I argue that Rachlin's notion of self-control is imprecise and not well suited to the discussion of altruism. Rachlin's broader agenda, to improve collective welfare by identifying behavioral mechanisms that increase altruism, neglects the fact that altruism is neither necessary nor sufficient for desirable social outcomes.
The work is a charitable study on what the internationally renowned presenter and author, Howard Sobel, views to be largely the truth about moral thought and talk. Discussions and observations from David Humes own writings oftentimes reinforce and elaborate the authors notions and there is an assertive attempt to weave logical thinking into the book. Applications to such mathematical concepts as game theory, decision-making, and conditionals are dispersed throughout so as to enlighten the theory behind the ideas.
Consequentialism, many philosophers have claimed, asks too much of us to be a plausible ethical theory. Indeed, the theory's severe demandingness is often claimed to be its chief flaw. My thesis is that as we come to better understand this objection, we see that, even if it signals or tracks the existence of a real problem for Consequentialism, it cannot itself be a fundamental problem with the view. The objection cannot itself provide good reason to break with Consequentialism, because it (...) must presuppose prior and independent breaks with the view. The way the objection measures the demandingness of an ethical theory reflects rather than justifies being in the grip of key anti-Consequentialist conclusions. We should reject Consequentialism independently of the Objection or not at all. Thus, we can reduce by one the list of worrisome fundamental complaints against Consequentialism. (shrink)
We argue that Parfit's "Triviality Objection" against some naturalistic views of normativity is not compelling. We think that once one accepts, as one should, that identity statements can be informative in virtue of their pragmatics and not only in virtue of their semantics, Parfit's case against naturalism can be overcome.
We argue that beliefs and desires cannot be successfully explicated in terms of direction of fit. It is more difficult than has been realized to do so without presupposing these notions in the explication.
We argue against a positive case Enoch offers for thinking that there are non-natural normative properties. Enoch had argued that there is a general difference in how we should treat preference disputes and factual disputes--a difference that shows that normative disputes look more like factual disputes than like preference disputes. We argue that that is not so.
Richard Kraut's neo-Aristotelian account of well-being, Developmentalism, aspires to explain not only which things are good for us but why those things are good for us. The key move in attempting to make good on this second aspiration involves his claim that our ordinary intuitions about what is good for a person can be successfully explained and systematized by the idea that what benefi ts a living thing develops properly that living thing's potentialities, capacities, and faculties. I argue that Kraut's (...) understanding of such proper development plays no serious constraining role in shaping the details of the account. If this is correct, Developmentalism lacks the potential to explain or vindicate the intuitions about what is good for us that it champions. In effect, Kraut offers us a list of things that he claims benefits a person, but he lacks a theory of what those things have in common such that they benefit him. (shrink)
A BAYESIAN ARTICULATION OF HUME’S VIEWS IS OFFERED BASED ON A FORM OF THE BAYES-LAPLACE THEOREM THAT IS SUPERFICIALLY LIKE A FORMULA OF CONDORCET’S. INFINITESIMAL PROBABILITIES ARE EMPLOYED FOR MIRACLES AGAINST WHICH THERE ARE ’PROOFS’ THAT ARE NOT OPPOSED BY ’PROOFS’. OBJECTIONS MADE BY RICHARD PRICE ARE DEALT WITH, AND RECENT EXPERIMENTS CONDUCTED BY AMOS TVERSKY AND DANIEL KAHNEMAN ARE CONSIDERED IN WHICH PERSONS TEND TO DISCOUNT PRIOR IMPROBABILITIES WHEN ASSESSING REPORTS OF WITNESSES.
Can we adequately account for our reasons of mere taste without holding that our desires ground such reasons? Recently, Scanlon and Parfit have argued that we can, pointing to pleasure and pain as the grounds of such reasons. In this paper I take issue with each of their accounts. I conclude that we do not yet have a plausible rival to a desire-based understanding of the grounds of such reasons.
“To this day, partiality approaches to the paradox have been dogged by the so-called ‘Strengthened Liar’. .... The Strengthened Liar observes that if we follow a partiality theorist and declare the Liar sentence* neither true nor false (or failing to express a proposition,. or suffering from some sort of grave semantic defect), then the paradox is only pushed back. For we can go on to conclude that whatever this status may be, it implies that the Liar sentence is not true. (...) This claim is true, but it is just the Liar sentence again.* We are back in paradox.” (Glanzberg 2002, p. 468, bold emphasis added.) Cf.: “We are back in our contradiction,”(Glanzberg 2001, p. 222). *The Liar sentence intended is evidently the sentence ‘the Liar sentence is not true’, and, the Liar sentence = ‘the Liar sentence is not true’. Cf.: “Consider a Liar sentence: ...let us take a sentence l which says l is not true. We can, informally, reason as.. (shrink)
These days, just about every philosophical debate seems to generate a position labeled internalism. The debate I will be joining in this essay concerns reasons for action and their connection, or lack of connection, to motivation. The internalist position in this debate posits a certain essential connection between reasons and motivation, while the externalist position denies such a connection. This debate about internalism overlaps an older debate between Humeans and Kantians about the exclusive reason-giving power of desires. As we will (...) see, however, while these debates overlap, the new debate is importantly different from the old debate. (shrink)
I have maintained that some but not all prisoners' dilemmas are side-by-side Necomb problems. The present paper argues that, similarly, some but not all versions of Newcomb's Problem are prisoners' dilemmas in which Taking Two and Predicting Two make an equilibrium that is dispreferred by both the box-chooser and predictor to the outcome in which only one box is taken and this is predicted. I comment on what kinds of prisoner's dilemmas Newcomb's Problem can be, and on opportunities that results (...) reached may open for kinds of cooperative reasoning in versions of Newcomb's Problem. (shrink)
To resolve putative liar paradoxes it is sufficient to attend to the distinction between liar-sentences and the propositions they would express, and to exercise the option of turning would-be deductions of paradox (of contradictions) into reductions of the existence of those propositions. Defending the coherence of particular resolutions along these lines, leads to recognition of the non-extensionality of some liar-sentences. In particular, it turns out that exchanges of terms for identicals in the open-sentence '- does not expression a true proposition' (...) are not invariably truth-preserving because they are not invariably proposition-expression preserving. All of this recommends propositions as fruitful subjects of interesting renewed research. (shrink)
We propose that children employ specialized cognitive systems that allow them to recover an accurate “causal map” of the world: an abstract, coherent, learned representation of the causal relations among events. This kind of knowledge can be perspicuously understood in terms of the formalism of directed graphical causal models, or “Bayes nets”. Children’s causal learning and inference may involve computations similar to those for learning causal Bayes nets and for predicting with them. Experimental results suggest that 2- to 4-year-old children (...) construct new causal maps and that their learning is consistent with the Bayes net formalism. (shrink)
II. Virtue and Vice 1. David Hume – virtue theorist. 2. W hat kinds of things are virtues and vices according to Hume? 3. Hume’s first question in order of explanation: W hat is it for something to be a virtue? 4. The nature or definition of virtue – Hume’s hypothesis, in brief. 5. Detailing Hume’s account. 6. The nature of virtue according to this hypothesis. 7. Illusory qualities. 8. “A controversy started of late” (Hume) and “The M oral Problem” (...) (M ichael Smith) of late. Appendix. Virtuous and vicious actions. III. M oral Judgments.. (shrink)
Hartshorne derives that, “There is a perfect being, or perfection exists,” from the premises that, “perfection is not impossible,” and that, “perfection could not exist contingently.” (Hartshorne 1962, pp. 50-1.).
Libertarian self-ownership views in the tradition of Locke, Nozick, and the left-libertarians have supposed that we enjoy very powerful deontological protections against infringing upon our property. Such a conception makes sense when we are focused on property that is very important to its owner, such as a person’s kidney. However, this stringency of our property rights is harder to credit when we consider more trivial infringements such as very mildly toxic pollution or trivial risks such having planes fly overhead. Maintaining (...) that our rights against all infringements are very powerful threatens to implausibly make such pollution and trivial risk broadly impermissible. This paper suggests that self-ownership views have tended to inappropriately conflate the seriousness of different types of infringements and that treating all infringements so seriously is implausible because it would make too much impermissible. I consider several ways to avoid this result within a self-ownership framework and conclude that the best approach is to allow that the strength of the protection against infringements should be tied to the seriousness of the harm of the infringement. (shrink)
Libertarian self-ownership views have traditionally maintained that we enjoy very powerful deontological protections against any infringement upon our property. This stringency yields very counter-intuitive results when we consider trivial infringements such as very mildly toxic pollution or trivial risks such having planes fly overhead. Maintaining that other people's rights against all infringements are very powerful threatens to undermine our liberty, as Nozick saw. In this paper I consider the most sophisticated attempts to rectify this problem within a libertarian self-ownership framework. (...) I argue that all of these responses are significantly flawed. (shrink)
If we overlook no consequences when we assess the act, and no relevant features when we generalize, can it matter whether we ask 'What would happen if everyone did the same?' instead of 'What would happen if this act were performed?'? David Lyons has argued that it cannot. Two examples are here articulated to show that it can. The first turns on the way consequences are identified and assessed and in particular on the treatment accorded 'threshold consequences'. The second example (...) turns on the way in which the 'social context' of the act (what others would be doing) is taken into account in the generalization. Also included is a formal theory of conditionals from which implications are drawn for utilitarianism and with which I attempt to dispel certain doubts concerning cases employed in my arguments. (shrink)
Abstract: A Liar would express a proposition that is true and not true. A Liar Paradox would, per impossibile, demonstrate the reality of a Liar. To resolve a Liar Paradox it is sufficient to make out of its demonstration a reductio of the existence of the proposition that would be true and not true, and to "explain away" the charm of the paradoxical contrary demonstration. Persuasive demonstrations of the Liar Paradox in this paper trade on allusive scope-ambiguities of English definite (...) descriptions, and can seem confirmed by symbolizations in a Fregean theory in which scopes of definite descriptions are determinate. Symbolizing instead in a Russellian description theory in which alternative scopes are possible reveals that however the scope-ambiguities of the demonstration are settled the result is unsound. (shrink)
I. Introduction 1.1 George M avrodes seems to say that, as reasonable persons, on reading reports of winners of really big lotteries believe these reports, so must reasonable persons, on hearing or reading testimony for what in their view would be miracles, believe this testimony. That a randomly selected entrant should win a big lottery is immensely improbable, and yet a single report can reverse this improbability. He says it shows “that there is nothing incredible, or even unusual, in the (...) power of a single testimony to reverse an enormous initial improbability” (Mavrodes 2005, p. 317) Of miracles he says that “almost every aficionado” of them holds that they are improbable in the same way, and, he seems to say, to the same effect. (shrink)
Can I will that my maxim becomes a universal law? . . .It would be easy to show how common human reason, with this compass, knows well how to distinguish . . . what is consistent or inconsistent with duty. (Kant, Foundations, 403–4)How exactly is this compass to work? Cases bring out connected difficulties to do, (1), with whether ''social contexts'' are to be in or out of descriptions of actions maxims would have agents do – for example, ''disarming alone'' (...) and ''voting when enough others would even if one did not'', or ''disarming'' and ''voting'' simply; and, (2), with a seldom noticed ambiguity of ''everyone''s acting in accordance with a maxim'' and ''a maxim''s becoming universal law''. The paper argues dilemmatically for the inadequacy of Kant''s test for maxims consistent with duty whatever policy for social contexts and manner of maxims becoming universal laws it is said to invoke. (shrink)
: HIPAA is often described as a privacy rule. It is not. In fact, HIPAA is a disclosure regulation, and it has effectively dismantled the longstanding moral and legal tradition of patient confidentiality. By permitting broad and easy dissemination of patients’ medical information, with no audit trails for most disclosures, it has undermined both medical ethics and the effectiveness of medical care.
The token in the box in this paper of a sentence does not express a proposition. Why not? Because if it did it would express a proposition that was, amongst other things, about this token of that sentence, and that thus said that it was not true. No proposition can say that of itself.
We outline a cognitive and computational account of causal learning in children. We propose that children employ specialized cognitive systems that allow them to recover an accurate “causal map” of the world: an abstract, coherent representation of the causal relations among events. This kind of knowledge can be perspicuously represented by the formalism of directed graphical causal models, or “Bayes nets”. Human causal learning and inference may involve computations similar to those for learnig causal Bayes nets and for predicting with (...) them. Preliminary experimental results suggest that 2- to 4-year-old children spontaneously construct new causal maps and that their learning is consistent with the Bayes-Net formalism. (shrink)
According to a familiar argument, iterated prisoner's dilemmas of known finite lengths resolve for ideally rational and well-informed players: They would defect in the last round, anticipate this in the next to last round and so defect in it, and so on. But would they anticipate defections even if they had been cooperating? Not necessarily, say recent critics. These critics "lose" the backward-induction paradox by imposing indicative interpretations on rationality and information conditions. To regain it I propose subjunctive interpretations. To (...) solve it I stress that implications for ordinary imperfect players are limited. (shrink)
The orthodoxy that conditional probabilities reflect what are for a subject evidential bearings is seconded. This significance suggests that there should be principles equating rationally revised probabilities on new information with probabilities reached by conditionalizing on this information. Several principles, two of which are endorsed, are considered. A book is made against a violator of these, and it is argued that there must be something wrong with a person against whom such books can be made. Appendices comment on Popper-functions, elaborate (...) on bets and odds, and relate dutch books and strategies to conditions of inconsistency (Ramsey's idea) and imperfection. (shrink)
A person who does not have good intellectual reasons for believing in God can, depending on his probabilities and values for consequences of believing, have good practical reasons. Pascalian wagers founded on a variety of possible probability/value profiles are examined from a Bayesian perspective central to which is the idea that states and options are pragmatically reasonable only if they maximize subjective expected value. Attention is paid to problems posed by representations of values by Cantorian infinities. An appendix attends to (...) Robinsonian hyperreals. Another appendix presents for comparison Newcomb's Problem and a problem in some ways like it suggested, I think, by ideas of John Calvin. (shrink)
This paper addresses issues raised by recent discussion in normative ethics which concern relations between properties of individual actions and of certain groups of actions. First, an ambiguity common to ?everyone can? and ?everyone ought? is examined. Next, a similar ambiguity in talk about consequences is studied; here several procedures for identifying and evaluating consequences are compared. Then a notation that untangles the ambiguities is presented. Next, this notation is employed in an analysis of Marcus Singer's deduction of his generalization (...) argument. Finally, there is a study of the question as to whether or not conflicts are possible between Singer's generalization argument and the dictates of consequences of individual actions. The findings are that such conflicts are or are not possible depending upon how a certain restriction on generalization arguments is interpreted, and that in either case the proponent of generalization arguments is faced with problems. (shrink)
"It is a general maxim...’ That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact which it endeavors to establish; and even in that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the superior only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force, which remains, after deducting the inferior.’" A Bayesian interpretation of the first half is proved as a theorem. (...) A stronger conditional principle, and a biconditional theorem based on it, are substantiated. And a truth that the second part can express is explained. (shrink)
20 June 2004. In “The Appointment,” Puzzles for the Will, 1998, Chapter II, Appendix, I say that the provenance of the tale was then unsettled. Jeffrey Archer wrote that it remained so in 2000 “despite extensive research”.
Key words: liar paradoxes, propositions, definite descriptions A Liar would be a sentence or sentence-token that expresses a proposition that is both true and not true. A Liar Paradox is reasoning that would do the impossible and demonstrate the reality of a Liar. It is sufficient, fully to resolve a Liar Paradox, to turn its purported demonstration that some sentence or sentence-token expresses a proposition that is both true and not true into a reductio of the existence of the proposition (...) that would be expressed, while ‘explaining away’ the particular tricks and charm of the purported demonstration of paradox. The interest of these exercises lies in the seductiveness of the would be demonstration of a Liar Paradox, and in the depth and subtlety of logical/grammatical resources that can be tapped and fashioned to dispel it. The Liar taken on in this paper occasions especially seductive reasoning that exploits ‘scope-ambiguities’ of definite descriptions that, not incidentally, survive unscathed when its argument is symbolized in a Fregean description theory in which scopes of definite descriptions are not discriminated. Symbolizing this argument in a Russellian description theory in which scopes are discriminated makes unavoidable that its scope-ambiguities be settled one way or another, and reveals that however the scope ambiguity of a certain premise is settled the resultant unambiguous argument is unsound, either because it is invalid, though this premise comes out true, or because, though it is valid, this premise comes out not true. These results of Russellian analysis pave the way to a formal demonstration, from premises to which a monger of the paradox would be committed, that contrary to his case the Liar of this paper does not express a proposition. This conclusion is confirmed in the Appendix to this paper by a demonstration from a single empirical premise that no one can deny, in a Russellian calculus enhanced for truth of propositions expressed by tokens of sentences.. (shrink)
Hyperrational games are characterized, and conditions for their resolutions are identified. It is maintained that they can resolve only in kinds of equilibria, and that some do resolve in by deliberations that, by processes of elimination, settle a player's expectations concerning the acts of other players. Problems for hyperrational agents are identified: It is held that they would do not well in some situations and that there are some situations that though possible for other agents are ones with which hyperrational (...) agents could not cope. (shrink)
Rational actions reflect beliefs and preferences in certain orderly ways. The problem of theory is to explain which beliefs and preferences are relevant to the rationality of particular actions, and exactly how they are relevant. One distinction of interest here is between an agent's beliefs and preferences just before an action's time, and his beliefs and preferences at its time. Theorists do not agree about the times of beliefs and desires that are relevant to the rationality of action. Another distinction (...) is between actions that would, in one sense or another, maximize expected utilities given relevant beliefs and desires, and actions, decisions for which would, in one sense or another, be stable. There is disagreement about the relevance of these things to the rationality of actions. Here, in the first part below, several possible positions on these issues are explained and compared. In the second part, I contrast perspectives on these issues, and comment on arguments that might be brought against the position I favor. In the third part, I restate and elaborate on this position. (shrink)
The material in this note was developed for a first course in logie to illustrate a standard use of logie in analysis. The object was to present a not entirely trivial or artificial confusion that was amenable to resolution using only the tools of quite elementary logic-no modalities, no restrietions to extensional contexts. Copies o f The Problem were distributed. Then, on another day, A Solution.
People are adept at inferring novel causal relations, even from only a few observations. Prior knowledge about the probability of encountering causal relations of various types and the nature of the mechanisms relating causes and effects plays a crucial role in these inferences. We test a formal account of how this knowledge can be used and acquired, based on analyzing causal induction as Bayesian inference. Five studies explored the predictions of this account with adults and 4-year-olds, using tasks in which (...) participants learned about the causal properties of a set of objects. The studies varied the two factors that our Bayesian approach predicted should be relevant to causal induction: the prior probability with which causal relations exist, and the assumption of a deterministic or a probabilistic relation between cause and effect. Adults’ judgments (Experiments 1, 2, and 4) were in close correspondence with the quantitative predictions of the model, and children’s judgments (Experiments 3 and 5) agreed qualitatively with this account. (shrink)
Depue & Collins's model of incentive-motivational modulation of goal-directed behavior subserved by a medial orbital prefrontal cortical (MOC) network is appealing, but it leaves several questions unanswered: How are the stimuli that elicit an incentive motivational state selected? How does the incentive motivational state created by the MOC network modulate behavior? What is the function of the dopaminergic input to the striatum? This commentary suggests possible answers, based on the open-interconnected model of basal-ganglia-thalamocortical circuits, in which the limbic circuit selects (...) goals and, via its connections with the motor and the associative circuits, directs behavior according to those goals, elaborating on the role of dopamine. (shrink)
An example shows that 'pairwise preferences' (certain hypothetical choices) can cycle even when rational. General considerations entail that preferences tout court (certain relations of actual valuations) cannot cycle. A world-bayesian theory is explained that accommodates these two kinds of preference, and a theory for rational actions that would have them maximize and be objects of ratifiable choices. It is observed that choices can be unratifiable either because of troublesome credences or because of troublesome preferences. An appendix comments on a third (...) way in which efforts to maximize can be frustrated. (shrink)
It is plausible that Newcomb problems in which causal maximizers and evidential maximizers would do different things would not be possible for ideal maximizers who are attentive to metatickles. An objection to Eells's first argument for this makes welcome a second. Against it I argue that even ideal evidential and causal maximizers would do different things in some non-dominance Newcomb problems; and that they would hope for different things in some third-person and non-action problems, which is relevant if a good (...) theory of rational choices of acts should fit smoothly into a good theory of rational desires for facts. (shrink)
Two partition-theorems are proved for a particular causal decision theory. One is restricted to a certain kind of partition of circumstances, and analyzes the utility of an option in terms of its utilities in conjunction with circumstances in this partition. The other analyzes an option's utility in terms of its utilities conditional on circumstances and is quite unrestricted. While the first form seems more useful for applications, the second form may be of theoretical importance in foundational exercises. Comparisons are made (...) with theorems of Richard Jeffrey, Brad Armendt, and Peter Fishburn. (shrink)