I propose that safety and sensitivity conditionals may be used to explain the reliability of beliefs in necessary truths, by appeal to a non-standard semantics for counterfactuals with impossible antecedents and necessarily true consequents.
Block is concerned with the question whether there are cases of phenomenology in the absence of cognitive access. I assume that, more precisely, the question is whether there are cases in which a subject S has a phenomenological experience E to which S does not have direct cognitive access? (S might have indirect cognitive access to E through scientiﬁc reasoning. I take it that’s not the sort of cognitive access in question.).
The approach to generative grammar originating with Chomsky (1957) has been enormously successful within linguistics. Seeing such success, one wonders whether a similar approach might help us understand other human domains besides language. One such domain is morality. Could there be universal generative moral grammar? More specifically, might it be useful to moral theory to develop an explicit generative account of parts of particular moralities in the way it has proved useful to linguistics to produce generative grammars for parts of (...) particular languages? Should moral theorists attempt to develop a theory of moral universals that is analogous to the theory of universal grammar in linguistics? Can moral theorists develop a “principles and parameters” account of possible moralities inspired by the principles and parameters approach to language in current linguistics? Could there be a “minimalist” program for moral theory inspired by the minimalist program in linguistics? In this chapter we offer a preliminary account of some analogies, focusing on clarifying issues, making distinctions, and considering how—in a general way—such analogies might yield a fruitful research program for moral theory. There are two main parts to our discussion, one focusing on an analogy between generative grammar and moral theory, the other focusing on analogies between universal grammar and theories of moral universals. In the first part, we say a little about the background and say how we are going to understand morality and moral theory. We describe certain aspects of generative grammar and how claims about generative grammars are tested, allowing for a distinction between “competence” and “performance”. We then try to say what a corresponding “generative moral grammar” would be and how it would be tested. We next discuss a number of objections to the analogy between moral theory and generative grammar and indicate possible responses. In the second part, we discuss certain universal constraints on grammars and consider whether there might be similar constraints on moralities. Then we discuss how linguists describe core aspects of languages in terms of principles and parameters and consider what aspects of moralities might be described in similar terms. After that we make some brief remarks about minimalism. (shrink)
How do people reason about the what follows from certain assumptions? How do they think about implications between statements. According to one theory, people try to use a small number of mental rules of inference to construct an argument for or proof of a relevant conclusion from the assumptions (e.g., Rips 1994). According to a competing theory, people construct one or more mental models of the situation described in the assumptions and try to determine what conclusion ﬁts with the model (...) or models constructed (e.g., Johnson-Laird 1983, 2006). The present collection oﬀers eleven contributions to the mental models theory. (shrink)
According to moral relativism, there is not a single true morality. There are a variety of possible moralities or moral frames of reference, and whether something is morally right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust, etc. is a relative matter—relative to one or another morality or moral frame of reference. Something can be morally right relative to one moral frame of reference and morally wrong relative to another. It is useful to compare moral relativism to other relativisms. One (...) possible comparison is with motion relativism. There is no such thing as absolute motion or absolute rest. Whether something is moving or at rest is relative to a spatio-temporal frame of reference. Something may be at rest in one frame of reference and moving in another. There is no such thing as absolute motion and absolute rest, but we can make do with relative motion and rest. Similarly, moral relativism is the view that, although there is no such thing as absolute right and wrong, we can make do with relative right and wrong. (shrink)
Peacocke argues that all epistemic entitlements depend at bottom on a priori entitlements, determined by "constitutive conditions" for the application of concepts. He does not address familiar doubts about the distinction between constitutive and nonconstitutive conditions of application. (These doubts are based on the widely accepted idea that justification begins with all of one's current beliefs and methods and seeks to modify these only to improve their overall coherence with each other, hoping ultimately for "reflective equilibrium.") In addition, Peacocke conflates (...) issues about inference with issues about implication and proof and seriously misrepresents David Lewis' view about the content of indicative conditionals. (shrink)
authoritarians so far as the fact of imperfection is concerned, but they disagree widely, often fundamentally, as to the constituent elements of that imperfection. Likewise libertarians and authoritarians Â– at least, the more progressive contingent of the latter Â– are at one concerning the desirability and justice of the Â“single..
In this article, we provide a tutorial overview of some aspects of statistical learning theory, which also goes by other names such as statistical pattern recognition, nonparametric classification and estimation, and supervised learning. We focus on the problem of two-class pattern classification for various reasons. This problem is rich enough to capture many of the interesting aspects that are present in the cases of more than two classes and in the problem of estimation, and many of the results can be (...) extended to these cases. Focusing on two-class pattern classification simplifies our discussion, and yet it is directly applicable to a wide range of practical settings. (shrink)
In this book, David Benatar argues that every person is severely harmed by being brought into existence, and that in bringing any person into existence one impermissibly harms that person. His conclusion is not merely that by bringing a person into existence, one harms him. That claim is compatible with the claim that by bringing a person into existence, one also greatly benefits him, and even with the claim that one never impermissibly harms someone by bringing him into existence. His (...) conclusion is much more radical. (shrink)
In this paper, I will offer a solution to the non-identity problem and defend that solution. The non-identity problem arises because some actions appear to be wrong, and they appear to be wrong in virtue of harming certain people, but those people would not have existed if the actions had not been performed, and those people have lives that are worth living. Such actions are puzzling because they do not make these people worse off than they otherwise would have been; (...) but plausibly, one harms someone only if one makes her worse off. A solution to the non-identity problem would both explain why the actions are wrong and vindicate the appearance that the actions are wrong in virtue of harming the relevant people.1 Consider the following case. A woman has a temporary condition such that if she conceives now, her child will be blind. However, if she waits for three months, she can conceive a child who will not be blind. Clearly, this woman should not conceive now. It would be wrong to conceive now. Furthermore, it seems that if she does conceive now she is harming her future child, and that is why her action is wrong. However, it can be argued that she does not harm her child and thus does not act wrongly. Plausibly, one harms someone only if one makes him worse off than he would otherwise have been. But this woman’s act of conceiving now does not make her child worse off than he would otherwise have been. Had she not performed this action, he would not exist. Furthermore, he has a life worth living. Either he is better off than he.. (shrink)
What is distinctive about my views in epistemology? One thing is that my concern with epistemology is a concern with methodology. Furthermore, I reject psychologism about logic and reject the idea that deductive rules like modus ponens are in any way rules of inference. I accept a kind of methodological conservatism and reject methodological theories that appeal to special foundations, analytic truth, or a priori justification. Although I believe that there are significant practical aspects of theoretical reasoning, I reject the (...) suggestion that theoretical reasoning is a special case of practical reasoning applied to a special epistemic goal. I also believe that a methodological epistemology that is concerned with the reliability of inferential methods can benefit from an appreciation of important relevant concepts and results about reliability in statistical learning theory. (shrink)
One relatively central idea is that guilt feelings are warranted if an agent knows that he or she has acted morally wrongly. It might be said that in such a case the agent has a strong reason to feel guilt, that the agent ought to have guilt feelings, that the agent is justified in having guilt feelings and unjustified in not having guilt feelings. It might be said that it would be immoral of an agent not to have feelings of (...) guilt after realizing that he or she has acted morally wrongly or that only an agent with bad character would not have such feelings. (shrink)
In (Harman 2007) I argued “that a purely objective account of conscious experience cannot always by itself give an understanding of what it is like to have that experience.” Following Nagel (1974), I suggested that such a gap “has no obvious metaphysical implications. It [merely] reflects the distinction between two kinds of understanding,” objective and subjective, where subjective understanding or “Das Verstehen” (Dilthey 1883/1989) of another creature’s experience involves knowing what it is like to have that experience—knowing what sort of (...) experience of one’s own would correspond to the other creature’s experience. (shrink)
For philosophical naturalism, as I understand it, philosophy is continuous with natural science. It takes the methods of philosophy to be continuous with those of the natural sciences and is sceptical of allegedly apriori intuitions which it claims need to be tested against one’s other beliefs and, ideally, against the world.
In these notes, I will use the word “reasoning” to refer to something people do. The general category includes both internal reasoning, reasoning things out by oneself—inference and deliberation—and external reasoning with others—arguing, discussing and negotiating.
"What Is Cognitive Access?" PDF. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (2007 [published 2008]): 505. Brief comments on a paper of Ned Block's. "Mechanical Mind," a review of Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science by Margaret Boden. Online Published Version . From American Scientist (2008): 76-81.
Scott Sehon argues for a complex view about the relation between commonsense psychology and the physical sciences.1 He rejects any sort of Cartesian dualism and believes that the common-sense psychological facts supervene on the physical facts. Nevertheless he asserts that there is an important respect in which common-sense psychology is independent of the physical sciences. Despite supervenience, we are not to expect any sort of reduction of common-sense psychology to physical science, nor are we to expect the physical sciences to (...) conﬂict with common-sense psychology. (shrink)
Philosophers sometimes approach meaning metaphorically, for example, by speaking of “grasping” meanings, as if understanding consists in getting mental hands around something.1 Philosophers say that a theory of meaning should be a theory about the meanings that people assign to expressions in their language, that to understand other people requires identifying the meanings they associate with what they are saying, and that to translate an expression of another language into your own is to find an expression in your language with (...) the same meaning as the expression in the other language. (shrink)
Hawthorne discusses (without endorsing) the following instance of our (T1) , “One knows that one is seeing a desk by taking for granted, but without knowing, that one is not a brain in a vat” (510). We believe that this is a commonsensical way of describing an ordinary situation. Intuitively, one knows one is seeing a desk. Intuitively one is normally justified in taking it for granted that one is not a brain in a vat, but one does not know (...) one isn’t a brain in a vat. (shrink)
According to the “received view” of Rudolf Carnap’s philosophy, he attempted (and failed) to establish phenomenalistic foundations for science and wielded the verificationist criterion of cognitive significance against traditional metaphysics, religion and values. This characterization of Carnap’s philosophy has come to us primarily through A. J. Ayer’s introduction of positivism to the English-speaking world in his Language, Truth and Logic1 and the preliminary sketches of positivistic doctrine with which many of W.V. Quine’s essays begin (and go on, inevitably, to repudiate).2 (...) It is now largely taken for granted that the various objections leveled at verificationism—that none of its many reformulations draws the intended line between meaningful science and meaningless metaphysics and that it is meaningless according to itself--are devastating.3 As a result, Carnap’s work has been allotted a largely historical role, if a significant one: contemporary views are often identified and distinguished by what in his and the positivist’s account of philosophy, science, language, and. (shrink)
Humeans hold that actions are movements of an agent's body that are suitably caused by a desire that things be a certain way and a belief on the agent's behalf that something she can just do, namely perform a movement of her body of the kind to be explained, has some suitable chance of making things that way (Davidson 1963). Movements of the body that are caused in some other way aren't actions, but are rather things that merely happen to (...) agents. (shrink)
In his elegant discussion, Sripada distinguishes three possible innate bases for aspects of morality: (1) certain specific principles might be innate, (2) a less simple “principles and parameters” model might apply, and (3) innate biases might have have some influence over what morality a person acquires without determining the content of that morality.1 He argues against (1) and (2) and in favor of (3). Without disputing his case for (3) I will try to say why I think that his arguments (...) against (1) and (2) are inconclusive and that it remains possible that all three kinds of bases have a significant impact on human morality. (shrink)
This is indeed a fallacy, if the relevant sort of consistency is logical consistency. However, the expression “is consistent with” is often used by scientists to mean something much stronger, something like confirms or even strongly confirms.
Statistical Learning Theory (e.g., Hastie et al., 2001; Vapnik, 1998, 2000, 2006) is the basic theory behind contemporary machine learning and data-mining. We suggest that the theory provides an excellent framework for philosophical thinking about inductive inference.
Analogies are often theoretically useful. Important principles of electricity are suggested by an analogy between water current flowing through a pipe and electrical current “flowing” through a wire. A basic theory of sound is suggested by an analogy between waves caused by a stone being dropped into a still lake and “sound waves” caused by a disturbance in air.
Putnam rejects "metaphysical realism," which takes "the world" to be a single complex thing, a connected causal or explanatory order into which all facts fit. he argues that such metaphysical realism is responsible for views he finds implausible; in particular, it can lead to moral relativism when one tries to locate the place of value in the world of fact. i agree that metaphysical realism will lead a thoughtful philosopher to moral relativism, but find neither of these views implausible. in (...) particular, putnam's main argument against metaphysical realism seems fallacious and his suggested alternative, to think of truth as the idea limit of rational inquiry, is clearly incorrect. (shrink)
The most basic theme in Davidson’s writings in philosophy of language in the 1960s is that we are finite beings whose mastery of the indefinitely many expressions of our language must somehow arise out of our mastery of finite resources. Otherwise, there would be an unbounded number of distinct things to learn in learning a language, which would make language learning..
The article begins from Stephen Hawking's well-known claim that philosophy is dead, and considers several other quotations in which philosophy is either belittled or subordinated outright to the natural sciences. This subordination requires a downward reductionism that is paralleled by the upward reductionism of the linguistic turn and social constructionist theories. Rather than undermining or overmining mid-sized individual entities, philosophy must deal with objects on their own terms. This suggests a possible tactical alliance between philosophy and the arts.