In this paper, we provide a new framework for understanding infant-feeding-related maternal guilt and shame, placing these in the context of feminist theoretical and psychological accounts of the emotions of self-assessment. Whereas breastfeeding advocacy has been critiqued for its perceived role in inducing maternal guilt, we argue that the emotion women often feel surrounding infant feeding may be better conceptualized as shame in its tendency to involve a negative self-assessment—a failure to achieve an idealized notion of good motherhood. Further, we (...) suggest, both formula-feeding and breastfeeding mothers experience shame: the former report feeling that they fail to live up to ideals of womanhood and motherhood, and the latter transgress cultural expectations regarding feminine modesty. The problem, then, is the degree to which mothers are vulnerable to shame generally, regardless of infant feeding practices. As an emotion that is less adaptive and potentially more damaging than guilt, shame ought to be the focus of resistance for both feminists and breastfeeding advocates, who need to work in conjunction with women to oppose this shame by assisting them in constructing their own ideals of good motherhood that incorporate a sense of self-concern. (shrink)
In 1962, the philosopher Richard Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that human beings have no control over the future. David Foster Wallace not only took issue with Taylor's method, which, according to him, scrambled the relations of logic, language, and the physical world, but also noted a semantic trick at the heart of Taylor's argument. -/- Fate, Time, and Language presents Wallace's brilliant critique of Taylor's work. Written long before the publication of his fiction and (...) essays, Wallace's thesis reveals his great skepticism of abstract thinking made to function as a negation of something more genuine and real. He was especially suspicious of certain paradigms of thought-the cerebral aestheticism of modernism, the clever gimmickry of postmodernism-that abandoned "the very old traditional human verities that have to do with spirituality and emotion and community." As Wallace rises to meet the challenge to free will presented by Taylor, we witness the developing perspective of this major novelist, along with his struggle to establish solid logical ground for his convictions. This volume, edited by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, reproduces Taylor's original article and other works on fatalism cited by Wallace. James Ryerson's introduction connects Wallace's early philosophical work to the themes and explorations of his later fiction, and Jay Garfield supplies a critical biographical epilogue. (shrink)
I develop the decision-theoretic approach to quantum probability, originally proposed by David Deutsch, into a mathematically rigorous proof of the Born rule in (Everett-interpreted) quantum mechanics. I sketch the argument informally, then prove it formally, and lastly consider a number of proposed ``counter-examples'' to show exactly which premises of the argument they violate. (This is a preliminary version of a chapter to appear --- under the title ``How to prove the Born Rule'' --- in Saunders, Barrett, Kent and Wallace, (...) "Many worlds? Everett, quantum theory and reality", forthcoming from Oxford University Press.). (shrink)
R. Jay Wallace argues in this book that moral accountability hinges on questions of fairness: When is it fair to hold people morally responsible for what they do? Would it be fair to do so even in a deterministic world? To answer these questions, we need to understand what we are doing when we hold people morally responsible, a stance that Wallace connects with a central class of moral sentiments, those of resentment, indignation, and guilt. To hold someone (...) responsible, he argues, is to be subject to these reactive emotions in one's dealings with that person. Developing this theme with unusual sophistication, he offers a new interpretation of the reactive emotions and traces their role in our practices of blame and moral sanction. With this account in place, Wallace advances a powerful and sustained argument against the common view that accountability requires freedom of will. Instead, he maintains, the fairness of holding people responsible depends on their rational competence: the power to grasp moral reasons and to control their behavior accordingly. He shows how these forms of rational competence are compatible with determinism. At the same time, giving serious consideration to incompatibilist concerns, Wallace develops a compelling diagnosis of the common assumption that freedom is necessary for responsibility. Rigorously argued, eminently readable, this book touches on issues of broad concern to philosophers, legal theorists, political scientists, and anyone with an interest in the nature and limits of responsibility. (shrink)
Normativity and the Will collects fourteen important papers on moral psychology and practical reason by R. Jay Wallace, one of the leading philosophers currently working in these areas. The papers explore the interpenetration of normative and psychological issues in a series of debates that lie at the heart of moral philosophy. Themes that are addressed include reason, desire, and the will; responsibility, identification, and emotion; and the relation between morality and other normative domains. Wallace's treatments of these topics (...) are at once sophisticated and engaging. Taken together, they constitute an advertisement for a distinctive way of pursuing issues in moral psychology and the theory of practical reason, and they articulate and defend a unified framework for thinking about those issues. The volume also features a helpful new introduction. (shrink)
Wallace, Max On 20 June 2012 the High Court of Australia handed down their decision in Willliams v The Commonwealth. The case concerned the question of whether it was unconstitutional for the federal government to fund religious chaplains in public schools. The argument against the funding was on technical, financial grounds. The government had avoided making a law in the parliament to fund the chaplains. That way, they were able to avoid a legal complaint that the funding breached Australia's (...) s.116, the section in the constitution that mimics America's First Amendment. The funding therefore would avoid a major dispute over separation of church and state. (shrink)
Wallace, Meg London's National Theatre recently hosted a debate about freedom of speech, multiculturalism and Islam called Can we talk about this? The opening line was a question to the audience, 'Are you morally superior to the Taliban?' Anne Marie Waters, who was present, wrote in her blog that 'very few people in the audience raised their hand to say they were.' This response demonstrates a misconceived attempt to be seen as tolerant and 'multiculturalist'. People could not bring themselves (...) to say their views are morally superior to a group that, Waters points out, 'denies women medical treatment, imprisons them in their homes, allows domestic violence, and executes people by stoning for having a private life or the audacity to not believe in God.' They fear being labelled, racist, 'Islamophobic', or discriminating against religion. Rather, they adopt a stance that treats all moral views generated by culture or religion as equally valid ('cultural relativism'). They confuse the distinction between the right to think as you want, and the right to act as you want. (shrink)
Wallace, Max At the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) Convention in Melbourne on 14 April this year Geoffrey Robertson QC turned his mind to the tax-exempt status of religion. He joked that, Atheist foundations could qualify for tax exemption by declaring their belief in Christopher Hitchens! Turn him into an L. Ron Hubbard figure to be worshipped through his sacred books! It got a good laugh. It never occurred to Robertson, or the Convention audience, that the AFA, like all (...) religions in Australia with a supernatural belief, might already be tax-exempt. (shrink)
Wallace, Max I respond here to David Nicholls November 2012 Facebook posting in response to my article 'Non-religious tax avoidance' in the Summer issue of AH, No. 108, 2012 where I reviewed how it was the Atheist Foundation of Australia came to have tax-exempt status and whether that was appropriate.
Presenting a striking new account of the 'many worlds' approach to quantum theory, aka the Everett interpretation, David Wallace offers a clear and up-to-date survey of work on this theory in physics and in philosophy of science.
Sacred Games, Death, and Renewal in the Ancient Eastern Woodlands Content Type Journal Article Category Review Pages 507-509 DOI 10.1558/jcr.v11i4.507 Authors Sandra Wallace, Artefact Heritage, Po Box 772 Rose Bay, NSW 2029 Journal Journal of Critical Realism Online ISSN 1572-5138 Print ISSN 1476-7430 Journal Volume Volume 11 Journal Issue Volume 11, Number 4 / 2012.
In an earlier article (see J Gen Philos Sei (2009) 40: 357-372) I have discussed the arguments brought forward by Michael Wolff against the interpretation given in the commentary by Ebert and Nortmann on Aristotle's syllogistic theory (Aristoteles Analy tica Priora Buch I, übersetzt und erläutert von Theodor Ebert und Ulrich Nortmann. Berlin 2007) and against the critique of Kant's adaption of the syllogistic logic. I have dealt with Wolff's arguments concerning (Ebert/Nortmann's interpretation of) Aristotle in the (...) paper mentioned and with his attempts to defend his critique in this subsequent article (part 1; see J Gen Phils Sei (2010) 41: 215-231). Part 2 (the paper below) is concerned with Wolffs renewed attempts to defend Kant as a logician. In particular I point out that if, as Wolff claims, the nota notae relation in Kant is restricted to subordinated concepts, then it can hardly serve as a principle for syllogistic logic, as Kant claims. Against Wolff's attempts to defend Kant's claim that o-propositions are simplicitér convertible, I point out two arguments: (1) Even if Kant, following the Vernunftlehre by Meier, has assumed that an o-proposition can be turned into an i-proposition, this conversion is useless for the reduction to first figure syllogisms since we are no longer dealing with three syllogistic terms but with four. (2) It is quite unlikely that Kant has a conversion of this type in mind since the texts of his students always talk of the group of either the particular propositions or else of the negative propositions. Given Kant's mistakes concerning the convertibility simpliciter of o-propositions, it is no wonder that he overlooks the special status of the moods Baroco and Bocardo. Wolffs attempts to provide Kant with what he claims are direct proofs for these moods can be shown to rely on a reductio ad impossibile. Kant mistook what are parts of the proofs for the validity of moods in figures two to four as parts of these moods themselves. Wolff—who tries to defend Kant on this point—is forced to an artificial and unconvincing reading of the Kantian texts. (shrink)
When Jennifer Wallace travelled round Greece as a student, hiking through olive groves to hunt out the stones of old temples and lost cities, she became fascinated by archaeology. It was magical. It was absurd. Give an archaeologist a few rocks and, like a master storyteller, he could bring another world to life. Give him a vague hunch about the past, and he was prepared to spend hours raking through the soil in search of proof. From the plain of (...) Troy to the Titanic, and from Britain's Stonehenge to Ground Zero in New York, Digging the Dirt explores the excavation sites that have exerted the strongest pull on the public imagination. Some sites, in which bones are indistinguishable from dust, have driven archaeologists to despair. Other sites haunt poets with memories of loss and romance. All reveal the relevance of archaeology to our deepest cultural anxieties. Passionate and intelligent, Digging the Dirt engages with the work of philosophers and writers who have been stirred by the life below the ground, while never losing sight of the pressing demands of archaeologists today. In a world of postmodern spin, Wallace calls for a renewed sense of the poetics of depth and shows how ex. (shrink)
Wallace, Max This paper poses a paradox: the post-Gonski situation appears uncertain for mainly low socio-economic status government schools as the apparent government- in-waiting, the Coalition, have made a number of ominous statements as to whether they will follow through on the Gillard government's embrace of the Gonski funding reform.
Dewey Wallace tells the story of several prominent English Calvinist actors and thinkers in the first generations after the beginning of the Restoration. In the midst of conflicts between Church and Dissent and the intellectual challenges of the dawning age of Enlightenment, these five individuals and groups dealt with deism, anti-Trinitarianism, and scoffing atheism - usually understood as godlessness - by choosing different emphases in their defense and promotion of Calvinist piety and theology. In each case there was not (...) only persistence in an earlier Calvinist trajectory, but also a transformation of the Calvinist heritage into a new mode of thinking and acting. The different paths taken illustrate the rich variety of English Calvinism in the period. This study offers description and analysis of the mystical Calvinism of Peter Sterry, the hermeticist Calvinism of Theophilus Gale, the evangelical Calvinism of Joseph Alleine and the circle that promoted his legacy, the natural theology of the moderate Calvinist Presbyterians Richard Baxter, William Bates, and John Howe, and the Church of England Calvinism of John Edwards. Wallace seeks to overturn conventional clichés about Calvinism: that it was anti-mystical, that it allowed no scope for the ''ancient theology'' that characterized much of Renaissance learning, that its piety was harshly predestinarian, that it was uninterested in natural theology, and that it had been purged from the established church by the end of the seventeenth century. Shapers of English Calvinism, 1660-1714 illuminates the religious and intellectual history of the era between the Reformation and modernity, offering fascinating insight into the development of Calvinism and also into English Puritanism as it transitioned into Dissent. (shrink)
I discuss the statistical mechanics of gravitating systems and in particular its cosmological implications, and argue that many conventional views on this subject in the foundations of statistical mechanics embody significant confusion; I attempt to provide a clearer and more accurate account. In particular, I observe that (i) the role of gravity in entropy calculations must be distinguished from the entropy of gravity, that (ii) although gravitational collapse is entropy-increasing, this is not usually because the collapsing matter itself increases in (...) entropy, and that (iii) the Second Law of thermodynamics does not owe its validity to the statistical mechanics of gravitational collapse. (shrink)
T. M. Scanlon's magisterial book What We Owe to Each Other is surely one of the most sophisticated and important works of moral philosophy to have appeared for many years. It raises fundamental questions about all the main aspects of the subject, and I hope and expect that it will have a decisive influence on the shape and direction of moral philosophy in the years to come. In this essay I shall focus on four sets of issues raised by Scanlon's (...) systematic argument, with the aim of clarifying some of Scanlon's central assumptions and presenting alternatives at several key points. The perspective from which I offer these comments is that of a reader who is sympathetic to Scanlon's general approach but not yet convinced on various points of detail. (shrink)
Rational agency may be thought of as intentional activity that is guided by the agent's conception of what they have reason to do. The paper identifies and assesses three approaches to this phenomenon, which I call internalism, meta-internalism, and volitionalism. Internalism accounts for rational motivation by appeal to substantive desires of the agent's that are conceived as merely given; I argue that it fails to do full justice to the phenomenon of guidance by one's conception of one's reasons. Meta-internalism explains (...) this phenomenon by postulating higher-order dispositions, consitutive of (rational) agency itself, which causally interact with the agent's normative beliefs to produce corresponding motivations to action. I show that meta-internalism comes to grief over cases of akrasia, insofar as it leaves no room for the capacity for rational guidance when agents voluntarily act at variance with their judgments about what they have reason to do. Volitionalism, I contend, improves on both internalism and meta-internalism. Its distinctive feature is the postulation of a kind of motivation that is directly subject to the agent's control, and independent of the dispositions and desires to which the agent is passively subject. (shrink)
It is both common and natural to think of addiction as a kind of defect of the will. Addicts, we tend to suppose, are subject to impulses or cravings that are peculiarly unresponsive to their evaluative reflection about what there is reason for them to do. As a result of this unresponsiveness, we further suppose, addicts are typically impaired in their ability to act in accordance with their own deliberative conclusions. My question in this paper is whether we can make (...) adequate sense of this conception of addiction as a volitional defect. In particular, I want to focus on some philosophical assumptions, from the theory of action, that bear directly on the very idea that addiction might impair the agent’s volitional capacities. Understanding this idea, I shall argue, requires that we start out with an adequate conception of the human will. Only if we appreciate the kinds of volitional capacities characteristic of normal agents can we conceptualize properly the impairment of those capacities represented by addiction, and assess the implications of such impairment for questions of responsibility. (shrink)
I attempt to get as clear as possible on the chain of reasoning by which irreversible macrodynamics is derivable from time-reversible microphysics, and in particular to clarify just what kinds of assumptions about the initial state of the universe, and about the nature of the microdynamics, are needed in these derivations. I conclude that while a “Past Hypothesis” about the early Universe does seem necessary to carry out such derivations, that Hypothesis is not correctly understood as a constraint on the (...) early Universe’s entropy. (shrink)
An investigation is made into how the foundations of statistical mechanics are affected once we treat classical mechanics as an approximation to quantum mechanics in certain domains rather than as a theory in its own right; this is necessary if we are to understand statistical-mechanical systems in our own world. Relevant structural and dynamical differences are identified between classical and quantum mechanics (partly through analysis of technical work on quantum chaos by other authors). These imply that quantum mechanics significantly affects (...) a number of foundational questions, including the nature of statistical probability and the direction of time. (shrink)
What are the comparative roles of reason and the passions in explaining human motivation and behaviour? Accounts of practical reason divide on this central question, with proponents of different views falling into rationalist and Humean camps. By 'rationalist' accounts of practical reason, I mean accounts which make the characteristically Kantian claim that pure reason can be practical in its issue. To reject this view is to take the Humean position that reasoning or ratiocination is not by itself capable of giving (...) rise to a motivation to act. My own view is that the rationalist position can, in the end, be sustained against the challenge of these Humean arguments. To see why, however, it will be necessary to get clear about what is really at stake in the debate about practical reason. A further aim of my discussion will accordingly be to sharpen our understanding of the issue that divides Humeans and rationalists. (shrink)
Abstract: Suppose you are somewhat persuaded by the arguments for Eliminative Materialism, but are put off by the view itself. For instance, you might be sympathetic to one or more of the following considerations: (1) that folk psychology is a bad theory and will be soon replaced by cognitive science or neuroscience, (2) that folk psychology will never be vindicated by cognitive science, (3) that folk psychology makes ontological commitments to weird or spooky things that no proper science will admit (...) the existence of, (4) that folk psychology seems to lead to a sort of epiphenomenalism (which is yet another thing that’s weird and spooky), and (5) that folk psychology seems to lead to the conclusion that mental content is either determined by things outside the head or is completely indeterminate, neither of which is appealing. Yet in spite of your sympathy for any one of (1)-(5), you may nonetheless cringe at the consequence of them—that is, you may be unwilling to accept the Eliminative Materialist’s radical claim that (i) there are no beliefs, desires, etc., and (ii) we should stop all talk to that quantifies to the contrary. To relieve the conflict, I propose Mental Fictionalism: the view that we are fictionalists about mental states. (shrink)
A systematic analysis is made of the relations between the symmetries of a classical field and the symmetries of the one-particle quantum system that results from quantizing that field in regimes where interactions are weak. The results are applied to gain a greater insight into the phenomenon of antimatter.
I consider exactly what is involved in a solution to the probability problem of the Everett interpretation, in the light of recent work on applying considerations from decision theory to that problem. I suggest an overall framework for understanding probability in a physical theory, and conclude that this framework, when applied to the Everett interpretation, yields the result that that interpretation satisfactorily solves the measurement problem. Introduction What is probability? 2.1 Objective probability and the Principal Principle 2.2 Three ways of (...) satisfying the functional definition 2.3 Cautious functionalism 2.4 Is the functional definition complete? The Everett interpretation and subjective uncertainty 3.1 Interpreting quantum mechanics 3.2 The need for subjective uncertainty 3.3 Saunders' argument for subjective uncertainty 3.4 Objections to Saunders' argument 3.5 Subjective uncertainty again: arguments from interpretative charity 3.6 Quantum weights and the functional definition of probability Rejecting subjective uncertainty 4.1 The fission program 4.2 Against the fission program Justifying the axioms of decision theory 5.1 The primitive status of the decision-theoretic axioms 5.2 Holistic scepticism 5.3 The role of an explanation of decision theory Conclusion. (shrink)
This paper addresses some connections between conceptions of the will and the theory of practical reason. The first two sections argue against the idea that volitional commitments should be understood along the lines of endorsement of normative principles. A normative account of volition cannot make sense of akrasia, and it obscures an important difference between belief and intention. Sections three and four draw on the non-normative conception of the will in an account of instrumental rationality. The central problem is to (...) explain the grip of instrumental requirements even in cases in which agents do not fully endorse the ends they are pursuing. The solution I propose appeals to coherence constraints on the beliefs that condition the distinctive volitional stance of intention. (shrink)
Practical reason is the general human capacity for resolving, through reflection, the question of what one is to do. Deliberation of this kind is practical in at least two senses. First, it is practical in its subject matter, insofar as it is concerned with action. But it is also practical in its consequences or its issue, insofar as reflection about action itself directly moves people to act. Our capacity for deliberative self-determination raises two sets of philosophical problems. First, there are (...) questions about how deliberation can succeed in being practical in its issue. What do we need to assume — both about agents and about the processes of reasoning they engage in — to make sense of the fact that deliberative reflection can directly give rise to action? Can we do justice to this dimension of practical reason while preserving the idea that practical deliberation is genuinely a form of reasoning? Second, there are large issues concerning the content of the standards that are brought to bear in practical reasoning. Which norms for the assessment of action are binding on us as agents? Do these norms provide resources for critical reflection about our ends, or are they exclusively instrumental? Under what conditions do moral norms yield valid standards for reasoning about action? The first set of issues is addressed in sections 1-3 of the present article, while sections 4-5 cover the second set of issues. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue that Boghossian's explanation of how we can acquire a priori knowledge of logical principles through implicit definitions commits a transmission of warrant-failure. To this end, I will briefly outline Boghossian's account, followed by an explanation of what a transmission of warrant-failure consists in. I will also show that this charge is independent of the worry of rule-circularity which has been raised concerning the justification of logical principles and of which Boghossian is fully aware. My (...) argument comes in two steps: firstly, I will argue for the insufficiency of Boghossian's template which is meant to explain how a subject can acquire a warrant for logical principles. I will show however that this insufficiency of his template can be remedied by adopting what I call the Disquotational Step. Secondly, I will argue that incorporating this further step makes his template subject to a transmission of warrant-failure, assuming that certain rather basic and individually motivated principles hold. Thus, Boghossian's account faces a dilemma: either he adopts the Disquotational Step and subjects his account to the charge of a transmission of warrant-failure, or he drops this additional step leaving the account confronted with explaining the gap that has previously been highlighted. I will then suggest various rejoinders that Boghossian might adopt but none of which - I will argue - can resolve the dilemma. Lastly, I will raise and briefly discuss the question whether this worry generalizes to other accounts, such as Hale and Wright's that aim to explain our knowledge of logic and/or mathematics in virtue of implicit definitions. (shrink)
This is a preliminary version of an article to appear in the forthcoming Ashgate Companion to the New Philosophy of Physics.In it, I aim to review, in a way accessible to foundationally interested physicists as well as physics-informed philosophers, just where we have got to in the quest for a solution to the measurement problem. I don't advocate any particular approach to the measurement problem (not here, at any rate!) but I do focus on the importance of decoherence theory to (...) modern attempts to solve the measurement problem, and I am fairly sharply critical of some aspects of the "traditional" formulation of the problem. (shrink)
I present a proof of the quantum probability rule from decision-theoretic assumptions, in the context of the Everett interpretation. The basic ideas behind the proof are those presented in Deutsch's recent proof of the probability rule, but the proof is simpler and proceeds from weaker decision-theoretic assumptions. This makes it easier to discuss the conceptual ideas involved in the proof, and to show that they are defensible.
An analysis is made of Deutsch's recent claim to have derived the Born rule from decision-theoretic assumptions. It is argued that Deutsch's proof must be understood in the explicit context of the Everett interpretation, and that in this context, it essentially succeeds. Some comments are made about the criticism of Deutsch's proof by Barnum, Caves, Finkelstein, Fuchs, and Schack; it is argued that the flaw which they point out in the proof does not apply if the Everett interpretation is assumed.
I criticise the view that the relativity and equivalence principles are consequences of the small-scale structure of the metric in general relativity, by arguing that these principles also apply to systems with non-trivial self-gravitation and hence non-trivial spacetime curvature (such as black holes). I provide an alternative account, incorporating aspects of the criticised view, which allows both principles to apply to systems with self-gravity.
Promising is clearly a social practice or convention. By uttering the formula, “I hereby promise to do X,” we can raise in others the expectation that we will in fact do X. But this succeeds only because there is a social practice that consists (inter alia) in a disposition on the part of promisers to do what they promise, and an expectation on the part of promisees that promisers will so behave. It is equally clear that, barring special circumstances of (...) some kind, it is morally wrong for promisers to fail to do what they have promised to do. What is perhaps less clear is how the moral wrongness that is involved when promises are broken is related to the social practice that makes promising possible in the ﬁrst place. (shrink)
Some mereologists boast that their view of parts and wholes is ontologically innocent.[Lewis 1991: 72-87] They claim that a fusion is nothing over and above its parts; once you’ve committed to the parts, you get the fusion for free. In other words, fusions are not a further ontological commitment beyond the commitment to the parts. There are various proposals to explain how it is that fusions can come about so cheap. Perhaps the most straightforward of these explanations, and the one (...) I will be concerned with in this paper, is to accept the Strong Composition Thesis:2, 3.. (shrink)
According to Bayesian epistemology, the epistemically rational agent updates her beliefs by conditionalization: that is, her posterior subjective probability after taking account of evidence X, pnew, is to be set equal to her prior conditional probability pold(·|X). Bayesians can be challenged to provide a justification for their claim that conditionalization is recommended by rationality—whence the normative force of the injunction to conditionalize? There are several existing justifications for conditionalization, but none directly addresses the idea that conditionalization will be epistemically rational (...) if and only if it can reasonably be expected to lead to epistemically good outcomes. We apply the approach of cognitive decision theory to provide a justification for conditionalization using precisely that idea. We assign epistemic utility functions to epistemically rational agents; an agent’s epistemic utility is to depend both upon the actual state of the world and on the agent’s credence distribution over possible states. We prove that, under independently motivated conditions, conditionalization is the unique updating rule that maximizes expected epistemic utility. (shrink)
According to T. M. Scanlon's buck-passing account, the normative realm of reasons is in some sense prior to the domain of value. Intrinsic value is not itself a property that provides us with reasons; rather, to be good is to have some other reason-giving property, so that facts about intrinsic value amount to facts about how we have reason to act and to respond. The paper offers an interpretation and defense of this approach to the relation between reasons and values. (...) I start by acknowledging the role that substantive values play in specifications of our reasons, noting that this poses an apparent challenge to the buck-passing account. The challenge can be met, however, if we adopt a deliberative understanding of substantive value, an interpretation that I proceed to develop and defend. In conclusion I consider recent attempts to capture the agent-relativity of reasons within a teleological framework for thinking about the relation between reasons and values. I argue that these approaches rest on a deliberative understanding of value; the teleological framework thus turns out to illustrate the basic insight of the buck-passing approach, rather than offering an alternative to it. (shrink)
Following Lewis, it is widely held that branching worlds differ in important ways from diverging worlds. There is, however, a simple and natural semantics under which ordinary sentences uttered in branching worlds have much the same truth values as they conventionally have in diverging worlds. Under this semantics, whether branching or diverging, speakers cannot say in advance which branch or world is theirs. They are uncertain as to the outcome. This same semantics ensures the truth of utterances typically made about (...) quantum mechanical contingencies, including statements of uncertainty, if the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics is true. The ‘incoherence problem’ of the Everett interpretation, that it can give no meaning to the notion of uncertainty, is thereby solved. IntroductionMetaphysicsPersonal fissionBranching worldsPhysicsObjections. (shrink)
The relation between micro-objects and macro-objects advocated by Kim is even more problematic than Ross & Spurrett (R&S) argue, for reasons rooted in physics. R&S's own ontological proposals are much more satisfactory from a physicist's viewpoint but may still be problematic. A satisfactory theory of macroscopic ontology must be as independent as possible of the details of microscopic physics.
Jonathan Dancy’s Practical Reality defends a strikingly nonpsychologistic account of motivating reasons for action. I agree wholeheartedly with Dancy that normative reasons do not in general consist in psychological states. I also agree with Dancy that motivating reasons should be understood in a way that preserves their connection to the kinds of normative consideration that recommend or speak in favor of actions. Despite these significant points of agreement, however, I find myself resisting Dancy’s nonpsychologistic conclusion.
I analyse the conceptual and mathematical foundations of Lagrangian quantum field theory (QFT) (that is, the ‘naive’ (QFT) used in mainstream physics, as opposed to algebraic quantum field theory). The objective is to see whether Lagrangian (QFT) has a sufficiently firm conceptual and mathematical basis to be a legitimate object of foundational study, or whether it is too ill-defined. The analysis covers renormalisation and infinities, inequivalent representations, and the concept of localised states; the conclusion is that Lagrangian QFT (at least (...) as described here) is a perfectly respectable physical theory, albeit somewhat different in certain respects from most of those studied in foundational work. (shrink)
Mathematically, gauge theories are extraordinarily rich --- so rich, in fact, that it can become all too easy to lose track of the connections between results, and become lost in a mass of beautiful theorems and properties: indeterminism, constraints, Noether identities, local and global symmetries, and so on. -/- One purpose of this short article is to provide some sort of a guide through the mathematics, to the conceptual core of what is actually going on. Its focus is on the (...) Lagrangian, variational-problem description of classical mechanics, from which the link between gauge symmetry and the apparent violation of determinism is easy to understand; only towards the end will the Hamiltonian description be considered. -/- The other purpose is to warn against adopting too unified a perspective on gauge theories. It will be argued that the meaning of the gauge freedom in a theory like general relativity is (at least from the Lagrangian viewpoint) significantly different from its meaning in theories like electromagnetism. The Hamiltonian framework blurs this distinction, and orthodox methods of quantization obliterate it; this may, in fact, be genuine progress, but it is dangerous to be guided by mathematics into conflating two conceptually distinct notions without appreciating the physical consequences. (shrink)
Evolution is littered with paraphyletic convergences: many roads lead to functional Romes. We propose here another example - an equivalence class structure factoring the broad realm of possible realizations of the Baars Global Workspace consciousness model. The construction suggests many different physiological systems can support rapidly shifting, sometimes highly tunable, temporary assemblages of interacting unconscious cognitive modules. The discovery implies various animal taxa exhibiting behaviors we broadly recognize as conscious are, in fact, simply expressing different forms of the same underlying (...) phenomenon. Mathematically, we find much slower, and even multiple simultaneous, versions of the basic structure can operate over very long timescales, a kind of paraconsciousness often ascribed to group phenomena. The variety of possibilities, a veritable rainbow, suggests minds today may be only a small surviving fraction of ancient evolutionary radiations - bush phylogenies of consciousness and paraconsciousness. Under this scenario, the resulting diversity was subsequently pruned by selection and chance extinction. Though few traces of the radiation may be found in the direct fossil record, exaptations and vestiges are scattered across the living mind. Humans, for instance, display an uncommonly profound synergism between individual consciousness and their embedding cultural heritages, enabling efficient Lamarkian adaptation. (shrink)