralview of scientific theories, we take a freshlook at the concept of refutability,which was famously proposed by K.R. Popper in 1934 as a criterion for the demarcation of scientific theories from non-scientific ones, e.g., pseudo-scientificand metaphysical theories. By way of an introduction we argue that a clash between Popper and his critics on whether scientific theories are, in fact, refutablecan be partly explained by the fact Popper and his criticsascribed different meanings to the term (...) theoryThen we narrow our attention to one particular theory,namely quantum mechanics, in order to elucidate general matters discussed. We prove that quantum mechanics is irrefutable in a rather straightforward sense, but argue that it is refutable in a more sophisticated sense, which incorporates someobservations obtained by looking closely at the practiceof physics. We shall locate exactly where non-rigourous elements enter the evaluation of a scientific theory – thismakes us see clearly how fruitful mathematics isfor the philosophy of science. (shrink)
The focus of this article is to explain why there is still no qualified digital signature in Denmark as defined by the EU eSignatures Directive nor any other nationwide eID even though Denmark had an early start in eGovernment, and a high level of e-readiness compared to other nations. Laying out the technological, organizational and legal dimensions of eID in Denmark, and comparing these with a number of other European countries made it possible to explain this paradox. Thus, the three (...) main reasons for the special route development has taken in Denmark seems to be concerns over privacy, lack of intergovernmental coordination and lack of cooperation between public and private sector. However, with the recent tender on digital signatures won by the PBS and the roll-out of the NemID it seems that Denmark will finally—after twenty years of delay—have an eID which can be widely used in the public as well as the private sector. (shrink)
Recent developments in empirical fields such as developmental psychology and neuroscience have led to a re-evaluation of empathy as a natural human faculty and the fundament of altruism and morality. This essay examines the inherent relations between empathy and human rights conceived of as moral norms. Taking into account the importance of empathy gives us a better understanding and thus reconstruction of the (evolution of) human rights protection, particularly their motivational basis. This may remedy some descriptive shortcomings of traditional human (...) rights theories regarding the relevance of emotion, altruism and human nature. However, human rights are highly complex phenomena with an important normative dimension and as such they neither can nor should be reduced to mere feelings like compassion or empathy. (shrink)