Two major themes in the literature on indicative conditionals are (1) that the content of indicative conditionals typically depends on what is known;1 (2) that conditionals are intimately related to conditional probabilities.2 In possible world semantics for counterfactual conditionals, a standard assumption is that conditionals whose antecedents are metaphysically impossible are vacuously true.3 This aspect has recently been brought to the fore, and defended by Tim Williamson, who uses it in to characterize alethic necessity by exploiting such equivalences as: A⇔¬A (...) A. One might wish to postulate an analogous connection for indicative conditionals, with indicatives whose antecedents are (in some relevant sense) epistemically impossible being vacuously true: and indeed, the modal account of indicative conditionals of Brian Weatherson has exactly this feature.4 This allows one to characterize an epistemic modal by the equivalence A⇔¬A→A. For simplicity, in what follows we write A as KA and think of it as expressing that subject S knows that A.5 The connection to probability has received much attention. Stalnaker (1970) suggested, as a way of articulating the ‘Ramsey Test’, the following very general schema for indicative conditionals relative to some probability function P: P(A→B) = P(B|A) 1For example, Nolan (2003); Weatherson (2001); Gillies (2007). 2For example Stalnaker (1970); McGee (1989); Adams (1975). 3Lewis (1973). See Nolan (1997) for criticism. 4‘epistemically possible’ here means incompatible with what is known (where ‘what is known’ is to be cashed out in some relevant sense). 5This idea was suggested to me in conversation by John Hawthorne. I do not know of it being explored in print. The plausibility of this characterization will depend on the exact sense of ‘epistemically possible’ in play—if it is compatibility with what a single subject knows, then can be read ‘the relevant subject knows that p’. If it is more delicately formulated, we might be able to read as the epistemic modal ‘must’.. (shrink)
This paper outlines Lewis’s favoured foundational account of linguistic representation, and outlines and briefly evaluates variations and modifications. Section 1 gives an opinionated exegesis of Lewis’ work on the foundations of reference—his interpretationism. I look at the way that the metaphysical distinction between natural and non-natural properties came to play a central role in his thinking about language. Lewis’s own deployment of this notion has implausible commitments, so in section 2 I consider variations and alternatives. Section 3 briefly considers a (...) buck-passing strategy involving fine-grained linguistic conventions. (shrink)
Addressing such questions is a central challenge in explicating the cognitive role of indeterminacy. But there is little consensus in the literature about even such mundane questions as: what attitude to p is appropriate, when one knows that p is indeterminate'? This paper explores two answers, both built on a 'supervaluational' treatment of indeterminacy. The first is drawn out from David Lewis's discussion of Parfit on what matters in survival, and is a view where the indeterminacy of the identity relation (...) between Alpha and Omega scales the concern Alpha should feel. The second is developed on the model of imprecise credence treatments of indeterminacy, and generates some interesting and suprisingly successful predictions about the forced march sorites. (shrink)
Some things are left open by a work of fiction. What colour were the hero’s eyes? How many hairs are on her head? Did the hero get shot in the final scene, or did the jailor complete his journey to redemption and shoot into the air? Are the ghosts that appear real, or a delusion? Where fictions are open or incomplete in this way, we can ask what attitudes it’s appropriate (or permissible) to take to the propositions in question, in (...) engaging with the fiction. In Mimesis as Make-Believe (henceforth, MMB), Walton argues that just as truth norms belief, truth-in-fiction norms imagination. Granting that what is true-in-the-fiction should be imagined, and what is false-in-the-fiction is not to be imagined, there remains the question of what to say within the Waltonian framework about things that are neither true- nor false-in-the-fiction---the loci of incompleteness. (shrink)
What is social entrepreneurship? In, particular, what’s so social about it? Understanding what social entrepreneurship is enables researchers to study the phenomenon and policy-makers to design measures to encourage it. However, such an understanding is lacking partly because there is no universally accepted definition of entrepreneurship as yet. In this paper, we suggest a definition of social entrepreneurship that intuitively accords with what is generally accepted as entrepreneurship and that captures the way in which entrepreneurship may be altruistic. Based on (...) this we provide a taxonomy of social entrepreneurship and identify a number of real cases from Asia illustrating the different forms it could take. (shrink)
In this case (5) yields the result that A and D are I-related, but neither is I-related to B or C – the original person has two beginnings of existence. To get round this we need to add to (5)’s right-hand side the condition that there is no pair of distinct, simultaneously occurring person-stages u and v such that u is R-related to x and y and v is R-related to x and no pair of distinct, simultaneously occurring personstages u (...) and v such that u is R-related to x and y and v is R-related to y. In fact this condition can replace (iic) on the RHS of (5). (shrink)
Neither novel should be read as predictions, the accuracy of which can be used to judge them. Rather, both attempt to portray what humanity could conceivably become. The authenticity of this conceivability is a necessary condition of the power of both works to raise central philosophical questions about the human condition. What is ethically wrong with control? How far can Man go in recreating himself? In what sense are these worlds anti-utopian? Are they really possible worlds? How credible are they (...) as political systems? In what ways do the different systems depict the end of humanity? What logical and moral objections could be made against their fictional apologists? (shrink)
Placebo-trials on HIV-infected pregnant women in developing countries like Thailand and Uganda have provoked recent controversy. Such experiments aim to find a treatment that will cut the rate of vertical transmission more efficiently than existing treatments like zidovudine. This scenario is first stated as generally as possible, before three ethical principles found in the Belmont Report, itself a sharpening of the Helsinki Declaration, are stated. These three principles are the Principle of Utility, the Principle of Autonomy and the Principle of (...) Justice. These are taken as voices of moral imperative. But although each has intuitive appeal, it can be shown that there are possible scenarios in which they give conflicting prescriptions. To achieve consistency, one must be subordinate to the others. The voice of utility is taken as subordinate to those of justice and autonomy and it is shown that given plausible assumptions about the level of poverty and education in the developing country targeted, the experiment is ruled morally wrong in the name of both justice and autonomy. Moreover, it is argued that no justification can be found for the inclusion of a placebo group, when strictly defined. By contrast, a ‘no- treatment’ control arm might be justified, but only when the demands of autonomy are satisfied, demands that are more stringent than they might appear. A utilitarian defence of the experiment is examined, namely that the would-be participants are in a no-loss situation, and it is shown that this defence is seriously flawed. Finally, it is concluded that there is no justification for amending the Declaration of Helsinki. (shrink)
In this journal, Hamid Vahid argues against three families of explanation of Mooreparadoxicality. The ﬁrst is the Wittgensteinian approach; I assert that p just in case I assert that I believe that p. So making a Moore-paradoxical assertion involves contradictory assertions. The second is the epistemic approach, one committed to: if I am justiﬁed in believing that p then I am justiﬁed in believing that I believe that p. So it is impossible to have a justiﬁed omissive Mooreparadoxical belief. The (...) third is the conscious belief approach, being committed to: if I consciously believe that p then I believe that I believe that p. So if I have a conscious omissive Moore-paradoxical belief, then I have contradictory second-order beliefs. In their place, Vahid argues for the defective- interpretation approach, broadly that charity requires us to discount the utterer of a Mooreparadoxical sentence as a speaker. I agree that the Wittgensteinian approach is unsatisfactory. But so is the defective-interpretation approach. However, there is a satisfactory version of each of the epistemic and conscious-belief approaches. (shrink)
Conc 2: Charitable reconstructions are available. Conc 3: But these lead to worrying results. (POM) Conc 4: Further weakening prevents it from playing the “survival is intrinsic” role in fission arguments.
such light matter as you fancy, or the work of light or chance persons; and Cratylus is right in thinking that things have names by nature, and that not every man is an artificer of names, but he only who looks to the name which each thing by nature.
Some things, argues Lewis, are just better candidates to be referents than others. Even at the cost of attributing false beliefs, we interpret people as referring to the most interesting kinds in their vicinity. How should this be accounted for? In section 1, I look at Lewis’s interpretationism, and the reference magnetism it builds in (not just for ‘perfectly natural’ properties, but for certain kinds of auxiliary apparatus). In section 2, I draw on (Field, 1975) to argue that what properties (...) are reference magnetic may be an ultimately conventional matter—though in the Lewisian setting, there may be an objectively best conventional choice to make. But Lewis’s own account has implausible commitments, so in section 3 I consider variations and alternatives, all of which have problems. In section 4, I look in more detail at eligibility-based interpretationism that do not appeal to naturalness, arguing that there are credible metasemantic theories of this form. (shrink)
Taking away grains from a heap of rice, at what point is there no longer a heap? It seems small changes – removing a single grain – can’t make a difference to whether or not something is a heap; but big changes obviously do. How can this be, since big changes are nothing but small changes chained together?
I formulate a counterfactual version of the notorious ‘Ramsey Test’. Even in a weak form, this makes counterfactuals subject to the very argument that Lewis used to persuade the majority of the philosophical community that indicative conditionals were in hot water. I outline two reactions: to indicativize the debate on counterfactuals; or to counterfactualize the debate on indicatives.
Chancy counterfactuals are a headache. Dylan Dodd (2009) presents an interesting argument against a certain general strategy for accounting for them, instances of which are found in the appendices to Lewis (1979) and in Williams (2008). I will argue (i) that Dodd’s understates the counterintuitiveness of the conclusions he can reach; (ii) that the counterintuitiveness can be thought of as an instance of more general oddities arising when we treat vagueness and indeterminacy in a classical setting; and (iii) the underlying (...) source of discontent which animates Dodd’s complains is to be found in a certain general constraint one might impose on conditionals—what I’ll call the counterfactual Ramsey bound. Unfortunately, the counterfactual Ramsey bound is just as problematic as its famous indicative cousin. The moral is that there’s no comfortable resting place in this area; for violations of the counterfactual Ramsey bound are going to lead to prima facie surprising results. (shrink)
Bryne & H´ajek (1997) argue that Lewis’s (1988; 1996) objections to identifying desire with belief do not go through if our notion of desire is ‘causalized’ (characterized by causal, rather than evidential, decision theory). I argue that versions of the argument go through on certain assumptions about the formulation of decision theory. There is one version of causal decision theory where the original arguments cannot be formulated—the ‘imaging’ formulation that Joyce (1999) advocates. But I argue this formulation is independently objectionable. (...) If we want to maintain the desire as belief thesis, there’s no shortcut through causalization. (shrink)
Jeff Paris (2001) proves a generalized Dutch Book theorem. If a belief state is not a generalized probability (a kind of probability appropriate for generalized distributions of truth-values) then one faces ‘sure loss’ books of bets. In Williams (manuscript) I showed that Joyce’s (1998) accuracy-domination theorem applies to the same set of generalized probabilities. What is the relationship between these two results? This note shows that (when ‘accuracy’ is treated via the Brier Score) both results are easy corollaries of the (...) core result that Paris appeals to in proving his dutch book theorem (Minkowski’s separating hyperplane theorem). We see that every point of accuracy-domination defines a dutch book, but we only have a partial converse. (shrink)
There are advantages to thrift over honest toil. If we can make do without numbers we avoid challenging questions over the metaphysics and epistemology of such entities; and we have a good idea, I think, of what a nominalistic metaphysics should look like. But minimizing ontology brings its own problems; for it seems to lead to error theory— saying that large swathes of common-sense and best science are false. Should recherche philosophical arguments really convince us to give all this up? (...) Such Moorean considerations are explicitly part of the motivation for the recent resurgence of structured metaphysics, which allow a minimal (perhaps nominalistic) fundamental ontology, while avoiding error-theory by adopting a permissive stance towards ontology that can be argued to be grounded in the fundamental. This paper evaluates the Moorean arguments, identifying key epistemological assumptions. On the assumption that Moorean arguments can be used to rule out error-theory, I examine deflationary ‘representationalist’ rivals to the structured metaphysics reaction. Quinean paraphrase, fictionalist claims about syntax and semantics are considered and criticized. In the final section, a ‘direct’ deflationary strategy is outlined and the theoretical obligations that it faces are articulated. The position advocated may have us talking a lot like a friend of structured metaphysics—but with a very different conception of what we’re up to. (shrink)
Revising semantics and logic has consequences for the theory of mind. Standard formal treatments of rational belief and desire make classical assumptions. If we are to challenge the presuppositions, we indicate what is kind of theory is going to take their place. Consider probability theory interpreted as an account of ideal partial belief. But if some propositions are neither true nor false, or are half true, or whatever—then it’s far from clear that our degrees of belief in it and its (...) negation should sum to 1, as classical probability theory requires (?, cf.). There are extant proposals in the literature for generalizing (categorical) probability theory to a non-classical setting, and we will use these below. But subjective probabilities themselves stand in functional relations to other mental states, and we need to trace the knock-on consequences of revisionism for this interrelationship (arguably, degrees of belief only count as kinds of belief in virtue of standing in these functional relationships). (shrink)
When should we believe a indicative conditional, and how much confidence in it should we have? Here’s one proposal: one supposes actual the antecedent; and sees under that supposition what credence attaches to the consequent. Thus we suppose that Oswald did not shot Kennedy; and note that under this assumption, Kennedy was assassinated by someone other than Oswald. Thus we are highly confident in the indicative: if Oswald did not kill Kennedy, someone else did.
One tradition of solving the surprise exam paradox, started by Robert Binkley and continued by Doris Olin, Roy Sorensen and Jelle Gerbrandy, construes surpriseepistemically and relies upon the oddity of propositions akin to G. E. Moore’s paradoxical ‘p and I don’t believe that p.’ Here I argue for an analysis that evolves from Olin’s. My analysis is different from hers or indeed any of those in the tradition because it explicitly recognizes that there are two distinct reductios at work in (...) the student’s paradoxical argument against the teacher. The weak reductio is easy to fault. Its invalidity determines the structure of the strong reductio, so-calledbecause it is more difficult to refute, but ultimately unsound because of reasons associated with Moore-paradoxicality. Previous commentators have not always appreciated this difference, with the result that the strong reductio is not addressed, or the response to the weak reductio is superfl uous. This is one reason why other analyses in the tradition are vulnerable to objections to which mine is not. (shrink)
Why care about being logical? Why criticize people for inconsistency? Must we simply take the normative significance of logic as brute, or can we explain it in terms of goals on which we have an independent grip: the merits of true (or knowledgeable) belief, for example? This paper explores Jim Joyce’s argument for probabilism in this light---arguing that it provides a plausible route for explaining the value of consistency.
Is there a Moore’s paradox in desire? I give a normative explanation of the epistemic irrationality, and hence absurdity, of Moorean belief that builds on Green and Williams’ normative account of absurdity. This explains why Moorean beliefs are normally irrational and thus absurd, while some Moorean beliefs are absurd without being irrational. Then I defend constructing a Moorean desire as the syntactic counterpart of a Moorean belief and distinguish it from a ‘Frankfurt’ conjunction of desires. Next I discuss putative examples (...) of rational and irrational desires, suggesting that there are norms of rational desire. Then I examine David Wall’s groundbreaking argument that Moorean desires are always unreasonable. Next I show against this that there are rational as well as irrational Moorean desires. Those that are irrational are also absurd, although there seem to be absurd desires that are not irrational. I conclude that certain norms of rational desire should be rejected. (shrink)
This paper reports the results of a workshop held in January 2013 to begin the process of establishing standards for e-learning programmes in the ethics of research involving human participants that could serve as the basis of their evaluation by individuals and groups who want to use, recommend or accredit such programmes. The standards that were drafted at the workshop cover the following topics: designer/provider qualifications, learning goals, learning objectives, content, methods, assessment of participants and assessment of the course. The (...) authors invite comments on the draft standards and eventual endorsement of a final version by all stakeholders. (shrink)
In some sense, survival seems to be an intrinsic matter. Whether or not you survive some event seems to depend on what goes on with you yourself —what happens in the environment shouldn’t make a difference. Likewise, being a person at a time seems intrinsic. The principle that survival seems intrinsic is one factor which makes personal fission puzzles so awkward. Fission scenarios present cases where if survival is an intrinsic matter, it appears that an individual could survive twice over. (...) But it’s well known that standard notions of “intrinsicality” won’t do to articulate the sense in which survival is intrinsic, since ‘personhood’ appears to be a maximal property. We formulate a sense in which survival and personhood (and perhaps other maximal properties) may be almost intrinsic—a sense that would suffice, for example, to ground fission arguments. It turns out that this notion of almost-intrinsicality allows us to formulate a new version of the problem of the many. (shrink)
John Turri gives an example that he thinks refutes what he takes to be “G. E. Moore's view” that omissive assertions such as “It is raining but I do not believe that it is raining” are “inherently ‘absurd'”. This is that of Ellie, an eliminativist who makes such assertions. Turri thinks that these are perfectly reasonable and not even absurd. Nor does she seem irrational if the sincerity of her assertion requires her to believe its content. A commissive counterpart of (...) Ellie is Di, a dialetheist who asserts or believes that The Russell set includes itself but I believe that it is not the case that the Russell set includes itself. Since any adequate explanation of Moore's paradox must handle commissive assertions and beliefs as well as omissive ones, it must deal with Di as well as engage Ellie. I give such an explanation. I argue that neither Ellie's assertion nor her belief is irrational yet both are absurd. Likewise neither Di's assertion nor her belief is irrational yet in contrast neither is absurd. I conclude that not all Moore-paradoxical assertions or beliefs are irrational and that the syntax of Moore's examples is not sufficient for the absurdity found in them. (shrink)
Moore’s paradox is the fact that assertions or beliefs such asBangkok is the capital of Thailand but I do not believe that Bangkok is the capital of Thailand or Bangkok is the capital of Thailand but I believe that Bangkok is not the capital of Thailandare ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. The current orthodoxy is that an explanation of the absurdity should first start with belief, on the assumption that once the absurdity in belief has been explained then this will translate (...) into an explanation of the absurdity in assertion. This assumption gives explanatory priority to belief over assertion. I show that the translation involved is much trickier than might at first appear. It is simplistic to think that Moorean absurdity in assertion is always a subsidiary product of the absurdity in belief, even when the absurdity is conceived as irrationality. Instead we should aim for explanations of Moorean absurdity in assertion and in belief that are independent even if related, while bearing in mind that some forms of irrationality may be forms of absurdity even if not conversely. (shrink)
Moore’s paradox in belief is the fact that beliefs of the form ‘ p and I do not believe that p ’ are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. Writers on the paradox have nearly all taken the absurdity to be a form of irrationality. These include those who give what Timothy Chan calls the ‘pragmatic solution’ to the paradox. This solution turns on the fact that having the Moorean belief falsifies its content. Chan, who also takes the absurdity to be a (...) form of irrationality, objects to this solution by arguing that it is circular and thus incomplete. This is because it must explain why Moorean beliefs are irrational yet, according to Chan, their grammatical third-person transpositions are not, even though the same proposition is believed. But the solution can only explain this asymmetry by relying on a formulation of the ground of the irrationality of Moorean beliefs that presupposes precisely such asymmetry. I reply that it is neither necessary nor sufficient for the irrationality that the contents of Moorean beliefs be restricted to the grammatical first-person. What has to be explained is rather that such grammatical non-first-person transpositions sometimes, but not always, result in the disappearance of irrationality. Describing this phenomenon requires the grammatical first-person/non-first person distinction. The pragmatic solution explains the phenomenon once it is formulated in de se terms. But the grammatical first-person/non-first-person distinction is independent of, and a fortiori, different from, the de se /non- de se distinction presupposed by pragmatic solution, although both involve the first person broadly construed. Therefore the pragmatic solution is not circular. Building on the work of Green and Williams I also distinguish between the irrationality of Moorean beliefs and their absurdity. I argue that while all irrational Moorean beliefs are absurd, some Moorean beliefs are absurd but not irrational. I explain this absurdity in a way that is not circular either. (shrink)
Background Genomic research is challenging the tradition of informed consent. Genomic researchers in the USA, Canada and parts of Europe are encouraged to use informed consent to address the prospect of disclosing individual research results (IRRs) to study participants. In the USA, no national policy exists to direct this use of informed consent, and it is unclear how local institutional review boards (IRBs) may want researchers to respond. Objective and methods To explore publicly accessible IRB websites for guidance in this (...) area, using summative content analysis. Findings Three types of research results were addressed in 45 informed consent templates and instructions from 20 IRBs based at centres conducting genomic research: (1) IRRs in general, (2) incidental findings (IFs) and (3) a broad and unspecified category of ‘significant new findings’ (SNFs). IRRs were more frequently referenced than IFs or SNFs. Most documents stated that access to IRRs would not be an option for research participants. These non-disclosure statements were found to coexist in some documents with statements that SNFs would be disclosed to participants if related to their willingness to participate in research. The median readability of template language on IRRs, IFs and SNFs exceeded a ninth-grade level. Conclusion IRB guidance may downplay the possibility of IFs and contain conflicting messages on IRR non-disclosure and SNF disclosure. IRBs may need to clarify why separate IRR and SNF language should appear in the same consent document. The extent of these issues, nationally and internationally, needs to be determined. (shrink)
Joyce (1998) gives an argument for probabilism: the doctrine that rational credences should conform to the axioms of probability. In doing so, he provides a distinctive take on how the normative force of probabilism relates to the injunction to believe what is true. But Joyce presupposes that the truth values of the propositions over which credences are defined are classical. I generalize the core of Joyce’s argument to remove this presupposition. On the same assumptions as Joyce uses, the credences of (...) a rational agent should always be weighted averages of truth value assignments. In the special case where the truth values are classical, the weighted averages of truth value assignments are exactly the probability functions. But in the more general case, probabilistic axioms formulated in terms of classical logic are violated—but we will show that generalized versions of the axioms formulated in terms of non-classical logics are satisfied. (shrink)
This paper examines two puzzles of indeterminacy. The first puzzle concerns the hypothesis that there is a unified phenomenon of indeterminacy. How are we to reconcile this with the apparent diversity of reactions that indeterminacy prompts? The second puzzle focuses narrowly on borderline cases of vague predicates. How are we to account for the lack of theoretical consensus about what the proper reaction to borderline cases is? I suggest (building on work by Maudlin) that the characteristic feature of indeterminacy is (...) alethic normative silence, and use this to explain both plurality and lack of consensus. (shrink)
I formulate a counterfactual version of the notorious 'Ramsey Test'. Whereas the Ramsey Test for indicative conditionals links credence in indicatives to conditional credences, the counterfactual version links credence in counterfactuals to expected conditional chance. I outline two forms: a Ramsey Identity on which the probability of the conditional should be identical to the corresponding conditional probabihty/expectation of chance; and a Ramsey Bound on which credence in the conditional should never exceed the latter.Even in the weaker, bound, form, the counterfactual (...) Ramsey Test makes counterfactuals subject to the very argument that Lewis used to argue against the indicative version of the Ramsey Test. I compare the assumptions needed to run each, pointing to assumptions about the time-evolution of chances that can replace the appeal to Bayesian assumptions about credence update in motivating the assumptions of the argument.I finish by outlining two reactions to the discussion: to indicativize the debate on counterfactuals; or to counterfactualize the debate on indicatives. (shrink)
Jeff Paris (2001) proves a generalized Dutch Book theorem. If a belief state is not a generalized probability (a kind of probability appropriate for generalized distributions of truth-values) then one faces ‘sure loss’ books of bets. In <span class='Hi'>Williams</span> (manuscript) I showed that Joyce’s (1998) accuracy-domination theorem applies to the same set of generalized probabilities. What is the relationship between these two results? This note shows that (when ‘accuracy’ is treated via the Brier Score) both results are easy corollaries of (...) the core result that Paris appeals to in proving his dutch book theorem (Minkowski’s separating hyperplane theorem). We see that every point of accuracy-domination deﬁnes a dutch book, but we only have a partial converse. (shrink)
This paper argues that, if we are committed to a Pro-choice stance with regard to selective abortion for disability, we will be unable to justify the prohibition of sex-selective abortion (SSA), for two reasons. First, familiar Pro-choice arguments in favour of a woman’s right to select against fetal impairment also support, by parity of reasoning, a right to choose SSA. Second, rejection of the criticisms of selective abortion for disability levelled by disability theorists also disposes, by implication, of the key (...) objections to SSA, as developed, most notably, by feminists. The paper, then, consists of a conditional defence of SSA, under which SSA should be available, and protected by a right, if selective abortion for disability is. Opponents of SSA might respond by conceding additional restrictions on selection against disabled fetuses. It should become clear throughout the paper, however, that any such new restrictions would be unacceptably onerous for women. (shrink)
I offer a novel account of the absurdity of Moore-paradoxical assertion in terms of an interlocutor’s fully conscious beliefs. This account starts with an original argument for the principle that fully conscious belief collects over conjunction. The argument is premised on the synchronic unity of consciousness and the transparency of belief.