This paper argues against evidential decision-theory, by showing that the newest responses to its biggest current problem – the medical Newcomb problems – don’t work. The latest approach is described, and the arguments of two main proponents of it – Huw Price and CR Hitchcock – clearly distinguished and examined. It is argued that since neither new defence is successful, causation remains essential to understanding means-end agency.
Plural predication is a pervasive part of ordinary language. We can say that some people are fifty in number, are surrounding a building, come from many countries, and are classmates. These predicates can be true of some people without being true of any one of them; they are non-distributive predications. However, the apparatus of modern logic does not allow a place for them. Thomas McKay here explores the enrichment of logic with non-distributive plural predication and quantification. His book will (...) be of great interest to philosophers of language, linguists, metaphysicians, and logicians. (shrink)
This paper examines ethical concerns of the utilitarian paradigm, the greatest good for the greatest number, advocated by many proponents and consultants in siting landfills. The implications of the consequentialist utilitarian approach are considered through the examination of a landfill-site-search case study in Ontario, Canada. Limitations to such an approach, in terms of differing values, equal consideration, equitable participation, distributive justice and the emphasis on non-quantifiable factors are discussed. Recommendations to improve the process are made based on the ethical analysis (...) of the case study. (shrink)
Mesoudi et al. overlook an illuminating parallel between cultural and biological evolution, namely, the existence in each realm of a continuum from intelligent, mindful evolution through to oblivious, mindless evolution. In addition, they underplay the independence of cultural fitness from biological fitness. The assumption that successful cultural traits enhance genetic fitness must be sidelined, as must the assumption that such traits will at least be considered worth having. (Published Online November 9 2006).
Does the formation of delusions involve abnormal reasoning? According to the prominent ‘two-factor’ theory of delusions (e.g. Coltheart, 2007), the answer is yes. The second factor in this theory is supposed to affect a deluded individual's ability to evaluate candidates for belief. However, most published accounts of the two-factor theory have not said much about the nature of this second factor. In an effort to remedy this shortcoming, Coltheart, Menzies and Sutton (2010) recently put forward a Bayesian account of inference (...) in delusions. I outline some criticisms of this important account, and sketch an alternative account of delusional inference that, I argue, avoids these criticisms. Specifically, I argue that the second factor in delusion formation involves a systematic deviation from Bayesian updating, a deviation that may be characterized as a bias towards ‘explanatory adequacy’. I present a numerical model of this idea and show that my alternative account is broadly consistent with prominent prediction error models of delusion formation (e.g. Corlett, Murray et al., 2007). (shrink)
I argue that contemporary philosophy of language in the analytic tradition rests on two fundamentally wrong assumptions: empiricism and externalism. After I show why these two assumptions are incorrect, I turn my attention to biological rationalism. Biological rationalism—a research program inspired by the work of Noam Chomsky—is committed to nativism and internalism. I believe biological rationalism provides the best framework to achieve a genuine understanding of language. I try to show this by considering the biological rationalist answers to major problems (...) in philosophy of language. (shrink)
Abstract Because norms related to sexuality are an important determinant of the nature of society, sexuality education in schools is the subject of passionate debate. This discourse reflects a struggle between Restrictive and Permissive sexual ideologies. These ideologies compete for influence in shaping sexuality education. As a result, some sexuality education programmes constitute ideological indoctrination. Many other programmes, because of the ideological conflict surrounding sexuality, omit important sexual health information. The objective of this paper is to articulate the basic parameters (...) of a democratic philosophy of sexuality education. The aim of this philosophy is to accommodate ideological pluralism related to sexuality while simultaneously ensuring that educational programmes provide the necessary information and skills to facilitate the human right to sexual health. Based on Rawls? (1993) theory of political liberalism, this philosophy proposes that sexuality education ought to be centred upon the overlapping consensus within a democracy on the right to freedom of belief. In contrast to many prevailing forms of sexuality education, it is contended that a democratic educational approach must facilitate the ability to deliberate critically between competing ideological perspectives on sexuality. The Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education are offered as an example of a democratic philosophy of sexuality education. In conclusion, evidence is provided to suggest that parents support a democratic approach to sexuality education. (shrink)
Astrobiologists are aware that extraterrestrial life might differ from known life, and considerable thought has been given to possible signatures associated with weird forms of life on other planets. So far, however, very little attention has been paid to the possibility that our own planet might also host communities of weird life. If life arises readily in Earth-like conditions, as many astrobiologists contend, then it may well have formed many times on Earth itself, which raises the question whether one or (...) more shadow biospheres have existed in the past or still exist today. In this paper, we discuss possible signatures of weird life and outline some simple strategies for seeking evidence of a shadow biosphere. Key Words: Weird life—Multiple origins of life—Biogenesis—Biomarkers—Extremophiles—Alternative biochemistry. Astrobiology 9, 241–249. (shrink)
The paper offers an analysis of how to operationalize the development goal of promoting well?being, and provides an exemplar. It focuses on one element of a comprehensive methodology to operationalize empirical research into the social and cultural construction of well?being in developing countries. This research uses a definition of well?being that combines objective and subjective dimensions and locates these in the social and cultural relationships of particular societies. We focus here on the Resources and Needs Questionnaire (RANQ), a research instrument (...) specifically developed for this work. This explores the relationships between the resources that households command and the levels of needs satisfaction which household members experience. Preliminary analysis of data for Bangladesh and Peru identifies a number of significant relationships between the distribution of resources that households command and the levels of needs satisfaction they achieve. These outcome results then represent a foundation for further analysis using complementary qualitative and process?oriented data. JEL Classifications: A12, I32, Z1. (shrink)
(1) Arnie, Bob and Carlos are shipmates.1 This is something true of the three of them together. We cannot say Arnie is a shipmate except perhaps as elliptical for something that connects Arnie to others. (Arnie is a..
Mechanisms have become much-discussed, yet there is still no consensus on how to characterise them. In this paper, we start with something everyone is agreed on – that mechanisms explain – and investigate what constraints this imposes on our metaphysics of mechanisms. We examine two widely shared premises about how to understand mechanistic explanation: (1) that mechanistic explanation offers a welcome alternative to traditional laws-based explanation and (2) that there are two senses of mechanistic explanation that we call ‘epistemic explanation’ (...) and ‘physical explanation’. We argue that mechanistic explanation requires that mechanisms are both real and local. We then go on to argue that real, local mechanisms require a broadly active metaphysics for mechanisms, such as a capacities metaphysics. (shrink)
Russo and Williamson claim that establishing causal claims requires mechanistic and difference-making evidence. In this article, I will argue that Russo and Williamson's formulation of their thesis is multiply ambiguous. I will make three distinctions: mechanistic evidence as type vs object of evidence; what mechanism or mechanisms we want evidence of; and how much evidence of a mechanism we require. I will feed these more precise meanings back into the Russo?Williamson thesis and argue that it is both true and false: (...) two weaker versions of the thesis are worth supporting, while the stronger versions are not. Further, my distinctions are of wider concern because they allow us to make more precise claims about what kinds of evidence are required in particular cases. (shrink)
The Recursive Bayesian Net (RBN) formalism was originally developed for modelling nested causal relationships. In this paper we argue that the formalism can also be applied to modelling the hierarchical structure of mechanisms. The resulting network contains quantitative information about probabilities, as well as qualitative information about mechanistic structure and causal relations. Since information about probabilities, mechanisms and causal relations is vital for prediction, explanation and control respectively, an RBN can be applied to all these tasks. We show in particular (...) how a simple two-level RBN can be used tomodel a mechanism in cancer science. The higher level of our model contains variables at the clinical level, while the lower level maps the structure of the cell’s mechanism for apoptosis. (shrink)
This article characterizes the work of Native basket weaver Mabel McKay, using some of the conceptual tools of twentiethth-century phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Specifically, McKay's baskets have often been described as "living;" Merleau-Ponty's account of the world as "living flesh" seems to suggest a way of thinking about these baskets as more than mere artifacts. I conclude that McKay's baskets are a powerful propaedeutic: they awaken a sense of ourselves as perceivers.
There is a need for integrated thinking about causality, probability and mechanisms in scientific methodology. Causality and probability are long-established central concepts in the sciences, with a corresponding philosophical literature examining their problems. On the other hand, the philosophical literature examining mechanisms is not long-established, and there is no clear idea of how mechanisms relate to causality and probability. But we need some idea if we are to understand causal inference in the sciences: a panoply of disciplines, ranging from epidemiology (...) to biology, from econometrics to physics, routinely make use of probability, statistics, theory and mechanisms to infer causal relationships. -/- These disciplines have developed very different methods, where causality and probability often seem to have different understandings, and where the mechanisms involved often look very different. This variegated situation raises the question of whether the different sciences are really using different concepts, or whether progress in understanding the tools of causal inference in some sciences can lead to progress in other sciences. The book tackles these questions as well as others concerning the use of causality in the sciences. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen has offered two versions of an influential argument that has come to be called ‘the Consequence Argument’. The Consequence Argument purports to demonstrate that determinism is incompatible with free will.1 It aims to show that, if we assume determinism, we are committed to the claim that, for all propositions p, no one has or ever had any choice about p. Unfortunately, the original Consequence Argument employed an inference rule (the β-rule) that was shown to be invalid. ( (...) class='Hi'>McKay and Johnson 1996) In response, van Inwagen revised his argument. I shall argue that the conclusion of the revised Consequence Argument is wholly independent of the premiss of determinism, and hence that the revised Consequence Argument is useless in showing that determinism is incompatible with free will. (shrink)
In psychiatry some disorders of cognition are distinguished from instances of normal cognitive functioning and from other disorders in virtue of their surface features rather than in virtue of the underlying mechanisms responsible for their occurrence. Aetiological considerations often cannot play a significant classificatory and diagnostic role, because there is no sufficient knowledge or consensus about the causal history of many psychiatric disorders. Moreover, it is not always possible to uniquely identify a pathological behaviour as the symptom of a certain (...) disorder, as disorders that are likely to differ both in their causal histories and in their overall manifestations may give rise to very similar patterns of behaviour. -/- Consider delusions as an example. It wouldn’t be correct to define delusions as those beliefs people form as a result of a neurobiological deficit and a hypothesis-evaluation deficit (as some versions of the two-factor theory of delusions suggest), because for some delusions no neurobiological deficit may be found, and reasoning biases and motivational factors may be contributors to the formation of the delusion (e.g. McKay et al., 2005). Moreover, it would be a mistake to define delusions as symptoms of schizophrenia alone, because they occur also in other disorders, including dementia, amnesia, and delusional disorders. Thus, aetiological considerations may appear in the description and analysis of delusions, but do not feature prominently in their definition. -/- In this paper I argue that the surface features used as criteria for the classification and diagnosis of disorders of cognition are often epistemic in character. I shall offer two examples: confabulations and delusions are defined as beliefs or narratives that fail to meet standards of accuracy and justification. Although classifications and diagnoses based on features of people’s observable behaviour are necessary at these early stages of neuropsychiatric research, given the variety of conditions in which certain phenomena appear, I shall attempt to show that current epistemic accounts of confabulations and delusions have limitations. Epistemic criteria can guide both research and clinical practice, but fail to provide sufficient conditions for the identification of delusions and confabulations, and fail to demarcate pathological from non-pathological narratives or beliefs. -/- Another limitation of current epistemic accounts – which I shall not address here – is the excessive focus on epistemic faults of confabulations and delusions at the expense of their epistemically neutral or advantageous features (see Bortolotti and Cox, 2009). This may lead to a misconception of delusions and confabulations, and to an oversimplification in the assessment of the needs of people who require clinical treatment for their psychotic symptoms. (shrink)
Appointment as a director of a company board often represents the pinnacle of a management career. Worldwide, it has been noted that very few women are appointed to the boards of directors of companies. Blame for the low numbers of women of company boards can be partly attributed to the widely publicized "glass ceiling". However, the very low representation of women on company boards requires further examination. This article reviews the current state of women's representation on boards of directors and (...) summarizes the reasons as to why women are needed on company boards. Given that more women on boards are desirable, the article then describes how more women could be appointed to boards, and the actions that organizations and women could take to help increase the representation of women. Finally, the characteristics of those women that have succeeded in becoming members of company boards are described from an international perspective. Unfortunately, answers to the vexing question of whether these women have gained board directorships in their own right as extremely competent managers, or whether they are mere token female appointments in a traditional male dominated culture, remains elusive. (shrink)
Mental content and the problem of De Se belief -- Cognitive attitudes and content -- The doctrine of propositions -- The problem of De Se belief -- The property theory of content -- In favor of the property theory -- Perry's messy shopper and the argument from explanation -- Lewis's case of the two Gods -- Arguments from internalism and physicalism -- An inference to the best explanation -- Alternatives to the property theory -- The triadic view of belief -- (...) How the property theory and the triadic view are rivals -- Dyadic propositionalism reconsidered -- Arguments against the property theory -- Self-ascription and self-awareness -- Nonexistence and impossible contents -- Stalnaker's argument -- Propositionalist arguments from inference -- The property theory and De Re belief -- Lewis's account of De Re belief -- McKay's objection to Lewis -- Mistaken identity and the case of the shy secret admirer -- Some other worries and concluding remarks -- The property theory, rationality, and Kripke's puzzle about belief -- Kripke's puzzle about belief -- The puzzle argument -- A solution to the puzzle -- Puzzles with empty names and kind terms -- The property theory, twin earth, and belief about kinds -- Twin earth and two kinds of internalism -- The twin earth argument -- An internalist response (stage one) -- An internalist response (stage two) -- Self-ascription and belief about kinds. (shrink)
After a decade of intense debate about mechanisms, there is still no consensus characterization. In this paper we argue for a characterization that applies widely to mechanisms across the sciences. We examine and defend our disagreements with the major current contenders for characterizations of mechanisms. Ultimately, we indicate that the major contenders can all sign up to our characterization.